Rabia Siddique, author of Equal Justice, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rabia Siddique

author of Equal Justice

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 am a first generation Australian. My father is a Muslim Indian, my mother a British/Scottish Australian. I spent my early years in India and we immigrated to Perth in the late 1970’s. I attended a Government primary school in a fairly Anglo, post war, working class neighbourhood and was very fortunate to attend Penrhos College, a Uniting Church Private Girls school for my secondary education.

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

From a young age I decided I wanted to help others obtain access to justice and find their voice, largely as a result of experiences I had as a child which gave me a strong sense of social justice and equality, so after obtain a BA and LLB from the University of WA I started my career in the law in Perth.

rabia

Author: Rabia Siddique

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

As an 18 year old I saw things in a very black and white way.  As I have got older I realise that not everything, in fact very few things are black and white, and that life is filled with many shades of grey. I have always been a tolerant person, but life and the various journey I have had has taught me to be even more accepting, compassionate and forgiving.

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?

The three most significant and influential events in my life have been experiencing first-hand; the discrimination and prejudice my father suffered as a dark skinned Muslim immigrant to what was then a very conservative Australia in the 1970’s, which gave me an early sense of equality and social justice, the powerlessness I felt as a young child of 9 after having been sexually abused my a neighbour for many months and then being told by my parents to never speak of the abuse to anyone, and the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, days before I commissioned as a Legal Officer in the British Army.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

I guess you could say in some ways I am a traditionalist and I still believe there is no replacement to the experience of reading a remarkable or beautiful book.  Books are the purest and most authentic way of sharing stories, and whilst Equal Justice is also available as an eBook, I believe my story and the messages I convey were worthy of more than a newspaper article or blog.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Equal Justice is the story about my life and my journey. It is a memoir about strength, resilience, courage and grit.  It shines a light on authentic and ethical leadership, equality and deals openly with the challenging topics of abuse, war, physical and psychological suffering and a woman excelling in a man’s world. It is a book I am very proud of and a story that has resonated with so many.

Grab a copy of  Rabia Siddique book Equal Justice here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

If my work could do one thing it would be to inspire others to be agents for change – in their relationships, households, communities and workplaces.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Mahatma Gandhi has always been my hero.  He said “Be the change you wish to see in this world” and that has been my life’s mantra and my life’s work.

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

I have been so fortunate and blessed to have achieved and realised so many of my goals and dreams, but I continue to dedicate my life to being the best parent, partner and friend and I can be, and to doing what I can to make a difference and inspire others to also make our communities and societies more tolerant, inclusive and diverse – so we can work and live together in genuine harmony and peace. I believe in dreaming big and striving for the highest. That is something I will impart to my children and something that will always define me as a human being and citizen of the world.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I believe nearly everyone has a story to tell. Don’t focus on the reasons not to write your stories, but ask yourself why not? Stories are the most effective way to break down barriers and connect with people. Have a focus on what you hope to achieve and make it happen. I truly believe that when you do something for the right reasons it always has a way of working out – joy and success will inevitably follow.

For writers seeking publishing deals – invest in a good literary agent!

Rabia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Equal Justice here


Equal Justice

by Rabia Siddique

Rabia Siddique is a woman with an extraordinary perspective. Growing up as a Muslim in the conservative and monocultural landscape of 1970s suburban Perth, she knew what it was like to be different. It gave her an abiding passion for equality and social justice that was to guide the course of her life. She trained as a lawyer, and found herself working in the UK on that fateful day in September 2001 when Islamic terrorists attacked the US.

She joined the British army in the Judge Advocates’ division as a military lawyer. She served in Iraq and was taken hostage by Islamic insurgents as she tried to negotiate the release of two kidnapped British soldiers. She battled for hours to save their lives, using her legal expertise, knowledge of Islam and Arabic to negotiate with their captors. After their release, her colleague received a Military Cross. Rabia received nothing. Her subsequent sex and race discrimination case against the British Army made headlines around the world. After leaving the army, she joined the Crown Prosecution Service as a prosecutor working on terrorism cases. Last year she returned to Perth to raise her triplet sons.

