ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 10 #bookclubABC

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JByrne is gracing our screens and she is in the most glorious jacket that I have ever seen. I want to reach through the screen and rip it off of her body. She’s saying something about this being a special about Books that Transport You, but I can’t hear her over how awesome her jacket is. I can see that Noel Pearson, John Birmingham, my favourite comedian Kitty Flanagan, and OMG OMG OMG it’s Fantasy author CS Pacat.

A spec fic author has been let out amongst the regular people. Usually spec fic readers and writers are cordoned off away from the other writers and readers but she’s here, she’s right in the middle of it at all. Tears of pride glisten in my eyes and I give a little chest thump in solidarity.

Now, I usually like to guess the novels that guests are going to pick prior to each episode but I have failed every single time so I’m  just going to give up… Stuff it, I’m no quitter. I shall guess!

Noel Pearson will choose The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.
Kitty Flanagan will hopefully choose something by her dad. I’d love to hear her say, “Because he’s my daddy and I love him!”
John Birmingham will choose Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
CS Pacat will choose The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey.

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Okay, Noel Pearson is the first guest to reveal his choice, he’s gone big, he has gone with the epic battle of heaven and hell that is Paradise Lost by John Milton. Awesome choice, in my opinion, but I have recently been told I have wanky taste in books. Pffft, if loving Calvino is wanky then I don’t want to be unwanky. Noel says that Paradise Lost and the Bible are probably the two books on God’s bedside table and that he thinks Milton is better than Shakespeare. POW! Them be fightin words in some parts. I sit and wait for someone to rip their shirt off and scream, “It’s go time!” it doesn’t happen. Noel even says, “Homer, you’re good, this is better.” Oh my. I’m biting my fingernail in anticipation. If someone had said that back in my uni days in one of the lit classes then it would have been on like Donkey Kong. It is not on. Why isn’t it on? Marieke or Jason would have argued with someone by now.

John Birmingham says it wasn’t easy and that it felt like homework. But he agrees that it’s better than Shakespeare. Still no explosive argument. My poor heart can’t keep up this level of suspense. There has to be an explosion. John says that although it was hard work to read he felt better for reading it.

Noel says knowing the Bible helps to be able to read it. And that reading with your ears helps because Milton wrote it whilst he was blind. John adds that it came to Milton in a dream and it just flowed from him and that mimicks the dreamy, lyrical flow of Paradise Lost.

CS Pacat speaks. The spec fic world hold their collective breath, one of us has been allowed to speak, will she do us proud. CS calls bullshit. She says the devil is the hero, so God would not have this on his bedside table and that Milton would be nothing without Shakespeare. CS, you little rebel you, I knew I liked you. She basically infers that Milton is the Melania to Shakespeare’s Michelle. She says Milton is just riffing off Hamlet. JByrne is shocked. She didn’t expect CS to be so academic and knowledgeable. Firstly, spec fic writers and fans may have the reputation for being “dumb genre readers” but they’re actually highly educated and literate, particularly in literary and historical studies. So ner! And secondly, am I wrong in thinking that CS is dressed like a private school student? She literally looks like she’s walked off a school assembly and come on the show. If that outfit doesn’t scream book smart, I don’t know what does.

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Noel defends Milton and says that he and Shakespeare operate on different planes. Shakespeare and Darwin operate at the human level whereas Milton and Einstein operate at the cosmic level. CS is a bit meh, about the metaphor, whilst the rest of the world is like, HOW FUCKING PROFOUND IS NOEL PEARSON! She says Paradise Lost is a bit of an obedience parable and obedience is probably her least favourite thing. I knew she was a rebel. Spec Fic fans everywhere are shouting at their TVs with pride. Some have no idea why, because they’re not even watching the show, but the psychic bond is so profound that they find themselves shouting anyway.

