Interview with T.S. Hawken, author of If Kisses Cured Cancer

Author T.S. Hawken

Tim Hawken is the West Australian author of New Adult novel If Kisses Cured Cancer published earlier this year. Thanks for joining us for an interview at Boomerang Books Tim.


Can you describe your book If Kisses Cured Cancer in one sentence?
A funny yet serious book about the importance of connecting with those around you (and not being afraid to go skinny dipping in the forest).

What inspired you to write If Kisses Cured Cancer?
It was a combination of a few things, but the big one was my wife being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. The process was obviously awful, but there were lots of strangely funny and golden moments sprinkled in that journey. I wanted to create a fiction book that reflected those ups and downs, and would do the subject justice yet not be depressing or overly fluffy.

If you could meet any writer who would it be and what would you want to know?
Neil Gaiman. The guy is amazing at every form of writing – short stories, novels, comics, TV. He’s unbelievably great and deliciously odd. I’ve read about his writing process and general approach to life, so would probably just prefer to chat about magic, telling the truth through lies, and working with Terry Pratchett.

Bedside table reading for T.S. Hawken

How do you organise your personal library?
You mean the pile of books that are precariously stacked on my bedside table? They’re generally organized by date of purchase. I do have a shelf of books I’ve read and loved in my office for reference as well. They’re loosely arranged by genre and then grouped by author.

What book is on your bedside table right now?
In no particular order, there’s: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie, The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape, Fromelles and Pozieres by Peter FitzSimons, Lost Gods by Brom, The Great Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bound by Alan Baxter, The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, and Primary Mathematics by Penelope Serow, Rosemary Callingham and Tracey Muir. My Kindle is also there, which has a few hundred titles stored in it too.

What was the last truly great book that you read?
I actually had to go to my Goodreads page as a refresher to make sure I wasn’t just putting the greatest book I’ve read on here (which by the way is Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, closely followed by the Harry Potter series, closely followed by True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey). The last book I gave a full 5 staggering stars to was Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Total genius.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2018?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Wow, what a book. It’s like a dark version of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and so, so much more satisfying. Massive recommend.

I agree with you about Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I read it last month and adored it. What’s your secret reading pleasure?
Fantasy and sci-fi books. Shhhh. I love these genres so much I had to make a rule that every second book I read has to be something else. I feel like broadening your reading habits is a sure way of finding gold you might not otherwise have come across.

What’s next? What would you like to tell your readers?
Next is planning out a new story idea I have that will remain mum until it’s actually a reality. There will be another book next year but what that is, you’ll have to wait and see. To follow any news, sign up to my newsletter at timhawken.com. You’ll also get some special content about If Kisses Cured Cancer you won’t find anywhere else.

Player Profile: Candice Fox, author of Hades

24548-059Candice Fox, author of Hades

Tell us about your latest creation:

Hades is Book One of the Bennett/Archer series, and is available December(ish) 2013 with Random House. Hades Archer, the man they call the Lord of the Underworld, surrounds himself with the things others leave behind. Their trash becomes the twisted sculptures that line his junkyard. The bodies they want disposed of become his problem – for a fee. One night, a man arrives on his doorstep, clutching a small bundle that he wants ‘lost’. And Hades makes a decision that will change everything. Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there’s something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can’t quite put his finger on. Frank is now on the hunt for a very different kind of serial killer: one who offers the sick and dying hope at murderous cost. At first, his partner’s sharp instincts come in handy. Soon, he’s wondering if she’s as dangerous as the man they’re after.

9780857981172Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Bankstown, but I’m now an Eastern Beaches girl. My family have been Eastern suburbs people from way back, and while I’m not a beach bum myself I do enjoy running, writing and drinking chilled wine alongside it.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I’ve wanted to be everything you can imagine. At fourteen, I was determined to be a tattoo artist. I got my solo pilot’s license for a Cessna 150 at 16 and told everyone I was going to teach people to fly. I spent my late teens managing restaurants and bars and joined the navy at 18. So on the job front I’ve been around. But that was employment, and I’ve never considered writing possible employment. I’ve been writing and telling stories from a very young age and have used it at different times to actively create my own person, to escape from my chaotic world or to develop my skills in the hope of showing people into my little universes. It’s always been more of an instinct than a desire to be paid.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I consider HADES my best work – thus far. I wrote four other novels before HADES that together accumulated 200 rejection letters, so I suppose HADES has been the only thing to break through into the public domain and I am proud of it for that. I am determined to improve as a writer and am excited to go on exploring my own tastes and interests, so I don’t have any plans for HADES to remain my best.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My office is trashtastic. And it’s a part of the living room. So things fall over in it all the time and it’s constantly invaded by episodes of Dr Phil. It’s littered with water bottles and coffee cups and books and scraps of paper. The desk chair is covered in cat hair and you can hear the main road from it. But a more beautiful or ordered place isn’t available to me, and I don’t think it would help the work even if it was. When I was a kid, I shared my family home with five of my siblings and at times half a dozen of Sydney’s most dangerous and disadvantaged children, so noise was something I learnt to deal with. When I want to get out of here I wander down to a variety of busy beachside cafes and make a mess of the tables there. Watch people, insert them into the text. I think you have to go exploring now and then to keep the work fresh. People are far more unpredictable and complex than you imagine, and you only learn how by being among them as you write.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Tragically at the moment I’m unable to read anything other than what’s necessary for my PhD, but I’ve been a big crime reader for many years. I’m a dedicated Peter Temple fan and have learnt much from him about masculinity and beauty and sorrow in the lives of cops.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I grew up rummaging through my mother’s true crime collection while my friends were reading Goosebumps and the Chronicles of Narnia. There were scarce funds in our house for children’s literature so you read what you could get. I was a big newspaper reader.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’d be Joe Cashin from Peter Temple’s ‘The Broken Shore’. When I was younger and more emotional I would have said Anne Rice’s Lestat DeLioncourt, but I don’t want to live forever.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I run. I’m a big of a fitness junkie at the moment but I’m sure it won’t last long. One of my favourite things to do is go to dinner with a loved one, drink and eat too much and fall into deep and philosophical conversations. Surprise you? Every now and then when the mood strikes me I strap some kind of funny hat to my cat and photograph him. Share these on Facebook with witty captions. I like to throw the ball for my dog at the local park. Lie around in the sunshine.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I suppose the proper measure would be my last meal. Salami/anchovy pizza, and a bottle of nice Merlot.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t have a particular hero in mind. I believe as a society we’ve spent a bit of time normalising the idea that you should be considered a hero because of your place in the limelight, your celebrity, your grandiose achievements. I was watching one of those medical reality TV shows the other night and watched a guy stitch up some assault victim’s heart while it was still beating. I didn’t even catch the doctor’s name. He’ll win no award for it. I have a supreme respect for law enforcement and medical professionals.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The competition of other forms of entertainment. It is getting extremely difficult to be bored at any given time any more. Riding the bus is becoming an orchestrated audio/visual experience. I’m concerned the humble book might get pushed aside by effortless and endlessly diverse hand-held and mobile entertainment.

Website URL: www.candicefoxauthor.com
Blog URL: www.candicefoxauthor.com
Facebook Page URL: www.facebook.com/candicefoxauthor

Player Profile: Jessica Owers, author of Shannon

Celebrity_photographers_sydney_glamour_nudes_art_photography_SeductiveJessica Owers, author of Shannon

Tell us about your latest creation:

‘Shannon’, for release by Random House (Ebury Press) on 1 November 2013.

Wartime Sydney, a small and weedy racehorse was kicking his way through the top tier of Australian racing. He was Shannon, one of the fastest horses the nation had ever seen. Between 1943 and 1947, Shannon broke record after record with his garrulous jockey Darby Munro. When they sensationally lost the Epsom Handicap by six inches, they forever were stamped by the race
they should have won.

Sold in August 1947 for the highest price ever paid at auction for an Australian thoroughbred, Shannon ended up in America. Through headline-snatching pedigree flaws, acclimatization and countless hardships, he blitzed across the ritzy, glitzy racetracks of 1948 California. Smashing track records, world records, records set by Seabiscuit, the Australian bolted into world fame with speed and courage that defied all odds.

Long before Black Caviar, or So You Think and Takeover Target, Shannon was Australia’s first international racehorse. Starring Hall of Fame trainers and jockeys, Hollywood lawyers and legends Bernborough and Citation, this is his tremendous story.

9781742750248Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Home is Sydney, its Eastern Suburbs to be exact. I am a very loyal Sydneysider.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

As a child, I first wanted to be an author above anything else. When I was about six or seven, I called it a ‘book writer’. I had no idea my radar was so spot on
back then.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My newest book, ‘Shannon’, is my greatest work. It is my second book, and I have come a long way down the road of narrative nonfiction. I have learned my craft and I’d like to think I’ve learned it well. I am immensely proud of ‘Shannon’.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?: I write in a little enclave office in my townhouse.

My desk is a huge, beautiful, leather-topped thing, and unless I am in the middle of a chapter or article, it is very neat. Behind me is a floor to ceiling built-in cabinet of racing books. It has become a lovely writing space.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read racing almost all the time… biographies by other racing authors from around the world, historical racing books, anything that makes me more educated about my genre. But I also love these books, so it’s not a chore for me to read them. Outside of that, I love to read about the craft of writing, and I go
back to a few select works of fiction too – ‘We Of The Never Never’ in particular.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

‘Playing Beattie Bow’ is one of the earliest novels that left an impression on my
childhood, and then as a teenager I was impressed with ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, which was on the high-school curriculum.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Mrs Aeneas Gunn (née Jeannie Gunn), the central character in ‘We Of The Never Never’. Though largely biographical, Mrs Gunn spins an extraordinary adventure in 1901 Northern Territory. I wouldn’t mind having memories like hers. Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?: I love to hit the open road. It’s one of my great, great passions.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I can’t resist a good vegetable lasagne (I know, so boring), and I am addicted to Coca-Cola (which gets much worse in the middle of a manuscript).

Who is your hero? Why?:

I might not call him ‘my hero’, but Stephen King has been an enormous writing hero for me. His discipline, his attitude to writing well and his resultant success have been tremendous guidelines for my own career. He has been a standout (absentee) mentor.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Without a doubt… the digital age. My children will grow up in it. They will read on tablets and phone screens in abbreviated text sentences, and less and less they will learn grammar and proper sentence structure, the ability to write well. And I expect there will be a day when they won’t ever need to pick up a hardcopy book, so where will that leave us authors?

Website URL: http://www.jessicaowers.com
Blog URL: http://www.jessicaowers.com/blog/index.html
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/ms_peterpan

Player Profile: Judy Nunn, author of Elainne

2012-Judy-Nunn-Photograph-300x300Judy Nunn, author of Elainne

Tell us about your latest creation:

My latest novel is titled ELIANNE and is to be published on November 1st by Random House. Elianne is the name of my fictional sugar plantation/mill/estate in the southern cane fields of Queensland.  The main story is set in the 1960’s and follows the lives of the Durham family, with flashbacks to the nineteenth century when the mill was first established.

9781742758381Where are you from / where do you call home?:

My childhood hometown was Perth – a place and a state of which I am very fond, but the majority of my adult life has been spent in the eastern states, predominantly Sydney. When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?: At the age of ten I wanted to become an actor and an author.  I’ve become both and love being both.  Aren’t I lucky!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Each book I write is my best book.  Writing is learning experience and I like to think I get better with each one.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My office is a glorious mixture of order and chaos. I know exactly where everything is, although other people would have no idea.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Every book I’ve been dying to read during the 18 months I’ve been committed to my own work. I don’t read other people’s fiction while I write my own – research books only. It’s such a treat putting my head in someone else’s world.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

R.M. Ballantyne’s ‘The Coral Island’, which I read at eight years of age and which still sits on my book shelf. I can see it from here.  ‘The Coral Island’ inspired me to write my first novel at 9 years of age.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Edith Campbell-Berry in Frank Moorhouse’s trilogy because she’s so bold, so ahead of her time and so outrageously female, and amazingly created by a man. Well done Frank.  I seriously love Edith.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I indulge myself.  Eating, drinking, stimulating conversation!  Travelling, seeing things, observing, learning something new every day!  Life’s too short and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

A real Vindaloo curry, no holds barred piping hot, a delicate dish of scampi, grilled no fancy stuff added, sashimi, oysters – Sydney rocks, freshly shucked – and a good eye fillet steak cooked rare.  All of the above accompanied by either a good ‘wooded’ Chardonnay or full-bodied Shiraz, preferably Australian.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I’m not mad about the word ‘hero’.  Heroes have a habit of developing feet of clay.  I have admired many people over the years and many people have influenced my life.  I couldn’t possibly single one out.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The management of electronic literature, but everything will work out all right because people will always want books, in whichever form they choose to read them.

Website URL: judynunn.com.au

Player Profile: Peter FitzSimons, author of Ned Kelly

fitzsimons, peterPeter FitzSimons, author of Ned Kelly

Tell us about your latest creation:

Ned Kelly. It is written in the form of a novel, but – with 2000 footnotes – is all true. I want readers to not only read the story, but actually feel like they are IN the story. It is a staggering tale that has fascinated Australians for over 130 years, and I wanted to do it in an entirely different fashion.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

A writer, a Test cricketer, a Wimbledon winner, Prime Minister and even astronaut.

