Three Authors Offer Advice for Writers: Matthew Reilly, Sandy Thorne and Leah Giarratano

I had promised to post a new set of three authors offering writing tips every Friday evening but this is the second time in a row I have forgotten to do so. Hmmm… Maybe I should just promise to post every Saturday? Or even better, forgo the promise… I know what I’ll do.

New announcement: I have long thought the advice offered to aspiring writers in answer to question ten of my Ten Terrifying Questions deserved a vehicle of its own. Well, here it is. I shall post the advice of three very different writers  every [mumble mumble]. Is that clear? Every [mumble mumble].

Bit of history: On March 1, 2010 I posted the first of the Ten Terrifying Questions author interviews. Since that date I have posted over 200 interviews with authors ranging from mega selling global stars like Jackie Collins and Lee Child to brilliant, relatively unknown debut authors such as Favel Parret and  Rebecca James.

Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?


MATTHEW REILLY

“Write what you yourself love to read. If you love poetry, don’t try to write a thriller because you think you’ll make money. Or if you like more cerebral works of fiction, don’t try to write a romance. Fans of those kinds of books can spot a fake in ten seconds flat (and writing the wrong kind of book will quickly become a chore, not a labour of love).

If you write what you enjoy reading yourself, not only will every writing session be a joy (I love sitting down at my computer and writing the biggest, baddest, most outrageous action stories I can think of), but readers will detect your enthusiasm and warm to your work. Money and glory are not the end goals of writing—appealing to those who like your kind of book is.”

Read the full interview here

Click here to buy Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves from Booktopia Australia’s No.1 Online Bookshop


SANDY THORNE

“To always carry a pad and biro, everywhere, plus keep a diary. To always put anything they write away in a drawer for at least a month, then read and edit it. To assess the time-wasting factors in your life, e.g. watching crap on t.v., verbal diarrhoea on the ‘phone, cut them out, and use that time to write. To only write about what you know about.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Great Australian Old-Timers from Booktopia Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


LEAH GIARRATANO

The inner critic is your worst enemy. Find the mute button, or you’ll always be thinking, ‘One day…’

One day is today.

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Watch The World Burn from Booktopia Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


For more advice from published writers go here

My top books for 2011 by Toni Whitmont

For a person who spends at least 50% of her working hours meeting with publishers about up coming books, I spend a lot of time talking about the next big thing.

Want to know what the run away hit single is going to be for next March? I’m your person. Unless of course it’s not because, well,  readers are a fickle lot, and that’s before the media juggernaut rolls into town and changes everyone’s minds about what they want and what they don’t want.

Right now a heart beat away from Christmas, you may be making yours lists and checking them twice, but I am being sold in books for Valentine’s Day, and, heaven help me, key titles for Mother’s Day 2012.

This is not a job where you can live in the moment. But there are some advantages of being so focused on where the action might be. I can justify ignoring all the big, bossy, Christmas books that quite frankly are going to be taken up in droves whether I get behind them or not. Readers don’t need me to convince them to try Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves or Di Morrissey’s The Opal Desert. If that is your sort of book, you are going to find it anyway just by driving Continue reading

Matthew Reilly, bestselling author of Scarecrow And The Army Of Thieves, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Matthew Reilly

bestselling author of the Scarecrow novels -Scarecrow And The Army Of Thieves, Scarecrow, Area 7, and Ice Stationand many more

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 and raised in Willoughby, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. I went to St Thomas’ Primary School until Year 3, and then to St Aloysius’ College from Year 4 to Year 12 (yes, I had very Catholic parents!). I then went to the University of NSW where I got degrees in Law and Arts.

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

At 12, I wanted to be an action movie director, because I just ate up action movies; I loved sitting in a darkened cinema, gazing up at the screen, and being swept away by a rollercoaster ride of thrills and twists.

At 18, I wanted to be an action movie writer-director, because I realised that it was the writer who initiated the stories that I watched on screen. The director might paint the visual picture, but it was the writer who provided the story.

