Friday, 29 July 2011

Interview: Jessica Rowe

Mark from Shearer's caught up with Jessica Rowe following her second sold-out morning tea event and asked her some questions about her latest book, Love. Wisdom. Motherhood.
Autographed copies of Love. Wisdom. Motherhood are available now from Shearer's.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Interview: Sam de Brito

Hi Sam, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. 

Let's start with an easy one, what are you reading at the moment?
A Small Book About Drugs by Lisa Pryor. A great little book attempting to reignite the discussion over legalisation of drugs.

Hello Darkness is especially topical in the light of the scandal that's currently engulfing News Corp. What's your take on recent events and what they mean for the future of journalism?
I think stuff like this has gone on ever since time began. As the character Ned says in Hello Darkness, "news = things people don't want you to know". Phone hacking is just a modern take on it.

Ned misrepresents himself, harasses grieving family members, and a range of other ethically dubious acts in his professional life. Is this a fair representation of the daily grind of journalism now?
It's what some journos do and what some newsdesks expect. You can't put all of us under one greasy blanket. I wanted to show readers that essentially good people can be forced into doing questionable things by the pressure to produce in their job. It doesn't just happen in the media.

And while we're talking about journalism I have to ask, did you really dig through Bill Cosby's garbage, and what did you find there?
Yes, however, I only did it because the Australian Today Show asked me to do it, to showcase what tabloid journos supposedly do - way back in 1994 when I was living in New York, working for America's Star Magazine. Steve Leibmann and Liz Hayes (then hosts of the Today Show) castigated me on-screen for being a sleazy tabloid journo when their producers had set me up. Such is the media.

What prompted you to revisit the character of Ned Jelli in Hello Darkness?
I felt my first novel, The Lost Boys, had left little hope for the character and I wanted to give the readers something more, to show that the hopeless can find the light, a way forward.

The theme of insecurity and depression in men leaps off the pages in this novel, did you have to get into a fairly dark headspace to write it?

One of the major characters in the book is Sydney, specifically places such as Bondi. Even though Ned doesn't venture too far from home most of the time, the presence of the rest of the city is always felt. How did you go about capturing the essence of the city?
I just tried to write about the places I love - and do it punchily. I hate descriptions of leaves or clouds or building that take two pages - they bore me. Sydney is a punchy place, so I wanted to describe it quickly, economically, in bursts.

I read in an article once that The Lost Boys was going to be turned into a film. What stage is that project in?
The never-going-to-be-made-into-a-movie stage.

What are you working on next?
A genre crime novel. Weird and wonderful.

Shearer's is hosting an event with Sam de Brito on Monday August 8, details here

Interview: Chris Womersley

Megan from Shearer's caught up with Chris Womersley and chatted about his ABIA Best Literary Fiction Award winning novel, Bereft.

When Genres Attack 2: Attack of the 50ft Heroine

On July 13 (apparently one of the coldest July nights in over 8 years), a group of very brave audience members came out to Shearer's Bookshop to attend our second When Genres Attack event. The first event in May looked at genre and the divide between it and literature. When Genres Attack 2 looked at the role of gender in genre, literature, awards and canvassed many other topics. The panel consisted of Kirsten Tranter (The Legacy), Georgia Blain (Too Close to Home), P.M. Newton (The Old School) and Mardi McConnochie (The Voyagers).

If you're interested in a closer look at what was discussed and some of the issued raised, there are several very good summaries of the event on Overland, Zena Shapter's Blog and the When Genres Attack blog
(L-R) Mark Harding from Shearer's, Mardi McConnochie, PM Newton, Georgia Blain, Kirsten Tranter

Monday, 25 July 2011

For the Patriarch by Angelo Loukakis - Book Re-launch

Angelo Loukakis
Shearer’s was proud to host the re-launch of Angelo Loukakis’ classic short story collection, For the Patriarch. The event celebrated not only the 30 year anniversary of this critically acclaimed book that has earned praise from the likes of Patrick White and Christos Tsiolkas, but also the launch of the first book from GHR Press’ new literary imprint Krinos.

