Random House Australia joins our Booktoberfest celebration – you could win a prize pack worth over $800!

How would you like to give everyone you love a book for Christmas… without you having to pay a cent?

To help us celebrate Booktoberfest our friends at Random House are giving you the chance to win all of the books in their Booktoberfest Showcase.

Order any of the books in the Random House Booktoberfest Showcase to go into the draw to win the entire collection – worth over $800!

Click here to enter the Random House showcase

Random House Booktoberfest Highlight

Ned Kelly

by Peter FitzSimons

Love him or loathe him, Ned Kelly has been at the heart of Australian culture and identity since he and his gang were tracked down in bushland by the Victorian police and came out fighting, dressed in bulletproof iron armour made from farmers’ ploughs.

Historians still disagree over virtually every aspect of the eldest Kelly boy’s brushes with the law. Did he or did he not shoot Constable Fitzpatrick at their family home? Was he a lawless thug or a noble Robin Hood, a remorseless killer or a crusader against oppression and discrimination? Was he even a political revolutionary, an Australian republican channelling the spirit of Eureka?

Peter FitzSimons, bestselling chronicler of many of the great defining moments and people of this nation’s history, is the perfect person to tell this most iconic of all Australian stories. From Kelly’s early days in Beveridge, Victoria, in the mid-1800s, to the Felons’ Apprehension Act, which made it possible for anyone to shoot the Kelly gang, to Ned’s appearance in his now-famous armour, prompting the shocked and bewildered police to exclaim ‘He is the devil!’ and ‘He is the bunyip!’, FitzSimons brings the history of Ned Kelly and his gang exuberantly to life, weighing in on all of the myths, legends and controversies generated by this compelling and divisive Irish-Australian rebel.

Click here to buy Ned Kelly from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Peter FitzSimons, author of Eureka Stockade: The Unfinished Revolution, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Peter FitzSimons

author of Eureka Stockade: The Unfinished Revolution, Mawson, Batavia, Kokoda and many more…

Six Sharp Questions


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

Eureka Stockade: The Unfinished Revolution, details the birth of democracy in Australia. Our version of the Boston Tea Party, it was the moment when Australians insisted that they had rights, rights that they were prepared to fight for, the British bayonets notwithstanding.

2. Time passes. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

The best moment was being at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. The worst moment? I dinkum can’t think of anything particularly bad this year – touch wood!

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us?

Yes, I love this part, where one of the diggers, is exhorting his brethren to take it further, and fight!

Typically, Thomas Kennedy goes further.

“The press,” he says, “has called us demagogues, who must be put down. But I for one will die a free man, though I drink the poison as Socrates of yore. We have come 15,000 miles, and left the enlightenment of the age and of the press, not to suffer insult, but to obtain greater liberty. We want men to rule over us, [not such as we have.] Most of all, we have to think of our children, who will grow up in this great colony, and all of us must never forget their own dearest interests.”

And yet, he asks, is this the way to proceed? Constantly signing petitions and passing resolutions, all for no result?

“Moral persuasion,” Thomas Kennedy says, with everyone leaning forward as before, to catch every word, “is all humbug. Nothing convinces like a lick in the lug!”

Love that “lick in the lug,” line! It wonderfully summed up the view of the vast body of diggers – we have had a gutful, and are now going to take arms against a sea of troubles.

 4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it?

I don’t really think I am – primarily because I love what I do. Though, I must say, when I am in full writing mode, I am doing one of two things: either writing my book, or resenting the fact that I am not writing my book. I am involved in many activities and travel a lot, but wherever I am, I always have my laptop close, and write my books in planes, trains, automobiles and hotel lobbies, as well as at home, lying supine on the coach. Overall, though, I have noticed that I am at my most productive when on long-haul flights, where there are no interruptions.

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

Writing books is hard. Of course I want my books to sell. Thus, in the range of the many subjects I want to write about, I do choose the ones that will sell well in the marketplace.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only three books with you. What do you take and why?

Charles DickensGreat Expectations: most impressive novel ever written, in my view.

Kahlil Gibran -  The Prophet – the values it evinces, without any religious gibberish, are wonderful.

Bob DylanThe Complete Lyrics of Bob Dylan. Even without him singing, and instrumentals, his lyrics are poetry for the soul:

Suddenly, I turned around, and she was standing there,

With silver bracelets on her wrist, and flowers in her hair,

She walked up to me so gracefully, and took my crown of thorns,

Come in, she said, I’ll give ya, shelter from the storm.”

Peter, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Eureka: The Unfinished Revolution from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Three Authors Offer Advice for Writers: Craig Silvey, Peter FitzSimons and Susan Maushart

I interview writers every week here on the Booktopia Blog. My Ten Terrifying Questions have been answered by over 250 published authors ranging from mega selling global stars like Jackie Collins and Lee Child to brilliant, relatively unknown debut authors such as Miles Franklin shortlisted Favel Parret and  Rebecca James.