At 30, I just wanted to be a writer of novels and screenplays (as I am now 37, this still applies!). I simply love writing novels—novels are more pliable than movie screenplays, you do more in them, and I particularly like the idea that my words go directly to the reader; there is no director who stands between me and the reader. If someone reads my books quickly (which is what I want), it’s because I put the words down in a certain way, nothing else.

I still love movies, but my desire to be a director of them has passed—I’d rather be a producer, watching over a project I have written, rather than be the guy filming every scene. Directing movies, I have discovered, is like building a Continue reading

Book Trailer: Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly

Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves

At an abandoned Soviet base in the Arctic, the battle to save the world has begun…

THE SECRET BASE

It is a top-secret base known only as Dragon Island. A long-forgotten relic of the Cold War, it houses a weapon of terrible destructive force, a weapon that has just been re-activated…

A RENEGADE ARMY

When Dragon Island is seized by a brutal terrorist force calling itself the Army of Thieves, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and there are no crack units close enough to get there in time to stop the Army setting off the weapon.

ONE SMALL TEAM

Except, that is, for a small equipment-testing team up in the Arctic led by a Marine captain named Schofield, call-sign SCARECROW. It’s not a strike force; just a handful of Marines and civilians. It’s not equipped to attack a fortified island held by a vicious army. But Scarecrow will lead the team in anyway, because someone has to.

THE ULTIMATE HERO IS BACK, FACING THE ULTIMATE ARMY OF VILLAINS

Matthew Reilly is the international bestselling author of nine novels: Contest, Ice Station, Temple, Area 7, Scarecrow, Seven Ancient Wonders, The Six Sacred Stones, The Five Greatest Warriors and now Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, the children’s book Hover Car Racer and one novella, Hell Island. His books are Continue reading

VIDEO: Matthew Reilly introduces Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves

Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves

At an abandoned Soviet base in the Arctic, the battle to save the world has begun…

THE SECRET BASE

It is a top-secret base known only as Dragon Island. A long-forgotten relic of the Cold War, it houses a weapon of terrible destructive force, a weapon that has just been re-activated…

A RENEGADE ARMY

When Dragon Island is seized by a brutal terrorist force calling itself the Army of Thieves, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and there are no crack units close enough to get there in time to stop the Army setting off the weapon.

ONE SMALL TEAM

Except, that is, for a small equipment-testing team up in the Arctic led by a Marine captain named Schofield, call-sign SCARECROW. It’s not a strike force; just a handful of Marines and civilians. It’s not equipped to attack a fortified island held by a vicious army. But Scarecrow will lead the team in anyway, because someone has to.

THE ULTIMATE HERO IS BACK, FACING THE ULTIMATE ARMY OF VILLAINS

Matthew Reilly is the international bestselling author of nine novels: Contest, Ice Station, Temple, Area 7, Scarecrow, Seven Ancient Wonders, The Six Sacred Stones, The Five Greatest Warriors and now Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, the children’s book Hover Car Racer and one novella, Hell Island. His books are Continue reading

Stuart Daly, author of The Scourge of Jericho, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Stuart Daly

author of The Scourge of Jericho

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 and raised in suburban Sydney until the age of ten, when my family moved to the small country town of Grenfell. Being the city-slicker, I was attributed – and very undeservingly, I must confess – celebrity-like status, and it wasn’t long before I knew how to handle a rifle, and was riding trail bikes and getting up to all sorts of mischief. Sadly, Grenfell wasn’t large enough to satisfy my plans for worldwide domination, and my family returned to Sydney the following year. Finally applying myself at school, I was awarded runner-up dux in my Continue reading

The 50 Must Read Australian Novels (40 to 31) (The Popular Vote 2010)

If we mometarily ignore the genius of Hal Porter (37) and the Nobel Prize winning Patrick White (32), the next ten titles on our list could be said to represent the best of modern writing in Australia. Who am I trying to kid? I can’t ignore Hal Porter or Patrick White. The next ten, therefore, can be said to represent the best of Australian writing. No more said. (Full List of 50 Must Read Australian Novels now available – click here)

9780143009528

40. A Fraction of the Whole

Steve Toltz

Meet the Deans.

The Father is Martin Dean.