You may ask, ‘Why publish a book that is thirty years old?’ According to Michael Rakusin, co-founder of GHR Press, it was a privilege and an honour to commemorate and promote a book that was not only a classic because of its style, characterisation and imagery, but also because, as a fellow immigrant, he connected with the book on a personal level. Rakusin described For the Patriarch as a ‘masterful and magical collection of stories’ that spoke so loudly and so clearly to him, not only about the migration experience but also the experience of being first and second generations of migrant families.

To formally introduce and launch the book, Elizabeth McMahon, academic of Australian Literature, spoke about the importance of the short story. The genre has had periods of great popularity in Australia, especially in the period dubbed the ‘long 1970s’ in which authors like Frank Moorehouse, Peter Carey and Thea Astley were prolific. In this time, short stories opened a new space in Australian literature with their strong tradition of focusing on characters who were marginalised and ‘strange’. Written in 1981, Loukakis’ book certainly fits into this extended heyday.

McMahon spoke about how a short story has the power to leave the reader suspended in an unresolved emotion or event - an experience that would be ‘blunted’ by a longer version – and praised For the Patriarch for being a collection in which not one of the stories or emotions it evokes have waned since its release.

Looking back on himself and his work of thirty years ago, Loukakis remembered an ambitious young author who wanted to make a market for his stories and who wanted to be taken seriously. He had felt compelled to write because of the unease he felt at the amount of experiences being lost in the conformist society of the 1950s and 1960s - those marginalised voices that were being silenced either because of race, sex, sexuality or culture in the social fabric and psyche of Australia. Loukakis toasted to young people and cited Orwell in his wish that young people would continue to find a new voice and alter other people’s ideas of the kind of society they should strive after.

Michael Rakusin presented Loukakis with the publishing contract at the end of the launch – an exciting moment that represented the start of GHR Press’ new literary venture and the chance for Australian readers to (re)discover the importance and eloquence of For the Patriarch.

Written by Natalie

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Another Extract From "The Godfather Was a Girl"

The following is taken from The Godfather was a Girl by Eamon Evans (Hardie Grant Books), a great new book that looks at the real-life origins of fictional characters. 

Harry Potter’s Professor Snape

Is it better to be famous for being a prat, or to never find fame at all? Like anyone who’s ever appeared on reality television, John Nettleship picked fame. The black-haired chemistry teacher, who taught the young JK Rowling, now sells pamphlets claiming to have been her inspiration for her black-haired Professor Snape in the Harry Potter books. ‘I knew I was a strict teacher but I didn’t realise I was that bad.’ The author herself admits that the sallow-faced sadist (named for the Suffolk village of Snape) was ‘loosely based on a teacher I myself had’, but she has never confirmed it was Nettleship.

Not that he’s the only teacher wanting a slice of the spotlight. Rowling’s history lecturer at Exeter University, Hugh Stubbs, has ‘no doubt’ that he was the model for the tedious Professor Binns, whose over-long lessons send students to sleep. ‘I admit I could be a bit dopey first thing in the morning and I probably did give some pretty boring lectures.’

And how about Hogwarts, the magical castle where they taught? Scots like to believe it was based on George Heriot’s School, an enormous Gothic edifice in Edinburgh, not far from Rowling’s home.
As for Hogwarts’ students, we know that the character Ron Weasley was based on Sean Harris, the author’s long-time best friend. Ron ‘isn’t a living portrait of Sean’, says Rowling, ‘but he really is very Sean-ish’. A major in the British Army and decorated veteran of Iraq, Sean owned a turquoise Ford Anglia in his schooldays, which inspired the character’s flying car.

Rowling herself is Hermione Granger, Ron’s know-it-all, bookish girlfriend. ‘She’s a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I’m not particularly proud of.’

Hardie Grant Books have kindly given us some copies of The Godfather was a Girl. If you'd like to win one, comment below and tell us which fictional character you think could have been based on you. The more creative the response the better! (please note that you must be able to collect the prize from us) The winners will be notified on Monday 25/07.

A Brief Chat With Paul Daley

Paul Daley is the author of two forthcoming titles, Armageddon, a unique literary and pictorial travelogue following in the footsteps of a fading Anzac trail, and Collingwood: A Love Story, the real story behind a legendary football myth. 

