Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sarah Winman

author of When God Was a Rabbit,

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 and schooled in Essex – at the time, not the most inspiring suburb of London. But it was home, and I was brought up amongst genuine loving fun people.

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

Ski instructor, actor, writer. They represented who I felt I was at the time.

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

That I would have gone to mime school and lived in Paris.

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?

Oh blimey – I can never do three – innumerable:

Music – Arvo Part. Bill Evans. Billie Holiday

Film: Annie Hall, The Godfather, A Matter of Life and Death.

Books: John Irving, Tim Winton, Toni Morrison.

Art: Madonna of the Rocks, Edward Hopper, Brassai – Paris by Night.

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

I acted before I wrote. They led on, one from the other.

6. Please tell us about your debut novel When God Was A Rabbit...

It’s a love story between a brother and sister – about secrets forged in childhood and the adult consequences of those secrets. It’s about the strength of family; about best friendship. It’s about loss and being able to start again.

(BBGuru: Read Toni Whitmont’s review here

Publisher’s synopsisWHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT is an incredibly exciting debut from an extraordinary new voice in fiction.

Spanning four decades, from 1968 onwards, this is the story of a fabulous but flawed family and the slew of ordinary and extraordinary incidents that shape their everyday lives. It is a story about childhood and growing up, loss of innocence, eccentricity, familial ties and friendships, love and life. Stripped down to its bare bones, it’s about the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.)

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

To feel stirred by something – to feel less lonely in the world.

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

Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters, John Irving and Tim Winton. – Poetry, truth, heartbreak, craft, honesty, journey, integrity – a few reasons why I admire them.

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

To write another novel.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Believe in yourself. Believe in the story you want to tell. If you have only an hour to write, write. If you have a day, write. There will be many reasons not to write – identify them, be friends with them and then say goodbye to them.

Sarah, thank you for playing.

Cherise Saywell, author of Desert Fish, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Cherise Saywell

author of Desert Fish

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 Northern NSW, in Lismore, the oldest of four girls. I grew up nearby in Casino. I hung about after I left school, failed miserably as a trainee accountant, and then worked as a receptionist in an aged care home before moving to Brisbane and going to university. In my late twenties I travelled to Scotland on a working holiday. I met my partner there, and we have two sons.

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

I can’t remember what I wanted to be when I was twelve. I didn’t think so far ahead at that age. I thought girls grew into Continue reading

Man Booker Prize Short List

The field is narrowing for the Man Booker prize, with the long list being whittled back to 6 contenders.

summertimeOur favourite of course, given the Australian connection, is J.M Coetzee’s Summerland, which would put the South African born and raised author on a hat trick given his wins for Disgrace and the Life and Times of Michael K.

A S Byatt is also up for a second win with The Children’s Book. childrens bookPossession was the winner in 1990.

Hilary Mantel’s Elizabethan novel Wolf Hall was the one that was whispered in my ear when it was released onto the Australian market several months ago.

Other contenders are Sarah Waters for The Little Stranger, Simon Mawer for The Glass Room and Adam Foulds for The Quickening Maze.quickening make

And it won’t be easy to come up with one name on October 6, according to judge chair Simon Naughtie.

We’re thrilled to be able to announce such a strong shortlist, so enticing that it will certainly give us a headache when we come to select the winner. The choice will be a difficult one. There is thundering narrative, great inventiveness, poetry and sharp human insight in abundance.“These are six writers on the top of their form. They’ve given us great enjoyment already, and it’s a measure of our confidence in their books that all of us are looking forward to reading them yet again before we decide on the prizewinner. What more could we ask?

Meantime, we read, and we wait.

Man Booker Longlist

Amid all the packing and unpacking this week, we had barely time to scratch ourselves, but we have just got to mention the Man Booker Prize longlist. A baker’s dozen, two past winners, four past listed authors and two new writers.

Click on the titles to order.