9781742758909

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My book on the shipwreck of the Batavia is probably the book I would put on my tombstone. It is the best yarn in the history of the world – but Ned Kelly runs it close!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I am nomadic. Sometimes in the study, often on the coach, always on long-haul flights and if being driven for long distances.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Frankly, I am mostly writing. And when reading, I tend to read extensively on the subject I am writing about. Beyond that, however, I love Dickens, Hunter S and sometimes Beevor.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Great Expectations. It took my breath away that writing could be so real. If you were a literary character, who would you be?: Pip, from Great Expectations. But I would go harder trying to get Estella to love me.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play a lot of tennis, a lot of touch football, a lot of basketball. I go to our farm and muck around with our kids.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Steak and too much white wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Muhammad Al. Because of his physical and moral courage.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Getting the younger generation to put down their iPads and iPhones and take up a book.

Twitter URL: @Peter_Fitz

Player Profile: Tony Davis, author of The Big Dry

IMG_0622-sepia copyTony Davis, author of The Big Dry

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Big Dry is a “tween” adventure story, set in a modern city where it hasn’t rained for seven years. Order has broken down and massive dust storms regularly blast across the increasingly dilapidated metropolis. Against this backdrop, two abandoned children are trying to survive: George, who has just turned thirteen, and his six-year-old brother “Beeper”. They have a fortified house but supplies of food and fresh water are dwindling. When it seems things can’t get much worse, the mysterious Emily breaks into their house and their lives and refuses to leave. It is aimed at the tween market – upper primary and lower high school – which is a really interesting and quite challenging age to write for.

9780732297633Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Sydney, Australia.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Always a writer, the only question was what type of writer.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Always the latest … that’s one advantage of being a writer ahead of an athlete. You should get better with age.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

It’s packed but pretty organised. I need a good chair and good music (with no words)to write well. And lots of tea.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Everything: kids and general titles, fiction and non. About to start Paul Barry’s new Murdoch family book – as soon as i finish this rather large Russian novel (Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman; it is extraordinary).

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Animal Farm by George Orwell. So clever on so many levels, even if I didn’t understand most of them at nine or ten.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Many of the characters I really admire … well, things don’t necessarily end very well for them. I think I’ll stick with being me.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Knocking around with my three school-age sons. Listening to music. Cycling. OK, no big surprises there. Sorry. I also test fast cars for a newspaper, but that’s kind of work.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Rocquefort cheese and coffee.

Who is your hero? Why?:

George Orwell. Fearless in print, fearless in life.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Keeping young people engaged in a world with so many tempting alternatives.

Website URL: www.thebigdry.com.au

Player Profile: Frances Whiting, author of Walking In Trampolines

whitingfrances01Frances Whiting, author of Walking In Trampolines

Tell us about your latest creation:

Walking on Trampolines. It’s a bit of a love letter to the Australia I grew up in. It’s also a story about the way friendships can mark us, and how most families are chaotic beneath the surface. Ultimately I think its about love.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Brisbane. Brissie. Bris Vegas. Brisney land in Queensland, a beautiful, quirky and strangely endearing town that also marks those who come from it.

9781742611204

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Yes, an author, but also a ballerina, a spy, a teacher, an actress, a singer, a dancer, an astronaut, an equestrian and a figure skater. I was keeping my options open.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Definitely Walking on Trampolines. Although I have had two books on non fiction out, which have been collections of the weekly Sunday column Ive been writing for 16 years, I consider Walking to be first “real” book. I think its my best work because I’m not tired of reading it myself yet, and I’ve been writing it for seven years, so I think that must say something!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Chaotic. For the most part I wrote Walking on Trampolines wherever I could find a quiet nook to do so. We don’t really have a proper office, so I found myself moving the computer around the house a lot, trying to find a space to call my own!

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

If you took a photo of my bedside table, you would find a small hill of books. I really do love reading and I’m pretty eclectic in my tastes. But I love P G Wodehouse, Clive James, Liane Moriarty, Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Madicken by Astrid Lindgren. Iloved that book so much, I got it out every week at our local library for so long that in the end, the librarians there just gave it to me!

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Ooooh, that is a really tough question, but my friends would say Brigid Jones, not sure I agree!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I dance a lot at home with my four year old. We are very, very good dancers.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

MMM. Ice cold natural oysters with lemon juice with a rum and coke. Youc an take the girl out of Queensland…..

Who is your hero? Why?:

Obama. Because he’s the first black man in a white house built by slave’s hands. For that alone, he is heroic.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

To keep spreading the message that in the end, its the words that matter.

Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/#!/FrancesWhitingAuthor

Player Profile: Jenny Bond, author of Perfect North

JennyBond5Jenny Bond, author of Perfect North

Tell us about your latest creation:

Perfect North is a work of fiction based around a true story. When the remains of three explorers, lost to the world since 1897 are discovered on a frozen arctic island in 1930, the news makes headlines around the world. A brash young journalist is sent to report from the site and uncovers journals filled with love letters from one of the explorers to his fiancée. Wanting to know more about the man who left his love to embark on a journey that was doomed from the start, the journalist embarks on his own voyage of discovery but soon learns that the woman he seeks out does not want to be found. In a search that uncovers lost loves, deceit and long-buried secrets, the journalist discovers a story that has stayed hidden for decades and the people who have been concealing it.

9780733629525Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I have lived in Canberra for the past four years.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I never dreamed of being an author! Veterinarian, chef, teacher and nutritionist are professions that I have considered throughout my life. On leaving school I trained to be an English teacher. It was a career I loved for a decade. Without realising it all those years of reading, teaching great literature, analysing books, plays and poetry and editing other people’s work, albeit that of students, had led me to one obvious career. When my husband suggested that I write a book the previous ten years finally made
sense.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

As my only published work I would have to nominate Perfect North. It tells a very powerful and intriguing story with characters that resonate long after the book is completed. My second novel is complete – the first draft at least. It’s due out in October 2014.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I work from my home office. It has wonderful views of the mountains so I have to sit with my back facing the window. I often swivel around if I’m in need of inspiration. I work in a fairly orderly environment although it can become disorderly when I’m in the throes of writing.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Apart from the Year 1 readers my son brings home every afternoon, I have by my bedside a stack of different books, mostly biographies and non-fiction, that all revolve around the subject of my recently started third novel.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

1. The Murder
of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. This was the first adult novel that I experienced. I was about ten years old. I thought it was the cleverest thing I had ever read. I subsequently read all of Christie’s novels in quick succession. She got me hooked on reading.
2. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I read this book when I was in Year Nine. Although it terrified me I couldn’t put it down and even scammed a day off school so I could keep reading! For the duration of the book I slept with a crucifix, a bible and a bulb of garlic. Stephen King taught me the immense power of words.
3. The Cider House Rules by John Irving. I also began reading John Irving when I was a teenager. I’m still not exactly sure why this bitter-sweet tale resonates with me so. The beautifully drawn characters, the setting, the expanse of the narrative and the unexpected plot all combine to produce something entirely unique and wonderful. Homer, Dr Larch and Candy are characters I still think about often.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I  first read this book as a six year old. Boo Radley both fascinated and frightened me. My second encounter with the novel was when I was in high school. Studying the text in depth made me realise what a rich and complex novel it is. My third run in with Lee was when I taught it to my students. My joy at this time came from making a new generation of readers fall in love with this amazing work.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

As a former teacher I would have to say Professor Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter books. Although not quite as old, I’m a no-nonsense kind of person with a heart of gold, just like Minerva.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I have two boisterous sons and an energetic Staffy. I enjoy spending time with when I’m not at my computer.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Vegetables are my favourite food. I love all of them but I’m not a vegetarian. My favourite drink is coffee.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I have thought long and hard about this question and there is no one I can cite that I would call a hero. However, I do respect any person who takes the road less traveled to pursue their passion.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

To me it comes down to policy makers spending money on improving public transport in Australia. In cities such as London and Paris where a high proportion of the population uses the excellent public transport, the literary environment is far healthier because a greater number of people actually have time to read.

Website URL: www.jennybondbooks.com
Blog URL: www.jennybondbooks.com

Player Profile: Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg

inga simpson_18Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg

Tell us about your latest creation:

Mr Wigg is the story of the final year of one man’s life. His wife has died and it looks like what’s left of the family property will have to be sold off. He loses himself in his somewhat magical orchard, and spends time cooking with his grandchildren – telling them stories of the Orchard Queen. Despite his age, and Parkinson’s, he begins an ambitious project: to forge a wrought-iron tree.

9780733630194Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up on a property in Central West New South Wales, and now live in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland. I tend to call both “home” though with different meanings.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

An author, closely followed by spy or detective.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The next novel, the one yet unwritten. At the moment it is all possibility; without flaws.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write in a studio looking out into bushland though odd-shaped windows – including a circle, which has me feeling a little like a hobbit some days. The interior is reasonably ordered, or starts out that way … But I do accumulate piles of papers and books to be dealt with ‘later’.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I try to read as widely as possible but tend to read a lot of contemporary Australian fiction, as well as nature writing.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Blinky Bill, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Sam Gribley, from My Side of the Mountain. He runs away and lives in a hollowed-out tree in the Catskill Mountains, befriending a peregrine falcon and becoming entirely self-sufficient, which appeals to me some days.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Surf, though not as often as I would like lately. Or Trivial Pursuit by the open fire on winter evenings.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Moroccan lamb and a decent glass of red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Judith Wright. Not only an amazing poet but an uncompromising activist on environmental and Indigenous issues.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Reminding decision makers and educators of the value the arts, including a national literature, in tough economic times.

Website URL: http://www.ingasimpson.com.au/
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/MrWigg2013?ref=hl
Twitter URL: https://www.facebook.com/MrWigg2013/

Player Profile: Walter Mason, author of Destination Cambodia

NSWWC_Kosal and WalterWalter Mason, author of Destination Cambodia

Tell us about your latest creation:

“Destination Cambodia” An affectionate journey through one of Asia’s most fascinating destinations.

Destination CambodiaWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in a country town in North Queensland, but these days I live in Cabramatta in Sydney’s Southwest.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I remember when I was 8 my mother was reading through my Composition Book (remember them?) and she said, “You know what? You write really well. I think you might become a writer.” My grandfather (whose name I inherited) was a keen self-publisher, writing local histories that actually sold quite well. I recently had a sweet email from a man asking me if I was the Walter Mason who wrote books and who he went to school with in 1932. I had to let him down.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My office is tiny, and jammed full of books, I have worked with books all of my life (I have been a bookseller, distributor, marketer and academic)and I have thousands of volumes to show for it. I have an enormous pile above my computer of books that are maked up and that I have to do something with urgently. The one at the bottom of the pile has been there since 2010.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love E F Benson and Nancy Mitford. I read something by them every year, over and over again. Perfectly crafted comic novels – you have to be really sharp to pull them off, and Benson and Mitford were the best. I like books about ideas and marketing. I am a Seth Godin groupie. I take copious notes. And then
ignore them.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

In order of reading:

“Mr. Galliano’s Circus” by Enid Blyton (I blame this for my love of the limelight)

“The Shark in Charlie’s Window” by Keo Felker Lazarus (a forgotten 70s classic)

“I Own the Racecourse” by Patricia Wrightson (probably the first book I read that was really morally complex)

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Hmmm….Father Brown from Chesterton’s mystery stories because I am portly, religious and always wondering why things happen. On a less kind day Ignatius J. Reilly from “A Confederacy of Dunces,” – that portly thing again, plus I have delusions of grandeur. I always imagine I am A J A Symons, the genius who wrote “The Quest for Corvo.” I don’t think he was portly. I wish I was Edith Sitwell or Elinor Glyn – they had style. So did Ouida.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I meditate, I pray at my local Buddhist temple, I eat (a lot).

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My all-time favourite dish is probably kimchi jigae – a hot and delicous Korean stew. I have that once a week. Drink wise I can never refuse a Long Island Iced Tea.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Oscar Wilde – style, substance and outrageousness. He lived life and made it all worthwhile. I try to ignore the tragic end. I am also a Boy George groupie – have been since I was 12. I love that man!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The lack of imagination in the industry. Publishers have been too slow to respond to changes in the market and they still operate, more or less, according to models established in the early part of the 20th century.

Website URL: www.waltermason.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/waltermasonauthor
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/walterm

Player Profile: Roger McDonald, author of The Following

IMG_0241Roger McDonald, author of The Following

Tell us about your latest creation:

“The Following” is a novel about Marcus Friendly, who became Australia’s sixteenth prime minister, and his line of descent through to the present day, in the person of a politician who may or may not have been his son, Max Petersen.

9781742759913Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Growing up in country towns inoculated me against the romanticism of village life, so I live outside of one, on a high ridge 800 metres up in the Southeastern NSW Dividing Range.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an aeroplane pilot but became a writer so never really came to earth.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My latest book is always my best book, because it gets to where I only tried to get in my previous book (although leaving out where I hope to reach in the book after this one, should I be able to write it).

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Chaotic.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

At the moment, sea stories.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

There wasn’t one. I’ve tried to write it since.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I would not like to be a literary character because I would be the prisoner of its creator…But putting that one side, I would settle for being Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1707-54).

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Most of the year I gather firewood and stack it for the following winter. In the summer I go to New Zealand for a couple of months where I mess around in boats.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Raw fish and Japanese
sake.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Charles Darwin for his vision of creation.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

What it has always been – finding readers.

Blog URL: http://rogermcdonaldthefollowing.blogspot.com.au
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/RogerMcDonaldAuthor

Player Profile: Jaye Ford, author of Blood Secret

Jaye Ford picJaye Ford, author of Blood Secret

Tell us about your latest creation:

My new book Blood Secret is my third thriller. It is inspired by a road rage incident my husband and I was caught up in about two years ago. A teenager harrassed and threatened us on our way to a restaurant. When we finally got there, my husband decided to go out to check on the car and I sat on my own thinking, What if he doesn’t come back. He did but that question stuck and so in Blood Secret, Max Tully goes to check on his car and doesn’t come back. What follows is a story about families and secrets and nothing being what it seems.