JByrne said she found it hard to read but loved the audio book…

Noel says he liked how Milton had come up with a new theology surrounding Satan as more of a gatekeeper rather than just a straight up bad guy without being blasphemous. I smash my wine glass and scream, THAT’S NOT ORIGINAL TO MILTON! Heck, the concept predates him by a long shot. CS and her rebellious ways have rubbed off on me. But seriously, it wasn’t new to Milton. That was actually standard until around the 800s. With Satan being the minder of the underworld and punisher of the wicked that God sent to Hell. Then by the 1200s he had developed into this full on tempter for his own sake kind of dude and not part of the continuum. He’s just playing with that. But, whatever.

Kitty Flanagan says she found it hard to read and didn’t like it and it was way over her head. She didn’t think the Bible was much chop either. Noel does not like this. But let’s move on from Milton.

Kitty introduces John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. She is quite timid about it, given that it’s YA and Noel has just been talking about an epic battle between heaven and hell. I say, don’t be timid, genre snobbism is bluuuurrrggghhh. Read what resonates with you, and never apologise. Kitty says that The Fault in Our Stars transported her back to her teen years and made her wish that she was a more worthy teen. This book wasn’t about sex and alcohol it was about love and purity and she loved it.

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Kitty then pulls out how John Green made her understand mothers. That she’d never thought about how much you could love a role and have it come to define you and how important it becomes to your very soul. She pulls out a quote that really brought this home for her from when the lead character’s mother is overheard privately talking and crying on her husband’s chest and says “I won’t be a mom anymore.” Kitty has tears in her eyes, and now so do I. JByrne says the mum is selfish and how could she care about herself when her daughter was suffering. It’s because her daughter’s suffering is killing her, and it’s because she loves her daughter more than herself and her life will feel empty without her. Kitty points out once someone is dead, they’re dead, and that those awho are left are the ones suffering and grieving. My god, Kitty is just so profound and beautiful and I love her even more. Now excuse me whilst I go cry in my room for the next year. Yes, I have three children. Yes I have my period. Yes I am feeling emotional.

John said he liked it.

JByrne said the book made her feel old.

CS says the subject matter was too close to hoe for her so althought it was well written she kept it at arms-length.

Noel doesn’t speak about it much, I suspect he didn’t read it. NAUGHTY!

JByrne talks about how many of the books that really affect you are from your childhood, such as Alice in Wonderland, Marry Poppins and Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. I have to admit the first book I thought of when they said – books that transport you – was, The Enchanted Woods.

John Birmingham’s turn. He goes for a literal transportation to Italy with Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb. It’s an Australian Author, so, you know… buy it. (John and CS are both Australian authors, so buy their stuff too please.) It’s got lots of description about fruit, colours, and crime. That’s right people, there’s some mafia action in this.

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Kitty says she liked it but there were so many words and descriptions that it was a bit heavy, and a bit too much like doing work. Yuck, work sucks. She said it wasn’t an easy read, have a laugh and quick flick, Bill Bryson type affair. She couldn’t quite pick the narrative thread. And she would have found it a little easier if it had a clearer narrative arc rather than jumping from place to place. John says it was a metaphor for being there.

Noel said he found it really easy to read and had zero trouble. I feel like he and Kitty are secretly twins. Kitty suggests that they must do dinner sometime because they’ll just have so much to talk about… like all the stuff that they don’t have in common.

CS has family from that region so found that Robb’s view of Sicily was different from hers so that distanced her from the book. She wouldn’t comment specifically on its accuracy but was skeptical of certain parts. There is far more to Sicily than the mafia and food.

Now it’s time for the final book and the rebellious CS has gone with SCI FI!!! Hooray. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. CS says that the best sci fi doesn’t just make you look at the world created but makes you look at your own world differently after reading it. And that Ancillary Justice made her rethink how she viewed gender and how she thought about sexes.

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Kitty and Noel struggled with the whole, a person who becomes a ship who becomes a person aspect. Noel said he transported himself elsewhere and it wasn’t to sci fi. Might I suggest they watch a little Doctor Who, in particular, The Girl in the Fireplace episode, and Man to Man with Dean Learner, in particular the episodes that feature BOB, in order to get yourself into the mindset where that kind of stuff is normal. Yes Ancillary Justice did revolutionary stuff with gender but the whole using people as parts stuff isn’t that unique, however it is done incredibly well. Incredible book. But not every aspect of it is holey unique and groundbreaking, otherwise it would be way too hard to read if there wasn’t a single grounding element. Just my opinion.

