A Booktopia Exclusive: Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu

Booktopia is so excited to be in an exclusive partnership with New South Books to present the debut novel of Arjun Basu.

If you’re a fan of twitter, chances are you’re a fan of Arjun Basu. Arjun has over 142,000 followers on twitter, where his 140-word short stories have drawn a huge following and a mountain of imitators.

We caught up with Arjun to chat about his new book, writing career, and spiffy tracksuits.

Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu

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9781770419971Q: Where did the idea for Waiting for the Man come from?

A: This is a long long story. So sit down. Throw another shrimp on the barbie (oh dear, I am so so so so sorry about that, I promise I won’t go down the sordid and silly road of national stereotypes again…). Waiting for the Man starts with images: a man on his steps. A man lying in tall grass. A road trip pit stop. And then these varied images started to coalesce. The first part of the book I ever wrote, a long time ago, is what we read at the end of the book. The last few pages. It was a snippet of a short story that I liked and filed away. And somehow the image within it kept coming back. And then one day I realized these disparate elements were all part of the same story. Did I answer the question? Are we still on speaking terms? I truly am sorry for the shrimp on the barbie thing. I think I had to get it out of my system. At least I didn’t say “g’day” right?

Q: What was it like to translate that idea into a full novel?

A: It is a long and drawn out process and involves quite a bit of drinking. And pacing. And the judicious use of hammocks.

Q: Waiting for the Man tackles some big issues about happiness, media, and celebrity culture. Would you say this novel offers some life advice?

A:  I am not offering advice to anyone. Really. I don’t even take my own advice. This is not a self help book and I’m not a life coach. I can’t ever be a life coach because I look silly in a track suit.Basu_Arjun

Q: What would you do if you encountered the Man?

A: I would run in the opposite direction and I would never stop running. Unless I owned a really spiffy tracksuit.

Q: You already have thousands of fans on Twitter that love your “Twisters.” Can they expect to find the same wit and humour in your novel?

A:  I hope so. Though let’s admit that we’re speaking of two very different mediums that are only connected by the use of words and punctuation. I like to think I’m funny, but that’s not really for me to judge. There is no bigger boor than the loud guy who laughs at his own (unfunny) jokes.

Q: Did you find it difficult to continue writing your Twisters while writing Waiting for the Man?

A: No. The Twisters are kind of mental therapy. Gymnastics even. They use a different part of the brain. Or I should say adjacent. The parts of the brain used for Twisters and for novel writing are like those hotel rooms with those locked doors that you hope are permanently locked but are probably opened up for large families, raucous bachelor parties and sales conventions.

9781770419971Q: Waiting for the Man is set in New York, yet you’re in Canada. What about this novel makes it able to resonate across borders?

A:  First, the story was originally going to be set in Montreal. I think any Montrealer will recognize the idea of a guy sitting on his front steps as a very Montreal thing. The front stoop is a part of Montreal’s architectural vernacular. But then the story took over and it demanded to be set in New York. On one level, this novel is very American. But on a deeper level, it is a universal exploration of something very human, and very basic.

Grab a copy of Waiting for the Man here – exclusive to Booktopia

Q: Food is featured a lot in your novel, from mundane pieces of pizza, to home-cooked lunches, to saucy ribs. Does food have a special significance for the story?

A: Food does feature in the story. But quite a lot of human things are featured. I mean, the novel is populated with humans! Eating. Sleeping. Bodily functions of all sorts. The little things that make us what we are. I might be more food obsessed than a lot of people but I think our culture is pretty food obsessed right now. And has been for a while. I mean, for the longest time I thought the best magazines in the world were the food magazines coming out of Australia.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m writing. Another novel. I can’t believe I’m diving into this again, so soon, but I have this idea that I can’t let go so I’m going to see where it takes me. Interestingly, the main character is someone who came out of my Twisters. It’s grown to become more complex, naturally, but this novel, which is threatening to be quite a big one (much longer than Waiting for the Man) got its start in 140 characters. The door between the adjoining rooms must have been open. Perhaps for a raucous bachelor party.


Grab a copy of Waiting for the Man here

Best of Booktopia TV: Keneally, Tsiolkas and Nunn in conversation with John Purcell

Tom Keneally – Shame and the Captives

shame-and-the-captivesJohn Purcell’s Review

One of the drawbacks of living in a society obsessed with the new is that we fail to recognise the simple fact that many things get better with time. There is just no story in ‘Author Gains Wisdom by Living a Long Interesting Life: Talking, Travelling, Reading and Writing’.