Blood Secret coverWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up on the North Shore of Sydney and now live at Lake Macquarie in the Hunter Valley, NSW – where Blood Secret is set!

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be lots of things, including a nurse for a long time, a nun very briefly, and a journalist. I was always a story teller – collecting other people’s and making up my own -but the idea of being an author seemed way too clever for me! It took a lot of years to get serious about it, a few more to believe I could actually do it and ten to get published. It’s never too late to realise a dream!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My family is my best work! It takes time, patience, love and determination to make it work. In terms of writing, choosing one books over another is like asking which child I love the most! Books take time, patience, love and determination too.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I work in office under my house with a wrap-around desk, a wall of books and a white board at my back. It’s freezing in winter so I write for six months of the year under layers of clothes and a blanket. I’m both chaotic and ordered – the stuff I need is organised, neat and close to hand but I’m terrible at putting things away so the rest of the desk is cluttered with paper and notes to myself and books and … well, I don’t want to look too closely or I might have to put it away.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read crime when I’m not writing it! I love a good series and I’ve got collections by Lee Child, Stuart MacBride and Sue Grafton. Other favourites include Michael Robotham, Nicci French and Harlan Coban.  I like to keep my head in the genre whenever I can and have a huge to-read pile … another reason my
desk is cluttered.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

As a kid, I liked reading about strong, defiant girls who were ignoring the traditional roles of my era – the sixties and seventies. Those characters probably had a lasting effect on me and my various career choices. But in terms of story, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was the first book I read that I didn’t want to end at the last page. It made me hungry for more of that kind of intensity and probably influences the way I write now.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’d be happy to be Kinsey Milhone, the Chardonnay drinking, VW driving private investigator in Sue Grafton’s alalphabeteries. She’s street savvy, understated, unencumbered by computers and mobile phones, and is stuck in the 1980’s – an era I have a fondness for.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I go boating! My husband and I are out most weekends on our boat and we take it away for a couple of weeks every Christmas. I’m chief deckhand and cook, so an expert at tying ropes, hooking onto moorings, yelling at crew and providing big meals in small spaces.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Food – soup in winter, bbq in summer, a home cooked meal anytime, especially one that someone else cooks for me. Drink – coffee during the day, a good Shiraz at night.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My hero is always the man I’m currently working on. He’s not usually the main character and I don’t like him to be the perfect guy but it’s a lot of fun creating a man who’s perfect for the desperate-to-survive woman I’m writing.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The challenge of digital publishing – the speed of it and the massive growth in titles through both traditional publishers and self published – is for authors to continue to produce good stories in less time and for readers not to be overwhelmed by choice or put off by variable standards.

Website URL: www.jayefordauthor.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/JayeFordauthor

Player Profile: Jenny Tabakoff, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

Tabakoff-web_regularJenny Tabakoff, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

Tell us about your latest creation:

“No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality” considers the fate of stranded, isolated groups from 134 BC to 2010 AD. What causes these small groups trapped in hostile and remote locations to turn on each other with catastrophic results? No Mercy outlines the physical and psychological changes that affect stranded disaster victims, and compares them to the rapid social implosion imagined in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Does reality support his dark, dystopian vision of an isolated micro-community? If anything, these historical groups descend deeper than even Golding pictured.

9781922147240Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Ryde, in the north of Sydney. After a considerable period living and working in London, I am back in Sydney again.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

An archaeologist – and then I realised that journalists and writers also dig up things, and don’t get as dirty.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I enjoyed writing No Mercy because, as we learnt more and more about these largely forgotten incidents from history, we began to appreciate the parallels between the behaviour of different survivor groups. When people are stranded together and pushed to their limits, whatever the situation, they are driven by many of the same factors, with many of the same results. When people allow their primitive human hardwiring to take over, the result can very quickly be catastrophe. Individuals tend to smugly believe, “I would never behave like that”, but the more we looked into history, the more we realised it takes great effort of will and great leadership to behave in a way that is better than “every man for himself”. Unfortunately, most survivor groups seem to behave badly.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Unfortunately, all too often I have to wrestle my children off my desktop. My desk is very messy, but I am a great believer in creative mess. Every time I tidy up I feel that little bit more dumb.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love old books – especially crazy old illustrated books, especially very old children’s books. If it’s new books, give me histories, biographies and first-hand
accounts of events. I also love the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and the Daily Mail website.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The William books, by Richmal Compton. And they are still so funny.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Rather than an imaginary character, I’d choose the author William Golding: he instinctively understood the dark side of humanity and depicted it with incredible accuracy in “Lord of the Flies”.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Reading. Oh yes, and kayaking on Sydney’s waterways.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Satay chicken skewers, lemony and spicy and smothered with peanut sauce. If I found myself on a desert island, I’d be dreaming of them. I never enjoying drinking anything as much as a very cold beer on a very hot day. On a cold day, make that a cappuccino.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I can’t pick between Thomas Musgrave and Francois Raynal, who were both on the Grafton in the sub-Antarctic in 1864. Musgrave for showing amazing compassion and leadership in keeping his little group together; Raynal for his extraordinary ingenuity in designing and making objects that made their 19 months in that desolate spot not just tolerable but comfortable. They were such a great team.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Standing up to what seems to be a general belief that publishing is doomed. My view is that, in an age of so much rubbish, there is a greater hunger than ever for real books – both on paper and in e-form – that are the result of research, hard work and considered, polished writing.

Player Profile: Eleanor Learmonth, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

OFFICAL HEADSHOT Eleanor CompressedEleanor Learmonth, author of No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality

 Tell us about your latest creation:

“No Mercy: True Stories of Disaster, Survival and Brutality” considers the fate of stranded, isolated groups from 134 BC to 2010 AD. What causes these small groups trapped in hostile and remote locations to turn on each other with catastrophic results? No Mercy outlines the physical and psychological changes that affect stranded disaster victims, and compares them to the rapid social implosion imagined in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Does reality support his dark, dystopian vision of an isolated micro-community? If anything, these historical groups descend deeper than even Golding pictured.

9781922147240Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Sydney, lived in Japan for a decade, then returned to my birthplace to have a family (just like a salmon).

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Either a psychologist or a writer.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I have to say “No Mercy” for the simple reason that the subject matter is so intriguing. The dark side of human nature is a creepy place to explore, but I find the permutations of a malfunctioning group to be endlessly fascinating. How thin is our layer of social conditioning? Paper thin. What lies beneath? Instinct, aggression and a sharp-focused will for self-preservation.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

It’s a disgrace! My desk has paper everywhere and I have an almost fatal addiction to post-its. My worst nightmare? Hard-drive meltdown. The ideal workday is to have a head full of ideas and spend the entire day glued to the keyboard in my pyjamas and ugg boots. I also find swearing a lot very conducive to the creative process.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Old historical journals, the New Yorker and the International Herald Tribune. (Also the occasional novel).

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Narnia books, anything on archaeology, history or fish, “Catch 22”, and “Lord of the Flies”.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

My family says Lady Macbeth (Way Harsh!), but I think Beowulf. He never took ‘no’ for an answer, and never ran away from a fight.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I like to snorkel – most of all with sharks, turtles or any members of the squid/octopus/cuttlefish family.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My dream dinner would be top quality sushi – sitting at the counter with the chef making me a perfect pair of uni (sea-urchin roe) sushi. I’m also very partial to a Cherry Ripe, as long as I don’t have to share it! My all-time favourite tipple would be a generous Moscow Mule made with freshly grated ginger, and garnished with a lychee.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Captain Thomas Musgrave, who kept himself and his men alive through the worst possible circumstances on a miserable sub-Antarctic island for 19 months following a shipwreck, and then facilitated the rescue of the entire group at great risk to his own life. He is an unsung hero, but they are the best kind.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

It might be adapting to the digital age, and stopping the kind of piracy that has gutted the music industry.

Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/EKLearmonth

Player Profile: Summer Land, author of Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did

paper_summer 1mb

Summer Land, author of Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did

9781742706443

Tell us about your latest creation:

“Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did”

It’s my tale about how I raised my ovaries in middle class America. Summerlandish is all the hard-won, scar-leaving, tattoo-regretting, butthole-tearing lessons I’ve learned over the years – “summer-ised” in all their glamorously gory detail, so you don’t have to bother with learning them yourselves. And, surprisingly, I feel like I know quite a bit about love, life and awkward moments involving too much caffeine and/or lack of restraint.

Summer Trio 2.indd

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Gainesville, Florida, but currently call Australia home. To be more specific- I call Mudgee, NSW home. I had the pleasure of falling in love with an Australian in Utah at a ski resort in 2008 and… (you’ll have to read my book to find out more.)

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

No way. I thought that I would either be Rapunzel, a teacher, a Playboy Bunny or Marketing Manager of a footwear company. I did not see “Author” coming.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Currently this book because it’s my only work. Actually – LIES. I just made a pretty phenomenal burrito. That was some good work.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I tend to write when the mood strikes. Sometimes that is in my home office. Other times it’s on my couch or at my kitchen table. My favourite place to write is in a cafe though. I travel quite frequently and love to cafe hop and write. (I’m also addicted to iced tea so wherever I can get some homemade iced tea makes for a great writing environment.)

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I like reading anything by Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, Charles Bukowski, Sloane Crosley, Chelsea Handler, Augusten Burroughs, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, JD Salinger, Emily Giffin, and well this could go on for a long time….

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I’m sure a lot of people feel this way, but “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume was pretty crucial in Summer Land being Summer Land. I even wrote a book report on it in 5th grade. I’m sure that my male teacher was thrilled to learn about how I can totally relate about wanting to get my period
before my friends.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I would LIKE to be someone powerful, inspiring, loving, wise, soulful and amazing like Scout, George Milton or Kunta Kinte (to name a few), but to be honest I think I’m a bit more Amelia Bedelia.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I’m currently heavily pregnant so I’ve mostly been eating a lot of weird food combinations lately.

When I’m not making a mini human I love playing tennis, dancing, travelling, and watching Hoarders, Intervention and Animal Planet.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

LOVE iced tea. (Homemade-not bottled)

Also love watermelon, pineapple, burritos and ketchup. (Not all at once. Well maybe when I’m pregnant.)

Who is your hero? Why?:

I’m going to be super cliche here and state that my mom, Donna, is my hero. She is a widow, mom, sister, friend, teacher, and so much more. Her existence makes me happy to be alive.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I don’t think books are going anywhere. There are just too many lovers. I like to think that mankind loves the smell of a freshly printed book (or even a musty old one) too much to let them stop being produced and consumed.

Website URL: http://www.summerlandish.com
Blog URL: http://www.summerlandish.com/blog
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Summerlandish/21708476166571
Twitter URL: http://www.twitter.com/summerlandish

Player Profile: Ed Chatterton, author of Underland

EdChattertonauthorimageEd Chatterton, author of Underland

Tell us about your latest creation:

‘Underland’. This is the sequel to last year’s ‘A Dark Place To Die’ which was Random House Book of the Month for August. Set in Liverpool, England and in LA, this is a gritty psychological crime thriller which builds from an apparently ‘ordinary’ murder-suicide to a climax of global proportions.

9781742753966Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Liverpool (England) and lived and worked in London and then the US for some time before emigrating to Australia in 2004. I live in Lennox Head on the NSW north coast and split my time between there and the UK.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an astronaut but there were some problems: fear of enclosed spaces and being lousy at maths among them. Next I wanted to be a footballer. I still do. My first achievable aim was to do something in the arts and I became an illustrator. Now I have ambitions to be a film-maker. ‘A Dark Place To Die’ was optioned as a movie so maybe that’s how I’ll end up achieving that particular goal.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The work I’m producing at the moment is my best. If I didn’t belive that I’d give up. I’m currently working on three projects, all of which occupy most of my brain space. The first is ‘Unidentified Male’, the third book in my ‘Frank Keane’ crime series. The second is ‘Archangel’, a futuristic YA novel which itself is a spin off from my PhD magnum opus, ‘The Last Slave Ship’ an examination of the lingering effects of the slave trade on my home city. I think that ‘Underland’ is an improvement on ‘A Dark Place’ and I’m feeling good about the work I’m doing on ‘Unidentified Male’. Why? These novels are the culmination of a long apprenticeship in writing. I’m pushing myself hard, because I’m trying to compete with the best. And I’m trying new fields: one of my projects is working with Rebel Waltz Films on a documentary about the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a desk that’s too small and a computer that’s too big. It veers wildly between chaotic and ordered. I’ve been working for thirty years in this field and there is always this imagined Shangri-La of work environments that I know – just know – I will have one day yet still remains tantalisingly out of reach. I suspect this will always be the case.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I have been reading a lot of slavery related stuff. Barry Unsworth’s ‘Sacred Hunger’ is a stand out. Also more esoteric academic material and (quite strangely for me) the poems of WH Auden. I’ve also been trying to discover why Scandi crime is so popular.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

So many to choose from. The Famous Five featured heavily, as did Ian Fleming, Conan Doyle, Capt WE Johns (Biggles), Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, Dr Seuss, Isaac Asimov, Michael Moorcock, Evelyn Waugh, Richmal Crompton and (later) Elmore Leonard. Probably the Sherlock Holmes stories are the ones that have had the most influence.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Sherlock Holmes. I always fancied myself as a cerebral gentleman about town and Holmes is such a complex and flawed character. I think my Holmes fixation is very like my David Bowie man crush.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play soccer and I’m pretty good at it too. I’m also president of the Lennox Arts Board. We brought KULCHUR to Surf Town in the form of Andrew Frost (‘The A-Z of Contemporary Art) and Michael Leunig.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

When I was a kid there was a magazine called ‘Shoot!’ which dealt with English football. In the section where they asked players what their favourite food was they would, almost without exception, say ‘steak and chips’. This was the late sixties/early seventies but I still think it’s hard to beat a perfect rare steak and some shoestring fries with a dab of English mustard. Wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

As an ex-punk not having heroes was something of a mission statement but I’d have to give it up for John Lennon, John Lydon, PG Wodehouse, William Shakespeare, David Bowie, James Brown, Larry David, Laurel and Hardy, SJ Perelman, Armando Ianucci, Michael Winterbottom, Woody Allen, Patricia Highsmith, Ron Mueck and Billy Connolly all qualify as bona fide heroes. Actually, for someone who doesn’t have heroes that’s quite a lot, isn’t it?  John Lennon then.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think moving to a more fluid distribution system while still rewarding the creatives is the biggest challenge. What has happened with music will happen with books. Probably.