John didn’t like it. But he doesn’t like to admit that because generally the people who don’t like it are whiny entitled man babies and he hates to side with them on anything because they’re such wankers. He talks about how awful these dudes are and how they hijacked awards and devalued sci fi in America with their tantrum over this novel, and how they voted in shit novels for future awards after Ancillary Justice took out all the major awards. And so he really dislikes them, but… he just didn’t like the novel. And that makes him sad, because he wants to like it so that people don’t call him a whiney man baby.

JByrne says she was glad to read it because she felt like it was an important book even if she didn’t understand all of it. And she liked that it challenged her.

John ponders what books they’ll be talking about from now in 400 years.

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And that’s a wrap. Were you transported? Toni Jordan, my Michael Williams and Gorgi Coghlan are on next week for a regular episode. I cannot wait. Haven’t seen Gorgi before but everyone knows how much I love Toni and Michael, so it is bound to be smashing! SMASHING!!!

Read my recap on the last Book Club special ep here.

Watch past episodes on ABC iView.

Speculative Fiction Workshop with Marianne de Pierres through New South Wales Writers Centre

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Over the weekend I undertook a Speculative Fiction course taught by Marianne de Pierres (MDP) through the New South Wales Writers Centre. I saw a few familiar faces from other Spec Fic courses and got to meet a couple of people I interact with on twitter in person. More importantly I noted that the real New South Wales Writers Centre Stick, had been replaced with an imposter. Which I’m sure you don’t care about at all. “JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU GOT TAUGHT,” you demand “Maybe a little more info about the stick, because we all care about that, but seriously, JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU GOT TAUGHT!” Now of course to get the full benefit of MDP’s wisdom you’ll actually have to go to a MDP workshop yourself. There really is no substitute for the real thing. But I’ll share some takeaways. But seriously, you need to attend a workshop yourself to take it all in.

The course was largely about world building so I’ll give some tips I picked up from that part of the workshop.

In regards to researching to build your worlds MDP says, before writing, during writing, or during editing, is all good. Just do what works for you. There is no best way. The only way to learn what works for you is through trial and error. Which means, you actually need to try different ways and see which one suits. Play to your strengths rather than work to a formula.

Her rules for using your research in your writing are essentially be original, don’t simply rehash, don’t distract the reader with slabs of info, be authentic, and know more details then you actually include. Don’t bore your reader.

Backstory can be the enemy of narrative drive. If the reader doesn’t need to know it, don’t explicitly list it and bore your reader. NEVER BORE YOUR READER!

Be mindful regarding tropes. You have to make choices as you write as to whether you subvert or use tropes. Always be thoughtful, don’t simply bung them in.

Think of your setting as another character. How does it feel to be in it? What are the smells? What is the history? And never forget the food.

The workshop also included segments on narrative drive, blending genres, new media, transmedia and a one hour question time where participants got to ask whatever we wanted. So, as I said earlier, there really is no substitute for attending in person.

ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 9 #bookclubABC

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I’ve managed to make it to another live recording of the show, so it’s not just me and my wine, but me and the peoples this week. AND just quietly, sitting in the row in front of me is author C S Pacat. I turn to the person next to me and say, “Is that C S Capat.” My neighbour looks at me like I’m an alien and I realize that I have mispronounced the name. It’s like some sort of weird thing that happens in my brain every dang time I try to say Pacat.

JByrne appears before us. I have no time to correct myself and ask again because JByrne is here and fabulous. She is excited. She tells us that she has a book about 19th Century whaling that is “100% guaranteed to knock your socks off.” That’s a 100% guarantee people, you can’t really get better than that. And 19th Century whaling? What doesn’t scream excitement about that? Who doesn’t love a little Moby Dick?