What was the last book you read and what are you currently reading?
 The last book I read was The Amateur Science Of Love by Craig Sherbourne. I am now reading Grand Days by Frank Moorehouse. 

Which book from your bookshelf at home is your most treasured and why?
My copies of the My Brother Jack trilogy, by George Johnston. He awakened me to the power of the internal monologue and sparked in me a desire to examine the less savoury aspects of Australian character. 

Who is your favourite fictional character?
In light of the above, this may come as no surprise. Johnston's David Meredith. Like Meredith I have long been torn between a desire to settle in Australia (which I have) and to run to other parts of the world. I admire Meredith for his honest appraisals of Australia's cultural, political and social shortcomings - no less relevant today than they were when Johnston channelled them fifty years ago.

What are you working on next?
I am working on a literary non-fiction book, Canberra, for the Writing Cities series for UNSWP. I am also writing a novel about politics for MUP, which has published my first three books.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Matthew Lloyd Event

Are you an Essendon fan? Do you know any Essendon fans? Then come along to this event with AFL legend Matthew Lloyd:
Bookings are essential. Please call us on (02) 9572 7766 for bookings and information.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Interview: Santa Montefiore

Hi Santa, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Let's start with an easy one, what are you reading at the moment?
I’m re reading Room with A View by E M Forster

Can you tell us about The House by the Sea?
It’s a mystery, love story based on the Tuscan coast in the late 60s and the Devon coast in present day. Two stories that intertwine. In Italy a little orphan girl spies on the beautiful villa from a part in the wall that is low enough to climb. Seen by the son of the Industrialist owner, she is invited in and soon becomes the family ‘pet’ and falls in love with Dante, the son. It’s an impossible love, of course….fast forward to the present day, Marina, married with step children owns a hotel on the Devon coast that’s fallen on hard times due to the financial crisis. In an effort to boost the hotel’s appeal she advertises for an artist to come and stay the summer to teach the residents how to paint. The man who responds is a charismatic, mysterious Argentine. As he turns the fortunes of the hotel around he also affects Marina and her family in unexpected ways…but who is he really….the plot thickens….

Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

I wanted to write about Italy and Devon, loving both those places. I adore the sea, so I set both plots on the coast deliberately for reasons I can’t disclose in order to avoid spoiling the story for those who haven’t read it. The plot evolved as I paced my kitchen floor…I wanted a mystery and when I’d found these two story lines I couldn’t work out how to pull off the twist. Fortunately, I bumped into an old university friend who is a private investigator. We had lunch and he helped cut the Gordian Knot. It’s a very simple thing in retrospect, but I couldn’t have made it work without him…and I certainly couldn’t have thought about it on my own!

Did you spend lots of time in Tuscany doing research?
No, I didn’t have to. I spent so much time in Tuscany as a teenager and I lived in Italy when I was 21.

Can you tell me a little about the time you spent living in Argentina?
How has that experience informed your writing?
I left England straight after leaving boarding school, so I had very little experience of the world and certainly little independence. Argentina opened my eyes to a new culture and gave me my independence. It was the most wonderful year. I lived with this enormous family of cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters etc who all live in the same apartment building in Buenos Aires and share a magnificent farm on the pampa. They each have a house and share the pool, tennis court, polo fields…and it’s breathtakingly beautiful! I left after a year and went to study Spanish and Italian at university in England.  A year later I returned to Argentina to find that I didn’t fit in any more. I thought I could slot straight back into my old life, but that’s simply not possible. I was no longer working there so I had no role and lots of the people I had hung out with had moved to study in the States or simply didn’t go down to the country any more as they had grown up and wanted to be in the city…I was desperately sad that I couldn’t recapture that incredible experience and felt that I had lost something precious. So that’s what I based my first book’s an allegory of my love affair with Argentina….My first four books are based in Argentina and Chile. A person is a sum of his experiences, so the more I experience the more interesting I can make my novels. Argentina was an invaluable experience for my writing!

What are the best things and the biggest drawbacks of being a full-time writer?
I can’t think of any drawbacks…it’s all positive. I get to write where I want, when I want, and I choose what I write. I don’t have a boss telling me not to take a long lunch break and I get paid well!

Who are your literary influences?

