Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jesse Fink

author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC

Six Sharp Questions

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

The Youngs is a tribute to three extraordinary Scottish-Australian brothers – George, Angus and Malcolm Young – who changed the face of rock music around the world. It’s a critical appreciation that is told through the stories of 11 important Young songs, starting with The Easybeats’ ‘Good Times’ through to AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’; not a traditional biography. It’s the 40th anniversary of AC/DC’s formation in November and they’ve come a long way in that time to be the biggest band in the world. The Young brothers hurt a few people getting there. They’re very tough businessmen as well as being superb musicians. Last year they were adjudged to be worth about $300 million and didn’t make any music.

It’s my third book, a real departure from my last one, Laid Bare, and it was a lot of fun to write. It’s not just another AC/DC book. It’s offering something different. It tells a new story.

Grab a copy of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC here

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

Getting an agent at a top literary agency in New York was probably the highlight, plus getting a film agent for Laid Bare in Hollywood. Having the right people in your corner makes all the difference to an author’s career. The Youngs is being published in the United States and I’m really looking forward to that.

Low point? A close personal friend losing her mother to cancer and then her father having a heart attack the same week. That put a lot of things in perspective for me. Live your life now rather than later.

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

It’s a line from Tony Currenti, one of the drummers on AC/DC’s 1975 debut album, High Voltage, who walked away from music in 1977 and opened up a pizzeria. He hasn’t touched a drum kit since, despite his playing appearing on AC/DC releases (High Voltage, ’74 Jailbreak, Backtracks, Bonfire) that have sold millions. I asked him why he didn’t continue with music.

He replied: “It was easy to give it away. With a pizza shop it’s not possible to be a musician. It’s one or the other.” I’m still laughing at that. Quote of a lifetime. He played with AC/DC for god’s sake, was even asked to join the band, and he gave it all up to work with pizza dough. He’s a wonderful character.

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

Completely conform to the stereotype. I don’t start the day without a coffee at my favourite café in Potts Point and might as well live there. I’d like to. They took out the power points in spite of me. I do a bit of work on my laptop – the low-level ambient noise helps, I find – then I go for a run to the Opera House and back, stopping by my local gym. Running helps me formulate ideas and I always listen to music when I’m doing it. In the afternoons I go back to the café and do more writing on my laptop.

When I’m in book mode I tend to obsess a bit with rewrites and edits and that will see me work well into the early hours of the morning. It’s very hard to maintain a relationship while writing a book. You are consumed by the work, even when you’re not sitting down, writing. The majority of the work is mental: just thinking about what you’re going to write.

This book also involved a fair bit of travelling, research and countless hours spent trying to lock down interviews with people who had never been interviewed before. Plus many more hours of transcribing: an onerous task. I’m a crappy typist.

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!).

The marketplace has never determined what I’ve written or how I’ve written it. I’ve always approached a project being absolutely passionate about the subject rather than motivated by commercial opportunity. You don’t write books for the money. But I certainly appreciate the need to market books in a certain way and I learned a lot from Laid Bare, especially how writers are marketed and the crucial role of marketing in modern publishing. The fact that AC/DC was having their 40th anniversary in 2013 was just a bonus.

I wanted to write the book for other, more personal reasons, which I explain in the book. The Youngs aren’t going out of their way to write it themselves. They’re notoriously private.

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

You would probably want to select books that will awaken their sense of wonder, that are fun to read, that compel them to think about their place in the world, what they can contribute, and what it means to be human. So war/genocide, sex/relationships, popular culture, travel and soccer (the sport the world plays) are good places to start: Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, If You’re Talking To Me, Your Career Must Be In Trouble by Joe Queenan, Chasing The Monsoon by Alexander Frater and The Hand of God by Jimmy Burns.

Jesse, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC here

Cathryn Hein, author of Heartland, answers Six Sharp Questions

heartlandThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Cathryn Hein

author of Heartland and more…

Six Sharp Questions

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

Heartland is the story of Callie Reynolds, a young woman who, since the death of her sister, has spent her life running from those who care for her. When her grandmother dies and leaves her Glenmore, a property Callie has always loved, she’s torn between what her heart aches for and the powerful need to honour her sister’s memory. All she wants is to sell up and move on, but the world keeps conspiring against her. The farm is full of memories and longing. Then there are the animals she’s been saddled with and an injured neighbour she feels responsible for – all surmountable problems. Until a very sexy and determined ex-soldier comes along and complicates matters…