Michael Robotham, AKA Robo-Tham, is allowed to introduce the classic being covered. He is obviously feeling a little nervous because he simply says the title, The Other Hand. He has to be coaxed for more details. You can sense the dread in his soul that his beloved classic will be savaged. But by whom? Will it be Marieke or Jason this week? Or JByrne herself? When she goes bad she goes all out. She makes dark-side Xena look like Rainbow Brite.

JByrne then moves on to note that Benjamin Law, AKA BLaw, is also on the panel and that he has bare ankles.
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OMG! I am completely losing my shit. She know that his ankles have become an obsession with book clubbers. JByrne has listened to our comments, she is here for us. I crane my neck to get a look at Stegersaurussex’s ankle region. He is wearing bright yellow sock. Oh, this is heaven. We’re on sock watch people. #sockwatch.

Oh, it’s dramatic recreation time. This is where they’ll show us clips that they think are representative of The North Water by Ian McGuire. I’d consider grabbing a cup of tea if I were home. It’s not my favourite part, nothing interesting ever happens… What in blueberry fuck am I seeing? There’s a whale being cut apart. I’m going to be sick. I’m dying. Somebody pass me my salts. The horror, the horror. This recreation is way more full on than usual. I was expecting some whales jumping about, instead I got blood and blubber. I need a bath.

Stegersaurussex says he loved The North Water. I’m still heaving and he’s talking about the novel. He says, “I loved it from the first paragraph.” The writing was electric, the characters were awful and it was fantastic. Noted, more awful people and electrical goods in all of my future writing.

Marieke says it was absolutely disgusting and she loved it. Doesn’t she know that she’s supposed to disagree with Steggersaurussex? Marieke says that it made her want to join a ship and then stab someone. That’s a lot of feelings right there. She says it was so deliciously bloody and disgusting that she felt like she needed a shower afterwards.

Robo-Tham raises her one shower and says he needed many showers during it. That it made The Revenant look like it was written by Beatrix Potter. I’m so intrigued by this book right now yet terrified. Can I handle something that makes The Revenant look like cuddly bunnies?

BLaw says, imagine if Ridley Scott’s Alien was set on a 19th Century whaling ship. I’m scared, hold me. I don’t even know if I can watch this episode about it let alone read it. But it sound so utterly brilliant that I want to be brave enough to try.

Robo-Tham only has one criticism of it, he wanted a goodie and the book is utterly lacking in the good, it just has the bad and the ugly. The lead character, Drax, is described so vividly as evil that the panelists actually start using his name as a descriptor. If someone is becoming very Drax, I gather it’s really not a good thing. To be described as being Drax is like being called the pinnacle of evil brutality. That’s such high praise for the book. That the panelists have engaged with it so much that they’re coopting words from it and giving them added meaning.

Stegersaurussex says he loves how McGuire describes odours. Everyone groans and clutches their noses. They’re having real, physical reactions to this novel. It must be excellent. He talks about the “roaring stench.” A simple, yet powerful description.

BLaw is utterly impressed with The North Water because it set up a world that he didn’t think he’d be interested in and sucked him right in with the evocative language and brutal characters. JByrne agrees, she says it’s like a historical fiction but far more visceral than anything that has gone before. Robo_Tham says that there isn’t enough fake blood in Hollywood to make this into a film. I can hear executives in Hollywood screaming CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
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Well, in a rare Book Club moment, it’s unanimous, everybody loves The North Water. It’s clearly a winner. Buy it if you dare.

 

Now it’s time for a little By the Bed, where the panelists talk about what they’re reading and we all imagine what Steggersaurussex’s bedroom looks like. Or is that just me?

JByrne is reading Katherine Carlyle.

Steger is reading Moments in Time.

Blaw is reading The Sympathiser

Marieke is reading My Name Is

Robo-Tham is ordered by JByrne not to talk about the book he is reading until later. He looks confused but obeys. He saw what happened to Virgina Gay when she spoke out of turn. She hasn’t been allowed back for weeks. WEEKS! Rumour has it that she’s going to have to wear a muted shoe colour when she comes back as punishment… I just made that rumour up then.

