Category Archives: Robinpedia

Natasha Lester: #Robinpedia

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Natasha Lester is an Australian writer with a Masters in Creative Writing and a PhD in being farken fabulous. When she isn’t writing she enjoys yoga, sorting through her extensive lipstick collection, buying shoes, and drinking gin. I believe her gin cupboard looks something like this. 

Prior to entering the Australian authorial world Natasha Lester worked in public relations and marketing. She has worked for heavyweights such as L’Oréal, Maybelline and Harlequin. Thankfully she abandoned the glamorous life of PR and became a povo writer instead. It involves just as much drinking of gin but far less money.

 

Lester’s first book, What is Left Over, After was published by Freemantle Press in 2010.She did what any first time author would do and took a bunch of shelfies. Don’t pretend that we don’t all do it. This was followed up in 2012 with If I should Lose You. For her third book, Lester switched to writing historical romance. She released A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald in 2016 through Hachette, this was quickly followed up by Her Mother’s Secret in 2017.

 

When Natasha Lester isn’t doing yoga whilst writing and applying lipstick she teaches writing. Frequently through The Australian Writers’ Centre.

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Find Natasha Lester’s website here

 

Chat to Natasha Lester on Twitter here

 

Drop Natasha Lester a line on Facebook here

 

Grab her books here

 

Check out my review of A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald for Newtown Review of Books here

 

Read more about Robinpedia here

 

Buy my shit here

Book Club ABC Season 11, Episode 5: #BookclubABC

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It’s here again, the highlight of our week, The Book Club ABC. Look at Marieke sitting there like a ray of sunshine in yellow. Ace is also looking beautiful as is JBryne. Guests chef Adam Liaw and author Di Morrissey are introduced. Di Morrissey looks divine. She is dressed exactly as I imagine her to be. Soft pink floral coat, hair swept up with a pink flower, pearls, soft pink shimmering lipstick. Divine. I am very happy to be here right now.

 

Di introduces the classic, it’s The Group by Mary McCarthy. It’s sexy, emotional and fun. And the modern is Jean Harley Was Here by Heather Taylor Johnson. It’s about death, grief, and how you go on after someone you love is senselessly ripped from your life. I’m not crying, I just have allergies.

 

In literary news Fiona McFarlane is a genius. We all already knew that but finally it has been recorded. She won the Dylan Thomas Prize for her short story collection The High Place. Find her other stuff here.
Australian women writers are RED HOT at the moment. Slapping down high quality books all over the place. Check out Robin de Crespigny debut, People Smugglers and Susan Carland’s Fighting Hislam. Keep an eye out for The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey and Scorched Earth by Sue Rosen, both coming out on the 24th.

 

And now it is time for the dramatic recreation of Jean Harley Was Here. She’s a mum, someone opens a car door whilst she’s riding her bike, she swerves, another car hits her, and she is dead. How will people cope? Still not crying, you’re the one crying. Just because I’m a mum with three kids does not mean that I am currently sobbing uncontrollably on the ground in the foetal position at the mere mention of the premise. I’m totally okay…. I am not okay. Call my therapist.

 

Ace declares Jean Harley Was Here charming. JByrne seconds it, can we get the motion carried? No, no we cannot. Di Morrissey does not carry that motion. She felt that there were too many snippets from too many perspectives so she could never really get to the heart of the matter. She names the dog chapter as being particularly deserving of hitting the editing room floor. Marieke agrees that she could have dealt without the dog chapter. JByrne is stunned. She felt that if Marieke had died she would definitely want animals to be writing about her.

 

Marieke says that she finds the book difficult to critique because she admires the premise so much. She says that Heather Taylor Johnson wrote this book after one of her friends had been unexpectedly taken from them. That this was a cathartic exploration of how you cope when you lose someone that you love. Not crying, I’m not crying. However, she did not love the execution of it.

 

Adam loved it. He said it was so faithful to South Australia that he knew exactly where everything was and the description was perfect. He says that if you’re looking for things not to like, you’ll find them, but if you’re just reading it as a reader looking to be swept away in a story, then you’ll love it. I do love getting different perspectives on book. So true, if you look at something trying to find fault you will ALWAYS find it. Always. Adam talks about how the book is about the ripples of effect out from the victim. His hand movements are hypnotic and I can’t help but visualise a karesansui.

 

Marieke didn’t like the way the death seemed so sudden and glossed over. JByrne loved that. She says death can be sudden and senseless. One moment you’re there, the next minute you’re next. Keep it together, must not cry, must not cry.

 

Marieke couldn’t help but imagine who the author identified with in this novel. Adam found it more interesting to think of who he was in the novel. At first he thought about being the grieving husband, and then he realised that he could be Jean. He could be the dead parent. Just quietly, I can imagine this book being written about me. Howling chapter of raging grief from my daughter, confused chapters from my three year old twin boys who can only comprehend mummy gone but not why, my besties Helen and Lisa staring at my empty seat, and then a sentence from my husband, ‘These things happen, just crack on.’

