Player Profile: Louisa Bennet, author of Monty and Me

 

Monty and Louisa Bennet author (1)Louisa Bennet, author of Monty and Me

Tell us about your latest creation:

Quirky, charming and whimsical, a laugh-out-loud mystery with four legs and a tail, Monty & Me is a ‘must have’ for all animal and humorous fiction lovers.

9780008124045You might think that dogs can’t understand us… but you’d be wrong. Apart from an obsession with cheese, Monty is a perfectly rational animal. So when his beloved master is murdered, Monty decides to use his formidable nose to track the killer down.

Luckily he manages to find a home with Rose Sidebottom, the young policewoman who’s investigating the case. But with her colleagues turning against her, and the wrong man collared, she’s going to need a little help…

Ever wondered what your dog is really thinking? You’re about to find out.

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

I’m from England but I have lived in Australia for sixteen years.

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

I always loved jotting down stories as a child but because of my love of dogs, I liked the idea of becoming a vet.

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

I also write thrillers as L.A. Larkin which couldn’t be more different from Monty & Me. With every book I write, I strive to improve on the last. I take great pains to ensure my readers get a well plotted, well written book with engaging characters. Monty & Me was enormous fun to write but it was a challenge because the primary narrator is Monty, the dog detective. So I had to imagine the world from a dog’s view point and create a credible canine voice, a dog terminology and history. I also worked closely with a retired detective chief superintendent who advised me on the crime-solving process and police procedures.

As Monty & Me is the first in a series, it was important for Monty, and the young detective, Rose Sidebottom, to be lovable characters that readers want to continue following into the next book. Given all these challenges I think that Monty & Me is my best work so far.

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

I have turned a spare room into a Victorian library with floor to ceiling bookshelves bulging with books, an antique desk and burgundy velvet curtains. My two Golden Retrievers sleep on their mats either side of my desk.

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

I read every day. Anything from cozy mysteries, animal sleuths, detective fiction, action, conspiracy and psychological thrillers, fantasy and humour. When I’m researching a story, I read non-fiction books on the topic. For instance, I’ve just finished a book on the U.S. Secret Service.

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

Enid Blyton (Secret Seven and Famous Five), Treasure Island, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare.

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

Elizabeth Bennet. She is why I write my Humorous mysteries as Louisa Bennet, because she is one of my favourite characters – feisty, clever but flawed.

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

I run courses in crime fiction and thriller writing at the Australian Writers’ Centre. I also do what I can to support charities trying to put an end to puppy farming in this country and in the UK and to encourage the adoption of dogs from rescue centres.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

A good curry and a good beer.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Nelson Mandela because he kept going, no matter the opposition and his personal suffering.

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

To manage two new book series’ – The Monty & Sidebottom Mysteries and a new thriller series, featuring Olivia Wolfe, an investigative journalist.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MontyDogDetective

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MontyDogD

Web Page: montydogdetective.com/

Blog: http://montydogdetective.com/blog/

 

Player Profile: Nigel Bartlett, author of King of the Road

Pic of me editedNigel Bartlett, author of King of the Road

Tell us about your latest creation:

My debut novel, King of the Road, was published by Vintage (Random House) in February 2015. It’s a fast-paced crime thriller that follows David Kingsgrove’s descent into hell after his 11-year-old nephew, Andrew, disappears from under his nose.

The novel is based in Sydney and New South Wales. It takes David to places he’d never believed he’d have to go and leads him to carry out acts he’d never imagined he’d have to do.

It wasn’t meant to be a crime thriller – the first draft was meant to be a somewhat literary examination of what happens to a family when your responsible for the loss of a child that’s not your own. The way it changed halfway through the first draft is one of the mysteries of the creative process.

King of the Road coverWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I arrived in Sydney in 1995 and became an Australian citizen as soon as I was able to, in 2003. I live in the inner-city suburb of Redfern, which I’ve been proud to call home for the past 10 years.

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

Growing up, I dreamt of several possible careers.