Website URL: www.edchatterton.com
Blog URL: www.thelastslaveship.com.au
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/martin.chatterton.5?ref=tn_tnmn
Twitter URL: @MEChatterton

Player Profile: Bill Cheng, author of Southern Cross The Dog

Bill ChengBill Cheng, author of Southern Cross The Dog

Tell us about your latest creation:

Southern Cross the Dog, a novel set in the Jim Crow-era American South

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

New York

9781447225003When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an artist at one point, but gave that up fairly quickly

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The one I’m working on.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

By and large, I write in different places: coffee shops, restaurants, park benches, on the subway, etc.  My desk at home though currently has a koa-nut carved into a catfish that my wife bought for me at a street fair.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I can’t even begin to know how to answer this one.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Cathedral by Raymond Carver

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I wouldn’t merit literary attention.  I suspect many writers make for boring subjects– why else then would they invent these worlds for themselves?  Though, if pressed, who wouldn’t want to be Sherlock Holmes?

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Spare time!?

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Hard to say on the food. As for the drink: bourbon on the rocks– though I’m cutting down overall.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Orson Welles

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

We have to figure out a way to instill a reading culture that is as integral and ubiquitous as sports or films or pop music.

Website URL: bycheng.tumblr.com
Blog URL: bycheng.tumblr.com
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/gillbench

Player Profile: Deborah Abela, author of Ghost Club

deb-abela-300dpiDeborah Abela, author of Ghost Club

Tell us about your latest creation:

Ghost Club: Part 3 A Transylvanian Tale

After dealing with a haunted castle and ridding their school of its very own pesky paranormal, Ghost Catchers, Angeline and Edgar Usher, are off to the Annual Ghost Club Convention and this year it’s in Transylvania, home of the infamous Count Dracula.

9781742758534Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Sydney, Australia

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

An author and an explorer…but I’m pretty clumsy, so it’s lucky I’m an author.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

This is hard! Each book takes me a year to write, so I become really attached to each character…mmm…but I did almost give up on my novel, Grimsdon, about
half way through, but my editor convinced me to stay with it. It went on to win awards and lots of fans….so that one does have a special place.
http://deborahabela.com/site/Video_Clips.html

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

At certain times of the year, it is the quiet carriage of trains and airport lounges….when I’m home, it’s a room that looks out over the front garden, but is stacked to almost every inch of its life with books, shelves, papers and suitcases with even more papers….there’s an ordered chaos. Sort of.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

At the moment I’m doing loads of research into my father’s story….he was born in a cave on Malta during a bombing raid of WW2…I’m fascinated by everything about that period, including the fact that Malta was the most heavily bombed area of WW2…I also like reading the New Yorker and listening to podcasts from
the BBC…great drama and docos.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Lorax by Dr Seuss…..it was funny, warm, moving and ultimately, hopeful. I also loved Norman Hunter’s, Professor Branestawm, about a whacky professor who invents all sorts of weird inventions that often went very, very wrong.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Charlie Bucket…that would be fun! I’d get to meet Willy Wonka!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I go hiking into wilderness areas for days at a time with absolutely no contact with the electronic world….and I love it. The last walk was a five day ancient Aboriginal walking trail from Katharine to Edith Falls in the NT, with clear waterholes at the end of each dusty day.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Ahhhh….I love food….I don’t eat red or white meat…but give me Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, African, Moroccan…..toooooo many to choose from!

Who is your hero? Why?:

There are many, but Malala Yusafzai…the young Palestinian woman who was shot by the Taliban for going to school and campaigning for the rights of kids everywhere to be educated. She recovered and is quietly and gently helping to change the world.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Getting books into the hands of the 57 million kids who don’t have access to schools. It will be hard, but there are brilliant NGOs trying to make it happen, like Room to Read, which I love and support.

Website URL: www.deborahabela.com
Blog URL: www.deborahabela.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/deborah.abela.9
Twitter URL: @DeborahAbela

Player Profile: Maria Takolander, author of The Double

takolander-blog-author-photo-by-nicholas-walton-healeyMaria Takolander, author of The Double

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Double is a book of short stories. The stories range in their subject matter from rural Australia to northern Europe and beyond, and from the dark past of the Soviet era to a terrifying vision of the near future. The stories are bold and original, unnerving and unforgettable.

9781922079763Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I am the only Australian-born member of my family. My parents and my sister were born in Finland, and then migrated to Melbourne. I now call Geelong home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I always wanted to be a writer. I think it had something to do with learning English as a second language when I was very young, and feeling like an outsider in Australia for quite a long time. As a result, language and the world never seemed ‘given’. Writing gave me the opportunity to ‘get to know’ language
and the world better.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The Double! I worked on it very intensively, and I had an excellent publisher supporting me.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I’m not fussy about where I write. I write wherever I can–at the kitchen table, in the train, at my daughter’s desk. All I need is my laptop and some time. Quiet, of course, also helps.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love the poetry and prose of Jorge Luis Borges  for its thrilling ideas, cool irony and lavish language. His writing reminds me that it’s exciting to be alive in a world that we don’t understand but that offers experiences of such intellectual and emotional intensity. JM Coetzee’s work is also brilliant. His writing evokes the suffering and complexity that unavoidably comes with living.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I’ll single out Enid Blyton’s The Wishing Chair. It was so wholesome and otherworldly, and I loved the idea of a magical escape. I think the book also intuitively represented for me the power of books more generally to facilitate
mesmerising flights of fancy.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Feeling like an outsider, I have always strongly identified with Gregor Samsa! In more romantic moments, I saw myself as Jane Eyre.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play with my young son, who loves books and imaginative play. Who wants to live solely in this world, when you can also inhabit so many others?

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I love Finnish comfort foods and drinks, so I’d say Karelian pasties and milk.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My mum. She is an incredible survivor. Her family were exiled from their homes during the Finno-Russian war during the Second World War, and they endured significant hardship and privation. Nevertheless, my mother is the most loving and joyful person I know.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Finding readers for books, which are about probing the surface of things, in a society that’s increasingly content with surfaces.

Player Profile: Belinda Murrell, author of The River Charm

Belinda Murrell, author of The River Charm

Belinda Murrell closeupTell us about your latest creation:

One of my new books is The River Charm, which is a very special book to me, because it is based on the true life adventures of my great-great-great grandmother, Charlotte Atkinson. Set in Australia, during the 1840s, it is the story of a family who lost everything but fought against almost insurmountable odds to regain their independence and their right to be together as a family. Charlotte was born into a wealthy family at Oldbury, a grand estate in the bush. But after her father dies, her mother is left to raise four young children on her own. A young widow was a tempting target – from murderous convicts, violent bushrangers and worst of all, a cruel new stepfather. Fearing for their lives, the family flees on horseback to a remote hut in the wilderness. The Atkinson family must fight to save everything they hold dear.

9781742757124Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I live at Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a vet, just like my dad, which was one of the reasons I was inspired to write my new Lulu Bell series, about a girl growing up in a vet hospital, having lots of adventures with friends, family and animals.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I am very excited about my new book The River Charm. This book was inspired by the lives of my ancestors, the Atkinsons of Oldbury and I spent months researching it. The book has received some fantastic reviews which have likened it to the classic Australian tale – Seven Little Australians.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a beautiful office, overlooking the garden, with a fireplace and hundreds of books. My dog Asha sleeps in front of the fire keeping me company. It is usually orderly but as I get closer and closer to deadline, it does, just like my life, get messier!

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read lots of things! The books I have recently read include Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth and The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. I loved its enticing mixture of fantasy and adventure, and the idea that you could step through a hidden door into another magical world.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I would love to be Eliza Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Mustering cattle on my brother’s farm, riding my Australian stockhorse.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Can’t write a book without my morning coffee, and for late night energy – chocolate! Although for real food I do love Vietnamese salads and Thai red chicken curry.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My heroine at the moment is Charlotte Atkinson, my great-great-great-great grandmother, who fought against almost insurmountable odds for what she believed in, wrote the first children’s book published in Australian in 1841 and happens to be one of the star characters in my new book, The River Charm!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Making sure that authors and publishers can afford to keep producing good quality, gorgeous books.

Website URL: www.belindamurrell.com.au

Player Profile: James Phelan, author of The Last Thirteen

33970James Phelan, author of The Last Thirteen

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Last 13. It’s a new series for kids/teens about a battle between good and evil to control the dream world. 13 books, 13 nightmares, 1 destiny…

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

9781742831848Melbourne.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Aged 3 and 4 I used to make up recipe books for juices. Pretty much a list of everything I could put in the blender. I used to say that “one day I want to open a juice bar”… but, that being the early 1980’s, my family laughed and guffawed, saying “As if anyone would ever pay for a fresh juice. What else you got?” Then about aged 9 or 10 I decided I’d be an architect, as that’s what some of my family do. Aged 15 I decided I wanted to be a novelist. But I thought that you had to be old and retired to do that, and so I started off in architecture. I “retired” at 25 to be a novelist.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I always think that my latest project is my best work, as that’s what I’ve been living with for year or more and my writing improves with each outing. So let’s say right now that “The Last 13” series is my “best work”. I also like ALONE: CHASERS, published 2010, which was my first novel for a YA readership. It has the biggest ever twist in the ending. Ever. Twist. Ending. Ever…

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My local cafe in the mornings, and then my home office.

Other than that, I write wherever I am – whether it’s when I’m on book tour, or following my wife around on her tours (she’s an opera singer). So if you’ve been to a hotel or cafe or bar around the world have had a disheveled guy in a corner typing away – that  was me.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Good novels! And good magazines: National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Esquire.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Little Prince.
The Jungle Book.
Treasure Island.
Tales of the Punjab.
Taronga.
The Hobbit.
Siddhartha.
Ender’s Game.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Charles Bukowski. Why? Go read “Ham on Rye”, brilliant book. Or maybe Hank Moody. Hang on – is this “who would I be” or “who do I want to be”?

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Cook. Hang with friends. Blow stuff up.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Italian and Thai are my fav cuisines. Red wine. Mineral water. Beer. Scotch. Gin. Coffee. In no order…

Who is your hero? Why?:

3-way tie: E Hemingway, C Hitchens, and H Bloom. Legends.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The volume of published crap that has flooded the market.

Website URL: www.jamesphelan.com
Blog URL: www.thelast13.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/realjamesphelan
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/RealJamesPhelan

Player Profile: Jenni Fagan, author of The Panopticon

1663420045Jenni Fagan, author of The Panopticon

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Sunlight Pilgrims. It is my second fiction novel, based on the lives of four characters who live in a caravan park. Around them there is a huge mountain, a city dump, an industrial park and a nearby motorway. There are rumours of an insipid sea. It is set about ten years in the future and begins with a mass eviction of the area around the river Thames in London, when it floods (they know it will at some point) it could affect a huge area of land. Anyway, the four characters are all quite different and they meet at the beginning of a freak severe winter, the aurora borealis is about to pass by and it really is just the story of their lives. I haven’t been talking about it much yet so excuse the vagueness, I’ll get to the synopsis stage once it is finished.

9780099558644Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I am from Edinburgh really, I call that home as it is the longest I ever stayed in one place. I haven’t lived there for quite a while but I am thinking of moving back.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an author from a very early age. When I was about seven the teacher asked everyone in class what they wanted to be and I said I’d like to be a witch. She said that wasn’t possible so I said I’d be a coal miner instead. I lived next to a coal mine then, I only said it to annoy her as girls were not meant to go down the pit.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I don’t think about that really. My work is always evolving and I try not to grade it, either it’s good or it’s not.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I finally have a tiny room that I am to make into a study and I don’t quite know what to do with it. I have been writing in bed, on the sofa, or out in libraries or bars for so long that I’ve just continued to write that way. I would like a big room in the garden as an office, I’d probably live there.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read everything and anything, I go through a lot of new authors each year and I’m always catching up on older ones too. At the moment I am reading The Bridge by Iain Banks, The Deadman’s Pedal by Alan Warner, Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, Short Stories and Essays by Mina Loy, Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet and about to begin the new one by David Vann. I’m also reading a book on brain psychology and another on shamanism.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I think when I read The Hobbit at around age eight, I really thought it was something special. I read constantly as a child but I remember reading that and thinking — this isn’t the usual patronising crap. I had a particular fondness for The Faraway Tree and the Magic Wishing Chair. Also, anything by Maurice Sendak or Roald Dahl.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Anais Hendricks. Go figure.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I grow potatoes. That’s a recent endeavour. I hang out with my toddler. I like to make things, I do a lot of photography, I’d like to do old houses up if I had more time. I try to walk by the sea and I love going to the movies although there isn’t a cinema near here right now. I want a big bass guitar. That would do nicely.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Favourite food is probably anything with goats cheese and organic tomatoes. Or chicken. Or seafood. I’ll settle for cheese on toast actually. Favourite drink is gin.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t have a hero, is that sad?

