Caroline Overington : Who Has Time to Read?

Author: Caroline OveringtonWalkley Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Caroline Overington ponders the age-old question, who has time to read?

Do you know that I’ve done in the last two months?

I’ve read three books.

That’s probably not amazing to anyone that reads a book a month – or even a book a week – or to people who have several books on the go at once … but it’s pretty amazing for me.

I’ve been writing a book a year for the past five years.

I’ve also got a job. I’m the associate editor of the iconic The Australian Women’s Weekly.  Just this month, I interviewed Anna Bligh, who is going through cancer treatment, and profiled the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, which involved going out to the Pilbara for several days.

Also this year, I’ve interviewed Ellen DeGeneres, in Los Angeles. And Helen Mirren, in London.  And Ricky Martin … and quite a few other people. I’m also involved in a long-running investigation into Carmel Brookes, a kind-hearted Brisbane woman who is missing at sea. I’m trying to find out what happened to her, and I’ve been to Thailand, trying to retrace her steps.

I also have two children – twins, aged 13. They’re doing year eight, so I’m helping out with homework, and making sure they eat well, and generally loving them a lot.

I have a husband. I’ve got a blue dog, and we’ve got a lizard. I volunteer at our local surf lifesaving club. I go to the personal trainer three times a week. I have friends that I like to see whenever I can … and my family is spread all over the country … so it’s not often that I get time to sit down and really lose myself in a great book, let alone three.

Maybe I just got lucky, but all three of the books I read were brilliant. All were by Australians – and I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt, to be truly lost in their pages. I felt like I was on holidays! Transported. Which is how a good book should make you feel.

Here are the books I read:

Stop PressClick here for more details or to buy Stop Press:The Last Days of Newspapers by Rachel Buchanan: I know Rachel (who, now I think of it, might technically be a New Zealander.) We used to work together at The Age in Melbourne. We were all kids then. The Age had so much money to spend on journalism. Everyone read it. Politicians shook their fists at it. Rachel’s has written about the slow decline in the paper’s circulation, about the giant presses that have fallen silent, and about the challenges currently facing the once-great lady. I wept a bit.


Click here for more details or to buy The Night GuestThe Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane: the main character is so loveable. She’s getting on a bit, and her husband has recently died. She thinks that a tiger is coming to visit her at night. She can hear it padding about on its big paws, in the lounge room. She tells her son, who lives abroad, and he gets concerned, and the next thing, a government worker turns up, to give the old lady a hand, but pretty much straight away, you can tell that something is not right with this government worker. I wept a bit more. This is a lovely book.


Click here for more details or to buy Murder in MississippiMurder in Mississippi by John Safran: this is a true crime book about how John met a white supremacist in Mississippi, and later became a Facebook – and even a real friend – of the black man who killed him. I didn’t weep with this one, except at the beauty of it. John’s book is one of the best pieces of sustained, rigorous journalism I’ve read in 20 years. It is absolutely magnificent –  smart, and wry, and emotional too.  Obviously, if you are going to buy one book this Booktoberfest, I think you should buy mine. But if you’ve already gone mine, buy John’s.


Thank you, Caroline. You’re always welcome on the Booktopia Blog!

Click here for more details about Caroline’s thrilling and controversial new novel No Place Like Home

Click here for more details or to buy No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

By: Caroline Overington

From bestselling author and award-winning journalist Caroline Overington comes another thought-provoking and heart-rending story, that reaches from the heart of Bondi to a small village in Tanzania.

Shortly after 9.30 in the morning, a young man walks into Surf City, Bondi’s newest shopping complex. He’s wearing a dark grey hoodie – and a bomb around his neck.

Just a few minutes later he is locked in a shop on the upper floor. And trapped with him are four innocent bystanders.

For police chaplain Paul Doherty, called to the scene by Superintendent Boehm, it’s a story that will end as tragically as it began. For this is clearly no ordinary siege. The boy, known as Ali Khan, seems as frightened as his hostages and has yet to utter a single word.

The seconds tick by for the five in the shop: Mitchell, the talented schoolboy; Mouse, the shop assistant; Kimmi, the nail-bar technician; and Roger Callaghan, the real estate agent whose reason for being in Bondi that day is far from innocent.

And of course there’s Ali Khan. Is he the embodiment of evil, as the villagers in his Tanzanian birthplace believe? Or simply an innocent boy, betrayed at every turn, who just wants a place to call home?

About the Author

Caroline Overington is the Associate Editor of the iconic magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Caroline has won the Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism twice, and she’s a former winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch prize for journalism, and of the Blake Dawson prize.

She is the author of five bestselling novels: Ghost Child, I Came to Say Goodbye, Matilda is Missing, Sisters of Mercy and No Place Like Home.