Her perspective as a feminist, a social justice crusader, a lawyer, a soldier, a former hostage, a terrorism prosecutor and a Muslim is unique, and her memoir is a story of grit, courage and conviction like no other.

 Grab a copy of Equal Justice here

Trish Morey, author of Stone Castles, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Trish Morey

author of Stone Castles, Fiancee for One Night, The Heir from Nowhere 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?

I was born in Adelaide, South Australia, and grew up in Elizabeth, a so-called satellite city about 20 miles north before we moved and I finished my secondary education at Unley High School. Adelaide Uni and an Economics degree followed.

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

When I was 12? A writer. Mostly because of reading the boxes of romances that came from my Gran’s nursing home and thinking “anyone could write this stuff”. (I was so wrong!)

When I was 18? Someone with a real job. Because writing wasn’t a real job apparently. So I became a Chartered Accountant instead.

When I was 30? Maternity leave time with my first bub, and I had the chance to step back from my career and was starting to question what I really wanted to do. It took my second bub to decide that I’d been right all along. Not that I regret for a moment the experiences I’ve had along the way, which have all fed my writerly soul (not to mention given me heaps of material – nothing is wasted, ever.)

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

Author: Trish Morey

At 18 I figured the world in black and white. I figured any intelligent person would agree with me. Now I know it’s shades of grey. (More than fifty of them.) Now I know there are more intelligent points of view than you can poke a stick at. So I try to avoid poking sticks at other intelligent people’s views (and really wish they’d keep theirs to themselves too.)

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?

Little Women – I loved that opening because as a small child, the thought of Christmas without presents was appalling. I wonder if my love of great openings came from reading that book?

John Donne – Holy Sonnet X – Death, be not proud. That sonnet resonated with me as a student. It turned the power of death on its ear, as not something to be feared. That last line – Death, thou shalt die. – talk about powerful! No wonder I love strong endings too.

Homer and the Odyssey – If not for these writings and my classical studies education, I would never have developed my love of Crete and all things Mycenaean. I’ve set books in Crete and Santorini- some published, some yet to be published.

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

I can’t paint, I can’t draw. I’m rubbish at singing and making music. Apart from creative accounting, telling stories was about all that was left.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Stone Castles is a reunion story, that puts paid to all those preconceptions that you can’t go back. Because you can always go back  – but nobody says it’s not going to hurt.

Grab a copy of Trish’s new novel Stone Castles here

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

That’s it never too late. That the mistakes we make for whatever good reason don’t necessarily mean we can’t be happy.

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

Every writer I know. Writing a book is hard work. Sticking at writing books and making a career out of it in these tumultuous, ever-changing publishing industry times – that takes guts.

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

I guess mine are to connect with my audience, and as wide an audience as possible. But in doing so, to touch their hearts. I don’t know if that’s an ambitious goal, but it’s mine.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write, write and write, and make sure you believe in what you write, and if you write romance fiction, or even if you don’t, join Romance Writers of Australia, because you will learn so much.

Trish, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Stone Castles


Stone Castles

by Trish Morey

She turned her back on the girl she was. He’ll show her the woman she was meant to be.

After ten years pursuing a prestigious career in New York, Pip Martin has returned to the Yorke Peninsula to farewell her dying grandmother. She doesn’t intend to linger – there are too many memories in the small country town and not all of them will stay in the past.

Like Luke Trenorden, her childhood sweetheart. A man Pip had promised her heart to, until tragedy stole Pip’s family away, and a terrible lie tore both their lives apart.

Pip cannot deny there is still a spark between them, even amidst the heartache of losing her Gran and the demands of her new life. But it may not be enough to rekindle a love that has been neglected for so long.

When a long-kept secret is revealed, Pip is free to go back to the life she thought she wanted… unless Luke can break down the stone castle Pip has built around her heart.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Trish Morey’s 30 titles for Mills & Boon have sold more than five million copies in more than 25 languages in 40 countries worldwide. Trish is a two-times winner of the Romance Writers of Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year Award and a 2012 Romance Writers of America RITA nominee. Trish lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and four teenage daughters.