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The biggest challenge is to provide work that current generations will actually engage in — there’s a lot of competition out there.

Website URL: http://thedeadqueenofbohemia.wordpress.com
Twitter URL: @Jenni_Fagan

Player Profile: Persephone Nicholas, author of Burned

Persephone Nicholas Author Image (Photo Credit gm photographics)Persephone Nicholas, author of Burned

Tell us about your latest creation:

My book is called Burned and is the winner of this year’s Random House/National Seniors Literary Prize. It’s the story of four families on two sides of the world brought together by one terrible event.

Burned Cover ImageWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in the UK but have lived in Sydney for nearly 10 years now. I live a stone’s throw from Balmoral Beach in Mosman – it’s a great place to call home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I’ve always loved words and writing, but did go through a long stage of wanting to be a vet.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Burned is my first novel so it’s definitely the best so far. I was very humbled to receive an award for it – it’s made me determined to try and make the next one even better.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write at a beautiful silver desk I bought in London many years ago. My dog lies underneath it and keeps my feet warm in winter. I like peace and quiet when I’m working and if I need some inspiration I just head down to the beach at the end of the street.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

It’s very important to me that the books I read are well-written. At the moment I’m reading M L Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans and then I’ll be moving on to Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed. R J Palacio’s Wonder was a favourite earlier this year.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I particularly loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. The tv series just didn’t do it justice.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I could pick a different character for every day of the year!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I love the ocean – swimming in it, walking beside it, watching it… I find it very therapeutic and restorative.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Champagne, coffee, chocolate… anything beginning with a ‘c.’

Who is your hero? Why?:

My real life hero is Annie Crawford, founder of CanToo – a not for profit organisation that helps people get fit and raises money for ground-breaking cancer research.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Instilling a love of reading and great books in our children – so entertainment doesn’t always sink to the level of the lowest common denominator.

Website URL: www.persephone-nicholas.com
Blog URL: http://thebookorme.blogspot.com.au
Facebook Page URL:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Persephone-Nicholas-Author
Twitter URL: @PersephoneNich

Player Profile: Chris Allen, author of Hunter

Chris Allen 2012Chris Allen, author of Hunter

Tell us about your latest creation:

The second Alex Morgan novel in my black-ops Intrepid series is Hunter: Intrepid 2. It’s a rapid-paced action-packed rollercoaster of a story and it deals with a current issue with the backdrop of the Serbian warlords being brought to justice in the Hague – the sentencing is happening right now.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

HUNTER_mrI’m an Australian who calls Sydney home, we live on the leafy North Shore. But I grew up in Perth and left aged 18 by joining the Australian Army.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I dreamed of a few different things, actually. The military tradition ran pretty deep in my family, so I felt compelled to serve as well. Add to that, I knew my all-time favourite author Ian Fleming had served in WWII, and wanted to see the action that I too could write compelling stories about.

Finally, I was a mad drummer as a teenager, but loved the old jazz tunes and big live rock songs at a time when the likes of ‘Tainted Love’ were chart toppers.

All those things combined drove me straight into the welcoming (!) arms of the Australian Army, which is where I spent the next 13 years of my life. What do you consider to be your best work? Why?: The one I’m currently writing is my best work this far, which is called Avenger. I want each story to better than the last.

In this series, my flawed protagonist, the unstoppable Alex Morgan will age as time passes. He lives in real time, not a vacuum, and the stories will mature as my writing and Alex Morgan does.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My writing mancave is a large room downstairs, with lots of natural light. I’m surrounded by great books and writers and things that have significance from my time in the military, humanitarian aid and law enforcement environments.

I find this kind of environment helps me to write realistic action scenes based largely on real-life experiences. All with a generous serving of escapism in the mix, of course!

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

My literary legends, the ones I turn to time and again are Ian Fleming and Arthur Conan Doyle. Quite simply, their stories never get old.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The first thriller I ever read was The Wooden Horse — I was about 12-13 at the time.

At that age, I was really interested in a lot of stories of WWII, particularly the stories that were about individuals and how they overcame things. This was a story about guys who were prisoners of war, pilots who’d been shot down and captured by the Germans. I remember details about that book – that they needed to escape and someone came up with this idea that they needed to build a tunnel to escape. The shortest way for them to build a tunnel, so there was less chance of collapse, was to start right under the middle of the exercise yard, under the nose of the prison guards. So they requested exercise equipment from the guards like a wooden bolting horse. They hid two guys in the wooden horse and those men would work each night to dig out the tunnel each night. The detail was ingenious.

This book had all the elements of intrigue, deception, danger, subterfuge coupled with fearlessness, innovation and ingenuity borne out of a desperate need to escape captivity.

What more could a teenager in Perth ask for in his reading material!? If you were a literary character, who would you be?: I think I’d most like to be Watson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock series.

In the books, Holmes is so reliant on his partnership with Watson. If it wasn’t Holmes saving the day with some well-paced Judo moves, it would be Watson with his revolver.

I love the duo. They are a much more equal pairing than the old movies ever gave them credit for.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Well, on a recent rare weekend I was allowed out of the writing man cave for 48 hours. I really enjoyed taking the family up to the beautiful Blue Mountains just a couple of hours drive west of Sydney.

There’s nothing I love more than exploring a new town like Blackheath, taking in some historic sites, enjoying the views, browsing in an antiques store and drinking lots of good coffee and red wine.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

There’s nothing quite like an evening meal served with Brussel Sprouts at this time of year… they’re solid and nuggety, multi-layered, with the strange ability to be bitter and buttery at the same time. If I had my way, I’d like that served with a full-bodied Shiraz most nights of the week.

Otherwise it’s tea for me, strong tea with milk. Being ex-Army, I’m quite particular about my brew.

Who is your hero? Why?:

You know what? I don’t actually have a hero. I’m inspired creatively by figures from real life, but as bad as it sounds, I don’t have a hero that I call my own.

I think you should aspire to be the best person you can be, and not set someone else up as the benchmark, because people are still people, and it can be all too easy to fall for the idea of the person without understanding the context and full story of their life.

I’d rather be the best person I can be, and judge myself that way, than worship some other mortal bloke or lady based on some uninformed view I have of them!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Independent bookstores are undergoing a reinvention, becoming community hotspots that embrace all that reading and storytelling has to offer – books and eBooks and, maybe one day, print-on-demand technology.

Books make excellent gifts and the bookstore owner is an important part of the local community. As we know, while there has been a digital revolution underway, our need for community remains strong. The other constant is one of our ability to tell a story about the place we live. The intersection of the two is the local bookstore owner’s challenge.

Website URL: http://intrepidallen.com
Blog URL: http://intrepidallen.com/blog
Facebook Page URL: http://facebook.com/intrepidallen
Twitter URL: http://twitter.com/intrepidallen

Player Profile: Steve Bisley, author of Stillways

BisleySteveSteve Bisley, author of Stillways

Tell us about your latest creation:

I have just had my first book launched on August the first. It is an early memoir of my life growing up on a small farm on the central coast of N.S.W. Its is called “Stillways”

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up on the farm but have lived in Sydney for most of my working life.

9780732297848When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

As a kid I wanted to do everything. I loved reading and story telling which I attribute to my mothers influence. she was a writer,poet and a teacher.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I have worked for 35 years as an Actor but consider “Stillways” to be my latest best work. I am now writing my first novel.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My writing environment is ordered and quiet. I write long hand and then edit on a word processor.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read everything, currently Jonathen Franzen.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Jungle Book was an early favourite, then Dickens and Shakespeare

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I was and would be the central character in my memoir “Stillways”

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

In my spare time I hang out with any or all of my 6 children

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I cook a spanish duck recipe which has chocolate and almond stirred through the stock.I have a love of bold red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

We dont need another hero. we are all hero’s and need to learn to love ourselves.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Get rid of mobile phones and other needless distractions and start talking to each other rather than seeing life through the filter of a screen.

Player Profile: Hannah Richell, author of The Shadow Year

art-353-Richell1-200x0Hannah Richell, author of The Shadow Year

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Shadow Year is the story of a group of friends who stumble upon an abandoned cottage and decide to drop out for a year and attempt to live self-sufficiently. What begins as a fun experiment soon spirals into darkness and tragedy. Thirty years later, a young woman arrives at the same cottage and begins to uncover the secrets of what happened there all those years ago. It’s a dark and twisty drama with a thread of suspense running through it.

9780733631948Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I am originally from the UK, but I’ve called Sydney home since 2006 and became an Australian citizen in 2010.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I was a pretty dreamy child. My ambitions were always changing: vet … marine biologist … archaeologist … but always in the background was the desire
to write.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I’m proud of both my novels but I hope my best work is still to come.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My working environment is a computer, a desk, a window. That’s all I need, although sometimes I pin up pictures or surround myself with books that inspire me. Sometimes I play a little quiet music. I used to write at the kitchen table but I’m now renting a studio room near my house. It’s great to have my own space away from the family, with a door that locks and no little fingers prying through everything.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read pretty widely – anything that takes my fancy from commercial to literary fiction. I feel very out of sorts if I don’t have a good book on the go.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I had a huge appetite for fairy tales, Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books as a young child. As I grew, I had a particular fondness for stories with a twist of darkness at their heart, such as The Secret Garden, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Goodnight Mister Tom and the ‘Dark is Rising’ fantasy series by Susan Cooper. My grandmother introduced me to the Greek Myths at an early age and they have stayed with me throughout my life and helped to inspire my first novel, Secrets of the Tides.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

It goes with the territory that most literary characters don’t have a particularly easy ride, but I’d probably be Laura Ingalls Wilder because I loved her Little House on the Prairie books and always had a secret yearning for that back-to-basics frontier lifestyle.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I am a very unsuccessful gardener and can spend an inordinate amount of time gassing with my sister on the telephone.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My husband’s roast beef with a really good glass of red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I’m not sure I have a hero. I think it’s a little dangerous to put people on pedestals … we’re all human, after all. Having said that, I think my family, my husband and my kids are pretty awesome.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think one of the biggest challenges to the future of books and reading is the perceived value of the written word.

I see a big shift in peoples’ expectations that content and entertainment be made available to them at little or no cost. When you consider this in light of the digital age, it’s a big problem for the survival of writers, publishers and booksellers.

Blog URL: http://hannahrichell.wordpress.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/hannahrichellauthor
Twitter URL: @hannahrichell

Player Profile: Jacqueline Harvey, author of Alice-Miranda Shines Bright

harvey, jacquelineJacqueline Harvey, author of Alice-Miranda Shines Bright

Tell us about your latest creation:

Alice-Miranda Shines Bright (#8 in the series).  Alice-Miranda and Millie make an accidental but dazzling discovery in the woods near school but it seems they are not the only ones looking.  Throw in a missing villager, a ruthless property developer and a hapless Mayor and there is another adventure in the offing.  The Alice-Miranda Diary for 2014 is a gorgeous diary full of fun activities, recipes, places to write secret thoughts and events; Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco (#4 in the series) sees Clementine and her friends on their first school excursion to a farm.  When her great Aunt Violet stands in for her mother as a parent helper, fireworks will be sure to fly with Clemmie’s teacher Mrs Bottomley. There’s a cranky goose and a crazy ram for good measure.

Alice-Miranda Shines Brigh Hi ResWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Ingleburn and Camden and now call the Upper North Shore of Sydney home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a primary school teacher from the age of 9. I’ve worked in schools for all of my career until the end of last year when I took the giant step to become a full time writer.  I still get to visit schools all the time which I love.

Alice-Miranda Diary 2014What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

It’s still to come!  As a writer you’re always wanting to improve.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Ordered.  I can’t stand when things get out of control – that tends to happen to my desk sometimes and I find that I can’t work until it’s back to being neat and tidy.

Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco Hi Res 1When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love Kate Morton, Tim Winton, Ian McEwan and Markus Zusak; I adore Belinda Murrell’s time slip adventures, historical fiction and newspapers – from all over the place.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

As a small child I loved Richard Scarry and Dr Seuss, then graduated to Paddington Bear, Heidi, Black Beauty and anything by Enid Blyton.  As a teen I adored To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby as well as Pastures of the Blue Crane by Hesba Brinsmead.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Miss Honey from Matilda.  I love her patience, bravery and kindness.  Having spent a large part of my adult life as a teacher, you hope that there are some children out there for whom you were their own version of Miss Honey.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Not really surprising here.  I love to eat out, travel, read and play golf.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

In the everyday world, I am more than happy with lamb chops, mashed potato, carrots, zucchini and green beans with gravy, and a chilled glass of diet lime cordial; on special occasions I love soft cheeses, smoked salmon, Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm pate and French Champagne. Weekends are frequently considered special occasions in our house.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Booksellers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and anyone who encourages children to read and fall in love with books and stories.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Competing with everything else that there is out there to entertain children and adults.  I think though that stories will be part of humanity forever; we just need to stay on top of the best way that people want to receive them.

Website URL: www.jacquelineharvey.com.au
Blog URL: http://jacquelineharvey.blogspot.com
Facebook Page URL:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacqueline-Harvey/186316834766392?ref=hl
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/JacquelineHarve

Player Profile – Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena

Anthony_MarraAnthony Marra, author of A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena

Tell us about your latest creation:

My first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is set in Chechnya from 1994-2004. It follows a cast of ordinary civilians who attempt to transcend the wreckage of war as they search for, flee from, collide with, and find one another.

9781781090060Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Washington D.C., grew up there and in Maryland, went to college in Los Angeles and grad school in Iowa, and now live in Oakland.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

What I was a kid I wanted to become a scientist of some sort. Paleontologist, marine biologist, molecular biologist, and astrophysicist were professions I aspired to from roughly ages 6-16. Unfortunately, you first have to pass calculus, which pretty much ended any ambitions for a future in the sciences.