 

Now a fun section on how important covers are. BLaw being the expert answers the question, with very. Robo-Tham says yellow is big at the moment. We must start a show us your #yellowshelfie thingy. I shall take a picture of Jason’s socks for my next cover, it shall be a smash. Marieke says that she avoids anything with champers and heels on the cover. Marieke, you simply must download my free ebook, I think you’ll love it. We can discuss it over lunch.

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Love me!

 

… No? A little too pink? Whatever.

JByrne decides to test the panelists on their knowledge by holding up book covers and asking what the genre is. Jason is the first cab off the ranks, he accidentally says arse instead of ice in his answer so Ben is still laughing when it comes to his turn. Because accidentally saying anything bottom related is always funny. ALWAYS! Forget #sockwatch, we’re on #arsewatch now. Robo-Tham gets women’s fiction and answers correctly. Marieke gets a very obvious fantasy cover and asks if it’s for teenage boys who want to get erections. Coincidentally it’s a cover from the Rangers Apprentice series, which is written by Kitty Flanagan’s dad, and she’s rumoured to be on next episode. I did not make that one up.

Robo-Tham introduces his classic The Other Hand by Chris Cleave again. He’s saying he likes it, but after the passion oozing out of everyone for The North Waters it just feels flat in comparison. Ben says some nice things, but again they’re falling flat. It’s as if a void has been left by The North Water. My guess is that it must be a perfectly good book, but no The North Water.

Marieke, doesn’t like it. She says it’s Chick Lit dressed up as something important. I just know she’d love my ebook. But even though she’s saying that she doesn’t like it, it isn’t with as much vim and vigor as books that she’s previously hated. There is definitely a passion vacuum. I think everyone just needs a nap after thinking about blood and puss and stabbing each other in the face. Marieke even says that one of the characters may as well be Balky from Perfect Strangers. It’s meant to be a stinging insult but who doesn’t love Balky?

Robo-Tham is allowed to finally reveal his bedside reading, it’s another Chris Cleave book.

We then cut to the audience member who read a really long book that JByrne gave him weeks ago and we’ve all forgotten about… he liked it. But I’m too busy losing it because you can see C S Pacat in the shot in front of him. That’s a writer celebrity siting!

And we’re done.

Next week is about books that transport you. It is featuring my favourite comedian Kitty Flanagan, Noel Pearson, John Birmingham, and C S PACAT. SPECULATIVE FICTION AUTHOR C S PACAT. I am so excited. Spec fic authors are rarely allowed to interact with other authors. So that’s why she’s here. She’s casing the joint.

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For last week’s recap go here.

View previous episodes on iView here.

Why You Ought to be Writing in the Morning (Part 2)

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Great article about priorities and sacrifices as a writer. What are you willing to sacrifice to get words on the page.

H L Petrovic

This post follows on from my last post on why I ended up writing in the mornings (even though I’m a night person). You can read that post here.

Starting a routine that includes writing in the morning is not easy. As I said in my previous post, I’m not a morning person. I’ll repeat:

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If you’ve read my previous post, you’d know that for me, the writing was on the wall (pun intended!). I had to find some writing time, and mornings was the only option I had left. I know I’m in the same boat as all of you other lovely writers out there; we all play the ‘find some writing time’ game – trying to shoe-horn writing time around a hundred other things: work, children, our partners, cleaning and all the other myriad of jobs and tasks that make up life in general. The amazing…

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My Date With Jennifer Byrne #bookclubABC

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Okay, I confess, I used a click bait heading. I did not have a date with Jennifer Byrne BUT I did get to meet her. And long story short, she was every bit the divine, glowing, Goddess of radiance that we see on our screen. But what kind of blog entry would this be if I went with the short version, so let’s do the long story long.

It was a chilly July morning, I woke to the gentle thump of my daughter’s warm rump landing on my chest, and the caress of her hands against my face as her tiny fingers tried to softly pry my eyes open. “Wake up, Mummy,” the words floated from her lips like dandelion threads on the breeze. #blessed. I murmured back to the angelic creature perched upon me, “Wha?” And shortly thereafter got out of bed and let the two year old twin terrors out of their cots, before they started getting their own ideas of getting out of bed and learned that they are more than capable of escaping.