But there should be. Someone gaining wisdom should be news. It so seldom happens.

Tom Keneally should be news. His last two books are a direct challenge to the more newsworthy overnight success authors. Both are the result of fifty years of writing both fiction and non-fiction. And it shows. Both Daughters of Mars and his latest novel Shame and the Captives give younger writers a lesson in writing.

More details…

Judy Nunn – Elianne

In the tough world of Queensland sugar mills, it’s not only cane that is crushed … elianne

In 1881 ‘Big Jim’ Durham, an English soldier of fortune and profiteer, ruthlessly creates for Elianne Desmarais, his young French wife, the finest of the great sugar mills of the Southern Queensland cane fields, and names it in her honour.

The massive estate becomes a self-sufficient fortress, a cane-consuming monster and home to hundreds of workers, but ‘Elianne’ and its masters, the Durham Family, have dark and distant secrets; secrets that surface in the wildest and most inflammatory of times, the 1960s.

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Christos Tsiolkas – Barracuda

John Purcell’s Reviewbarracuda

This is a difficult book to write about. It has a personality rather than a plot. It is built upon emotion rather than reason. It is all shouts and whispers and nothing in between.

As a boy Danny Kelly wants only one thing – to be the greatest swimmer of all time. And his dream isn’t farfetched. His coach believes he can do it. His mother is behind him, waking early and driving him to the pool. And his peers think he can do it, though they resent him for his talent.

More details…

Best of Booktopia TV – Julie Goodwin & Rick Stein chat to John Purcell

We know that Booktopians have a passion for food, and in these interviews both authors chat about what makes a delicious meal and the way that food can bring people together. Check them out below!

gatherJulie Goodwin – Gather

How to cook delicious recipes for large and small crowds of family and friends, from the bestselling original Australian MasterChef, Julie Goodwin.

Julie Goodwin’s first cookbook, Our Family Table, was loved by many for its combination of simple and delicious recipes, and affectionate family stories. Her second book, The Heart Of The Home, followed on from this, with more quick and easy family recipes and stories to bring together those she loves.

With more than 100 delicious recipes and stunning photography, Julie gives us fast and fresh recipes for the perfect picnic, a warm and cosy dinner party, a bustling street party, a cake stall, pot luck, a family dinner around the pizza oven, a cocktail party and the perfect High Tea.

Grab a copy of Julie Goodwin’s Gather here


rick-stein-s-indiaRick Stein – India

Whenever I hear the word curry, I’m filled with a longing for spicy hot food with the fragrance of cumin, cloves and cinnamon. I see deep red colours from lots of Kashmiri chillis, tinged with a suggestion of yellow from turmeric. I think of the tandoor oven, and slightly scorched naan shining with ghee and garlic.

When Indians talk of their food, they talk about their life. To understand this country, you need to understand curry.

What makes a good curry? Sensual spicy aromas or thick, creamy sauces? Rich, dark dals or crispy fried street snacks? Rick journeys through India to find the answer, searching this colourful, chaotic nation in search of the truths behind our love affair with its food.

Grab a copy of Rick Stein’s India here

T.M.Clark, Author of My Brother-But-One, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

T.M.Clark

author of My Brother-But-One

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and although I spent my junior school years in boarding school and on a ranch in Zimbabwe, my Senior school years (Standard 6 – 10 or as they say in Australia – Year 8 – 12) were in a small South African town called Kokstad, which is in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains.

During my years in Zimbabwe, you could usually find me riding my horse around, exploring our ranch, usually armed and with our 2 killer dogs running near by protecting me. Yes, I grew up in a war zone so it was necessary. But I knew such freedom during that time that I have never experienced since.

At senior school I no longer had my own horse, but would ride any of my friends one whenever I could, I also played any and every sport (except swimming… I don’t like swimming, maybe because I was always taught  ‘if you can’t see the bottom don’t get in as there might be a crocodile there’ or ‘the water might have bilharzia snails in it’ – but honestly me and actually swimming in water just don’t mix…)  and I don’t ever remember being bored growing up despite living permanently in a school boarding establishment.