When I was 16 or 17, I began writing short stories and quickly became hooked. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Having only published one book, my choices are limited. But A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a novel that I’m proud of. For the years that I worked on it, the novel was the focal point of my life. It took me to a part of the world few foreigners have seen. Its characters constantly surprised me. I did my best to tell their stories.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write at a desk in the corner of my bedroom. In order of size, it’s currently occupied by a cat, five books, an Oakland A’s hat, around a hundred pages of story drafts, a couple picture frame, a soap dish filled with loose change, various pens, and a few dozen post-it notes.

I tend to use post-it notes rather than a note book for jotting down ideas and my desk and walls are cluttered with them. The dimensional limitations of a single post-it note means I can’t write more than a sentence or two, so whatever idea I jot down remains mysterious until I sit down to the keyboard. Taking a glance at the post-it notes now, it looks like every one begins with “Maybe” and ends in a question mark. The fiction, hopefully, becomes the response.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I’m always reading a novel and usually have a nonfiction book going as an audiobook. Right now I’m in the middle of The Tin Drum. Highlights of my summer reading so far have been A Heart So White by Javier Marias, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa, Cain by Jose Saramago, and Stoner by John Williams.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Different books defined me differently at different ages, I suppose. When I was in elementary school, the Goosebumps, Redwall, Boxcar Children series, and the novels by John Bellairs, all introduced me to the transporting magic of fiction. When I was in high school, airport thrillers by Michael Crichton, John Grisham, and Tom Clancy were gateway books that led me to more literary fare.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, who embodies the kind of serene  ontentedness most of us would probably like to have. Day-to-day, however, I usually feel more like Calvin.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Chances are pretty good that I’ll be overly involved in the emotional lives of my girlfriend’s two cats. I’ve never particularly liked cats before, but ever since we moved in together two years ago, I’ve become a convert. What is your  favourite food and favourite drink?: Indian food and chocolate milkshakes. I’ve never found a restaurant that serves both. Somehow I carry on.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t think I have a hero, or at least not in the sense of one person whose life I model my own on. I look up to various people for various things, most of whom are friends or family. Maybe your heroes are simply the people you love.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

You know, I bet 15th-century cultural commentators were asking Gutenberg that same question. Maybe I’m naive, but people have been reading and telling stories since the dawn of history, it’s baked into our cultural DNA, and as addictive as Angry Birds can be, it will take more than smart phone technology to displace the role of literature.

That said, I think the decline of brick-and-mortar bookstores combined with shrinking book review space makes it increasingly difficult for non-blockbuster novels to find an audience.

Website URL: anthonymarra.net
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyMarraAuthor
Twitter URL: @anthonyfmarra

Player Profile: David Whish-Wilson, author of Zero At The Bone

David Whish-Wilson

David Whish-Wilson, author of Zero At The Bone

Zero_at_the_Bone_Cover_ImageTell us about your latest creation:

Zero at the Bone is my most recent novel, a follow-on from my 2010 crime novel Line of Sight. It’s set in 1979 Perth, and looks at some of the mining scams of the period before WA really started booming – linked to some of the nascent political dodginess and cowboy capitalism that really came to the fore in the WA Inc period of the 1980’s.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I had an army brat upbringing which saw us move around a lot – 21 times before I was ten years old. I lived overseas from my late teens for a decade or so, but since my return in the early 90’s I call Fremantle home. What do I love about Fremantle? Pretty much everything. It probably doesn’t hurt that I share a fibro house in South Fremantle with my fictional character Frank Swann, and his family (three kids also), and that we drink at the same pubs and walk the same streets and follow the same footy team…

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I recently discovered a short story I wrote aged eight. It was hidden in some old papers in a box in my back shed. It’s called ‘Grizzly – eighteen feet of gut-crunching terror!!!’. I clearly did my best to make the 15 pages of the short story resemble a book, with a graphic cover design of a bear holding up it’s latest victim, and a picture of a bear’s bloody severed head. Down the bottom I’ve written ‘Illustrated by David Whish-Wilson. Written by David Whish-Wilson and made up by his own brain and pictures by this well-known artist as well.’ My main character was Sam Kekovich, one of my favourite footy players of the time. Sam gets the rogue bear and saves the town. My grade four teacher marked it as a 9/10, although added the qualification that it was a bit ‘bloodthirsty.’ So you can see, the fantasy of being a crime writer was pretty much there from the beginning…

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Writing is a craft with a long apprenticeship and although I’ve been doing it a long time I hope that I’m still learning and therefore getting better. Each book has its own pleasures and challenges. I enjoy writing crime fiction for a number of reasons, although I’ve just finished writing the Perth book for New South Press, part of their city series. This book required a different style and a different structure, but I enjoyed writing it all the same, and hope some of that joy is communicated to readers.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a little slot in an old Fremantle building that houses artist studios. Too small for artists, the room is perfect for a writer – it’s quiet and the rent is cheap. The room has a desk, a computer and a couch – all that I need.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I’m pretty much interested in everything and so will read just about anything. Saying that, I take a lot of creative nourishment from reading other crime writers. When I find one I like, I read everything they’ve ever written (I like to inhabit not just a writer’s story but an entire fictional world, where possible.) Of late, I’ve been reading more and more Australian crime – beside my bed I have Angela Savage and Alan Carter’s latest novels.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The first book given to me by my mother was the Illustrated Book of Australian Bushrangers, when I was about seven or eight. I loved that book – its pictures and stories of men and women on the run. Clearly, you didn’t have to fit in or conform. You could be an outsider, do things your own way, even if that meant paying a price. That book was a gift in more ways than one. Another book that made a big impression on me was Catch-22, which is my father’s favourite book, and which I prised off his bookshelf in my teens. Hilarious and tragic and absurd, just like life.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Yossarian from Catch-22, I suppose. Or Saul Bellow’s Herzog. Despite the neuroses, the daily humiliations and pressures and disappointments, the limited self-awareness, the madness of modern life – there’s humour and poetry there aplenty…they don’t give up.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

To relax, I box, which is kind of paradoxical I suppose. But it’s a Fremantle boxing gym and pretty typical of the demographic – artists, musicians, writers and tough local kids all mixed in together. The gym is owned by Joromi Mondlane, who was not only a significant African boxer but is also
the singer in a reggae band.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I was brought up on South-East Asian food, which was unusual for seventies Perth (my mother learnt to cook in Singapore while my father was in Vietnam.) I still subsist, when I have the choice, on Asian broths, especially this time of year. My favourite meal of all-time however is a Catalonian fish soup – Zarzuela de Mariscos. My favourite drink? That’s pretty easy – I drink
Guinness unless its summer and good whisky/whiskey when I can afford it.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I lived for a fair while in East Africa during my late teens and early twenties, at a time when the South African apartheid government was still doing targeted assassinations and blowing up ANC offices in surrounding countries. Nelson Mandela was my hero then, and still is.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I’m pretty optimistic. In a media-rich world, my three kids still read alot. There’s a special kind of pleasure in books that you don’t get gaming, or watching a movie, that is going to endure. Saying that, there are obvious challenges. I worry that becuase publishers’ margins are so tight that they’re less able to see a writer through those early books that might not sell particularly well, or curate a career if you like, before he/she really starts to hit their stride as a writer.

Website URL: http://www.davidwhish-wilson.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/davewhishwilson
Twitter URL: @davewhishwilson

Player Profile: Natasha Walker (aka John Purcell), author of The Secret Lives Of Emma Trilogy

Natasha Walker (aka John Purcell), author of The Secret Lives Of Emma Trilogy

574488-erotic-book-authorTell us about your latest creation:

The Secret Lives of Emma: Unmasked is the final book in The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy. After getting herself into trouble Emma breaks free and heads off to reclaim herself and live the life she always meant to live. Leaving her husband David facing a challenge – accept her for who she is or lose her forever.

9780857980434Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Sydney and now call the northern suburb of Davidson home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was a kid I wanted to be involved in politics or be David Bowie.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The Secret Lives of Emma: Unmasked is my best work. I really enjoyed letting Emma be as wild as she liked.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write in a tiny room I call the library. It’s a room which is too big to be a cupboard and too small to be a spare bedroom. I lined the walls with bookcases, filled them with books and plonked a desk in the middle. A perfect little writing room.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

At the moment I am reading outside my comfort zone. My job requires me to keep up with the latest trends, prize winners and blockbusters. Unobserved I retreat to my true love, the classics.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The book which I consider to be the catalyst for my reading life is Catch-22. If a friend hadn’t handed it to me I don’t think I would be the reader or writer I am today.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Zorba. Because he is everything I am not.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I am a homebody. When I am not reading or writing I am building bookcases, or painting the deck, or fixing something (probably something I broke). I love to paint pictures, too. But I haven’t found the time recently.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My wife’s Toad in the Hole (look it up) and beer.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t have one hero. I suppose my heros and heroines are scientists, great writers, philosophers, politicians and lawmakers.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Big data. Algorithms which mine our use of the internet to predict what we shall want to buy next. Eg: If you read this you’ll like this. I see such a service as reductive. We should never be our own teachers. I think it was Constable who said, A self-taught individual has a very ignorant teacher.

Blog URL: http://secretlivesofem.tumblr.com/
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/thesecretlivesofemma
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/NatashaWalkerAu

Player Profile – Adrian McKinty, author of In The Morning I’ll Be Gone

999261-120602-rev-mckinty

Adrian McKinty, author of I Hear The Sirens In The Streets

Tell us about your latest creation:

In The Morning I’ll Be Gone: a locked room mystery set in Northern Ireland in 1985 featuring Detective Inspector Sean Duffy.

9781846688201Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I’m from Belfast and I live in St Kilda.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Always wanted to be a writer.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The Cold Cold Ground: a generally unbiased and accurate account of what Northern Ireland was like in the apocalyptic year of 1981.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Coffee shops mostly and St Kilda library. Sometimes a pub called The Local Taphouse.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read everything. I have read everything.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Probably The Lord of the Rings when I was about 10.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Stephen Maturin from the Patrick O’Brian books because he’s such a bad ass.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

White collar crime.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Illegal Pete’s Big Fish Burrito, Boulder Colorado. Russian River Pliny The Elder IPA.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Winston Churchill because he saved the world drunk off his ass half the time. And he was a hell of a writer too.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books
and reading?:

Reading books will increasingly become a niche cult activity but its our job to make it a cool niche cult activity.

Blog URL: adrianmckinty.blogspot.com
Twitter URL: @adrianmckinty

Player Profile – Michael Robotham, author of Watching You

mr-press2-lgeMichael Robotham, author of Watching You

Tell us about your latest creation:

WATCHING YOU is a psychological thriller featuring some family characters – psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and former detective Vincent Ruiz. It also introduces someone new – Marnie Logan, a mother of two, whose husband has been missing for more than a year. Suffering from blackouts and increasingly desperate, Marnie has always had a sense that she’s being watched – ever since she was a young girl – but now she’s suffering from blackouts and gaps in her memory. Enter psychologist Joe O’Loughlin who offers to help, but the closer he looks at Marnie, the more he begins to doubt her story. Is she being haunted by some past tragedy – or is there someone very real and dangerous watching her?

9781847445278Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Casino in northern NSW and grew up in country towns like Gundagai and Coffs Harbour. Now I live on Sydney’s northern beaches.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a writer from the age of about 12 when I discovered the writings of Ray Bradbury, who is best known for Fahrenheit 451. I wrote a letter to Bradbury and he wrote back, sending me several books that weren’t available in Australia. It was that generosity that made me want to become a writer. What do you consider to be your best work? Why?: Asking a writer to nominate his or her best work is like asking a parent, ‘Which is your favourite child?’

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My children call my office ‘Dad’s Cabana of Cruelty’. It’s a lovely place for writing such dark stories.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read very widely – not just crime writers, although I have my favourites. I’m a big fan of James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Gillian Flynn, Peter Temple and Laura Lippman.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Lord of the Rings was a defining book for me. It was the first book I ever felt I ‘earned’. I re-read it so often that Mrs Fitzpatrick, my school librarian, forbade me taking it out again. I took to hiding it in the library. She caught me one recess and instead of punishing me, she gifted me the book. I still have it today.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Homer Wells – the orphan that nobody wanted in John Irving’s Cider House Rules. His was a life  full of tragedy, but he also great love. He is a true prince of Maine and King of New England.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

This is really boring. I have no hobbies. Writing is my passion, my hobby, my career. It’s what I do. And when I’m not writing, I’m reading.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Writers and alcohol have always had a close relationship. For me it’s a reward for a day at my desk. A glass of white wine. A gin & tonic. A Bloody Mary….don’t get me started.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I admire the unsung heroes, those people who care for our sick, elderly and disabled, who earn low pay and are constantly told the coffers are empty whenever they ask for more. Why is that  CEOs never make the same sacrifices?

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The biggest challenge facing books will partly come from the technology but also from changing public perceptions. Piracy looms, but perhaps a greater threat is the tsunami of cheap self-published titles flooding the marketplace – creating a new generation of readers who think a book is only worth 99c.

Website URL: www.michaelrobotham.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRobothamAU
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/michaelrobotham

Player Profile: Jenn J McLeod, author of House For All Seasons

Jenn J McLeodJenn J McLeod, author of House For All Seasons

Tell us about your latest creation:

My “come home to the country” women’s fiction story collection started with House for all Seasons (March 2013 and to lovely 5-star reviews). BLURB: Bequeathed a century-old house, four estranged friends return to their hometown, Calingarry Crossing, where each must stay for a season at the Dandelion House to fulfil the wishes of their benefactor, Gypsy. Surrounded by the past, the women discover something about themselves and a secret that ties all four to each other and to the house – forever.