It was an ordinary day, just like any other Thursday. My daughter refused to wear any clothes that were weather appropriate. The twins used a couple of dinosaurs as light sabers and attempted to kill each other. My husband spent a long time on the toilet. I drank tea. I had to try out some mixed martial arts moves in order to subdue my boys for nappy changes and my daughter eventually settled for dressing like a fairy on crack. My husband got out of the bathroom and went to work, and better yet, he actually took the kids to preschool with him. Not every day is a preschool day, but that fateful day was.

As the glitter of childhood laughter and dreams settled I sat and drank coffee in my pyjamas. I tweeted about how excited I was to go watch a live recording of The Book Club ABC. I tweeted about how much I desired to see one Benjamin Law’s ankle region. Last time he had been on the show he had done it utterly sockless. I dared but dream that he would do the same again. As you can see, I was awfully excited. The Book Club is my not so secret addiction. I write recaps, I watch it religiously, and I probably tweet about it every day.

After I finished my coffee I realized that I should probably do some vacuuming. So I did. I then cleaned the toilet. These events were no doubt symbolic of great things to come. I even had a shower. I didn’t want to take my pyjamas off because it was so cold, but The Book Club was worth it. I was going to shower. Warm water trickled down my face and onto my shoulders. Water gently beaded against my alabaster skin. I reached hesitantly towards the razor to shave my hairy pits, but at the last minute rethought it. It’s fucking freezing, I’ll need the extra warmth of my furry covering. It was all happening. After the gratuitous shower scene where I was completely naked and wet I layered myself up with a pair of thick black gym tights and green cargo pants over the top. I then put on a grey long sleeved top, a pink ¾ length top, a black t-shirt AND a yellow jacket. It was very cold. Don’t get too excited, I was not sans underpants. I was wearing bra, undies, and rainbow toe socks as well. This is a celebrity meeting, not erotica.

It was now time for me to make my entrance into my new life. A life of fun and whimsy. The world of Book Club. I entered the ABC studio. It wasn’t as easy as you might imagine. It has a giant automatic revolving door that you must negotiate to enter. Timing is everything and half of the entrance was partitioned off so the window of opportunity was even narrower. But I took a deep breath and launched. Yes, success. I made it through the door without falling over and being pushed around repeatedly by the revolving door like a crumpled piece of garbage. I enter the lobby. A TARDIS to my left immediately caught my eye. I moved towards it, like a Rose to a Timelord. I thought about trying to open the door but in the end didn’t. I didn’t want to be responsible for breaking it.

I saw a crowd of people waiting behind a thinly roped off area. I went to them and asked, are they the clubbers. They were. So I joined them and sat and waited. I waited and tweeted about the fact that I was waiting. If a tree falls in the forest but doesn’t tweet about it, has it really fallen? Yes, but who cares about it? If that tree wants someone to care about its death then it should ruddy well take a selfie of itself whilst doing so and then slap on some sort of trending hashtag, #FreeTheNipple. Finally the tweeting about waiting was ended by us being called into the studio. We were checked for contraband before entering. I had none. I was allowed in.

On entering the studio the floor manager tells us exactly where to sit. A few brave souls decide to defy her and tell her they don’t like the view from where they are. She tells them that they’ll ruin her shot if they don’t sit where they’re told and to just sit we’re they’re darn well told. This continues on for quite some time. People wanting to rebel against the control of creating an audience shot and the floor manager wondering why they’re Book Club fans if they’re so sassy. Shouldn’t book nerds be easier to manage? I simply sit where I am told. The spirit of rebellion does not burn inside me. We’re told to turn our phones off, I do so. Again, no complaints. No last minute selfies. I just turn it off.