I’m influenced by every writer I read…boring books teach me how not to write, beautifully written books inspire me to do better! Writers I love: Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquival, Elizabeth von Arnim, Fannie Flagg, E M Forster, Dumas, Zola, Jane Austen, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Arthur Golden, Jilly Cooper, Rosamunde Pilcher, Mary Wesley…those are the ones I can think of off-hand – there are many more….

How do you approach the writing process?

I first think of location. That inspires me to dream up a story. I then work on the plot, which is very simple, like a skeleton, then I don’t really plan anything else. I put on beautiful music, chosen for that specific book, light my candles, close the door and drift into an imaginary world, creating the characters as I go along. Once I’ve got the book written I go back and develop the characters, as I don’t really know them at all at the beginning, but know them intimately by the end, and polish. 

What are you working on next?

I’ve just finished my new book for next year, although I’m sure my editor will have suggestions on ways to improve it! It’s based on a grand country estate in Hampshire with a few chapters in Klosters, Switzerland where I have skied all my life. It’s another mystery, love story with a good twist – stunning gardens and ancient bluebell woods, glorious mountains and lively characters….my usual ingredients because that’s what entertains me – and I write primarily for myself!!!

The House by the Sea by Santa Montefiore will be released in September, and is available to pre-order at Shearer's Bookshop.

Interview: Jeffery Deaver

Megan from Shearer's had a quick chat with Jeffery Deaver, author of the new James Bond novel Carte Blanche, about what it was like to write a 007 novel.

Carte Blanche is the latest 007 novel and is available now.

A Game of Thrones: Before I Read the Book

By now, most people would have experienced or at least heard about the Game of Thrones. For those of you haven’t, Game of Thrones is the first book in the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R R Martin. The recent buzz around the series is because of two things: firstly, HBO has adapted the book into an incredible series that started airing in Australia this month; secondly, the much anticipated fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons was released last week. As a staunch believer in reading the book before seeing the film or the television show, I must confess that I have not read Martin’s novels. Furthering the literary shame, I loved HBO’s Game of Thrones so much that I am afraid to read all the books in case I ruin my experience of Season 2. Finding myself in this blasphemous predicament, all I can do is explain how I arrived here and hope that you understand.

It began when I noticed altered behavioural activity of some friends.Things like:
  • forced enthusiasm for being among people
  • general tiredness – dark shadows around the eyes and frequent yawning
  • animated discussions with each other that most people found impenetrable and slowly backed away from
  • surreptitious and early departures from events
As an unashamed addict of most things HBO or Showtime, I recognised the symptoms of discovering a good series.  Getting my hands on this Game of Thrones, I put it on one night without any knowledge of what it was about. What proceeded was a euphoric blur of distant lands, political intrigue, suspenseful dialogue and action, and beautiful cinematography that took me well into the early hours of the next day. I had watched 6 one-hour episodes in a row.

In one night I had joined my disappearing friends in the world of The Wall, Winterfell, King’s Landing and the fight over the Iron Throne. I had become strangely sympathetic to Kahl Drogo (calling him ‘my little pussycat’) and passionately hateful of the Lannisters, except for Tyrion ...

What followed were ‘Medieval Mondays’ when each week my friends and I gathered to watch the latest episode. After a rocky start in which people who had read the books revealed crucial plot points to the shattering dismay of others, Mondays became the event that we all looked forward to. As I sat with my prescription glasses on and a throw rug draped over my lap in a living room with appropriately dimmed lights and the cone of silence in place, I realised I could reveal my inner nerd. It was a safe place.

The season finale came upon us all too soon. We celebrated with dinner and home-made medieval mulled wine. One hour passed in rapt silence. The suspense and excitement were palpable. As the final credits rolled and we returned to the real world, I had to quickly jerk my head back - I had a bleeding nose. Some might say that the next 15 minutes spent with a rolled tissue up my nose was because of the heat or an over-exposed blood vessel in my nasal passage, but to be honest, it was because Game of Thrones is that good.

I am about to read the first book to further fuel my obsession. As to whether I will read the second book, Clash of Kings before the second season comes out, I haven’t made up my mind. All I know that watching Game of Thrones was an unmatched experience and I don’t want to ruin the possibility of experiencing something like it again.