 Grab a copy of Stone Castles

Cecelia Ahern, author of The Year I Met You, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Cecelia Ahern

author of The Year I Met You, P.S. I Love You, Love Rosie 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?

I was born in Dublin, raised in Dublin and schooled in Dublin. Ireland.

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

When I was 12 I wanted to be 18, when I was 18 I wanted to be a girlfriend and at 30 I wanted to be exactly who I was and have fun.

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

Author: Cecelia Ahern

That I will never, ever get married.

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?

Murder She Wrote
Enid Blyton
Hans Christian Anderson

5. Why did you choose to write a novel?

I really don’t believe that I chose to write a novel. I felt compelled to write one. Ever since I was a child, I had a busy head and the only way to make sense of things was to put pen to paper, when I got the idea for my first novel, I could barely think of anything else other than the characters that had arrived and the world that had developed. I put pen to paper and it all spilled out. When I don’t write I’m a very moody, confused, unsatisfied person.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Year I Met You is about a woman who defined herself by her career, and when she is fired and finds herself on ‘gardening leave’ and unable to work for one year, she suddenly has to figure out who she is without her work to hide behind. She also has to deal with family issues she has been ignoring and avoiding through simply being busy.

To find a new distraction she turns her obsession from work to her unpredictable neighbour across the street who is also having a personal crisis, and together they offer each other the company they need and unexpected healing to help each other through the dark moments.

Grab a copy of Cecelia’s new novel The Year I Met You here

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

I always hope people simply ‘get it.’ That they get the sarcasm when it’s supposed to be sarcasm, that they laugh when it’s supposed to be funny, that they’re moved when they’re supposed to be moved, that at the end they feel uplifted, and when they close the book like they’ve been through something – that it has affected them. That they got lost in the world that I created and that for the time they spent in it, it was worth it. Anything in addition to that is a bonus.

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

I admire anyone who is unique, who doesn’t do what they’re told, who doesn’t follow rules or stick to traditional story telling. Authors like Aimee Bender, Andrew Kauffman, Mitch Albom who have very distinctive voices and quirky minds.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?love-rosie-where-rainbows-end-

My goal is always to finish everything that I start, and preferably finish it right away because I can barely think of anything else until it is completed. I spend the year writing each new novel in a kind of a frenzy, feeling like there isn’t enough time to get everything done, every moment must be used, no distractions, no let up. I’m hard on myself but it’s how I get things done. Working in TV is a challenge to me as it’s a completely different way of working. It’s collaboration as oppose to solitary process, which is my natural state. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I’ve done many events where aspiring writers hang on to every word looking for the clue, the thing that will help them to finally do it, or unlock the mystery. There is no secret thing that authors know that you do not know. There is no secret way of writing, of trying to get published. You just sit down, get a pen and paper and write the story that’s in your mind and heart. Keep writing until you have finished. Stop talking about it, stop analysing it all so much that it comes apart and just do it. Be brave. Be yourself. Use your own voice and then you will immediately be unique because there is nobody like you.

Cecelia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Year I Met You


The Year I Met You

by Cecelia Ahern

A thoughtful, captivating and ultimately uplifting novel from this uniquely talented author

Jasmine loves two things: her sister and her work. And when her work is taken away she has no idea who she is.

Matt loves two things: his family and the booze. Without them, he hits rock bottom.

One New Year’s Eve, two people’s paths collide. Both have time on their hands; both are at a crossroads. But as the year unfolds, through moonlit nights and suburban days, an unlikely friendship slowly starts to blossom.

Sometimes you have to stop still in order to move on…

Original and poignant, The Year I Met You will make you laugh, cry and celebrate life.

About the Author

Cecelia Ahern is an international bestseller. She was catapulted into the spotlight with her hit debut novel, P.S. I Love You, which was adapted into a major movie. Her subsequent novels have captured the hearts of readers in 46 countries – her themes strike a chord with people in every continent, with over 15 million copies of her books sold.

 Grab a copy of The Year I Met You

Simon Griffiths, author of Shed, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Simon Griffiths

author of Shed and Shack

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 Fern Tree Gully in Victoria and went to the local school, Monbulk High School.