And then BAM JByrne appears before us like some kind of bioluminescent angel. I start clapping. I manage to catch myself before leaping from my seat and throwing myself around her ankles and screaming, “I love you.” If we can’t sit wherever we like, then I’m pretty sure that actually touching the Byrne is right out. So I sit and simply watch. The guests are introduced and Benjamin Law and his naked ankles are there again. They’re so different and out there in comparison to the covered ankles of his colleagues. Warmth starts to rise from my own thoroughly layered ankles, up my legs, past my hips, into my heart and penetrates my brain. A fire is lit. That fire of rebellion. I will speak to JByrne this very day. I shall make it happen!
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The show begins, I can’t give any spoilers away for it is yet to screen, just keep an eye on my blog on Tuesday night and all shall be revealed in one of my breathtaking recaps… or you could watch the show at 10pm on ABC Tuesday nights… and then read my recap.

The show ends. The audience files out. I start to edge towards the stage. The floor manager sees me. She is frowning. But those bare ankles have given me courage so I press on.

“Jennifer,” I call out. My voice breaks with nerves. The nude ankles have evidently given me some courage but no grace.

“Who are you trying to speak to?” The floor manager is approaching me from the side. I can see her hand twitching at the ready to call down the gods of security to subdue me and drag me out whilst I scream and thrash.

“Jennifer,” I say timidly. Then I remember those ankles and some steel sets into my bones and I call out loudly and firmly, “Hi Jennifer, I write recaps of your show and I just wanted to say I love you.”

JByrne swings around and I am hit with the full force of her twinkling eyes. They are glorious. They’re actually more dazzling in real life than they are on the screen.

“You,” she says enthusiastically, “you’re the one who writes those recaps? They’re so funny.”

I melt onto the ground and start crying in pure ecstasy. The floor manager moves away. I’m clearly crazy but as long as it isn’t bothering the talent then she’ll accept it. JByrne actually stays and speaks with me for over five minutes. I am blown away. She asks me what my intentions are towards her Michael Williams? Is it true love or is it just lust. I tell her it’s true writerly love. He’s my age and the director of the Wheeler Centre, how can I not admire him. The guy is a complete genius. It’s the purest of all love and there is not pants action in it. I promise that he won’t find me in his cupboard rifling through his underpants. She accepts this and doesn’t take an AVO out on me for now. I tell her that my Uncle Paul is OBSESSED with her. We talk about Ben’s bare ankles and how wild they have driven me. She calls my recaps funny and clever a few times and I respond with words but all the while I’m thinking, “Someone who I think is funny and clever thinks that my stuff is funny and clever, this is so overwhelming I need to go have a lie down.” The floor manager finally says enough is enough and JByrne needs to be able to go have a life. We part ways and I feel so excited that I can’t even remember the next half hour of my life. I know that I called my Aunty Donna and shrieked about how much I loved JByrne and how I got to speak to her. She’s excited for me. She knows how much I admire Jennifer Byrne.

So there it is. My “date” with Jennifer Byrne. I got to speak to her, she is so lovely, I got really excited and she managed not to call security on me to drag me away, which I found quite touching, and she said nice things to me about my recaps. Funny and clever! Who doesn’t want to be complimented like that? And who gets to be complimented like that by one of their heroes? I have been walking around on cloud nine ever since. It’s three days later and I am still excited. I dare say I’ll still be excited next week. Happy!

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Me losing my shit because I am meeting the one and only JByrne.

ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 8 #bookclubABC

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First things first, last week was the best episode ever so this week has a lot to live up to. Secondly, I’m dyslexic, grammar nazis you have been warned, flee now if this shall be too much for you to tolerate.

Jennifer Byrne appears. I clap, I cheer, I woot, but very quietly because I don’t want to wake the kids. I can see that regulars Marieke Hardy and Jason Stegersaurussex are there, which is always lovely. Jennifer introduces her guests, Rosie Waterland, who lobbed a book grenade the last time she came resulting in literary carnage, so I’m quite excited to see what she’ll do tonight. And be still my beating loins, Michael Williams is back.