Written by Natalie

Monday, 18 July 2011

Interview: John M. Green

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Let’s start withan easy one, what are you reading at the moment?
Recipes about truffles. Fellow author Sulari Gentill (A Decline in Prophets, the second in her sparkling Rowland Sinclair series of historical crime fiction) grew a crop of black truffles on her farm in Batlow and kindly gave me some.

How would you describe your new book, Born to Run?
It’s a rags-to-riches political thriller, with lashings of murder, terror and treason, and just a bit of sexual intrigue.

Isabel Diaz, born in squalor in America to a Bolivian widow, shakes off poverty and shocking abuse to become an inspiration to the nation, and is set to be the first woman to win the White House.

But her chances plummet when a Muslim protégé is accused of syphoning funds to terrorists and, seemingly unrelated, an Australian software whiz is tossed off a London skyscraper. Then, an investigative journalist digs up a dark secret from Isabel’s past, and her presidential hopes shatter.

With the public stunned, and only days before the vote, terrorists use the Australian’s software to launch a daring attack on New York City.

Isabel Diaz is born to run. But can she ever win? …And should she?

How deeply did you immerse yourself in US politics to write Born to Run?

Hugely, but it was no chore since I’ve been a Washington tragic for years, soaking up books, newspapers and magazines about US politics and gluing myself to the TV when a race gets serious. And I’m an addict of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, possibly the best political satire and commentary (on the Comedy Channel here) as well as Bill O’Reilly on Fox.

Not long ago, when visiting Dallas, Texas, I even visited the grassy knoll (Dealey Plaza) opposite the former Texas School Book Depository where John F. Kennedy was shot. But this sad triangle of patchy grass squeezed between three busy roads near a railroad bridge is hardly the inspirational place I expected.

What inspired you to write about a US Presidential race?

My mother’s tears over JFK’s assassination led me, decades later, to create Born to Run. My late mother wasn’t American, and her taste of US life was sweetened by episodes of I Love Lucy and Hollywood movies. We lived in far-away Australia, yet JFK was idolised here and, for this kid in short pants, her grief fired a spark: that American presidents matter.

I’ve often scratched my head at why the charisma genie has blessed so few of the nine US Presidents since, and why they’ve mostly been Democrats. Only Clinton and Obama approached Kennedy’s lustre, although Obama’s seems to be sputtering right now. Many say Reagan had the gift, but it didn’t seem like it at the time.

Before Kennedy’s day, revered Republicans weren’t as rare. Start with Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery, and the startling snippet of history that the Democrats were the pro-slavery party back then.

Given recent history, I thought it was high time for an inspirational, thoughtful Republican, a woman, too, but not a glib Sarah Palin-type. So, impatient for a real one, I created my own: Isabel Diaz. I hope you like her.

How do you think US politics contrast with Australian politics?
They tell better political jokes, and we have bigger political jokes, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin aside.

One thing that’s very disappointing in Australia is how, unlike in the US, rival politicians show little respect for each other, especially for the high office of their opponent. This is both sides of politics. By resorting to crass, uncivil and sometimes offensive abuse – it’s not even clever - they are debasing an attractive Australian trait, our egalitarianism.

But I do cringe whenever I hear US politicians end a speech with “May God bless America”. To me, it is strange that an Amen is expected in a country that boasts the same foundation as ours of a clear separation of Church and State. Then again, Kevin Rudd was big on promoting his Sunday church step photo opportunities. But I cringed over them, too.

Born to Run covers issues such as terrorism, digital culture, race and identity, did your vision always encompass all those issues or did they grow in the writing process?
Wow, you’ve really done your homework. These topics were part of the fabric from the beginning. To craft a thriller around an important election, I wanted to pepper it with some of the vital issues confronting the world today, and not only America.

What do you hope readers take away from Born to Run?
Optimism about the human spirit. But most importantly, that they feel satisfied that they’ve enjoyed a great ride and a good read.

Can you tell me a little about what prompted you to quit your day job and become a writer?

Sure. There’s this great quote from 19th century novelist George Eliot: “It’s never to late to be what you might have been.” This was the sentiment that pushed me to ditch wearing a suit every day to focus on writing. For the last few years while I was still working in an office, I’d slip out of bed between 4 and 5am with my blood already pumping through my fingers anxious to hit my keyboard. Then I realised, if that’s what gets me out of bed, it’s what I need to do, so I did.