He taught his son always to make up his mind, and then change it. An impossible, brilliant, restless man, he just wanted the world to listen to him – and the trouble started when the world did.

The Uncle is Terry Dean.

As a boy, Terry was the local sporting hero. As a man, he became Australia’s favourite criminal, making up for injustice on the field with this own version of justice off it.

The Son is Jasper Dean.

Now that his father is dead, Jasper can try making some sense of his outrageous schemes to make the world a better place. Haunted by his own mysteriously missing mother and a strange recurring vision, Jasper has one abiding question: Is he doomed to become the lunatic who raised him, or a different kind of lunatic entirely?

From the New South Wales bush to bohemian Paris, from sports fields to strip clubs, from the jungles of Thailand to a leaky boat in the Pacific, Steve Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole follows the Deans on their freewheeling, scathingly funny and finally deeply moving quest to leave their mark on the world.


978014320305639. Butterfly

Sonya Hartnett

On the verge of her fourteenth birthday, Plum knows her life will change. But she has no idea how.

Over the coming weeks, her beautiful neighbour Maureen will show her how she might fly. Her adored older brothers will court catastrophe in worlds that she barely knows exist. And her friends – her worst enemies – will tease and test, smelling weakness. They will try to lead her on and take her down.

Who ever forgets what happens when you’re fourteen? Continue reading

Who are the Australian writers raking in the big bucks?

I’ve got a copy of BRW magazine on my desk, the boss just gave it to me.

In this months edition you can find a list of the…

50 RICHEST AUSTRALIAN ENTERTAINERS 2010.

Who tops the list is unimportant – it’s who’s missing that’s important – that’s the real story!

Authors are missing!

Which implies that authors aren’t very entertaining… dollar for dollar.

Wait, one Australian author is. Nup, it’s not Bryce, not Di, not even Timmo…

According to this list, Matty Reilly is the only really really really entertaining writer scribbling today – at least, the only one making millions, he comes in at no. 42 with $2.5 million.

Matthew Reilly is the popularly elected president of authors – elected unopposed for a term of one short year.

Matthew’s story seems almost designed to make aspiring writers salivate – failing to get his first book published he printed his own copies and went from book shop to book shop asking booksellers to put his paperback on their shelves. One of these self-published copies was picked up by Pan Macmillan Australia’s Cate Patterson who saw the potential in the little go-getting, wannabe author. He promptly showed her his second novel – which was bigger, better and errr… let’s be honest, awesomer. Thus begins the nice little rags to riches story which still has the power to make many writers cry into their pillows at night.

Matthew Reilly may be the only author on the list but he certainly isn’t the only writer.

What’s that, you say?

Well, Matthew Reilly is famous because of his writing – thus, he’s an author. The other success stories on the rich list have been allowed to write because they are good at something else.

However, a writer is a writer and if we can’t get real writers on the list we’ll take Continue reading

Unfinishable books: Are the publishers eating themselves?

Not so long ago at a gathering of writers, one of my colleagues was sitting next to a woman who had published a book every eight months for more than a decade. This got me thinking about whether or not I could actually finish reading all works by my very favourite authors if they were churned out every eight months and I have to say, the answer was a very definite NO.

I used to subscribe to the view that once you started a book, you definitely had to finish it. It was a matter of respect – respect for the author who laboured over every sentence, nay, every word. And respect for the written word itself. Somehow the mere fact that the words were arranged on paper before the reader, implied an imperative to consume every single one of them.

I came to this idea partly because of the influence of a friend from my 20s who was almost an obsessive compulsive reader. No matter how inexcerable the book, he always finished it. He considered it a character flaw to read more than the first page without getting (in proper order) to the last. He was both didactic and persuasive.

But my need to progress from beginning to end, without deviation and without procrastination, was probably implanted in me in high school days by a certain Mrs Mitchell, my English teacher. Flame haired, of dramatic disposition, it was she that brought literature off the page and into my heart. From Lord of the Flies, to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, from Canterbury Tales to The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock, it was Mrs Mitchell’s well modulated narration that imprinted reading into my brain.