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He is 36 and beautiful, not in that other worldly Kryptonian way, but in a more knock-around Fitzroy way. He is brunette and brunette at the roots. He is sitting, but only with the help of a chair. He is from Melbourne, in order for you to understand him you have to understand what that means. Melbourne is like Sydney 50 years ago, if Sydney was 50 years into the future 50 years ago. It’s cold and frosty, a real snowback city, which is why you go there, for the snowback people. In other words, it’s just like Sydney but a bit colder, with better food but weirder shoes. When everyone here is awake… everyone there is also awake, because we’re in the same time zone and the same country.

Michael is permitted by the Supreme Being, JByrne, to say he has chosen Love in a Cold Climate for the classic before the clubbers move onto discussing the modern text. We’ll all be unshocked when Jason likes it because it’s very British with sex in it.

The first novel to be discussed is Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. It’s a tale of the rich, the famous, and the soon to be dead. A dramatic recreation is shown…

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Trust me, my version was just as good. Theirs had more moody music and mysterious questions, but mine cuts to the chase. Enough with the recreation, we all just want to know one thing, how did Titanorak Rosie feel about it? We know she loves ship crashes, are boat crashes close enough? Is the crash in and of itself enough or must there be a gigantic ship involved?

Rosie could not put it down. Question answered. She loves a good crash in the water, plane, train, or automobile, not just Titanics. Rosie points out how beautifully it’s structured to mimic a television show. Jason wanted more quirks. Michael appreciated it but felt there were too many episodic cliffhangers.

Marieke is a bit meh on Before the Fall. She calls it good but not great. And that it needed a good cut. Jason agrees that there are too many red herrings, and a few of those bad boys could have been cut. Marieke said cut the body building stuff. JByrne shrieks no. When Marieke asks why. JByrne’s blushes and I can’t hear her “reason” over the sound of her thumping heart.

Rosie liked the ending of this mystery, Jason did not. Michael said it was a “swift trick” and he found it satisfactory. JByrne thought it was a clever ending. She recommends reading it on the beach smothered in oil. Slip, slop, slap, JByrne! Marieke said there are better books to smother in oil on a beach.

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Now for a little By the Bed:

Marieke is reading Patience. A graphic novel.
Michael is reading The Hate Race. Out in August.
Rosie is reading Live From New York. Marieke loves it too.
JByrne is reading The Horse. It’s for people who like horses… oookay.
Jason is reading Up the Junction. It has lots of sex. Colour me shocked.

Now for Love in a Cold Climate.

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Michael says it isn’t exactly plot driven but he loves it any way. Marieke adored it and describes it as sexy and cheeky and funny. I bet she wanted to oil it up. Jason unsurprisingly loves it. It’s sexy and British,  just like him…

… Rosie hated it. She says it was so bad she could barely finish it and it was, “not to my taste.” Rosie says she was expecting Jane Austen and she did not get it. Oh goodness, now I have to think mathematically. I’m not good at maths, but wasn’t Jane Austen dead a century before Love in a Cold Climate came out?

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I’m not going to push it because remembering dates isn’t my thing so I’m probably wrong. Jason admits that the first chapter was a bit rubbish but the rest was fab.

Michael loves the fact that in the novel a gay character is celebrated by other characters. The character is endearing enough that Rosie admits that she even liked him. Marieke says that the women are punchy and vibrant. And that she found it fresh, sexy and funny as hell… I now want to read Love in a Cold Climate!!!

JByrne talks about the new trend of adult colour in books of a very adult only nature. Jason suggests getting lots of pink crayons. It’s a vagina joke people. Jason Stegersaurussex made a vagina reference. Take a drink. Michael says he can’t be contained with his adult colouring in and rarely stays within the lines. I pour my chilled wine directly into my lap to tame my heated loins.

Ooo la la, BLaw and Robo-Tham are on next week. Last time BLaw came with completely naked ankles and a vulva in his pocket. I did clutch at my pearls. Robo-Tham did not reveal any cyborg tendencies on his last visit so I am hoping there is a big reveal next week.

Check out Rosie’s last appearance here.

Check out Michael’s last appearance, in THE BEST EPISODE OF ALL TIME, here.

To view past episodes check out ABC iView.