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Mandy Magro, author of Flame Tree Hill, answers Six Sharp Questions

flame-tree-hillThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Mandy Magro

author of Flame Tree Hill and more…

Six Sharp Questions

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

Thanks, I’m thrilled to see Flame Tree Hill hitting the marketplace! Kirsty Mitchell is involved in a terrible accident which haunts her to this very day. Returning to Flame Tree Hill after three years spent overseas she finds herself coming face to face with her past demons, the man she has loved since she was a teenager and the absolute terror of being told she has breast cancer. Kirsty has never been a quitter, and that isn’t about to change. Drawing from the strength of her family and friends while immersing herself in the beauty of FNQ she fights the cancer with everything she has. That is, until she reveals an earth-shattering secret and the budding relationship she’s begun with local vet, Aden, begins to crumble.

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Tiffiny Hall, author of Red Samurai and White Ninja in the Roxy Ran series, answers Six Sharp Questions

red-samuraiThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Tiffiny Hall

author of Red Samurai and White Ninja in the Roxy Ran series

Six Sharp Questions

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1. Congratulations, on completing your new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

RED SAMURAI is my second book in the Roxy Ran trilogy for readers aged 10+. Roxy is now the White Warrior and in this book she meets her match da da da – the Red Samurai. Roxy is an ordinary 13-year-old girl with awesome powers plus a secret crush she is desperate to keep secret and the school bully to deal with. This book is more about Roxy’s sister Elecktra and the trouble she causes in Lanternwood with her magic. Red Samurai is a fantastic read for anyone dealing with bullies or struggling with their confidence. Red Samurai continues my fight to empower kids to feel stand up for themselves.


Click here to buy Red Samurai from Booktopia,

Australia’s Local Bookstore


2. Time passes. Things change. What is the best and moment that you have experienced in the past year or so?tiffiny hall

Best moments have been releasing my fiction and visiting schools to talk about reading and writing NINJA STYLE! Best moments are always when you are true to yourself. I’ve always had a thirst and passion for creative writing but it took many years to have the courage to share it. The truelly best moment is when kids see me as an author not a TV personality. The worst is dealing with injury. I have chronic plantar faciitis that cripples my feet and stopped me from being active and doing Taekwondo. I’m still rehabilitating now but not being able to walk was very frustrating – although I did get a lot of writing done because I was forced to put my feet up.

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

I was lucky enough to be taught by John Marsden at school. He lit the flame for writing when I was in Grade Five. I won a John Marsden award for creative writing and my heart was set – I wanted to share stories too. John inscribed one of his books for me ‘to Hall-of-fame’ writing and the book sits on my writing desk for inspiration. He always said writing is “bums on seats”. Whenever I’m struggling with motivation or inspiration I remember that I have to sit down and just get on with it. Writing is 80% grit and determination. It’s a hard gig. You really need to be self-disciplined.

I also have a few fitness quotes I live by to keep my mind and body healthy.

“For every diet there is an opposite binge,” – Geneen Roth

“You have your body for life; you might as well get along with it.” – Sandy Kumskov.

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

Deny deny deny! My writing means I work from home so meals are cooked on time, washing gets done, I’m able to multi-task. I’m a big believer in doing Writing Sprints. So I write hard for 30-40mins then take a break and do something menial for fifteen minutes to help myself think before the next sprint. If there are errands to run – I’m your girl. I’m home to even answer the home phone! I have a writing room at home that no one comes into, they respect my writing space. But I’m definitely not in a bad mood when I’m writing. My writing room consists of a messy desk with a collection of 20 ninjas standing at attention beside my computer. There are piles of manuscripts, a patchwork of post-its and stacks of kids books swallowing up my big Mac.

tomorrow-when-the-war-began5. 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!).

Ha! Lying if you say you never think about this. Series are so popular now with kids, it’s as if you can’t just think of writing a stand alone book anymore. White Ninja was a solid idea but I was influenced by the phemonemon of series and committed so committed to the trilogy. But when it comes to content I don’t care. When I started writing White Ninja four years ago there weren’t many martial arts series on the market, especially by female authors. I didn’t know if kids would love or hate martial arts adventure books. They were a blast to write and I hoped this would mean kids would enjoy to read them.

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

David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day – to teach them how to be economical with words, that life shouldn’t be taken so seriously and to prove that great writing can make you LOL in public.

John Marsden’s the Tomorrow When The War Began series – it will give them that ‘yeah-baby!!’ feeling of being hooked in by a series and not being able to put a book down.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude – because it is an example of exquisite writing, wise and blooming with mind-expanding ideas.

Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl – to show how you can experiment with language and the power of the imagination.

Lord of the Flies, William Golding – as an example of how themes work in writing: loss of innocence and the confronting conflict between civilisation and savagery that exists in all of us.

Tiffiny, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Red Samurai from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore


Roxy Ran Series by Tiffany Hall

White Ninja – Book 1

white-ninja

Will Roxy reveal her true fighting spirit?

Roxy Ran is an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl who doesn’t know anything about her ninja powers until a confrontation with the school bully unleashes them.

When new boy Jackson Axe introduces Roxy to the world of martial arts, she learns about the legend of the White Warrior and the powers that are trapped in the Tiger Scrolls. The White Warrior is hunted by both the ninja and samurai clans, and now Jackson and Roxy must find the Tiger Scrolls and unleash the powers of the White Warrior before the samurai do.

And in order to survive, Roxy must unleash her inner ninja.

“Dazzlingly different… a novel about transformation that has the power to transform every reader. Tiffiny Hall is the new voice in children′s fiction.”
- John Marsden

Click here to buy White Ninja from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Red Samurai – Book 2

In this second sensational title in the Roxy Ran series, Roxy is now The White Warrior. She has released the powers of the Tiger Scrolls – and the wrath of the Samurai, the centuries-old arch enemies of the Ninja. Roxy now has to take on the

red-samurai

Samurai, not realising that their leader, the Red Samurai, is closer to home than she ever could have imagined.
Praise for WHITE NINJA:

′Dazzlingly different… a novel about transformation that has the power to transform every reader. Tiffiny Hall is the new voice in children′s fiction.′

- John Marsden

Click here to buy Red Samurai from
Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Natasha Walker, author of The Secret Lives Of Emma series, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Natasha Walker

the Australian author of the bestselling
Secret Lives of Emma series

Six Sharp Questions

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1. Congratulations, on completing your new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Thanks. Unmasked is the final book in The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy. At the end of book two, Distractions, I was a bit mean and left readers hanging right at the point where nothing was going right for my heroine, Emma Benson. In geekspeak – it was my The Empire Strikes Back.

I can’t say much about Unmasked. I don’t want to spoil it. What I can say is Emma ends up on the southern coast of Italy in midsummer.

Unmasked is my favourite of the three. It’s a happy ending. But only those who know Emma well can possibly predict what a happy ending for Emma means.

Click here to buy The Secret Lives of Emma : Unmasked from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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

The past year has been completely bizarre. The best moment was getting a publishing deal. The worst moment was not being able to tell the whole world I finally got a publishing deal. For the sake of my family I decided to publish under a pseudonym. I was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist in 2012 and my proud mum can’t tell any of her friends!

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

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness – Bertrand Russell.

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

I work full-time so all my writing is done at night, in the early hours of morning and on weekends. This can put a strain on relationships but thankfully, when I am writing I write quickly, in intense bursts of inspiration and so far have hit all of the brutal deadlines set by my publisher. (I’ve had three books published in under a year)

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!).

The marketplace did not influence the writing of The Secret Lives of Emma but the publication of it was very much influenced by it. After the sudden initial success of Fifty Shades publishers worldwide were scrambling to publish other erotic novels as fast as they could. Luckily enough for me at that precise moment my agent had just read the draft of an erotic story I had written. The rest is history!

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

Why would I want to civilise a bunch of adolescents? Age and responsibilities will civilise them soon enough. I’d prefer to keep them uncivilised.

If I really had to take some books with me I’d take – The Philosophy of the Bedroom by The Marquis de Sade, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. Though I think very soon they would be used to fuel the fire we made to cook the smallest of the group.

Natasha, thank you for playing

Click here to buy The Secret Lives of Emma : Unmasked 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

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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

R.A. Spratt, author of the Nanny Piggins series, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

R.A. Spratt

author of the Nanny Piggins series

Six Sharp Questions

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

My new book is called Nanny Piggins and the Daring Rescue is about Nanny Piggins having to fly to Vanuatu to rescue her employer who is being held against his will in a tropical paradise.  I wrote it because I thought if I set a book in Vanuatu I would be able to take a holiday there and claim is as a tax deduction.  Sadly, I had a baby instead and didn’t get to have a holiday anywhere.