It was also a time when I was very worried about the state of global markets, and wanted to write a novel that asked, ‘What if the world is in a great big financial bubble, and it bursts big time, bigger than we’ve ever seen before?’ This was prior to the GFC, and it became my first novel, Nowhere Man. (The bad news was that I was right about the markets, and the other bad news was that I should’ve quit work sooner and focused on getting Nowhere Man published before the onslaught hit us! Instead, the bust happened, and I had to rewrite the story, this time setting it in the midst of the real crisis which, to tell the truth, was even wilder and scarier than I had imagined possible.)

How do you approach the writing process?

You can find me writing everywhere. My computer is virtually glued to me, so it might be on planes, in hotels, on trains, wherever. I wrote most of this in St Petersburg, Russia where I’m setting a scene for my third novel (more on that with your next question.)

But as I mentioned above re Nowhere Man, I like to start with some big “What if?” questions and develop the story and the characters from there. One of the things I admire most about Michael Crichton’s thrillers Jurassic Park, Disclosure and Prey is that they’re great stories but based on some worrying questions about then emerging hot topics (in order: ethics of cloning, sexual harassment, nano-technology).

In Born to Run, my starter questions were:
    •    ‘What if a truly inspiring minority woman has a good shot at being elected leader of the free world?’
    •    ‘But what if she seems just too good to be true?’ and
    •    ‘What if the good guys are really the bad guys?’

I also had a lot of fun researching ‘What if you want to destroy New York City by blowing up its entire subway system?’ To do that, I investigated Manhattan’s geology and dusty subway archives in New York and London, and I also tapped a specialist who devises extreme disasters then, using complex algorithms, theoretically tests their effects on complex structures. But rest easy for your next visit to the Big Apple. Technical issues, which I intentionally blur in the book, are serious obstacles for any mimicking evildoers.

What are you working on next?
I’m really excited about my next thriller. It asks: ‘What if the modern technology we rely on today—like the internet—utterly collapses?’

With a question like that, I have to work out not just how and why it might happen, but critically for a thriller, who the bad guys are, and most importantly, who will try to stop them.

By the way, as of yesterday, I’ve popped Isabel Diaz into it, too. But to find out if she’s a good guy or a bad one, you’ll have to wait.

Thanks for your time!
Born to Run is released in August and is available to pre-order at Shearer's Bookshop

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Extract - The Godfather Was a Girl

The Godfather was a Girl is a fun new book that looks at the real people some popular characters were based upon. It's full of surprising and fun facts and well worth a read.  

The following is taken from The Godfather was a Girl by Eamon Evans (Hardie Grant Books)

Ferris Bueller
‘Geeks, sportos, motorheads, dweebs, dorks, sluts, buttheads … they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.’

But do they know he’s a Republican? Ferris Bueller, a free-spirited high-school student known to enjoy the occasional day off, was probably based on Edward McNally, a former senior counsel to George W Bush.

Now a well-known Washington lawyer, McNally grew up on the same Chicago street as Ferris creator John Hughes, and also attended the same high school. Like Ferris, however, he didn’t attend it very often. One semester (during which he wagged twenty-seven times), McNally and his best friend Buehler even borrowed his dad’s sports car for the day, just like the fun-loving Ferris. Afterwards the pair attempted to wipe 113 miles off the car’s odometer by raising it on a pair of jacks and driving in reverse. And, just like Ferris, they failed.

These days, incidentally, kids would have every reason to wag that high school. Located on Chicago’s Shermer Road, Glenbrook High appeared as Shermer High in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science and The Breakfast Club. In 2003, it also appeared in many newspapers. Over thirty students were expelled for covering their juniors in paint, poo, pee and animal guts, then throwing in some punches for good measure.

The Godfather was a Girl by Eamon Evans is available from Shearer's Bookshop

Emily Eyefinger

Emily Eyefinger creator Duncan Ball, photo by Patrick Boland
On Saturday night Tony and I saw the first session of the play 'Emily Eyefinger' at the Seymour Centre  based on the books by Duncan Ball. 