9781922052049Where are you from / where do you call home?:

A city girl (Sydney)for a long time, I “came home to the country” in 2004 to focus on my writing. I run a B&B for people w/ pets in a small rural hamlet in the Coffs hinterland

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I was supposed to be a multi-disciplined musician (like my Dad), study at The Conservatorium (like my Aunt), be a famous opera singer (like my cousin – whose sons – Ben and Alexander Lewis – are now making their own musical mark internationally).

I chose to write — the computer my keyboard of choice — leaving the old upright piano to languish in the living room and the daddy longlegs to weave their web around the piano’s soundboard and strings while I weave my stories.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The reveiws and feedback on my debut (House for all Seasons) has been overwhelming, but as a writer grows and gets a feel for what their readers want, I think the best is always ‘yet to come’. I’m going with that! I have four books planned in my Seasons Collection. (The Simmering Season in March 2014 and two more after that – all going to plan!)

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

When not mopping floors and making beds in the B&B, I write everyday (and half the night) from my humble, homemade desk tucked in the corner of the living room, and find my muse in Strawberry and Daiquiri (two fluffy white mutts – little heartbeats always asleep at my feet – that’s when they’re not impatiently nosing the dinner bowl or sleeping on the leather lounge).

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I am always writing, but I was once told, “to be a great writer, one must be a great reader”. So I do try to read. I read new releases by author I know. I read the occasional ‘hype’ book to work out why it’s hyped! I read a classic when I can, but with such a huge author network, my TBR pile of books is toppling.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I started reading late in life. My early ‘reading’ (inspiring my love of stories and words) were more likely song lyrics, stage productions and musicals. (I used to write poetry and lyrics.) I still love seeing all the Disney production with those wonderful musical numbers that tell stories. Fairytales from my childhood with music! Bliss!

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’m not sure who I’d want to BE, but I LOVED Loretta Boskovic in P.A. O’Reilly’s The Fine Colour of Rust. I’d love her “I don’t give a …” attitude! A modern day heroine for sure!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Make beds and mop floors – and garden. SURPRISE! :)It’s a very special part of the world where I live and my property requires time and effort to tame the flora (and fauna)!

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

There is not enough space to answer this question. What DON’T I love! When I first left the city, I bought a small cafe in a small country town. (Not that I’d ever run a cafe before. I’d drunk lots of coffee so how hard could it be? Hard!) But that’s how much I love food and coffee!

Who is your hero? Why?:

My Dad, because he tolerated everything I put him through as a brat! (But why does this question say say hero? What about heroines? 😉 We need more heroines in our lives, which is why I write the women’s fiction characters I do.)

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Keeping up! There are so many books coming out these days. We need to read by osmosis or something. (Download a brain chip, or like Google Glasses have a book in front of our eyes 24/7.) Maybe then I can get through my TBR pile.

Website URL: www.jennjmcleod.com
Blog URL: www.jennjmcleod.com/blog
Facebook Page URL: www.facebook.com/JennJMcLeod.Books
Twitter URL: www.twitter.com/jennjmcleod

Player Profile: Duncan Lay, author of Valley of Shields

 

Duncan LayDuncan Lay, author of Valley of Shields

Tell us about your latest creation:

My latest trilogy is Empire Of Bones, beginning with the bestseller Bridge Of Swords. Valley Of Shields came out in April and went into reprint after 17 days. Wall Of Spears, the third book, is out in February 2014. It’s the story of a warrior on the run. He’s discovered the answer to a 300-year-old mystery. he’s being hunted by his own people, trying desperately to get back to his children and just when he thinks it can’t get any worse, he runs into a young couple who want him to be their hero in their land’s fight for freedom – a bard who has learned a terrible secret about an evil King and a young dancer who has a hidden power that’s about to change everything.

9780732294199Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I live on the sunny Central Coast of NSW, midway between Newcastle and Sydney.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to write from the moment I saw Star Wars on the big screen, aged six. It sent my imagination soaring and from that day I’ve been writing stories. I’m just lucky enough that HarperCollins wants to publish them!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

That’s a really tough question. Ultimately it’s not up to me to judge a work but my favourite has to be book two of The Dragon Sword Histories, The Risen Queen. It was the first thing I’d written KNOWING it was going to get published and it was an incredible experience.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write on the train, to and from work in Sydney. I have a laptop balanced on my knees, an iPod to keep the gibberers at bay and like to sit on the aisle side so my left elbow has more room to power through the typing!

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Mainly crime nobvels, the grittier the better. The Rebus series by Ian Rankin is great and, for darkness, they don’t get bleaker than Andrew Vachss’ Burke series.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Legend, by David Gemmell. I read it as a 15-year-old and it opened my eyes to the fact fantasy doesn’t have to have a full cast of singing elves and dancing dwarves. It can be human and gritty – just the way I like to write it!

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Bit of a stretch to call him literary but I’d be Tony Stark. What’s not to like about a genius playboy smartarse with the Iron Man suit!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Very little spare time, unfortunately, but I used to love touch football, hockey and a bit of amateur dramatics. Only acting, no singing though. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I love Thai food and a freshly-made espresso. Just not at the same time.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Tony Stark – for reasons outline above!

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books
and reading?:

Persuading people that a traditional book or professionally-produced eBook is worth paying $10-$30 for, when you can fill an eReader with thousands of free or 99c books.

Blog URL: http://duncanlay.blogspot.com.au/
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/#!/duncan.lay
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/DuncanLay

 

Player Profile: Richard Beasley, author of Me and Rory MacBeath

6994290Richard Beasley, author of Me and Rory MacBeath

Tell us about your latest creation:

“Me and Rory Macbeath” is a novel set in the 1970’s about the friendship between two boys (Jake and Rory) who meet at the start of the summer when they are both twelve. They have the kind of fun together that kids did in summer back in the 70’s. Rory has a very violent father though, and the childhood of both boys is ended abruptly by a terrible event that happens as a result of that violence. In the trial that follows, the female defence barrister is the kind of person I would like to be a member of my chambers now, although we would probably have to up the wine budget.

Me and Rory MacBeathWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Sydney, grew up in Adelaide, and have lived in Sydney most of my adult life, or at least the part of my adult life that has involved being a lawyer/barrister.  I have never lived more than 1 kilometre from Randwick Racecourse. My bank manager and my trustee can tell you why

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was a kid I wanted to be a test cricketer. That was in the 1970’s. I still want to be a test cricketer. It looks like I still have a chance. The Dream lives on.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

Me and Rory Macbeath. It’s a better story than my first two books. And it has much less swearing.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I wrote my first novel when I was a “baby-barrister”. I had a ‘readers room’ on my floor, which was literally an old broom closet, about 1metre x 1 metre. It’s famous now for having had “Hell has Harbour Views” written in it, and for having the child of one of our floor members conceived in it. My second novel I wrote in my current room in chambers. It is a windowless room, with 1960’s wood panelling. It’s the sort of room that requires even my clients to take 3 Prozac tablets before walking inside. It’s not a creative space. I wrote “Me and Rory Macbeath” at home, in our study, with our dog at my feet. That was much nicer. She’s much better company than other barristers too, and gave me more incisive feedback on my first draft than they or my previous publisher did.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love reading Carl Hiassen. He’s the funniest writer ever, and I really like crime books that don’t have police in them. For more serious reading, I’ve loved everything by Cormac McCarthy I’ve read over the last few years, and Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell books.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

“The Catcher in the Rye”. My Year 10 English teacher recommended it. He started calling me “Holden” shortly afterwards. My mother still calls me Holden. And “The Great Gatsby”. It’s very hard for me not to order a custom made shirt every time I think about that book, which is daily.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

A male barrister who doesn’t want to be Atticus Finch hasn’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I’d kind of like to be Winston Smith from 1984, because the world, its governments, and big corporations all make me feel like him sometimes. Obviously I want a different ending, with Winston leading some kind of overthrow of Big Brother.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I cook a lot. I am really good. I’ve watched all the celebrity chefs on TV. I am as good as them all, and tidier. I would win Masterchef easily if I went on it, but I don’t like “dorm” accomodation, and would miss my family.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Red meat. Red wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

In Politics: Gough Whitlam. I like the huge size of his vision. I was only 11 when he was dismissed, but I thought it was dodgy even then. As someone who now has legal expertise, I now think it was illegal. I want Gough reinstated.

In Books: F Scott Fitzgerald. I learntThe Great Gatsby off by heart when I was 17. There will never be another book like that for me. I bored dozens of girls reciting it from when I was 18 until I was about 25. They all married men who strongly resemble Tom Buchanan for some reason.

Music: John Lennon. I just love his songs. I love his playfulness with words. I liked his attitude. I even like Yoko.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The survival of good bookshops is a key. That is one part of retail that I hope survives the online revolution and finds a way to thrive. I’m kind of optimistic though. My kids read a HELL of a lot more books than I did when I was in Primary School. So do their friends and classmates. So that make me hopeful.

Website URL: You don’t want a lawyer
Twitter URL: @richardcbeasley

Player Profile: Angela Savage, author of The Dying Beach

Angela Savage, author of The Dying Beach

Author shot_Paul X Stoney_smallTell us about your latest creation:

The Dying Beach, set in the exquisite southern Thai province of Krabi, finds expatriate PI Jayne Keeney investigating the death of a young tour guide, a case that takes her into the murky world of corruption and environmental destruction.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

9781921922497I was born in Melbourne and call it home, but my heart is divided between Australia and Southeast Asia. When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?: I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. I still have a book of bad poetry that I made as a ten-year-old, complete with ‘About the Author’ blurb on the back cover.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I believe writing is a craft and you get better with practice. My best work is still to come. Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?: I share a study with my partner, also a crime writer. His desk is ordered. Mine is chaotic. Thus the world balances itself.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love good writing. I love books that reveal something new about the world and make me feel transported. I read mostly crime fiction and non-genre fiction, as well as at least one classic and one non-fiction book each year. Among contemporary Australian crime writers whose work I admire are Honey Brown, Robert Gott, Wendy James, David Whish-Wilson and Leigh Redhead. Two of my favourite books of all time are The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck by Beatrix Potter stands out from a childhood rich in books as my first thriller. The tale of a naïve duck who accepts the offer of a sandy-whiskered gentleman to incubate her eggs in his feather filled wood-shed still gave me chills more than 30 years later when I read it to my daughter. Jemima Puddle-Duck introduced me the power of literature that unsettles, frightens, arouses, and introduced me to the perennial literary theme of inappropriate relationships.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I would be an outsider drawn to Asia, like the unnamed narrator in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s Heat and Dust, or journalist Guy Hamilton in Christopher Koch’s The Year of Living Dangerously.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Spare time? I work four days a week, write books, try to maintain an ‘online presence’ and a functioning household with a partner and young child… I sometimes get to knit in front of DVDs. I also enjoy singing along to 80s pop music. Loudly.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I love Lao, Thai, Malaysian, Indian and good Italian food, French cheese and Belgian chocolate. I like New Zealand sauvignon blanc in summer, Australian shiraz in winter and Irish whiskey all year round.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I’m not really one for hero worship, but I have enormous admiration for the people I’ve had the privilege of working with on HIV/AIDS prevention in Southeast Asia over the years. I reserve particular admiration for the bravery and resilience of the Cambodians I worked with.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books
and reading?:

A friend suggested recently that we are headed for another Dark Ages, with the digitisation of so many of our cultural products. I think the biggest challenge is ultimately how we protect and preserve books for future generations.
Website URL: www.angelasavage.wordpress.com
Blog URL: www.angelasavage.wordpress.com
Facebook Page URL: a.savage.925
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/angsavage

Player Profile: Kate Forsyth, author of The Wild Girl

Kate H-S smlKate Forsyth, author of The Wild Girl

Tell us about your latest creation:

THE WILD GIRL tells the story of star-crossed lovers Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the turbulent years of the Napoleonic Wars, THE WILD GIRL is a tale of love, desire, heartbreak and the redemptive power of storytelling.

9781741668490Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Sydney, Australia

When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?:

I’ve always wanted to be an author, I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I wrote my first book at the age of seven.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I’m very proud of THE WILD GIRL, which is the most difficult and challenging book I’ve ever written. I poured everything I have into it, and I’m so glad that so many people are
loving it so much.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write in a book-lined study with a view across my garden to the ocean.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read a wide range of different books, though my favourite genre is historical fiction.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I loved authors such as C.S. Lewis, L.M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Goudge, Joan Aiken, Geoffrey Trease and Rosemary Sutcliff.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’d want to be a literary character that made their living writing books, travelling the world telling stories, and was madly in love with their life … but as I can’t think of a single book with such a character, I guess I’ll just have to stay being me.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I love my garden and I love to cook. I love music and theatre and the ballet. Most of all, I love to travel and have adventure and tell stories.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

A fine sparkling wine will always make me happy, especially if taken with a little smoked salmon and caviar.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I love all the women writers whose books are being read all around the world.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Being heard above the clamour of voices all shouting their stories to the world.

Website URL: www.kateforsyth.com.au
Blog URL: http://www.kateforsyth.com.au/kates-blog
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/kateforsythauthor

Player Profile: Hugh Howey, author of Wool

Hugh Howey Hugh Howey, author of Wool

Tell us about your latest creation:

My newest release is DUST. It wraps up the Silo Saga that began with WOOL and continued with SHIFT. As I write this, it’s been two years to the day that I released WOOL, which changed my life forever. Putting the final touches on this series has been extremely rewarding.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

9780099580485I grew up on a farm outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. After a career as a yacht captain, I eventually settled here in Jupiter, Florida. I live with my wife and our spoiled rotten dog.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?:

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve dreamed of doing this since I was twelve. I never thought it would be possible, and I took a circuitous route to get here, but I’m now savoring every moment.