Click here for more details about Caroline’s thrilling and controversial new novel No Place Like Home

Caroline Overington, author of Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye, Matilda Is Missing and now Sisters of Mercy, answers Five Facetious Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Caroline Overington

author of  Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye, Matilda Is Missing and now Sisters of Mercy

Five Facetious Questions


1. Every writer spends at least one afternoon going from bookshop to bookshop making sure his or her latest book is facing out and neatly arranged. How far have you gone to draw attention to your own books in a shop?

It’s not a book shop story, but I once asked my Mum to carry a copy of my latest book onto the plane when she was coming to visit me, and to gasp and says things like, ‘wow, this is amazing!’ while pretending to read it. She just rolled her eyes at me.

2. So you’re a published author, almost a minor celebrity and for some reason you’ve been let into a party full of ‘A-listers’ – what do you do?

There is a very good chance that I wouldn’t know who anybody was. I would be bumping into Zayne or Payne or Layne or whatever his name is from One Direction, and saying things like, “And why exactly aren’t you in bed at this late hour?”

And if by chance my 12-year-old daughter was with me, she’d be dying of embarrassment.

3. Some write because they feel compelled to, some are Artists and do it for the Muse, some do it for the cash (one buck twenty a book) and some do it because they think it makes them more attractive to the opposite sex – why do you do write? (NB: don’t say -‘cause I can’t sing, tap or paint!)

I’m attracted to industries with what might some have cruelly called the “dying industries” …. Besides being a novelist, I’m also a newspaper journalist.

My ancestors were coopers and blacksmiths, I’m sure.

4. Have you ever come to the end of writing a particularly fine paragraph, paused momentarily, chuffed with your own genius, only to find you’ve been sitting at the computer nude or with your dress half-way over your head or shaving cream on your face or toilet paper sticking out the back of your undies or paused to find that you’re singing We are the Champions at the top of your voice, having exchanged the words ‘we are’ for ‘I am’ and dropping an ‘s’?

No? Well, what’s your most embarrassing writing moment?

It’s not book related, but I was once asked to cover an important match (game? tournament? whatever) between St Kilda, and some other Victorian football team, maybe Fitzroy … this was ages ago, when I was a cub sports reporter for The Age.

I’d never covered football before, and I went to a lot of trouble to make the copy sing, and quite proudly handed it in.

The sports editor, a busy and wonderful man, read it and said, ‘yes, lovely, marvellous description of the lawn and the leaves and the white picket fence around the ground … but what was the score, Caroline?’

I said, ‘the score?’

He said, ‘Yes, the score. As in, who won??’

It hadn’t occurred to me to take that down, but apparently people want to know.

5. Rodin placed his thinker on the loo – where and/or when do you seem to get your best ideas?

I go out to parties and listen very carefully and when somebody says something smart and funny, and after everyone has stopped laughing, I say: ‘oh, that’s good! Do you have copyright on that?’

Nine times in 10 they’ll be chuffed and they’ll say, ‘Nah, you can have it’ not thinking I actually will steal it from them. But I very definitely will.

Caroline, thank you for playing.

Booktopians are familiar with Caroline’s novels, we have gobbled them down one after the next. We can’t wait for Caroline’s new novel, Sisters of Mercy which is out in November – details below…

Sisters of Mercy

by Caroline Overington

Sisters of Mercy is the haunting story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars…

Snow Delaney was born a generation and a world away from her sister, Agnes.

Until recently, neither even knew of the other’s existence. They came together only for the reading of their father’s will – when Snow discovered, to her horror, that she was not the sole beneficiary of his large estate.

Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing, disappeared in the eerie red dust that blanketed Sydney from dawn on September 23, 2009.

With no other family left, Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence in a series of defiant letters from prison. Has she been unfairly judged? Or will Jack’s own research reveal a story even more shocking than the one Snow wants to tell?

With Sisters of Mercy Caroline Overington once again proves she is one of the most exciting new novelists of recent years.

Click here to buy Sisters of Mercy from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Caroline Overington, author of Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye and now, Matilda Is Missing, answers Six Sharp Questions:

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Caroline Overington

author of  Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye and now, Matilda Is Missing

Six Sharp Questions:


1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

It is a novel, called Matilda Is Missing, and it is about a bitter custody battle in the age of shared care.

(BBGuru: publisher synopsis – Matilda Is Missing:

In the struggle between warring parents, who will protect the Continue reading

Get Reading with Booktopia

Here is a question for you. Is there a scent that you associate with books? I don’t mean the smell of the paper, or the leather when you walk into a room full of old books. I mean, is there a smell that immediately transports you to reading heaven? Do you associate a perfume with a particular memory of reading, or a particular book?

