Lola Shoneyin, author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Lola Shoneyin

author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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 Ibadan, Nigeria to a family of five sons. At the age of six, my parents bundled me off to boarding school in the UK. I returned to Nigeria just before my teens and I have split my time between the two countries ever since. I am married to a medical doctor and we raise four children, three dogs and two Continue reading

Bernie McGill, author of The Butterfly Cabinet, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Bernie McGill

author of The Butterfly Cabinet

Ten Terrifying Questions

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 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 the parish of Lavey in County Derry, Northern Ireland, the youngest of ten children. I went to Primary School there, Secondary in the nearby town of Maghera and to Queen’s University in Belfast to study English and Italian. As part of my studies, I spent a year working in a school in Italy from 1987-88. When I’d finished my undergraduate studies, I completed an Continue reading

Jacqueline Lunn, author of Under The Influence, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jacqueline Lunn

author of Under The Influence

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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. My parents still live in the same house that I came home to after breaking the record in the maternity hospital for being the longest baby. Exciting I know. I had a carefree childhood and left Brisbane after I finished university to travel the world, drink too much cider in London and eventually end up working on a newspaper in Sydney.

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

At 12 I remember telling the local butcher I wanted to be a lawyer. I think because one of my older brothers had just started studying it at uni and I thought he was the ant’s pants. At 18 I wanted to be an actress – well, I did win the school drama prize and I was rather adept at pretending to have a range of deep emotions I had absolutely no clue about. At 30 I went through one of many ‘what am I doing with my life?’ crises. I was pregnant with my second child and wanted a change on the work front. If you don’t have flexibility with your time in journalism, it can become very limiting.

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

That men who are arrogant bastards with serious personality issues are really interesting, worthwhile and would love me if I just changed.

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?

This is a hard one because I have always thought real people influence me the most. My friends’ stories about how they survived Christmas with the in-laws and a partner who is increasingly ‘mentally’ absent, the conversation I overhear at the café, a story in the paper about a grandmother killing a man when charges against him were dropped for sexually assaulting her grandchildren, a question one of my children asks when they are bored in the backseat of the car. But here goes: three works of art that I loved?

The Little Dancer by Edgar Degas. Known for his paintings of ballet dancers and ballet classes, this one is a rare sculpture and I found it both beautiful and ugly.

Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights’ High – so clever and laugh out loud funny. He has a clear vision.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison – I read every page in awe.

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

Because I have no other artistic avenues open to me. Can’t sing, play a musical instrument, draw, use my hands to create. But I can dance. At night and with a lot of drinks under my belt so I don’t think that counts.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Under The Influence is about three friends, Eve (a cellist living in London), Meg (a country doctor) and Sarah (a mother) who went to boarding school together a long time ago in Sydney and share a secret that has changed who they are as women. It’s about ‘that girl’ at school – we all had one – in this case her name is Rebecca Thornton and she makes her mark. It’s about people who want to control and dominate those they say they love and care for. At the end of the day it’s also about the complexity of female friendship.

Click Here For More Details, To Read An Extract Or To Buy Under The Influence

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

People are flawed, but not all flaws are created equal. Also, when you are a woman make conscious choices about life. Don’t let things just ‘happen to you’. Try not to find yourself downstream one day drowning and have no clue how you ended up there.

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

I admire many, many writers. Those who write more lyrical novels, those who write satire or thrillers or historical fiction. Any genre, as long as, I want to turn the page.

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

When you really love doing something I don’t know if it’s ambitious to want to get better at what you do or simply natural. I want to be a better writer.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Relax. Don’t try to write what you think someone wants to read, or write ‘literature’, write how you write and what you want to write. And then you have to keep writing for a long, long time.

Jacqueline, thank you for playing.

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

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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.

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