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

Best – discovering blood-orange gelato.  Worst – entire family being struck down with stomach flu.  The house has not smelled the same since.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

I’m not very good at remembering the precise wording of quotes.  I am handing in these answers a week late because I became bogged down by this one question.  I do remember ideas and turns of phrase.  But they are like fragments.  It’s hard to explain why they have lodged in my imagination.  Lately I have been thinking about an idea from Anthony Trollope’s The Last Chronicle of Barset, in which Reverend Crawley who is struggling financially and in his faith meets a poor man in the street who tells him, “it’s dogged that does it.”  It struck me as cryptic when I first read it five years ago, but lately I think I understand what Trollope means.

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

No, I am very easy to live with.  I like cooking things like bread or jam just to make the house smell nice.  When I need to work, I wait until everybody else is out of the house, then write like crazy until my brief window of peace and quiet comes to an end.

5. Some writer’s 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!).

I am a professional writer.  If my books did not sell in the marketplace I would have no money to pay the rent, which would make me very sad.

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

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – because it is jam packed full of brilliant insights.

Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver – because eating is very important.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – because it is beautifully written and wise.

Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe – because it has lots of interesting ideas.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – because it is very funny.

Thank you for playing.

Click here to read an extract of Nanny Piggins and the Daring Rescue

Click here to visit our RA Spratt author page

Jacqueline Harvey, author of Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jacqueline Harvey

author of Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor and The Alice-Miranda Series

Six Sharp Questions

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

Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor sees the launch of a whole set of new characters; who I completely adore.  Clemmie, as she’s affectionately known has some lovely quirks.  She recites poems that Uncle Digby, the family butler (but more like a beloved great uncle) teaches her and she can frequently be found performing for her grandparents (well, at least their portraits on the wall).  Clementine has a penchant for fashion and an unfortunate way of getting into trouble despite the best of intentions.  She also has a very sweet tea cup pig called Lavender.  When her scary great aunt Violet arrives unexpectedly, the household is thrown into disarray. What is it that Aunt Violet really wants and what is she carrying in her mysterious black bag?

This book is the start of a new series and there will be some interaction between these characters and the characters in the Alice-Miranda series.  Clementine lives in a village called Penberthy Floss and avid readers of Alice-Miranda will know that name from the second Alice-Miranda adventure, when she goes home for the holidays.  Clementine will also attend Ellery Prep School, where Alice-Miranda went before she took herself off to boarding school.  One of Clemmie’s best friends is Poppy Bauer who lives on the farm at Alice-Miranda’s parent’s property, Highton Hall.  I’m looking forward to writing Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose’s first meeting, which I anticipate happening in Clemmie’s fourth book and Alice-Miranda’s eighth. Click here to buy Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor.

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

This year has been an extraordinary one as I took four months leave from my full time job and travelled, first in Australia promoting Alice-Miranda and then to the United States and United Kingdom, where I worked in 37 schools and met thousands of students.  I have been fortunate to secure contracts for the Alice-Miranda series in the US and UK (and translation rights in Indonesia and Turkey) and Clementine Rose will also be published in the UK too.  Having the opportunity to travel and write and meeting amazing people has been an obvious highlight of the year.  When we were in the UK we stumbled upon the derelict mansion that I’ve used as inspiration for Caledonia Manor in the Alice-Miranda series.  It was definitely one of those ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ moments as I had no idea where the house was, other than somewhere in Shropshire – which is a fairly large county with an abundance of derelict mansions.  We were ultimately able to look through all 100 rooms of the house and tour the grounds as well.  We were there four times and it really felt like there was a very strange connection between us and the house.  We then spent a week in Paris on the way home which was fantastic as I’m currently writing Alice-Miranda in Paris.  I blogged about the trip at http://jacquelineharvey.blogspot.com

It was a wonderful surprise to return home and find that Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor has been included in the Get Reading Program for 2012.  I’m so grateful for the momentum of the Alice-Miranda series and the opportunity to continue writing her books and now Clementine Rose as well.

3.    Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

It’s really a quote that I’ve stolen from a very good friend of mine who is oft heard to say, ‘don’t waste a minute,’ and I suppose it’s become a bit of a mantra of mine too.  Life is short and you really don’t want to wake up in ten or twenty years’ time and wonder why you didn’t give something a go or why you wasted time on something that you didn’t love doing.  It’s not about filling every moment of your day, but it’s about deciding what’s important to you and making sure that you focus on those things and do what makes you feel happiest and most fulfilled.  To that end I’ve recently made the big decision to become a full time writer and speaker, giving up my job as Director of Development at Abbotsleigh at the end of October.  I adore working at the school and have been there for over 11 years but after touring the US and UK and meeting loads of kids and visiting many schools, I realised that this is what I really want to do.  It has taken a long time to get to the point that I could contemplate writing as a full time career, and I feel so fortunate that I can take that path now – I’m not going to miss a minute and fully intend to make the most of every opportunity.