 

JByrne says that the book is extremely well written. Marieke calls bullshit and has a quote to challenge.

 

Adam says that all of the characters were lovely and he really liked that. Marieke points out that the MIL was no picnic. Di felt that they were merely sketches of characters rather than fully alive. Cut some, flesh them out. Marieke reiterates that she did not like the book but she admired it immensely.

 

Now excuse me whilst I go wash my face and attempt to stop sobbing uncontrollably.

 

It’s time for By the Bed! Hooray.

 

Di is reading The Mysterious Mr Jacob.

 

Ace is reading Enemy Within by Don Watson.

 

Adam is reading a cookbook, Aquacotta.

 

JByrne is reading A Separation.

 

And now it’s time for some group action. What I did there, you see it. JByrne says that The Group was banned in Australia and her mother was sneakily loaning out her copy to other women. Apparently it has a red hot sex scene. Must have been like Fifty Shades for women in the 60s. Why wasn’t Fifty Shades banned?

 

Di mentions that The Group was written in the 60s and set in the 30s and yet it is still frightfully relevant. Women are still struggling with being taken seriously. Women are still struggling to find support when they are mothers. Mother in laws are still mother in laws. Can we take a moment to address that if you are a cunt of a mother in law you are virulently anti-feminist? No? You don’t want to come on that journey and you’d prefer to just read about the show? Fair enough.

 

Marieke loved it. It has mental illness, emotional abuse, rape, oppression. It essentially has women being kicked in the vagina by life in every possible way, because societal expectations and the patriarchy are the worst.

 

JByrne points out that Sex and the City was a tribute to The Group. Candace Bushnell wanted to do her own modern version.

Adam felt that The Group was good but had too many lead characters. Cutting it back from eight to four would work better. Snaps to Candice, she went with four for her update. He says the book wasn’t his cup of tea and yet he still enjoyed it.

 

Ace said that the first time he read The Group he thought about the female characters but on the second he thought about the male characters. And here it comes, we’re talking about sex. I knew Ace couldn’t hold off. Apparently there’s a whole sex chapter. The word ‘deflowering’ is mentioned repeatedly at this point. I little bit of vom rushes towards my teeth. Nothing that a splash of moscatto won’t fix. Hot tip from Adam: Don’t listen to that chapter in the car when you’re children are in the back. Can we please Crowdfund some therapy for Adam’s children?

 

ACE SAYS THAT HE FOUND THE SEX SCENE A BIT MUCH! Somebody hold me. I am so confused. Ace didn’t like the sexy bit? What is going on? He’s all about the sex. I feel lost and vulnerable. I need to hit that moscatto again.

 

Di points out that the book was put down as silly and trivial as it deals with silly things like relationships. The same thing is still happening now. A spy who has greater skills than are plausible is considered a rollicking good read, but books about women, and yearning, and birth control, and finding your way are silly and trivial. DOWN WITH LITERARY SNOBBISM! Apparently this backlash ruined the author’s life. It was a best seller yet the critics savaged her into trauma. Arseholes.

 

Marieke says that The Group is a feminist book. It is about women having each other’s backs no matter what. Adam recommends that every feminist reads it. My eye twitches slightly as I remember his #notallmen reaction to the Stella shortlisted An Isolated Incident, which was an incredible exploration of societal reactions to domestic violence. Moving on.

 

JByrne says that all the characters lose in the end, which is a bit depressing but somewhat reflective of the female existence within the patriarchy. Ace says that Lakey wins. Marieke suggests that Polly kind of wins too. It’s complicated.

 

Ace says that he kept thinking of Katharine Hepburn whilst reading. Much like I often think of Ace when reading books with good looking English men in them.

 

Di says she would love to see it as a mini-series. I love 1930s clothes and I enjoyed Sex and the City so I am so on board for this. Make it happen Di.

 

JByrne mentions that The Group has a place in popular fiction and even Betty Draper was reading it in Mad Men. I really want to read this book it sounds lovely.

 

And now a time for a montage about books about friends. Is that two montages this seas. Two montages this season and they’re cut back to eight episodes. Am I going to have to chain myself to the TARDIS at the ABC Centre soon? I’m keeping a close eye on you, Michelle Guthrie.

 

Next week they’re talking about talking rabbits. Will Marieke like the talking rabbits better than the thinking dog? We’ll have to watch next week to find out.

 

 

Catch up on last week’s recap here.

 

Grab the drinking game here.

 

Watch past episodes on here.

 

Buy my shit here.