The earliest I can remember is wanting to be a car designer (at the age of 11 or 12). In my teens I wanted to be a social worker (age 14/15), then an architect/interior designer (16/17), but I was no good at maths or art, and eventually I settled on journalism, which has allowed me to explore many of my interests.

I first articulated my dream of having a novel published when I was 22. It took me a further 28 years to achieve that goal. King of the Road was published on my 50th birthday. A very happy coincidence (or possibly something else, if you believe in general spookiness).

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

King of the Road is my debut novel. I’m very proud of it, and delighted with the reaction it’s received so far. It’s had excellent reviews on 2GB radio and in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, for example, and reader feedback has been outstanding. It’s extremely gratifying to hear people say they’ve picked up the book in the morning and not put it down until the evening!

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

I write at a desk at one end of my large combined living room/kitchen/dining area in my flat in Redfern.

The desk becomes quite disordered when I’m not writing, but I have a pre-writing ritual in which I clear all the papers and other junk that gather during the week around the keyboard and stack them either on my kitchen table or on the filing drawers next to my desk. I don’t like to write surrounded by clutter, although I can probably write anywhere.

This leads to the situation in which all my bills, articles to read and other bits and pieces of junk end up in a neat stack, which I never go through until I’m forced to find something I need. It’s not ideal, but it means I can write unhindered by jobs to do. And usually after a while I forget most of the articles and so on that I think are so essential, proving to me that what I think is important really isn’t.

One or both of my cats (Marcus and Will – they’re brothers) will often join me on the desk while I’m writing. When that happens I have to wait for them to settle on either side of my keyboard so they don’t disturb me with their demands for attention. Snoozing cats are very conducive to writing.

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

My all-time favourite author is Anne Tyler (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Digging to America, etc etc) and I can read anything by her repeatedly.

I’m also a huge fan of Nick Hornby, especially About a Boy (my cats are named after the two main characters).

However, most of the books I read these days are crime novels or crime thrillers. It’s hard to name favourites, but here are a few I love: Kate Atkinson (the Jackson Brodie series), PM Newton, Ian Rankin, Peter Temple, Michael Robotham, Dennis Lehane. I’ll read any crime author to see how they do it.

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

In my young childhood I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and Secret Seven series, and it’s only now that I realise how much I loved the mystery element of those books as much as their carefree existence and enormous breakfasts and high teas.

In my teens I felt a huge need to struggle through DH Lawrence novels and Somerset Maugham, but I remember devouring Agatha Christie novels whenever I was on holiday. They felt like a guilty pleasure when I “should” have been reading something more worthy.

(I turned to DH Lawrence again in my 30s and was able to appreciate him much more fully. Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Sons & Lovers remain two of my favourite novels.)

A book that has always stayed with me from my school days is Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves. It gave me my first glimpse into the horrors of the First World War, in an eminently readable way.

Most importantly, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee left a profound impression on me. I’ve never forgotten Atticus Finch’s advice to his daughter, Scout, that you can never truly understand a person until you “climb into someone’s skin and walk around in it”. Every kid should be given that advice when they start school.

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

Um, very hard to decide. I do like Will Freeman in About A Boy, largely because of the transformation he goes through in the novel. He’s not especially nice at the start, just like many of us (or is that just me??), but he becomes extremely likeable by the end. He shows there’s hope for us all.

I’d love to be Miss Marple, because she lives in a quaint English village and spends time in such beautiful parts of Britain. And she seems never to have had a day job. I’d prefer not to have a gender reassignment though.

I’d very much like to be Jack Reacher, because he’s completely fearless, has no qualms about not changing his underwear and is very tall, handsome and strong. He’s a bit screwed-up, but aren’t we all? (Or, again, is that just me??) And I’m not sure what his political views are. I’d need to check those out first before I swapped places with him.

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

I’m an avid gym goer and love exercise in general – lifting weights, cycling and running. They’re all great mood-changers and endorphin and seratonin boosters. Plus, they help counteract the effects of long hours at the computer. Having recently turned 50, the challenge is to keep neck and shoulder injuries in check after spending most of my adult lifetime staring at a screen.