In each of these interviews I ask the following question:

Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Now, for the edification of aspiring writers everywhere, I will pull together answers to this question from three very different writers and post them here once week. Some will inspire, some will confound but all will be interesting and helpful in their own way…


“I would urge any aspiring writer to be patient and stubborn and driven. Writing is incremental, it’s done by degrees. Every day you show up, you nurse the same doubts, you field the same concerns, you fret, you worry, you panic, you prevaricate, and inside that painful, delicate act, you finally let the story come to you in small sparks. It takes time. Reams and reams of it. You should have a healthy appetite for solitude.

The longer I write, the more I come to understand that authors are really just conduits for stories, we are the guardians of their development. For me, my writing works the best when it feels meditative and unforced, which means I need to forget that I’m a fretful author in a dim room with debts and a deadline. I need to almost remove myself from the process altogether, and let the story weave itself on the back of some kind of subconscious intuition.

I would especially urge them against concerning themselves with pointless, external exercises like Word Counts and so forth. Volume is the last thing you need to worry about. Songwriters don’t work to Note Counts. It is what it is. Don’t force it.

And, finally, practice the craft because you love it. It’s a privilege, and it’s good for you. Kurt Vonnegut used to say that practising any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. And I’m inclined to agree. Then again, I’ve got no idea what I’m doing.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Jasper Jones from Booktopia
Australia’s No.1 Online Bookshop


“Get width of experience in your life. To be a writer you need to have something to say that others will care about and if you can have had experiences that your readers have not, it will help. Read as widely as you travel, and try to write with the same spirit.

Read the full interview here…

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


“Read, for heaven’s sake! An aspiring writer who doesn’t read constantly is like an aspiring musician who plays Guitar Hero all day.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy The Winter of Our Disconnect from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

For more advice from published writers go here

Books for the men in your life for Christmas

Stop panicking.

Here are some great gift ideas this Christmas for all the men in your life. With historical must-reads from Peter FitzSimons on Sir Douglas Mawson, to the brilliant fiction that is Elliot Perlman’s The Street Sweeper,   to highly anticipated autobiographies from  cricket fast bowler Brett Lee and Tour de France Green Jersey winner Robbie McEwen you will have all your Christmas gifts covered for your grandpa, dad, brother, son, uncle and friends . . . in fact all the men in your life.

Order in stock books from Booktopia by December 12 to ensure delivery by Christmas.

Peter FitzSimons, author of Batavia, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Peter FitzSimons

author of Batavia, Kokoda, Tobruk, A Simpler Time, Nene and 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?

This question reminds me of a great book I read recently, and as a matter of fact, I wrote it – A Simpler Time. I was born and raised on a citrus orchard at Peats Ridge, the youngest of seven children, and after going to Peats Ridge Public School, went boarding at Knox Grammar School.

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

At twelve I wanted to be a writer and Prime Minister and play cricket for Australia and win Wimbledon and take over our farm. At eighteen I wanted to be a writer and Prime Minister and play rugby for Australia. At thirty, I wanted to write, all day long, and into the night. And I do . . .

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

That the fount of all goodness was the Liberal Party, and the root of all evil was the Labor Party.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

When I was fourteen, my brother lent me his tape of bob Dylan’s greatest hits, starting me on a lifetime’s passion for his songs and poetry – and I’d like to think some of that spirit has infused me. When I was 24 a friend told me she was going to be published in the herald in a reader’s column, and I decided I wanted to be published before her, so I wrote a story on rugby and my life changed. When I was 31, the TV personality Liz Hayes invited me to afternoon tea to meet a friend of hers, Lisa Wilkinson. Nine months later I married her. (Lisa, I mean.)

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Continue reading

July’s Booktopia Buzz – The Passage, Popular Penguins, Sizzling Sixteen – great deals, great books

Hello Booktopia Readers,

I’ve got a winter warming selection for you this month, starting (of course) with a great deal on Janet Evanovich and another one on the hardback 50th anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.

There is also $800 worth of Popular Penguins to give away – more particularly, four 20 volume collections, a choose-your-own library adventure!

Darren Groth’s Kindling is my book of the month and you certainly won’t be disappointed if you take a risk on this little known Canadian living ex-pat. Peter FitzSimons is back with his own memoir and for a block buster that is set to blow everyone away, stand by for The Passage. In fiction, I present everything from Geoffrey Chaucer to Lynda la Plante. There are reds under the beds (The Family File) and a dead author society (the biography of Stieg Larsson),EVIL IN THE SUBURBS, stand over tactics and interesting things to do with pubic hair. I’ve covered the world’s best architect, an iconic Australian brewery and werewolves (vampires are so yesterday). Who says that reading is boring?

This July issue is a beauty. Enjoy!

Toni Whitmont


Booktopia Buzz

To read the full issue of Booktopia Buzz for July, click here.

Charles Kingsford Smith brought back to life!

9780732284879Charles Kingsford SmithPeter FitzSimons has a special way of recreating past times and taking you right there with him. He certainly has done that with his latest book Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men. We have plenty of SIGNED copies in stock if you are after a great read for yourself, or for a gift (dare I mention Father’s Day? Well, there is nothing wrong with being organised early).

In the meantime, he has a very full dance card of media dates and book shop events. Booktopia got in early  when he was still in for the chat. You can watch the interview (in two parts) below.


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