Read an extract of Jean Harley Was Here here

See Di Morrissey at The Sydney Writers’ Festival (why yes I am a volunteer, how can I help) here.
Until next week enjoy my “friendship montage”:

Joel Naoum: #Robinpedia 

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Who is Joel Naoum? A man, yes. A human being, yes. A carbon based lifeform, yes. But is there more to him than being a mamal and living on Earth? The answer will surprise you, for it is yes.

Naoum began his life as child to Australian writer Dianne Blacklock (can’t find her on Wikipedia so rest assured she will be getting her very own Robinpedia entry). Sitting by her side he absorbed a love of books but as a social butterfly he could not see fit to cocoon his radiance in the solitary world of authorship. One year his mother took him to the Sydney Writers’ Festival  (why yes I am a volunteer, how can I help) and he found that despite being introduced to cool authors such Andy Griffiths and Garth Nix he was himself more attracted to the lurking representatives from the publishing houses. A fire was ignited within the belly of the young Naoum and he set his heart upon joining the publishing industry. 

Pan MacMillan gave Naoum his first job in the publishing sphere. He both horrified and delighted his interviewer by telling her about his love of the new technology ebooks (he’s older than he looks, it was new back then). She loved his innovative approach, she did not so much love that he somehow had an illegal electronic copy of one of Pan MacMillan’s titles. He did not know it was illegal prior to this point and does not recommend it as an interview strategy.  Fortunately he still got the job.

Not only did Naoum get the job but he thrived. He was awarded the Unwin Fellowship and was able to travel to the UK and learn all about the innovative things UK publishers were doing in epublishing. He spent three months in the UK learning the secret business of a variety of publishing houses.

After his fellowship ended and Naoum returned to Australia he was selected to head up Pan MacMillan’s digital first imprint, Momentum. Their original goal was to still be able to publish mid list authors that there was no longer shelf space for after the collapse of Boarders. Because they love authors and stuff. The focus of Momentum changed as they came to realise that the ebooks that sold well were more genre based such as romance, crime and spec fic, not so much literary Australiana. Just quietly, e also love their self help and parenting books. In order to make money the imprint had to switch from its original purpose. Over a 5 year period Momentum put out 450 titles.

Naoum, still committed to the digital world has now setup his own company, Critical Mass. This is mainly a self-publishing consultancy firm that helps self published authors get in touch with editors, designers, and gives marketing advice. He will also help people looking to traditional publish polish their pitches. He is there for you.

In addition to this Critical Mass, Naoum has designed a course for The New South Wales Writers’ Centre, where he is a board member, that actually publishes student’s work. It is open to people with completed and edited manuscripts. Naoum then takes students through cover design, formating, connecting with a distributor, and finally, actually hitting publish and getting a print copy into their hands.

Jump onto Joel’s website here.
Chat with him on twitter here.

Find out more about Robinpedia here.

Read about The New South Wales Writers’ Centre Stick here.

Buy my shit here.

Aleesah Darlison: #Robinpedia

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Aleesah Darlison is a former marketing executive, the creator of Greenleaf Press, and a Queensland writer of over 30 books. Somehow she also finds time to go to the toilet, shower, and smile. Obviously she is either the product of some nefarious scientific experimenting into how far authors can be pushed, or a robot. Either way she’s an amazing asset to the Australian book industry and we’re lucky to have her. Oh, and she also once had a pet eel…. Don’t worry Aleesah, I grew up in country NSW too, I get it.

In her capacity as an author, Aleesah has written several popular children’s book series including, Unicorn Riders and Totally Twins, as well as several stand alone books and picture books. She is published not only in Australia but also the US, UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, France and South Korea.

Greenleaf Press is Aleesah’s newest venture. It provides critical support to authors and illustrators, offering services in editing (my buddy Georgina Ballentine works there, pick her pick her), manuscript assessment, mentoring and so much more. With the rise of self publishing it has become increasingly important for authors to be able to find quality support for their ventures, Greenleaf Press does provides this.

One of the major events that Aleesah and Greenleaf Press has planned for writers is the Sunshine Writers’ Retreat which runs in November. It’s where writers get to go relax, have food provided for them, interact with all things writerly, and just kick back and create. Aleesah being an advocate of children’s literature isn’t stopping at providing events just for us old farts, she’s also has KinderFest, a roving literary festival; and Sunny Kids Camp, a full day camp that allows children to learn from experienced children’s authors.

Aleesah is a fan of the 80’s. She has an extensive collection of leg-warmers and fluro muscle tanks. But mostly, she is a fan of Top Gun. I cannot confirm or deny the fact that she prefers to be called Maverick than Aleesah. But I think if you search your heart you’ll know the truth.