The production was created by Monkey Baa, the energetic and insightful theatre company that creates plays from Australian children’s books. The production of 'Emily Eyefinger' had the audience, both adults and kids completely absorbed and quite often laughing out aloud with their zany dialogue and exploits. The kids in the audience got so entranced that they were yelling out the end of a sentence when the actors paused for effect.

Jason Blake reviewed 'Emily Eyefinger' in the SMH yesterday. He felt “This energetic stage adaptation of Duncan Ball’s adventure series for children combines the silliness of Ripping Yarns with the wackiness of Scooby-Doo”

It’s the perfect holiday treat for 5 to 10 year olds and is on at the Seymour Centre until July 16th. The Riverside Theatre Parramatta  has performances from August 2nd  to 5th and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith from August 6th to the 9th.

 Written by Barbara

Monday, 11 July 2011

Marion Grasby Event

Marion Grasby was warmly greeted at Shearer’s when she came in to tell us stories about her new book Marion: Recipes and Stories from a Hungry Cook.

Like her book, Marion charmed and humoured us with stories about her background, her travels, and her life experiences and how all that has impacted on her culinary ambitions. From her first food memories of sticky juicy mangoes in her birthplace of Darwin to Papua New Guinea where she learned to appreciate her good fortune and access to opportunity and onto Adelaide where she fell in love and made the leap into a food career.

All this reinforced her love of food, which was then furthered by her foray into the world of television and the zeitgeist that is MasterChef. Marion was indeed one of the shows favourite amateur cooks and she credits it with bringing in the age of the “home cook”. 

During question time, Marion was extremely frank about her background in journalism and her career ambitions. She also took us behind the scenes of MasterChef revealing secrets of the contestants' behaviour – Alvin apparently snored – and just how restricted and tough the whole experience is. Of course, she also credited the show with her current string of success and applauded them for their enormous support of all the contestants.

It was really wonderful and somewhat surprising to get an insider’s perspective not only into MasterChef but also into what it takes to be successful. Many times during the evening Marion reiterated that it was the opportunity and not the winning of MasterChef that led her to achieving her dream of creating her own food brand. Her incredible attitude and commitment to her dream was on show during the evening and so many of those present congratulated Marion for being a great role model for their kids.

After question time, everyone tucked into Mushroom & Taleggio toasties, Sweet Pepper Chicken and insignia “M” gingerbread men – all from Marion’s cookbook.

Written by Megan
Autographed copies of Marion: Recipes and Stories from a Hungry Cook are available here.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A Brief Chat With John Dickie

What was the last book you read and what are you currently reading?
The Anatomy of a Moment - the story of the Spanish coup d'état of 1981: a lesson in the subtleties of politics. Currently: Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman: laugh-out-loud feminism.

If you could choose to go anywhere in the world for a book tour, where would you go and why?
So far, Australia (36 hours in) has been so fantastic that I'd love to do it again.

Who would you like to give your book to as a gift?
To every boy from a mafia family on his 13th birthday.

What are you working on next?
Mafia Republic: the book that will bring the story begun in Blood Brotherhoods right up to the present day.
 John Dickie can be found on the web at and you can purchase autographed copies of Blood Brotherhoods here.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Brief Chat With Mette Jakobsen

What was the last book you read and what are you currently reading?
I am currently reading a book about astronomy in 1593. It's called The Copernican Revolution. The last one I read was a re-read of Anne Michael's Fugitive Pieces - a favourite of mine that I keep coming back to. 

If you could choose to go anywhere in the world for a book tour, where would you go and why? 
I would really love to go to Antarctica - not good for book sales I know!! But to see that vast icy space would be a wonderful experience. I could always hand out copies to those amazing Australians working there. 

Who would you like to give your book to as a gift?
This might seem a little starstruck - but Nicole Kidman's hair was an inspiration when creating the character of Mama in The Vanishing Act. So I would love to give her a book. 

What are you working on next?
My next novel is called The Wingmaker and it's also going to be published by Text, coming out next year. The central themes are love & astronomy.
Mette Jakobsen's debut novel, The Vanishing Act, is a Book of the Month at Shearer's and is available at 15%off the RRP

A Brief Chat With Charlotte Wood

What was the last book you read and what are you currently reading?
Last - The Life, Malcolm Knox. Loved the brilliantly wild, loose voice. Now reading The Bell by Iris Murdoch, which I'm loving. 