I used to be a reluctant reader , although I read a lot and fast, once I started to actually read. I think my poor English teachers deserve gold stars for putting up with my really bad spelling all those years – although my one English teacher Mr Hinchliff doubled as the computer teacher, and I think he was way-way before his time, in that he once told me not to worry too much about my bad spelling, as computers would fix that all one day… and he was right.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Twelve: When I was about 8 years old, a vet visited our farm when a bull gored one of our horses. He stitched up that horse and he was as good as new/ Yet that vet was so gentle and so caring with that horse, and so wanting it to live and be okay. I just knew I wanted to be a vet from then on. So I practiced  – on frogs, and removed their appendix and stitched them back up and put them back in the reservoir…I can’t say that they lived…( I know barbaric when I think back on it…)  Until when I was fifteen, I discovered that in South Africa the only Veterinary Science University at that time was in Pretoria at the Onderstepoort campus, and it was all done in Afrikaans. My Afrikaans was dismal and I knew then I would never get into that university – and never be a vet.

At eighteen I was already working to pay for my first year at university by correspondence to study for an Accounting Degree – why? Because I was good at it and it came naturally to me, but also one teacher at school had said to me I should be an accountant.  With no other direction to go – it seemed like a better place than joining the army where my aunt wanted me to be…

At thirty I just wanted to get through each day and not drop a child from sleep deprivation. Yes seriously! I was living in England, and although I had a live out au pair for our two boys while I was at work, life was hectic. I had just gone back to work to complete my last few months of my Internal Quality Auditing Certification, and then we decided to move countries – again. At thirty I could only think of getting through each week, not a career in the future, but, lucky, I had already started fiction writing, so my trajectory in life was already changing.T.M.Clark

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

At eighteen I strongly believed that I wouldn’t marry until I was at least 30 years old. And then I would adopt children, because there were so many in the world that needed homes already. Both theories blown out the water… I was married just after I turned 22 years old (and in two weeks it is our 22nd wedding anniversary!) And I had delivered two of our own children naturally, before I was thirty!

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Book : Jock of the Bushvelt – Sir James Percy FitzPatrick. I have somehow managed to hold onto my copy from when I was like 10 years old. I remember my dad reading it to me, and I loved the story. At the time I didn’t realize how much impact it had on me. But now years later I realize that now I want to write stories that inspire as well as entertain readers, and my love for an African stories goes way way back…

Music: Johnny Clegg/Juluka/Savuka  – all their music – but especially December Africa Rain. This song was one of my theme tunes for My Brother-But-One. This music touches me and makes me remember Africa, its people and the stuggles and yet the hope of those same people, and I find I write from a well deep inside – not from my head.

Painting: I am not a big art fanatic, I can’t tell a Picasso from a Van Gogh. But when I saw the round stained glass window in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, I was in awe and I can remember just staring at it feeling really tiny and insignificant. It was so hard to believe that one man could think of creating something so huge that it dominated so much of the cathedral, and yet it was so beautiful and so soothing to those who looked at it.

As a writer, I still feel like that: tiny and insignificant, but now I know that I have started to share my ‘own pieces of art’ out into the world. It will never compare to the glass window in Notre Dame, it doesn’t have to. But it will be my own small contribution to the world, through my eyes and my heart, just as the window once was to someone else.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I love sewing, and I love creating interesting clothing to wear, I don’t however want to be the next Dior designer.  I love gardening and seeing things grow, from seeds , propagating whatever, I am always giving away plants to people, creating new flower beds, yet I’m not the next Jamie Durie. But, I have always told stories.

When I was really young, I made up these characters and would tell my sisters these stories. As the years past, so did that phase in life, but it reemerged when I had my own children, and once again, I would make up bedtime stories. But it wasn’t until my husband influenced the writing down of them, that I actually thought about ‘telling stories’ for others to read. And its just grown from there.

Some of this story My Brother-But-One is based on a few real events in my life. But mostly its fictional.

True – My dad’s family’s ranches were taken in the land distribution program in Zimbabwe. Even miles away on the other side of the world, I was so effected by this immense loss and tragic event.

False – the scene depicting this in the book. I didn’t capture it as it happened exactly, I write fiction remember…

This book wanted to tell the story. If I didn’t write this story, it would drive me nuts as it would never shut up inside my head.  (No, I’m not schizophrenic or on medication for mental illness…) This story has been cooking for many years, its evolved sure, but once I was writing it, it wanted to be told, and there wasn’t much I could do to stop telling it. Even if it never got published, as long as the story was told, the characters were happy and I can move onto the next one that has been pushing to the front, waiting to be written…

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Scott Decker and Zol Ndhlovu are partners in a private game ranch in Zimbabwe. They have a friendship borne from Africa — a brotherhood that endures the generation gap — and crosses the colour barrier. Australian Ashley Twine is a thirty-something dynamic achiever and a confident businesswoman. When a gender mix-up secures her a position on a volunteer program in the Hwange National Park, Ashley gets a chance to take stock of her life and reassess her situation. But the chauvinistic Scott — who runs the operation — is adamant she isn’t cut out for the job.