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

At twelve I secretly wanted to be an astronaut and walk on the moon. At eighteen I wanted to be a photographer, at thirty I was shooting for books and just wanted it to continue, I was enjoying the whole book process so much.

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

Author: Simon Griffiths

I used to believe most people in the world were sensible, I don’t believe that anymore.

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?

For me travel has been very influential, I am lucky that I get to travel a lot for work. My first big trip was to Italy, it was a life changing experience. Owning my first garden, I love gardens and gardening and owning my first piece of dirt was a turning point in my life. And a trip I had to Tibet with Kylie Kwong and my publisher, it was a magical, life changing trip and somewhere I thought I would never get to go to.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

I really don’t believe that I chose to write a book. I felt compelled to write one. Ever since I was a child, I had a busy head and the only way to make sense of things was to put pen to paper, when I got the idea for my first book, I could barely think of anything else other than the characters that had arrived and the world that had developed. I put pen to paper and it all spilled out. When I don’t write I’m a very moody, confused, unsatisfied person.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Shed is a look “Sheds” in Australia in the twenty-first century, who owns them, what goes on in them and why they enrich our lives. And hopefully will inspire people to create their own sheds.

Grab a copy of Simon’s new book Shed here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

Well how about world peace for a start.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Gosh this changes from week to week. This week it would be Edward Weston, who I have been reading about. One of the masters of 20th Century photography, His work was innovative and still influences photographers today. His technical skills both on the camera and in the darkroom were legendary.

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

At the moment it would be to continue working on interesting book projects and to get my garden looking good before Christmas!

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t give up!!! Keep writing. Keep your eye on the goal

Simon, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Shed


Shed

by Simon Griffiths

The Shed: A place of retreat, where we can forget the pressures of everyday life, work on a treasured project, store all those keepsakes we can’t bear to throw away, or spend time with friends or with ourselves in silent meditation.

Photographer Simon Griffiths has an eye for the beauty of ordinary things; in Shack he showed us the eccentric living spaces and holiday homes that Australians have made out of simple dwellings. Now he takes you to peek inside some of Australia’s most intriguing sheds. From fabulously cluttered artists’ studios overflowing with creativity and inspiration to evocative abandoned ruins, these sheds will make you look at your own in a new light. A shed is a place of possibility; it can be anything you want it to be.

About the Author

Simon Griffiths is a leading photographer of food, interiors and gardens. His photography appears frequently in the major lifestyle magazines and in books such as Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion and Kylie Kwong: My China. In the field of gardening and landscape design he has collaborated with Rick Eckersley and Lisa Stafford on their book Outside, with Jenna Reed Burns on Australian Gardens for a Changing Climate, and with noted rosarian Susan Irvine on The Garden at Forest Hall. He has also worked closely with leading Australian garden designer Paul Bangay on all his books, most recently The Garden at Stonefields. Shed is his is his second solo book following Shack.

 Grab a copy of Shed

Patrick Holland, author of Navigatio, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Patrick Holland

author of Navigatio

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 Rockhampton, raised and schooled in Roma in Southwest Queensland.

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

12: A bull rider. My father was a rodeo announcer, and most of the young men I admired were bull riders. They carried themselves with a quiet confidence that I imagined must come from regularly facing danger. Either that or a priest. This because a little Indian priest came to our house for dinner one night and told me stories of working in India and Africa and he seemed the most wise and worldly person I had ever met. It was perhaps the first time I glimpsed a world beyond the one I knew.

18: A ringer/horseman. I had done horse work as a kid, and it seemed the natural thing to do. The pay is terrible, though. Or at least was. I remember working for a nut in Cloncurry who paid me a hundred and fifty dollars for one month – that included building stock yards for a desert hermit who wouldn’t come out of his house. I had to speak to him through his door.