9781780891224What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I, ZOMBIE. It was my most risky project, the one that touches on the most traumatic experiences of my life, and a work that was approached for purely cathartic purposes. It’s the least appealing to readers and the least commercial, and I enjoy that about it as well.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is
it ordered or chaotic?:

I can write anywhere. I do all my writing on a laptop. I usually have my dog snuggled up against me, making it difficult to type or get comfortable.

COMING SOON
COMING SOON

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I almost exclusively read non-fiction. History books, like Rick Atkinson’s latest trilogy or psychology works from Steven Pinker. I am a sponge for facts and knowledge.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

ENDER’S GAME, by Orson Scott Card. Here was a book about young people saving the universe, and it was written by a guy from my home state. It made me believe I could be anything. Do anything.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I’d be one of Shakespeare’s fools, acting dumb but often saying something with a sliver of insight and wit.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I collect seashells. I take pictures.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Pizza and beer. I could eat this every day (if only my wife would allow it).

Who is your hero? Why?:

My parents, both of them. My mother for the way she raised the three of us while working several jobs. My father for his kind heart and work ethics.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books
and reading?:

Competing with various free forms of entertainment. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, social media games . . . these are the things books will compete against. To thrive, they’ll have to continue to offer a brand of entertainment found nowhere else, and that is the building of vivid worlds in silent imagination.

Website URL: http://www.hughhowey.com/
Blog URL: http://www.hughhowey.com/
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/hughhowey
Twitter URL: @hughhowey

Outside In with Robert Smith?

Outside InRobert Smith? — the man with the question mark in his name. He’s an academic, he’s an author, he’s an editor and he’s a Doctor Who fan. His books include Braaaiiinnnsss: From Academics to Zombies, Modelling Disease Ecology with Mathematics and Who Is The Doctor (co-written with Graeme Burk). And most recently, he’s edited the mammoth essay anthology, Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Classic Doctor Who Stories by 160 Writers. Robert was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions for me…

How did Outside In come about?

It really started with the “say something different” idea.

I was editing the Doctor Who Ratings Guide one day when I was reading a review of “The Seeds of Doom” by Mike Morris (the one that ended up in the book). It was such a radical take on the story that I wondered if I could find equally radical takes on all the stories. The DWRG has almost 8000 reviews, so at first I figured I could just trawl through that and surely find at least one review per story that said something different?

Sadly, the short answer was no. While there were a few that fit the bill, I quickly realised that there was no way I could fulfil this mandate just from my own website. So I started to look further afield.

And then I had the wild thought of doing 160 different writers. It had never been done before; indeed, I’d been responsible for the most diverse collection of Doctor Who essays already: Time Unincorporated 2, which had about 48 writers. This was tripling it, which seemed kind of foolish… but I also liked the challenge it presented. (I have a PhD in mathematics, so I can kind of hold this sort of complexity in my head.)

Meanwhile, I also heard on the grapevine that Arnold Blumberg was setting up a new press (ATB Publishing). Arnold was a bit unconvinced, because things on his end were really only in the planning stages. And I ended up running far ahead of the business side of things, so it felt a bit as though we were making things up as we went along. But having a definitive goal probably helped to force everything to come together.

“160 New Perspectives on 160 Classic Doctor Who Stories by 160 Writers”. Was it difficult to wrangle so many writers?

Yes and no. At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off, so I had several writers on standby to contribute further pieces. But then word of mouth helped, as good writers were able to recommend other good writers and then I got into the groove of recruiting people. Conventions helped a lot, because I just walked around with a sheet of paper with the last 20 or so stories on it and asked people if they had any radical takes on the stories in question. Almost everyone did!

I did find several brilliant pieces, but couldn’t locate the writers. I chased one guy through all the Coronation St forums for his review of “The Dominators”, but then the trail went cold, so I had to look elsewhere. Fortunately, my convention asking led to Bill Evenson’s hilarious take on the story — still my favourite piece in the collection — so it worked out in the end.

But it was also a bit of a wild ride. One of the authors demanded I not change even a single comma, not even the typo we both agreed was there. Another never sent my personal copy of the DVD back to me. I also got a bit of a reputation as a hard-sell after (entirely accurate) rumours spread that I was cracking the whip on several pieces that weren’t up to scratch. Stephanie Blumberg — the boss’s wife, incidentally! — sent me her “Silver Nemesis” piece with such fear in the email I thought she was going to have a meltdown. (Luckily, I loved it outright, so she needn’t have worried.)

But one of the things I’m so proud of is just how many new voices there are. For so many people, this is their first published work and I think that’s hugely important. So much of Doctor Who output, from the TV series to Big Finish, is jobs for the boys, with the powers that be recruiting the same old names on the entirely reasonable grounds that they can trust them to produce good stuff. I really wanted to break that cycle, which required a lot of work on my part, but the payoff was enormous.

Did you have any trouble finding writers to cover all the stories?

Finding writers was both a pleasure and an incredible challenge. I ran out of my own contacts after about 50 people, which put me in a bit of a bind. So I spent ages trawling the internet for good reviews, often striking gold on the 1,900th entry in Google. When you’ve spent two days searching for a review of “The Mutants” that doesn’t say the same old thing, the pleasure when you find exactly what you’re looking for is immense. I think I shouted for joy when I stumbled upon Philip Sandifer’s piece, never having heard of his blog before (although it’s now fairly famous).

And as I started to recruit more original writers, I simply asked them for recommendations. So it spread virally, which is something I know more than a little about, thanks to my day job. (There are a surprising number of siblings in the list, as well as a number of husband and wife teams.) The only time I sat down and thought about specific names was when I looked through the table of contents of Chicks Dig Time Lords for names of good writers. The rest was very organic.

It was actually Graeme Burk who suggested I recruit a majority of original pieces. Originally I was going to do mostly reprints, because I was worried about the budget. But then I came up with the charity idea and that helped focus things: I realised that one of the strengths of the book was that, as a group, we were much stronger than as individuals. Given that everyone — myself, Arnold and all the writers bar two whom I won’t name — donated their fees to charity, it meant we were working for something bigger than just another Doctor Who non-fiction guide.

A lot of the book’s genesis thus coasted on goodwill. I was especially pleased that the professional writers involved were happy to donate to charity, even though this is their livelihood. And some of these were just brilliant: Andrew Cartmel’s letter to me regarding “Talons of Weng-Chiang” made me laugh out loud, while David Howe stepped up very late in the day with a sweet piece on “The Mythmakers” and a photo to boot.

And then Anthony Wilson — one of the unsung heroes of Doctor Who nonfiction writing — came along and proofread the book and told me to throw away about 15 pieces and get the authors to rework about as many again. He grasped the concept of the book intuitively and had enough distance to simply tell me “no” on a number of occasions. Some of the best pieces in the book — Piers Beckley’s Shakespearen play, Stuart Milne’s letter to the reader, Stuart Douglas’s alien flow chart — are a direct result of Anthony. The only credit I give myself on this is that I wasn’t precious about anything and deferred to his judgement entirely!

What is it about Doctor Who that inspired you to take on such a huge project?

It’s the sheer diversity of talent in fandom that continues to inspire me. Go to any gathering of Doctor Who fans, even when you don’t know anyone there, and you’ll hear fascinating opinions, vociferous disagreements and new insights on decades-old stories. You hear this at conventions, at pubs and on the internet. It continually amazes me just how thoughtful and articulate Doctor Who fans can be.

So that really made my job easy. The technical accomplishment of 160 writers was a cute gimmick, but what really makes the book shine is the fact that everyone’s saying something different. (Sometimes very  different: the other proofreader, Paul Simpson, complained that Lindy Orthia’s intense academic dissection of “Ghost Light” gave him whiplash after Sean Twist’s hilarious within-text take on “Battlefield”.) It meant I really just had to sit back and watch everyone bring their A-game to the table. That made it a joy to assemble and then edit.

You’ve written about Doctor Who, zombies and even Justin Bieber. What’s next?

I’m going to create a mathematical model of a Monoid invasion. You heard it here first.

Thank you Robert. That was a rather lengthy interview, so I won’t add anything beyond…

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter

 

Check out my DVD blog, Viewing Clutter.

Latest Post: DVD Giveaway  — Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

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Doodles and Drafts – An interview with Michelle Worthington

Welcome 2013! No bangs and whistles to launch the New Year this time. No arm-long lists of resolutions (fitted most of them on the back of my hand). Time to just buckle in, knuckle down and devote more hours to all those things we should actually be devoting more time to. One of them being more posts!

And so I embark on what I affectionately term Doodles and Drafts: snap-shot peeks at some of our most notable and most inspiring authors and illustrators. Some you will know intimately already, some are not so well-known but are creating impressive upward spirals; because all great writing starts with that first scrawled idea and all wonderful art begins as a mystic scribble… We kick off with a Drafter.

My first encounters with children’s author Michelle Worthington were at the usual haunts; children’s writing festivals and conferences. I was struck by her vivacious zeal and enthusiasm when asked anything about the craft of creating children’s stories. I’m delighted to feature this young, vibrant writer in my first author interview. Enjoy.Promo Photos 001

Who is Michelle Worthington? Describe your writerly-self for us.

My name is Michelle Worthington and I am a published Australian author. The stories I write are like the stories I used to read when I was little and they have what may now be seen as an old fashioned feel, but they have a timeless message. My goal is to be a successful Australian author known for uniquely Australian, classically elegant and compassionate stories for young children.

You’re a published author of several titles. What are they?

Picture book, The Bedtime Band, illustrated by QLD wildlife artist Sandra Temple was released by Wombat Books in November 2011.

Adult nonfiction book Practically Single was released by Mostly for Mothers Publishers in June 2012.

Picture Book, The Pink Pirate, published by Little Steps Publishing in July 2012, illustrated by New Zealand artist Karen Mounsey-Smith.

Yellow Dress DayPicture Book, Yellow Dress Day published by New Frontier Publishing in September 2012 which is illustrated by emerging NSW artist Sophie Norsa.

Why do you enjoy creating picture books? What other genres in children’s writing interest you?

As a mother of two rapidly growing boys, I am often asked why I write picture books for young children, especially young girls. The answer is simple; believe it or not, mothers were once little girls. More than that, I am a mother who wants my sons to grow up and marry strong, independent women. I write stories that empower little girls to believe they can be anything they want to be, as long as they believe in themselves. We live in a world where children are often asked at quite a young age to decide who they want to be. I want the children who read my books to decide to just be themselves. I would like to write a chapter book for boys one day.

 We know you love high heels but what’s your favourite colour, why and how has it influenced your writing?

My favourite colour is pink, of course. I love pink shoes.

Your recent release of the picture book “The Pink Pirate” was written for you niece. What message did you want to convey to her and your readers with this book?

The Pink Pirate was written for my niece, Georgia. I wanted her to know that she could be anything she wanted to be, regardless of her gender or the opinions of others. Books teach us so much about ourselves, the world we live in and the world that exists in our imagination. Every time you read a good book, you should get just a little bit smarter. It is very important not to underestimate the intelligence of the next generation, but at the same time, it is even more important that we pass on the right messages and lessons to them, in a way they will accept and understand.pink pirate

What does the term, ‘Power of Pink’ mean to you and why is it important for you to relay this belief to young readers?

There are not enough picture books that allow girls to be the hero of their own fairytale. Our children are growing up in a different world and they need to learn how to save themselves, instead of waiting to be saved. Writing my adult non-fiction fiction book about my divorce taught me that.

What inspires you to write? People, places, occasions…

I love writing stories for my family and friends, because I get my ideas from them. Words are like music to me. The right combination can sing in your brain as you read aloud. I write my books with that in mind. Books are best shared and if the reader enjoys telling it, it gives so much more pleasure to the listener. It is very important for me to feel like I am fostering a love of words and appreciation of good writing in my readers.

Where is your favourite place to create stories?

Practically SingleI write stories in my head all the time. They tumble around in my head until they are ready, then I write them down on anything I can find; bus tickets, napkins, back of my hand. Being a busy mum, it is hard to find an exact time to spend writing, so I let the ideas flow when and where they will.

Is illustrating your own picture book stories something you’d ever contemplate?

I can’t even draw stick people, so no. But I love working on books with talented illustrators, it makes the experience doubly delicious.

What is the one thing that motivates you to keep on writing (for children)?

I believe in the power of words, the power of sharing and the power of hope. Picture books encompass all these things and they are the perfect medium for teaching children about different people, places and challenges that they wouldn’t normally experience in their day to day life. I am not a doctor, scientist or any other professional that could help make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities. I am a writer. I can only use the gifts I have been given to help others to the best of my ability. If we all focus on what we are good at, we can all help each other in our own special way.

What is on the horizon for Michelle?

I am working on my first book app called Captain Cody, another picture book about the ocean, a fairy book with magic sparkles and a book about blended families, all to be released in the next 18 months. Watch this space; you never know what I will get up to next.

About Michelle

Best described as an Australian author with a penchant for high heels, Michelle is passionate about her kids and what she writes for them and kids like them. She’s won several poetry awards and is a regular presenter at schools and early learning centres.

Mini review of The Pink Pirate– Miss 6

Did you like the book? “Yes!”

What was the best bit?  “The girl saved the ship.”

What message do you think there was? “That girls can’t be pirates, but they can! When they grow up they can be whatever they want.”

Would you change anything in the book? “That the girl didn’t have to fight Blackboots, because she could have been hurt.”

Anything else you want to say about the book? “The two mice and the cat were doing swords as well.” (so clearly mice and cats can be anything they want to be too)