After Ashley witnesses first-hand the devastation left behind by poachers, Scott finds himself torn between wanting to protect Ashley or force her to leave Africa for her own safety…and his sanity. However, nothing can prepare her for being ambushed and held captive by the psychopathic Rodney — an old enemy of Zol’s — from a war fought years ago. But now that their world has been threatened, circumstances take hold of their lives and begin to shape and change them forever.

Set against a magnificent backdrop of Africa across the decades, I explore both the challenges and the traditions between the white and black families of rural Africa.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

A feeling of hope, and acceptance that a family unit isn’t necessarily made up of the traditional 1 man + 1 women + 2 kids = perfect family. I want readers to fall in love and want to visit Africa, but, mostly for just a moment, to feel rhythm of the African rhythm in their hearts too as they read. And if the reader can somehow help stop the slaughter of the wild life because of the new love they feel, all the better!

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Jean M. Auel- The Children of the Earth Series. Her books are so real, so full of detail that you can almost feel that you are back in time in that period in history and its all tangible. Her intricate novels have captivated me for years.
Robin Hobb – All her books, but I was captivated by The Rain Wild Chronicles and her Liveship Traders Trilogy, again, it’s the details that get me, her world seems real and I lose myself in it while reading her books.

In my genre – Tony Park. Tony is an Australian who is living there six months of the year, and writing these amazing stories that pin-point exactly the pulse of Africa.  Again, his attention to details is amazing. Yet, he still has time to give to any charity that helps the people or animals in Africa. And Tony is encouraging to up coming writers, never brushing them aside. He sent me my cover quote when he was camping in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and he found he had cell coverage – that is dedication! I’m sure Nicola his wife will tell you he has fault, but to me Tony is the perfect colonial gentleman author.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Maybe a better word for that would be ‘dreams’ because some things that happen are out of an author’s control. My dream would be to sell world rights. I would so love to see my books in the USA, England, South Africa, Russia, China and all the territories, and see translations, that must be so neat, and I would ‘dream’ of visiting each place my book was published in to see it there, as I am a gypsy at heart and love an excuse to travel! Also, I have a cousin who doesn’t read, but if my book was an audio book, he would get to hear it, so the audio rights too…

Friends of mine have had their books turned into Manga. I think it would be so cool to have your book in a manga style… perhaps its that little bit in me that loves that an adult book can have pictures in it!!!

Dreams – Oh hell lets got the whole hog – would love to see this book as a movie – sitting next to Out Of Africa, Gorillas in the Mist and e-Lollipop as a classic one day….LOL

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

2 things…

1. Just write the book that you want to, make your dream happen.

2. There are so many avenues open to authors, don’t rush at the first opportunity that comes along. Stop, think with your business head, take your time and get it right if you are publishing anything.  Writing might be your passion, but it’s your business, so treat it with professional courtesy.

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been interesting doing these questions. I thought at first glance they were not so terrifying as the six sexy ones I did with Haylee Nash at the RWA Conference in Perth in August – but I was wrong. They seriously are terrifying, but fun too!

Tina, thank you for playing.

Pick up a copy of My Brother-But-One here

Amanda Prowse, Author of A Little Love, Clover’s Child, What Have I Done and more answers Ten Terrifying Questions

a-little-loveThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Amanda Prowse

author of A Little Love, Clover’s Child, What Have I Done? and more…

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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 East London (for anyone that hasn’t been there, think of the glamour of the West End, the shiny lobbies of smart hotels and the plush department stores – well, where I come from was the exact opposite, grubby, poor and cramped. But we was ‘appy!) I lived there surrounded by my loud extended family until my mid teens when my life ended.

My parents uprooted me from my friends, Saturday job at Camden Market and all that I held dear and moved me to North Yorkshire – the countryside aaaagh! Where I swapped make-up for wellington boots and live gigs for farmers markets, it was bliss. I have 3 brothers to whom I am very close. My parents had me when they were in their teens and my childhood was one of noise, laughter and the sense that we were all figuring it out as we went along, which was sometimes exciting, often a little scary.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I wanted to be Jennifer McCulloch, she was in my class and had big boobs and a big house, nuff said.

When I was eighteen I wanted to change the world, fight social injustice and make a difference (at 46 I still do!) I thought I would do it via journalism and raging against the machine.