30: I was considering going into investment banking. My first novel The Long Road of the Junkmailer had not been a success, and I felt like the world was kicking my ass. I wanted to kick back. I imagined those martini fuelled parties in New York and Shanghai and thought I wanted in. Someone told me to read The Richest Man in Babylon, that it was a great book of business philosophy. After that I couldn’t in good conscience pursue that path, any more than I could’ve become a professional nose picker. It (the book) seemed so much low-rent pop psychology and mysticism after reading Hemingway and Kipling. I felt like a decent trade should be able to produce better discourse than that.

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

Author: Patrick Holland

That a really good crop of long hair would make me irresistible to girls.

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?

The first was a rare enough book of poetry by Ernest Hemingway called ‘88 Poems’. My sister needed a book of poetry for a high school assignment, she said, ‘go to the library and just get anything.’ Roma Council Library had three books of poetry. Hemingway’s was the one name I vaguely knew. When I got home, I had nothing to do and started to read. The language was so hard and strange. I never knew language could do the things he did with it. It seemed a new reality opened up within his words. The truth of things, the beautiful and dangerous truth.

The second is Arvo Pärt’s piano piece, ‘Für Alina‘. For me, Pärt is the greatest artist in any medium ever. I think he will draw as hard a line between what came before and what will come after as Hemingway or Bach did. ‘Alina’ is so simple, so full of quiet and silence, yet it manages to feel enormous, like it’s carved out of rock. It was his first work after years or creative silence. He had started out composing in the fashionable 12 tone style, then gave up on it, vowing not to compose a single note till he could find the musical language he needed to speak in. This was his first articulation.

The third is a recent film, La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty). It floored me. Made me realise the potential of something I’d been toying with for some time: the ambient narrative work; that favoured drift over drive; that left deliberate loose ends; that was all about framing poetic moment, but was not ‘episodic'; that refused to clamp down hard on ‘meaning’, and let the viewer get inside the silences and roam around. I see the influence of this film on my new book.

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

TI always will love the form. It’s so immersive, like the best new video games (‘Journey’, ‘Flower’), it invites you to participate, to live in its world.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Navigatio revives the Irish immram, or ‘sea adventure’. It is a redux of the medieval work Navigatio Sancti Brendani (c 900) , which tells of St Brendan and companion monks sailing an ox-hide boat on the Atlantic in search of Paradise. My book was written under the influence of Japanese ‘ambieint’ fiction … see Yuki Kurita … which maximises generative silence, and employs minimal signification and circular repetitions, all bent on inviting the reader’s subjectivity into the work to an increased degree. I take quite a few liberties with the original text. There are interpolations from right across the Celtic imagination and experience, and some way beyond. It is about journey, about searching for lost things in the hope of finding them again.

Grab a copy of Patrick’s latest book Navigatio here

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

An experience. Certainly not a lesson. In the case of Navigatio, the experience of journey – one that, like any worthwhile journey, expands their universe a little. I would be happy if someone told me reading the book was therapeutic … In the modern West, we’ve demoted the idea of utilitarian and instrumental art. Yuki Kurita hoped her book Hotel Mole would put people to sleep, and was applauded for her success. In the Anglophone world, every work is meant to be a tour de force with two functions: to demonstrate the genius and intelligence of its author, and to titillate its public. This idea of production and reception would seem very unusual and reductive to most artists and audiences throughout history.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?9780702239328

Of the living, Barry Lopez is my favourite author. He has such a great appreciation and intuition for the music of language … So in any one of his books you know you are going to find at least a half dozen phrases that will turn your world upside down. Like the first time you tasted beer. Also, he writes with such regard for people, such compassion and wisdom.

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

To write my books as well as they can be written. That’s all.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Most young writers’ only theme is how delicate a genius they are and how the world’s bitched them. Knock yourself out that narrow and dull world by writing about the first time you really hurt someone. That’ll adjust your sense of injustice. Then you’ll be on your way.

Patrick, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Navigatio here


Navigatio

by Patrick Holland

Navigatio tells the story of Saint Brendan of Clonfert, a sixth century monk and adventurer, and his legendary quest for the Isle of the Blessed via a gauntlet of monsters, devils, angels, prophets and beautiful maidens. Brendan’s battles with the sea and the cosmos bear out what William Faulkner once called ‘the human heart in conflict with itself’.