Which book from your bookshelf at home is your most treasured and why?
Too many to choose! But an enduring love is They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell.

Which fictional character do you most identify with?
Nancy Drewe. Because I really want a green convertible. 

What are you working on next?
A book of essays about cooking for people I love - out in 2012.

Charlotte Wood's new book Animal People is released through Allen & Unwin in October and is available to pre-order at Shearer's Bookshop. 

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

The book begins with a dramatic sense of tragedy as our protagonist Andrew puts a revolver to his head, unable to cope to the loss of his beloved who was horrifically murdered by Jack the Ripper. Yet after what appears to be a premature conclusion of horror and tragedy, an intervention by Andrew’s
cousin to an alternative universe of time travel takes the reader on a journey through a Victorian period of science fiction. In fact it reads almost like it could be some sort of cleverly crafted Fan Fiction, as famous figures of that time including Jack the Ripper, H.G Wells and Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man with the surgeon Frederick Treves make a solid appearance, and become central to the novel’s mish-mash of interweaving genres, stories of alternate historical realities and of the impossible. I was surprised the famous fictional character Doctor Who didn’t make an appearance as Captain Derek Shackleton (No reference to the bowler or the explorer) fights the Automatons (that being autonomous robots) in the desolate and post apocalyptic year 2000. All made possible to venture into such a time due to Murray’s Time Machine, its essence discovered in a remote village in East Africa.

Quite a difficult book to really pigeon hole, I enjoyed the rollicking journey through different chapters of fictional and non-fictional characters - I particularly enjoyed the encounter with HG Wells and Joseph Merrick, which historically didn’t play out, however almost felt as it did with the historical detail encapsulated in this novel. If you’re a fan of HG Wells and time travel science fiction with a genre mash of tragedy, romance, adventure and drama set within the Victorian period in England, then I would highly recommend it.

Written by Mark Heath

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma is available from Shearer's Bookshop

Friday, 1 July 2011

Supanova: A Love Story

Have you ever had that dream? You know the one I'm talking about. The one where life size Pokemon are grazing all around you, and then the Tenth Doctor walks by in the middle of a heated conversation about World of Warcraft with Gandalf the Grey. If you attended the Sydney leg of the Supanova Pop Culture Expo, then chances are this wasn't a dream, and if you didn't attend...well...I would definitely reconsider snacking before bedtime. I hear this can have some pretty weird effects on your subconscious.

Supanova is an annual weekend long convention that visits Australia's capital cities. This year's Sydney leg of the event was held at the Dome in Sydney Olympic park and boasted an endless maze of stalls and displays packed to the brim with merchandise to delight fans of all things gaming, anime, manga and sci-fi. For those who had the self control to abstain from shopping (which was a very small percentage of attendees judging by the ATM queue outside), there were cosplay competitions, celebrity talks, photo/autograph sessions but most importantly, a sense of unity amongst the fans. Year by year Supanova continues to prove itself as a place where nerds, geeks, dorks, fangirls and fanboys can come together, throw aside their inhibitions and well…geek out.

There were tears for Harry Potter bad boy, Tom Felton. There were marriage proposals to I Dream of Jeannie star Larry Hagman, and in my case, an extremely dorky hugging photo with Sean Maher, who played ship’s doctor Simon Tam in Joss Whedon’s short lived sci-fi series Firefly (my favourite tv show). This photo is now proudly displayed as my facebook profile picture and I am neither confirming nor denying the fact when my cousins in Indonesia ask if he is my boyfriend. I simply inform them proudly that he is a handsome, wealthy doctor. Which is….kind of like the truth if you squint and tilt your head a little.

I left Supanova with shopping bags full of ironic t-shirts, comic books,and that warm and fuzzy feeling that you can only get after being surrounded by an entire hall full of people who get you.

I would recommend Supanova 2012 to anyone, though be sure to get there early to avoid the lines, and pack plenty of water!

Written by Emma

July Books of the Month: 15% off the RRP in-store now!