At thirty I wanted to be eighteen again. amanda-prowse

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

At eighteen I genuinely believed that a movement based on ‘Niceness and Compassion’ could be so infectious that it might start the change the planet needed. ‘Enough For All’ if everyone played fair – be it with food, money, love… I now think there are some people with so much that the idea of sharing and ‘giving something up’ is so terrifying that it’s impossible. This makes me sad. (and won’t stop me trying!)

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

As a teenager I devoured music with passion, absorbing as much as I could. I still do, but am much more particular about what I listen to. It was not unusual in my teens to find me listening to Depeche Mode (Speak & Spell), Bowie (ChangesTwo) and then crying on the sofa at the magic of Etta James. One of my brothers would then punch me and tell me to snap out of it and normality would be restored.

I guess through my love of music, I learnt that what you love and what will shape you, is dependent on your mood and circumstance. It’s no different with writing – you have to keep it fluid and accessible.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I guess primarily because I am singularly useless at anything else! But also because I have a love of words, the way they look on a page, the way they can stay hovering in your mind long after that book is shut and because for me, it’s the easiest way to paint a picture.

a-little-love6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

My latest novel is called A Little Love and has been described as a fairy-tale for the modern woman – which I love! It is the story of Pru Plum – a successful baker and businesswoman who falls in love for the first time at 66.

The backdrop is the rich, indulgent world of gourmet cakes and dough and I hope sends out the message that you never know what twist or turn your life is about to take – love and adventure can strike at any time if you are brave enough to let it!

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope that I write tales that stimulate debate and discussion. What would you do in my heroine’s shoes? Did you approve of her choices? But mainly I hope to create stories that stop you from turning off the bedside lamp at night, no matter how early that alarm clock is set because you have to read one more chapter…

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Phew – so many! I repeatedly return to the work of Isabel Allende and I learn something new every time I re-read her novels. I love her style, characters and the sensory feast that awaits me on every page. However, as I have stated before my favourite book of all time is The Book Thief . It moved me, it changed me and I know there is a movie out now, but if I’m being honest, I’m frightened to go and see it for fear of damaging the imagery in my head. It is a perfect novel and I can only throw clichéd statements at it a rollercoaster, a page-turner, it stayed with me. All however are absolutely true.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?what-have-i-done-

My goal is simply to continue writing as I consider what I do to be an absolute privilege. I don’t deserve accolades I’m not driving an ambulance or serving my country, I simply write stories, but to earn a living by doing something I love so dearly – now that’s really something.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I have this sign on my kitchen wall ‘Persevere – never, ever, ever give up.’ And I so I think it would be that.

It’s really tough to get your work read and I am sure that many wonderful novels never get to break through the surface. Every writer gets rejected; use that criticism and feedback as fuel and act on all the advice. Tenacity, luck and honing your craft can only help in your quest.

Also, you don’t need to be a bestseller to get an enormous amount of joy from writing – whether it’s keeping a journal or writing a letter, do what brings you joy!

Amanda, thank you for playing.

Pick up a copy of A Little Love here

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mark Greig, son of Tony Greig, talks about his new book Tony Greig : Love, War and Cricket

Grab a copy of Tony Greig : Love, War and Cricket here

Tony Greig: Love, War and Cricket

by Mark Greig and Joyce Greig

Tony Greig was a fearless cricketer, a born entertainer, a stalwart friend and a loving son and father. His death in December 2012 was met with an outpouring of grief from friends, family, fans and colleagues alike. Summer in Australia will never be the same.

This enthralling memoir begins in Tony’s birthplace, South Africa, as his mother Joyce embarks on an extraordinary war time love affair with a man not her husband, Sandy Greig. Tony’s life encompassed more than half a century of cricket, from school boy cricket in his beloved South Africa, to his early days in Sussex, through to his captaincy of England. Whether he was loved or hated, on or off the field, all respected the big man’s courageous spirit and skills as an all-rounder. Through his controversial friendship with Kerry Packer and his involvement in World Series Cricket, Tony helped change the game forever. Turning from foe to friend, Tony won over Australian audiences becoming one of the most beloved sports commentators of all time. A legend beyond the cricket pitch, Tony’s enthralling story is told by the people who knew him best, his mother Joyce and his son Mark.

An intriguing and charming family memoir of one of Australia’s favourite adopted sons.

Grab a copy of Tony Greig : Love, War and Cricket here

Bestselling author Hugh Howey in conversation with Booktopia’s John Purcell

Booktopia’s John Purcell recently took some time out to sit down with mega-bestselling author Hugh Howey.

Before he wrote Wool and its prequel Shift, Hugh worked in the book industry, so his views are from a unique perspective, once a bookseller looking out and now an author looking in.

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