I love television, in particular British crime series (Happy Valley and Scott & Bailey are brilliant – Sally Wainwright is The Best TV Writer On The Planet).

I can watch The Great British Bake Off until the cows come home. At one stage I had three series on the go, thanks to a DVD of the most recent series sent over from the UK and two previous series being aired concurrently on Gem.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My culinary tastes are not highly refined. I enjoy posh restaurant meals from time to time, but I can think of better things to spend my money on.

If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, I’m very happy when any menu has lamb shanks or chicken schnitzel and mash on it, with a thick gravy or mushroom sauce. Monday to Friday I generally avoid sugar. I have to, believe me.

Favourite drink is easy: tea, tea and more tea. Very strong English breakfast (often with two teabags). I drink around 10 mugs of it a day. I’m sure it’s the reason for the arthritis in my big toe.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Once upon a time I would have said my hero was Lance Armstrong, because of the way he fought back from cancer, overcame enormous physical challenges to become a winner once again and dedicated his life to helping others to Live Strong. Sadly, he’s blotted his copybook.

I have heroes who perform amazing physical feats, whether they be everyday “unknown” people who transform their weight or shape despite huge setbacks or bodily challenges and disabilities, or well-known people who’ve set records, inspired others or gone to extreme lengths to achieve their goals.

Other heroes are people who’ve been able to forgive those who’ve committed terrible acts against them or caused them profound heartache. Examples that spring to mind are the parents at the end of Dead Man Walking, or Philomena Lee, as played by Judi Dench in the movie Philomena.

I have no idea whether their real-life counterparts were as forgiving as they were portrayed in those films, but if so, they’ve set a high bar that I don’t think I’d ever be able to reach.

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

The greatest challenge lies in persuading people to put down their smartphones and pick up a book or e-reader instead. Unless, of course, they’re reading books on their phones. It’s hard for me to tell without wandering up and down the train carriage and peering over their shoulders. Occasionally I do that as I make my way to the exit.

This challenge, by the way, applies equally to me. Facebook and Instagram are like crack cocaine as far as my brain is concerned.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NigelBartlettKingOfTheRoad

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nigel__Bartlett

Player Profile: Kaylene Hobson, author of Isaac’s Dragon

kaylene hobson pic Kaylene Hobson decided at the age of ten that she wanted to be a writer. But it took her till she was ”much older” to act on it, she claims. Writing was always just for pleasure.  

Now she has released her first chapter book, Isaac’s Dragon, an amusing and captivating story about a boy who hatches a wonderfully clever and imaginative plan to catch his own dragon (Review here).  

Isaac’s Dragon is based on Hobson’s son Isaac, who has autism.  ”It is meant to be the world from his perspective. He spends a lot of his time in a wonderfully magical place that the rest of us don’t understand. It was originally meant as a way for him to know that I understand him, but now it can help the world to understand him and other kids like him better too…..while reading an entertaining tale at the same time.”  

received_m_mid_1409371748082_1b95137c0d750e2993_0 She wants readers to enjoy the story. To be entertained, amused and even inspired. ”But they should also feel a connection with the character – and experience happiness, sadness, joy and disappointment along with Isaac.” Hobson goes on to say, ”Even at a children’s book level – a good book is fun to read but a great book makes you feel. If along the way it also helps children gain self-confidence and helps parents to see the world through the eyes of their children, even for a little while, then it becomes an amazing book.”  

As an author, Hobson has an end goal in mind; a beautiful sentiment in leaving a legacy for future generations of readers. She aims to have written ”the classics of the future, that stay with children long after the story ends and influences them enough to want to share with their children and grandchildren”.  

Whilst running a social skills group for autistic kids, Kaylene met illustrator, Ann-Marie Finn. ”The idea was for the kids to make some friends but it’s the adults who bonded. The kids have had to become friends now whether they like it or not!” Out of a growing friendship, came the business partnership. With encouragement from Ann-Marie, Kaylene published her story through her own publishing company, which she established earlier this year.  