This haunting parable of darkness and light, of temptation and belief, of voice and silence, is told with the utmost economy of words, making it a small masterpiece of compassionate perception.

About the Author

Patrick Holland is an Australian novelist and short story writer who grew up in outback Australia doing horse work for local station owners.

Grab a copy of Navigatio here

Ruthie May, author of Count My Christmas Kisses, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Ruthie May

author of Count My Christmas Kisses, Stew a Cockatoo and Count My Kisses, Little One

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 Perth, Western Australia until my father dragged the family across the Nullarbor when I was 15 for bigger things out East. I finished high school and went to University in Sydney and haven’t really ever left.

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

At age 12 I dreamed of one day running my own newspaper and dating Spike from Press Gang – the thought of sitting around talking about what stories were important and which weren’t seemed wonderful to me, and Dexter Fletcher was just so witty and respectful of Julia Sawalha; at age 18 I wanted to be an academic historian – I was studying history and loved it, I still do; at age 30 I wanted to be a lady of leisure – it seemed so appealing.

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

Author: Ruthie May

I believed that life would take a linear, logical course.

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?

Itsy-Bitsy Babies by Margaret Wild & Jan Ormerod; The Millennium Book of Myth and Story by Maurice Saxby & John Winch; & The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett.

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

There is so much delight to be had in a picture book – you only need to sit down and read to children to discover that. You can see the world open up to a child right before your very eyes. To be able to create those experiences is a total joy.

6. Please tell us about your latest picture book…

My latest picture book is a follow up book to a book I wrote a number of years ago called Count My Kisses, Little One. They appear to be counting books, but they are really about smooching and the affection small children have for new babies.

Grab a copy of Ruthie’s new book Count My Christmas Kisses here

 

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

A warm fuzzy feeling.

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

In the realm of children’s picture writing, I’ve always admired Margaret Wild who knows how to write for babies and toddlers like no other, and Jan Ormerod, who was also a great expert in writing and illustrating for small children.  If you read their books, it doesn’t take long to see what great observers they are of life in the small lane.

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

To continue writing picture books that keep the interest and imagination of toddlers alive; books that when the reading comes to a close the toddler says, ‘again’, and mum or dad or the loved one has to read it over and over. Sorry grown-ups. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t be one of those people who read children’s books and say ‘I could have written that’ – you didn’t – but you could – if you sit down and give it a try.

Ruthie, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Count My Christmas Kisses


Count My Christmas Kisses

by Ruthie May, Tamsin Ainslie (Illustrator)

From the creators of the beautiful Count My Kisses, Little One comes another delightful book, perfect for the festive season.

One kiss for baby, under mistletoe. Two kisses for baby, catching falling snow.

2010’s Count My Kisses, Little One was an instant hit with Australian littlies and their parents. With Tamsin Ainslie’s adorable illustrations and Ruthie May’s beautiful rhyming text, the book gently introduced young children to the idea of numbers and counting.

The book soon left our shores, and went on to become an international bestseller, with more than 100,000 copies sold worldwide. Now, Ruthie and Tamsin are back with Count My Christmas Kisses – a gorgeous new picture book, perfect for the holiday season.

About the Author

Ruthie May was born in Perth, Western Australia. She is the published author of Count My Kisses, Little One and Stew a Cockatoo: My Aussie Cookbook illustrated by Leigh Hobbs. Ruthie immerses herself in stories for both children and grown-ups, but prefers stories where age doesn’t matter..

 Grab a copy of Count my Christmas Wishes

Janella Purcell, author of Janella’s Super Natural Foods, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Janella Purcell

author of Janella’s Super Natural Foods

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born, raised and schooled in Brisbane. Moved to Sydney permanently at 23, after many years back and forth. I was desperate to get to Sydney from about age 12.

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

12yo – a social worker, so I could help people; 18yo – a fashion designer, so I could clothe people. (I did a fashion degree after I left school); 30yo – I had just graduated as a Naturopath and Nutritionist so my dream to be of service was taking shape. I had already got my chefs papers by ‘time on the job’ by then, so I was ready to unleash.