Unfortunately, Mrs Mitchell was no match for the tyranny of the well-oiled usually globalised publishing machine, which churns out thousands of new titles every month. For a bookseller, reading moves from being an idiosyncratic pleasure to an extension of work, and more is the pity. As for always finishing a book, well it is pretty hard to justify if you don’t love it and you have another 30 stacked up all needing to be consumed by the 26th of the month (the date around which all the next month’s new releases come in).

Of course, like thousands before me, I entered the bookselling world arrogantly thinking I was widely read. Little did I realise that I was widely read in about 1 per cent of the book world. Maybe less. A very humbling experience. And it took me only a few weeks to realise that to be a bookseller, I had to find away to make books appealing from Madame Bovary (which I love) to The Five Greatest Warriors (which I hate).

I put this dilemma to a friend of mine recently, a person with many years experience of customers and authors, and he told me his maxim. If he isn’t hooked on a book by the number of pages that corresponds to his age, he gives it away. Now that I am reading for work rather than for pleasure, I have applied the theory and in a great number of cases (The Five Greatest Warriors for example) I can tell you that I wish I was a lot younger.

So how does an online bookseller deal with all of this and still be able to sleep at night? Well, in general I take the coward’s option. I simply don’t bother reviewing the books I hate. Why put off a customer with a damning review plastered all over the “product page” on our site. And afterall, we have sold substantially more of The Five Greatest Warriors than Madame Bovary, so what would I know anyway?

And what about books that are just plainly disappointing? The ones that make you feel guilty that a perfectly good tree has been cut down to make the paper and you just know the book is going to be remaindered? Well at the risk of offending my good friends in publishing, not to mention a few authors, I am going to actually come and out and say it. I had a lot of trouble getting to my requisite number of pages with these three below. In fact, I am going to have to plant a few seedlings this weekend, just to compensate for my part in the carbon that was wasted  unnecessarily on their publication.

So here it is – for once – three books that I wouldn’t buy. But don’t blame me if one of them turns out to be the next Matthew Reilly.

MEMOIRS OF A FAT BASTARD: HOW I LOST MY GUT AND GAINED A LIFE

Chris Gibson grew up in Mel Gibson’s shadow. Actually that is not entirely true. Mel outshone his brother Chris in just about everything, but Chris’ shadow was always bigger because Chris was the said “fat bastard” in the title.

Its publisher describes the book thus:

This is a bittersweet account of how a middle-aged man on the road to destruction turned his life and health around on his own terms. It is a telling and frequently hilarious story of the ways in which some men can lose their way, and the way back to finding meaning and happiness amid the competing pressures of being provider, family man and all-round good Aussie bloke.

I presume the publisher has actually read all the book. I have not. However on the strength of the pages that I read may I just point out that just because you are related to someone famous, it doesn’t make you interesting. Especially if the person to whom you are related is completely odious. And constantly swearing, without having mastered profanity as humour, nor profanity as threat, is tedious in the extreme.

Most of us don’t have very interesting lives and Chris is one of them. What lifts an unexceptional life into an exceptional book, one that someone is happy to pay $34.99 for, is good writing and the creation of emotional tension and I am glad that his publisher, and his wife, care about Chris because I don’t.

Memoirs of a Fat Bastard is a July release and is available to pre-order here.

SOMEWHERE DOWN A CRAZY RIVER: A SPIRITED LIFE CACHING LOVE, FISH AND WISDOM by Robyn Catchlove

Now Robyn Catchlove has had an interesting life.

Robyn Catchlove wasn’t destined for married life and two and a half  kids in the suburbs of Adelaide…So in her early twenties, she walks away from a marriage to seek out adventure and lead the life she’s always dreamed of.

What followed was Les, building a boat in Cairns, and 8 years bouncing around the hallucinogenic tropics of far north Queensland, all of which took her deep into the heart of the exclusively male world of professional fishing.