Kaylene explains, ”Dragon Tales has arisen from a desire to publish our own work but professionally and with a distinction from the hit and miss quality associated with ‘self publishers’. I have a background in business and marketing and Ann-Marie is the creative side and together we wish to give the opportunity to other skilled and talented artists to realize their own dreams and share their talents with children.”  

When asked to share advice for new writers wanting to get published, Hobson relates back to the idea behind Dragon Tales Publishing; ”be true to yourself while having some professional backup for the stuff you don’t know.”  

So, what’s in store for Kaylene Hobson and Dragon Tales Publishing?
”Big things!!” she claims. With another installment of Isaac’s Dragon to come, as well as some ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) specific books that Ann-Marie and Kaylene are teaming up on, life is pretty exciting. Dragon Tales will be releasing a new book by Jo Emery soon; My Dad is a FIFO Dad, which is already gaining a lot of attention prior to release.  

Contact Kaylene Hobson and Dragon Tales Publishing here:
Mobile –Kaylene 0421 706 369
Email – [email protected]
www.dragontalespublishing.com.au
www.facebook.com/dragontalespublishingaustralia

Connect:
www.romisharp.wordpress.com
www.facebook.com/mylittlestorycorner

Player Profile: Jennifer Smart, author of The Wardrobe Girl

smart, jennifer (1)Jennifer Smart, author of The Wardrobe Girl

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Wardrobe Girl follows the story of Tess Appleby, the new standby assistant on long-running Australian soap – Pretty Beach Rescue. It’s not quite the BBC, where until recently Tess has  been working, but it should be an uncomplicated return to Sydney life after 8 years in London and a humiliating end to a relationship. But, just like a soap opera plot, Tess’s life is soon anything but uncomplicated when the cast of characters, including the soap’s leading man, her retired actress mother and aspiring actress sister, the paparazzi, even her pet dog, Eric, all seem to conspire to create chaos. But Tess isn’t phased, not until the man who broke her heart 8 years ago arrives at Pretty Beach Rescue as a new Director.   The Wardrobe Girl is loosely based on my experience working in the Australian TV industry, including 5 years on Home and Away.

9780857982513Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Home is Balmain, in Sydney.

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

I wanted to be either a ballerina or an architect.

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

As The Wardrobe Girl is my debut novel, I will have to claim it as my best work.

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

My desk is cluttered more often than it is tidy, but it sits under a window that looks out onto my street and the passing parade of Balmain locals. I have a large board covered in inspiring clippings, family photos etc. There are books and artworks, some reflected in the large deco mirror that belonged to my grandmother and now hangs over the mantlepiece.

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

I’m not a big reader of non-fiction, but my fiction taste is broad. I’ll happily curl up with a Marian Keyes, or a Hilary Mantel. I had a Graham Greene phase last year and I’ve just finished Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road To The Deep North, which I loved.

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

I adored Milly Molly Mandy and Noddy when I was very young and a full colour Disney edition of Mary Poppins – read by all my daughters. As a teenager, I read lots of Jean Plaidy before discovering Daphne du Maurier.

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

Once I stood on an elephant’s back in a river in Laos and I felt like Marlena in Water For Elephants. I’d like to think I have the wit and charm of Elizabeth Bennett and the intellect of Hermione Granger. But most mornings, especially school mornings, I feel like Mrs Weasley.

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

I love dancing, and have taken ballet classes & am about to take up tap again. Give me a garden or an art gallery to potter around and I’m very happy. Munching popcorn & sipping champagne whilst watching films. I knit, a lot. Playing Lego with my youngest daughter and Scrabble with my husband.  Live theatre, dance & music.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My favourite food is cooked by someone else and my favourite drink is French Champagne, preferably pink.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Germaine Greer is my hero. I love her fearless expression of her opinions, even when I don’t agree with them. Her academic scholarship on all things Shakespeare is extraordinary. She has a great sense of humour. Above all, she has fought a tough battle for women and still does.

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

As long as people are writing/telling stories, people will want to read them. We may not always have books in exactly the
same physical form we experience them as now, but I believe they will always be with us.