Hilary Mantel is longlisted for Wolf Hall, a piece of historical fiction centring on Thomas Cromwell, who was the successor to Cardinal Wolsey as Henry VIII’s most trusted adviser as the king tries to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. “This is a beautiful and profoundly humane book, a dark mirror held up to our own world,” wrote Olivia Laing in the Observer. “Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as most brilliant writers”.

The first author to win the Booker prize twice (and now claimed by Australia),  JM Coetzee is in with a third chance with Summertime, which is a September release. This latest novel from Coetzee completes his trilogy of fictionalised memoir begun with Boyhood and Youth, detailing the story of a young English biographer who is writing a book about the late author John Coetzee. Coetzee won the Nobel prize for literature in 2003.

It’s probably safe to say that the ‘autobiography’ of the chimpanzee who co-starred with Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan films, Me Cheeta by James Lever, is the first animal memoir to make it onto the Booker longlist. Me Cheeta, longlisted for the Guardian first book award last year, was called “the most audacious, funny and even moving novel that I have come across in years” by Nicholas Lezard.

James Scudamore is on the Booker longlist for his second novel, Heliopolis. A first person narrative, the book is told from the perspective of a 27-year-old who was born in a Sao Paolo shantytown but now lives on the other side of the city’s social divide. Scudamore’s first novel, The Amnesia Clinic, won the 2007 Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Costa first novel award and the Commonwealth writers’ prize.

Samantha Harvey’s debut The Wilderness, which was shortlisted for this year’s Orange prize, is the story of a man in his early 60s who is struggling with the onset of Alzheimers and trying to keep his memories and identity as the debilitating disease takes hold.

Sarah Waters, twice shortlisted for the Booker and the Orange prize, is in the running again with her fifth novel, The Little Stranger, a ghost story set in post-war Warwickshire.

Simon Mawer makes the cut with The Glass Room, a historical novel set in Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s. As war looms, newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile, move to a house on a hill with a unique glass room.

Love and Summer by William Trevor, which is yet to be published, is set in a small Irish town over the course of one long summer, when a stranger arrives on his bicycle and falls for a young married girl. Trevor, knighted for his services to literature in 2002, has won the Whitbread book of the year and the prestigious David Cohen literature award which recognises a lifetime’s achievement.

AS Byatt, who won the Booker in 1990 for Possession, is up this time for The Children’s Book. It deals with intertwined lives of four families at the turn of the 20th century as they experiment with bohemian living, each with their own secrets. The Sunday Times said it was easily the best book Byatt had written since Possession; the Guardian called it “staggeringly detailed and charged”.

Poet-novelist Adam Foulds is longlisted for The Quickening Maze, a historical reconstruction of the meeting of the poets John Clare and Alfred Tennyson at a lunatic asylum in Epping Forest. Foulds has already won the Costa poetry prize for his verse history of the Mau Mau uprisings, The Broken Word, and was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2008.

Twice before shortlisted for the Booker, Colm Toibin has another chance to take the prize for his latest novel, Brooklyn, in which a young Irish woman leaves 1950s Ireland for a life in Brooklyn.

Ed O’Loughlin is the second debut novelist to make the Booker longlist, joining Samantha Harvey with his first novel Not Untrue & Not Unkind. The book follows the story of journalist Owen Simmons who finds a dossier on the desk of his dead newspaper editor which leads him to Africa and a woman he once loved. The Guardian called it “a worthy successor to The Quiet American”.

Sarah Hall is in the running for her fourth novel, How to Paint a Dead Man, which weaves together four stories spanning half a century, from an elderly Italian painter to the young blind girl he teaches. Hall, who won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize in 2007 for The Carhullan Army, was shortlisted for the Booker for her first novel, The Electric Michelangelo.

Ed O’Loughlin is the second debut novelist to make the Booker longlist, joining Samantha Harvey with his first novel Not Untrue & Not Unkind. The book follows the story of journalist Owen Simmons who finds a dossier on the desk of his dead newspaper editor which leads him to Africa and a woman he once loved. The Guardian called it “a worthy successor to The Quiet American”

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