4.    Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

I don’t think I conform to the stereotype at all – well most of the time anyway.  Up until now my writing life has always happened in the evenings, on weekends and in break times.  When I’m working on a book, I tend to be extremely focused.  I like to write away from home if I can, so for the past couple of years my husband and I have gone to Port Macquarie, where we stay in an apartment overlooking the ocean.  I usually settle to a routine fairly quickly and if I’m distracted or stuck, I can go for a walk and get some sea air.  It seems to help.  When I’m in the zone I can write for hours and hours at a time and I definitely get caught up in the emotion of it all.  There are often tears and laughter and I love the feeling of being completely consumed by the writing.  I suppose there are times that I live a little through my characters – and that could be a somewhat strange thing.  My husband will invariably catch me when I’m reading aloud and using all the different voices, or laughing because for one moment I thought I was terribly funny.  But he keeps me grounded!

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!).

I think ultimately all writers want to be read and certainly commercial success makes it easier to contemplate having a career in writing. I’m happiest with my writing when I’m completely in love with the characters and the stories.  Clementine Rose, like my previous character Alice-Miranda, is great to write because I adore her and I think that when you treasure your characters and really care about them, then hopefully that will be apparent to the readers too.  With the Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda series’ I wanted to write stories that I know I would have loved as a child; with adventure, empowered kids, lots of food and some mysteries to unravel.  I don’t think I was looking for a gap in the market but I feel really fortunate that the books have been well received and children seem to connect with them.

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

That’s a tricky question as there are so many amazing books.  I think I’d take The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, because I could help the students understand the power of language in the context of world war – and I wrote a really in-depth unit on the book a few years ago for the Quality Teacher Project so I know it well; The Bible, because no matter what you believe, there are so many universal stories played out and it would certainly allow for some interesting discussions on ethics, morality and belief systems;  To Kill A Mockingbird, because Atticus Finch is a man to admire and in that story there is a lot to talk about; a new book, that I read recently and loved called Wonder by RJ Palaccio, because Auggie is going to teach lots of kids about compassion and understanding and the not even yet thought about, Big Book of Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda, because every day we’d need to be reminded of the power of positive thinking, the importance of friendship and the fun that can be had when there’s a mystery to be solved and a Devil’s Food cake to be consumed.

Jacqueline, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Michael Robotham, author of Say You’re Sorry, The Wreckage and many more, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Michael Robotham

author of Say You’re Sorry, The Wreckage, Bombproof and many more

Six Sharp Questions

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

SAY YOU’RE SORRY is a dark psychological thriller about two missing teenage girls, best friends Piper Hadley and Tash McBain, who disappear on the last Saturday of their summer holidays. Piper narrates half the story, still alive and being held captive after three years. Meanwhile, after a grisly double homicide at an isolated farmhouse, psychologist Joe O’Loughlin becomes convinced that the girls might still be alive. Piper is counting on him and she’s running for her life.

Click here to buy Say You’re Sorry

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

The best moment was moving into a new house – leaving my ‘pit of despair’ basement office and swapping it for a ‘cabana of cruelty’. The worst moment was struggling to sell our old house and wrestling that all-consuming monster called ‘bridging finance’. We slew the dragon eventually but I still have the scars.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

‘One of the strange things about friendship is that time together isn’t cancelled out by time apart. One doesn’t erase the other or balance it on some invisible scale. You can spend a few hours with someone and they will change your life, or you can spend a lifetime with a person and remain unchanged.’

This is a line that I wrote in my novel ‘THE NIGHT FERRY

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

I’m a pain in the arse to live with – ask my wife and daughters. I’m moody, temperamental, opinionated, pessimistic and racked by self-doubt (and that’s on my good days). This has always been the case, but I know how lucky I am to be writing full time. I can wake in the morning without an alarm clock. Walk along the beach. Breakfast at my favourite café. I’m living my dream but the words don’t come any easier.

5. Some writer’s 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!)?

Many writers argue there is no commercial imperative about what they do. They write for love. They write because there is nothing else. I have made a living out of writing since I was 17 years old and became a cadet journalist. I am very fortunate to be a full-time writer, but my books have to pay the bills or I’d be writing as a hobby and working another job. My kids won’t go barefoot because of my ego or desire to follow my dream. Writing for me is a job.