For me, it is an easy ask. The minute I catch even a whiff of jasmine, I am in sensory heaven – jasmine poking through the paling fence, a sprig or two tucked behind one ear, sun on my back, book in my hand, sheltered from the cold early spring wind in a walled courtyard, pot of tea steaming by my Continue reading

Matilda is Missing by Caroline Overington is out in October

Last year Toni Whitmont, editor-in-chief of the Booktopia BUZZ chose Caroline Overington’s I Came to Say Goodbye for her inaugural BUZZ CLUB pick.

Choosing a book club’s first book is difficult. Choosing a book for a club made up of 25,000 picky readers must have been terrifying. But Toni knows her stuff and I don’t think she could have chosen a better book than I Came to Say Goodbye to launch her book club because I Came to Say Goodbye is the kind of book which excites passionate discussion. Such passion is what makes a good book club great. On the back of Toni’s big initial BUZZ CLUB push, independent suburban book clubs all over Australia chose to read it, too, and Booktopia sold box loads of the novel. (Thanks, Caroline!)

Caroline Overington is now justly famed for bringing to life thorny social issues via the drama of her novels. Grittier that Jodi Picoult, Overington’s novels are firmly placed in today’s Australia, an Australia we sometime wish didn’t ring so true. She’ll get you thinking about a subject you thought you knew from an angle you didn’t know existed.

October sees the release of Overington’s latest novel… (we can’t wait) Continue reading

Caroline Overington, author of I Came to Say Goodbye, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Caroline Overington,

author of I Came to Say Goodbye and Ghost Child

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in the Sunshine maternity hospital, in Victoria. The original building is no longer there but my mother says it was a large timber house with a wide veranda and the expectant Mums would wander around under the gum trees, their big bellies under smocks, smoking Alpine Lights.

I was raised in the town of Melton, between Melbourne and Ballarat, in a white weatherboard house with a corrugated iron roof. We backed onto the railway tracks, and my bedroom window would shiver in its frame when the old Red Rattler came through.

I am one of three children. We played under sprinklers, and ate chops and vegies for dinner at 5pm. We had no money, but nobody else did either, and nobody cared. Continue reading

I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

What is the collective term for a group of booksellers? A fatigue of booksellers? A cynic of booksellers? A babble of booksellers? Whatever it is, it does take a lot to shift us from our collective ennui and back into that passion for character, plot and ideas which is, if you dig deep enough, the reason that most of the us are in the game in the first place.

I was at a function recently where there was a babble of booksellers, and they were all babbling about one book. And it wasn’t the one we were there ostensibly to spruik (which shall remain nameless at this present moment). In fact, the book that was the talk of the evening was Caroline Overington’s upcoming I Came to Say Goodbye.

I had resisted the book up until that time. The proof copy has been sitting on my shelf for months. It was covered with too many epithets for my liking – too many “compellings”, “memorables”, “addictives” and “brilliants” . What I had heard was that this story is an Australian, credible addition to the Jodi Picoult school of story writing. In fact, I had heard that Overington had out Picoulted Jodi herself.

Caroline Overington is a columnist for The Australian. She has picked up a couple of Walkley Awards and has written two non-fiction books, Only in New York, and Kickback, which is about the UN oil-for-food scandal in Iraq. Last year she wrote her first novel, a book called Ghost Child. There was a bit of noise around about it – a confident start etc etc. Her second novel, I Came to Say Goodbye, will be released on October 1.

I Came to Say Goodbye is going to place Overington firmly in the sight lines of general fiction readers. It will probably appeal to woman more than men, although it certainly isn’t a classic women’s read. There is a lot to get your teeth into with this one, a lot to discuss, a lot you will want to workshop with others. I am not going to give out any spoilers on this one. Most of the book is narrated by Med Atley, a knock about bloke in his late 60s who lives in Foster on the NSW coast. Med’s wife Pat disappeared in the 70s once she had discovered feminism, and Med ended up bringing up their much younger third child, Donna Faye (known affectionately as Fat) on his own. Fat was an unusual child, and then matured into an unusual woman. As for themes, suffice to say Overington starts with shaken baby syndrome and then covers a huge amount of territory including the family court, rights of children and family members, mental illness, demographics, adoption, immigration, aspirational life style, inter-generational change, child rearing and parenting, drugs, the nanny state, race relations. You name a personal  issue that is on the worry list of contemporary Australians and Overington has somehow woven it into her story.

Despite a bit of a slow start, Overington draws these disparate elements together in a seemingly effortless way, all the while keeping plenty up her sleeve so that the reader is guessing all the way to the end. I get the impression that she must have spent a lot of time in a court room watching the ebb and flow of human endeavour and here she is now putting all those really tricky questions into one very readable story.

For the record, I left the booksellers’ event and dragged out my proof copy. It was an all night read. And while I am not so sure I would say “brilliant”, it certainly was “compelling”, “memorable” and “addictive”. And I can’t get some of those characters out of my mind.

Available from October 1.


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