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

That ‘all good things come to those who wait’. Now I strongly believe good things happen to those who work their arse off, and ignore naysayers.

4. What were three big events in your life or the world around you that had a great effect on you and influenced your cooking?janella purcell image

One would be trying to deal with multiple food intolerances even before I hit my teens; going to Italy for the first time when I was 26; filming 4 seasons of ‘Good Chef Bad Chef’ – because I may not have not written those many hundreds of recipes that came out of this show.

5. What are some dishes you wouldn’t eat as a child that you love now?

It’s usually the other way around for me – things I ate then that I wouldn’t now. Red meat, chicken, cows dairy, tuna, farmed salmon, unsustainable seafood, wheat, sugar, ice cream, palm oil, trans-fats, GMO crops….

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It’s for everyone – vego’s, vegans, meat lovers and carb’ cravers, sugar  addicts– everyone. I have included many different variations for each recipe so you can easily adapt it to suit most people in your home. One may want veggies, the other meat  and the kids pasta. It’s all there in one dish – with a variation or two. Plus this books contains lots of ingredients we haven’t had a lot of access to before now. Super foods like raw cacao, chia and hemp seeds, maca, coconut, raw agave and different ancient grains.

Grab a copy of Janella’s new book Janella’s Super Natural Foods here

7. If you had to create one dish to show off your repertoire, what would it be?

Hmmm? Using what you have in the pantry and fridge to create something wonderful, balanced, healthy and whole at the last minute is a bit of a skill – so I’d say that – cooking without preparing anything ahead of time.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

There are many people that I admire. Generally those that have overcome adversity – my patients, kids born into poverty/disease/addiction who then grow up to be caring leaders; film makers showing us the importance of slowing down climate change and pretty much anyone who has put their own happiness second to be of service to the rest of us, and our planet.

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

Yes me included in the past. I had my birthday this week, and for the first time in my life, I felt I had achieved most of my goals. Time for new ones, and I have a feeling these will require less time travelling. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring chefs?

You’ve got to really want to do it. It’s a tough life, with little money, long hours, a hot kitchen and an unhealthy routine. And you’ll rarely seeing your friends, partner or kids. It’s tough. But if it’s a calling, then you’ll never work a day in your creative, satisfying, exciting, meaningful life. It’s a privilege and a joy.

Thank you for your time Janella!

Grab a copy of Janella’s Super Natural Foods


Janella’s Super Natural Foods

by Janella Purcell

Keeping it deliciously simple is Janella’s healthy food philosophy. Using many superfoods and grains, she has created over 150 fantastic recipes that the whole family will love.

Superfoods. Food as medicine. Supergrains. Fermented foods. Wholefoods. Keep it simple.

In Janella’s Super Natural Foods every recipe will help you to achieve better health and beauty.

With over 150 delicious recipes for healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, snacks, drinks and sauces, Janella uses wholefoods to satisfy everyone. A dynamic mix of superfoods and a good old-fashioned plant-based diet, Janella’s philosophy of using food as medicine is simple and easy to follow.

Many of the recipes have been influenced by Janella’s travels to Italy, Japan, India, the Middle East and South East Asia – healthy food has never been so tantalising nor so easy to create in your kitchen. Clearly marked throughout with symbols for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, raw, soy-free, nut-free or grain-free, each recipe also contains alternative ingredient suggestions to please all your friends and family.

As a talented naturopath, nutritionist, wellness coach, herbalist and environmentalist, Janella Purcell is eager to share her wealth of knowledge and experience. Her passion for cooking and keeping things simple means that staying healthy has never been easier.

About the Author

Janella Purcell is a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and iridologist. She’s also a vivacious and entertaining chef who has appeared regularly on Australian and overseas television for the past ten years, most recently co-hosting Good Chef, Bad Chef. Her first book was the award-winning Janella Purcell’s Elixir (2004) and her best-selling recipe book, Eating for the Seasons, was published in 2011. Janella also writes regularly for many magazines and newspapers.

 Grab a copy of Janella’s Super Natural Foods

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