From all accounts of people who have actually met and spoken with her, Robyn is warm, engaging and marvellously eccentric. And she has a million stories to tell about her fascinating life. The trouble is however, that an interesting life doesn’t make necessarily for an interesting book. The reason that authors are authors is that they are compelled to write and they perfect their craft over a life time. This usually means they have to mine other people’s stories, or use their imaginative powers to conjure up fiction, because they quickly run out of source material going over the who-did-what to-whom of their own experiences. Sorry Robyn, but in my opinion, reading this is like listening to a friend re-count their dreams. Great source material with poor delivery means that any potential emotional impact is frittered away.

Somewhere Down a Crazy River is out now.

And so to fiction.

I really wanted to like COMRADES by Dominic Knight. A co-founder of the Chaser and author of Disco Boy (which I tried and failed to finish), I was attracted to the premise of the book.

Sydney University is Australia’s pre-eminent finishing school for politicians, and its Students’ Representative Council is the nursery where generations of future leaders have cut their first dodgy preference deals and performed their first backstabbings. Comrades is the story of one student President, Eddie Flanagan, and the brutal struggle to replace him, as a menagerie of campus lefties, Liberals and a would-be comedian dressed as a rooster battle for the spoils…Comrades is an affectionate portrait of student life, with its lofty idealism, constant hedonism and irrepressible humour.

That got me in. Having been a student of Sydney University and participated fully in the idealism, hedonism and humour (well, I amused myself) of the day, I clearly remember a certain current leader of the opposition making his run for the SRC (in fact, if I recall correctly, he was known on campus by his hyphenated name, Tony F***-ing-Abbott).

I really wanted to like this book. Alas, it is as hit and miss as The Chaser itself.  Lacking emotional depth and character development, there is no reason for the reader to actually care. All that wonderful material falls sadly flat. Comrades is another book  I was happy I to put aside once I reached my age limit.

Perhaps I really am too old. I like to think not. I think that in fact in their quest for the next bankable author, the next Mao’s Last Dancer or The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, the publishers are eating themselves. Hence them serving up the brother of a disgraced actor whose life is a train wreck. Oh, for a slimmed down publishing industry which is a bit more choosy about what it commits to. In this era of print on demand, e-pub and iPad, discernment is definitely going to be a casualty.

Comrades is an August release and is available for pre-order here.

The Story of Danny Dunn & the Best of 2009, Downunder

Australian writers did well in 2009, too.

Alex Miller’s Lovesong raised the bar once again. He truly is one of the best writers writing in Australia today. To see Toni Whitmont’s interview with Alex Miller - Click Here.

And there was strong Australian representation in the field of popular writing too.

Late 2009 saw the release of a new novel from Australia’s favourite thriller writer Tara Moss , the ‘glamorous and menacing, Siren‘. Check out her Author Page on Booktopia.

We also welcomed another grand saga by Bryce Courtenay (my Aunty Pat’s pick), The Story of Danny Dunn.

Booktopia’s good friend Tony Park also released a brilliant thriller set in the heart of Africa in 2009, the unputdownable Ivory. (We have signed copies in stock ready to ship.)

Matthew Reilly, whose Seven Ancient Wonders was followed by Six Sacred Stones which ended in the mother of all cliffhangers, made millions of his die-hard fans happy by serving up the next incredible instalment of the Jack West series, The Five Greatest Warriors.

Judy Nunn produced one of the biggest sellers of the year, Maralinga - at one point it seemed as though everyone I knew was reading it or was just about to.

Di Morrissey’s The Silent Country was the preferred choice for this summer’s Beach Read – every beach bag had a copy stuffed inside. On the endless Australian coastline bikini clad sun worshippers  were propped up on their elbows reading, utterly absorbed by The Silent Country.

One of the surprises of 2009 was The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.  Though published late 2008, it gained momentum in 2009 till it outsold more mainstream titles – but then, who could resist a book with this teaser -

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

Lastly, Donny Paterson’s  No Ordinary Bloke is a warts and all tale told in a voice that rings with freshness and authenticity, says Booktopia’s Toni Whitmont, who recommended it as her book of the month back in October, 2009. (We have signed copies in stock ready to ship.) Watch Toni’s interview with Donny here.

What are your picks for the best books of 2009?

Booktopia has put together a list of the Best Books of 2009Click here to see.

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