Blog: http://asampler.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Smart/152139994852604

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennnifer_Smart/

Player Profile: Tony Cavanaugh, author of The Train Rider

tc_photoTony Cavanaugh, author of The Train Rider

Tell us about your latest creation:

It’s called The Train Rider and is the third in the Darian Richards series of novels that I began a few years ago. The Train Rider is a serial killer in Melbourne – Darian was unable to catch him and that failure tore at him to the point where he abandoned the job in Homicide and fled to the Noosa River, hoping to push the demons away. Now he discovers that The Train Rider has followed him up to the Sunshine Coast and has embarked on a twisted psychological game in order to damage Darian as much as he can.

9780733630675Where are you from / where do you call home?:

Originally from Ararat in Melbourne, went to school in Geelong, lived in Melbourne for many years, then moved to Brisbane, then up to the Sunshine Coast and am now living on the Gold Coast.

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

I wanted to be a film director. This was in the 1960’s when there wasn’t a film industry so it seemed like a hopeless dream. I had a lot of pressure to sell cars as my dad and grandfather sold Holdens… I escaped that and managed to get a job at Crawford Productions, working in TV. The idea of becoming an author didn’t really emerge until a few years ago. It’s still feeling kinda weird.

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

Yikes! I don’t know. I do the best I can at the time and hope each work resonates with people. To have created something, be it a novel or a TV series or a movie, for people to watch or read, is such an honour.

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

I have a wooden desk in the middle of a large open room with wooden floors and old casement windows. The desk is a blend of clutter and order – the clutter is pushed to the edge of the desk in an orderly way. On the wall, looking over me, are retro movie posters, images of Frank Zappa and Bob Dylan, Noel Coward, Lady Gaga, Goya and Edward Hopper. My walls are totally covered with big and small posters and photos.

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

Anything – as long as it’s good. At the moment I am reading Team of Rivals, about Abraham Lincoln. Just finished Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd and The Mission Song by John Le Carre. I read a lot of crime fiction and I love non-fiction, especially if it’s about African politics. I always go back and refresh on Roberto Bolano, Chandler and Damon Runyon.

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

John Fowles’ The Magus had a huge impact on me when I was 12. Up until then I was into comics – Superman and The Phantom, Ghost who walks! I read a lot of dross – movie tie-ins mostly so it wasn’t until I was 16 when the next book affected me. That was Othello.

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

The Phantom – Ghost Who Walks! Man Who Cannot Die! (Not that I want to be immortal – he’s just so cool.)

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

I love cooking. I’m big on Sicilian caponata at the moment. I also love cooking up a pot of ratatouille. It’s something I share with my lead character, Darian, who tells us how to cook the prefect ratatouille in The Train Rider. I used to love reading Rex Stout – his hero, Nero Wolfe, cooked up a feast (and gave us the recipe) in all of his crime novels. Other than reading, writing and cooking I don’t do very much. I think I need to get out more. I’m going to see Bruce Springsteen and the Hunters and Collectors in Feb 2014 so I guess that counts.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

It used to be roast chicken but then I became vegetarian (almost vegan) a couple of years ago so now, if it’s not one of the Italian stews, it’s a salad with tons of fresh crusty bread and good vino. Having been a raging drunk in a past life, inhaling anything that resembled alcohol, I now drink in great moderation – usually a riesling.

Who is your hero? Why?:

John Lennon – because he wasn’t afraid to put himself up for denigration when he wrote Imagine. “You may think I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” In a hard world it’s a lyric like that which I find incredibly hopeful and uplifting.

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

Dealing with the growing expectation that entertainment – reading in this instance – should be free. Movies are free, TV is free, music is free – illegally gained of course but that’s not stopping people and the proliferation of this free material has created an awareness and expectation that you don’t need to pay. I’m not sure what the answer is. Interestingly, when Radiohead put out an album a few years ago and said: pay what you can afford, what it would cost in a shop or nothing if you can’t afford it, most people (I think the percentage figure was incredibly high)paid full price.

Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/tonycavanaugh888
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/TonyCavanaugh1