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

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Amber Spyglass Trilogy by Philip Pullman

The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

Why? Because they’re all brilliant and getting somebody to read is about matching the right book to the right person.

Michael, thank you for playing.

Recently Michael shared a wonderful story with readers of the Booktopia Blog – if you missed it, go here, you won’t regret it.

Nicole Alexander, author of Absolution Creek, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Nicole Alexander

author of A Changing Land, The Bark Cutters and now, Absolution Creek

Six Sharp Questions

 

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

Absolution Creek is the story of Jack Manning, a grocer’s son, who watches the construction of the Sydney harbour bridge and dreams of a better life.  Although inexperienced, he leaves Sydney to manage Absolution Creek, a sheep property some 800 miles north. Yet outback life is tough and when a young girl, Squib Hamilton literally washes up on his doorstep he gradually learns of the devastating chain of events which will alter her life forever.

Absolution Creek is also the story of the men who loved Squib and tried to save her; her father, her friend and the man who would be her lover. Yet, one man lost her. One killed for her and one would die for her. Forty years later and Cora Hamilton is waging a constant battle to keep Absolution Creek in business. She’s ostracised by the local community and hindered by her inability to move on from the terrible events of her past, which haunt her both physically and emotionally. Only one man knows what really happened in 1923, a dying man who is riding towards Absolution Creek, seeking his own salvation.

With Absolution Creek I really wanted to tell a sweeping story that did justice to the vast country and characters that make outback Australia unique. I’m very proud of this novel.

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

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

The best was being a nominee for the NSW Women of the Year Awards and being named the Barwon Woman of the Year for services to literature & the promotion of the outback through my work.

The worst was the Christmas flooding of our region from November 2011 through to February 2012. 18,000 acres of our property which is located northwest of Moree was flooded.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

‘The oxen is slow, but the earth is patient.’ I think it is Confucius. Regardless of what you attempt in life, you will be rewarded if you persevere for long enough.

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

I probably conform in that when I sit in front of my laptop I disappear into my imagined world. On the other hand I work full-time on a mixed agricultural property. I’m too busy to be difficult – so my partner tells me.

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!).

I write what I live and love, the Australian outback. Although rural literature is enjoying a resurgence at the moment I would still be telling my stories regardless as I’m a fourth generation grazier. Some of Australia’s most distinctive stories and indeed legends originate in the outback and I’m proud to be writing about what is effectively my heritage.

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

For Whom The Bell Tolls , The English Patient ,  The Bible, A Fortunate Life (ABF), and my own novel, Absolution Creek. The last so that the adolescents have proof that I may in fact be somebody worth listening to and the first four as they all throw light on the human condition-good and bad.

Nicole, thank you for playing.

Absolution Creek

by Nicole Alexander

One man lost her. One man died for her. And one would kill for her …

Nicole Alexander’s new bestseller is a sweeping rural saga spanning two generations.

One man lost her. One man died for her. And one would kill for her … Nicole Alexander’s new bestseller is a sweeping rural saga spanning two generations.

In 1923 nineteen-year-old Jack Manning watches the construction of the mighty Harbour Bridge and dreams of being more than just a grocer’s son. So when he’s offered the chance to manage Absolution Creek, a sheep property 800 miles from Sydney, he seizes the opportunity.

But outback life is tough, particularly if you’re young, inexperienced and have only a few textbooks to guide you. Then a thirteen-year-old girl, Squib Hamilton, quite literally washes up on his doorstep – setting in motion a devastating chain of events…

Forty years later and Cora Hamilton is waging a constant battle to keep Absolution Creek in business. She’s ostracised by the local community and hindered by her inability to move on from the terrible events of her past, which haunt her both physically and emotionally.

Only one man knows what really happened in 1923. A dying man who is riding towards Absolution Creek, seeking his own salvation…

From the gleaming foreshores of Sydney Harbour to the vast Australian outback, this is a story of betrayal and redemption and of an enduring love which defies even death.

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

About the Author

In the course of her career Nicole Alexander has worked both in Australia and Singapore in financial services, fashion, corporate publishing and agriculture.

A fourth-generation grazier, Nicole returned to her family’s property in the late 1990s. She is currently the business manager there and has a hands-on role in the running of the property.

Nicole has a Master of Letters in creative writing and her novels, poetry, travel and genealogy articles have been published in Australia, Germany, America and Singapore. Nicole’s previous titles:  A Changing Land, The Bark Cutters.

GUEST BLOG: Ernest Hemingway and the Girl from the Bush by Nicole Alexander

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