FYI, You’ve Got the Love by Florence and the Machine, Daft Punk’s Lucky and several other cool songs were playing at Salt Meat Cheese as I was typing this entry up. I guess another fun fact about Aleesah, AKA Maverick, is that she inspires absolutely incredible song choices. Those of you who like to write whilst listening to music, or in cafes might I suggest that you pop a pic of ‘Maverick’ up so that she can bring you the luck of hit songs. Hopefully hit songs means hit novels. It’s too dangerous not to try!

I recommend this one I turned up on google image search-

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Find Aleesah’s website here: http://www.aleesahdarlison.com/

Find Aleesah on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/AleesahDarlisonFanPage

Find Aleesah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/aleesah

Find Greenleaf Press here: http://www.greenleafpress.net/

If you have information that you feel would enhance this entry please leave it in the comment section…. Unless it is simply to point out that I am in fact dyslexic, because I already know that. It’s actually in the about section.

 

Learn more about Robinpedia here: https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/robinpedia-robinpedia/

Jane Rawson: #Robinpedia

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Jane Rawson is an Australian writer, environmentalist, and tasty bit of frippet. Her interests include dawdling around San Francisco and applying formalin to shape-shifting, aliens’ feet.

By day Jane is a respected environmental writer who writes about cows and hover-boards  for The Man, by night she is a writer of quirky books that stimulate, amuse, and confuse the senses. Her first novel, A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, came out in 2013 through Transit Lounge and was shortlisted for an Aurealis award. This dystopian/apocalyptic/road-trip quickly became a cult classic amongst sci fi fans (me) and cool people (Emma Viskic) with good taste (Tania Chandler) everywhere.

In 2015 Jane put out two books, Formaldehyde through Seizure which uses her signature style of shifting time, meaning and narrative; and a non fiction, The Handbook: Surviving and Living with Climate Change again through Transit Lounge. I am buying this for my husband for his birthday, so will let you know about it once I know. Let’s all just assume that it’s really good.

For her fourth book, From the Wreck, also through Transit Lounge, Jane took her unique approach to writing family history. The result is a delicious postmodern feast that shows human nature at its most primitive and yet also whilst it is attempting to be most civilised. Given that this historical fiction is written by Jane Rawson it involves an alien and references to cannibalism. It is fucking brilliant, end of. 

Find Jane Rawson’s website here.

Find Jane Rawson on twitter here.

Engage with her olden day jokes about travel here.

You can also read Jane’s short fiction through Review of Australian Fiction, Tincture, and Funny Ha Ha


If you have information you feel would enhance this entry please leave it in the comment section.

Learn more about Robinpedia here

Fleur Ferris: #Robinpedia 

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Fleur Ferris is a former police officer, paramedic, and current author of YA smash hits. In her downtime she farms rice…. because, you know, she doesn’t have enough on her plate with being Super Woman.

Fleur’s first novel, Risk, was published through Penguin House in 2015 and won two Davitt awards, a Family Therapists‘ award, and was long listed for an Indie award. On top of that it scared the crappola out of parents, teachers, and teenagers alike. It is about the dangers kids face online, and indeed every parents worst fear comes true when a child in the novel goes missing after connecting with someone online.

Not satisfied with terrifying parents out of their minds once, Fleur released Black through Penguin House in 2016. This brought the danger out of cyberspace and directly into your own neighbourhood. Trust no one. 

In 2017 Fleur is back at it again. In July she releases Wreck and has no doubt found a new way to traumatise readers. I cannot wait to find out how. Mr Penguin, should you like to send me an early review copy I wouldn’t say no. Just sayin. 

Find Fleur Ferris’s website here.

Find Fleur Ferris on Twitter here.

Find Fleur Ferris on Facebook here.

If you have more information that you would like added please post it in the comment section.

Learn more about Robinpedia here.

Thoraiya Dyer: #Robinpedia 

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Thoraiya Dyer is an Australian writer of speculative fiction and archer. She has won several awards for her short stories and is well regarded by commissioning editors who describe her as an absolute pleasure to work with. She is so well regarded within the speculative fiction community that I was completely surprised, yet delighted to discover that she did not have a Wikipedia entry yet, so it is with extra pleasure that I write this entry.

Thoraiya has published more short stories and novellas than you can poke a stick at and collected four Aurelius awards and three Ditmar awards in the process. In 2017 she released her first full length novel, Crossroads of Canopy book 1 of The Titan’sForest Trilogy, through Pan MacMillan.

And can I just say a big personal thank you to Thoraiya Dyer for turning her hand to long-form epic fantasy. For those fellow readers waiting in the wilderness for Patrick Rothfuss’s third installment of The Kingkiller Chronicles, we now have something to get us through those lonely nights, Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer. I fully expect to see some Kvothe and Unar fan fic soon. It’ll be pretty racey. PRoth, you now have my full permission to take until this trilogy is wrapped up to get part three of yours out. I’m not entirely sure if your publisher or other fans will accept my authority but it’s worth a try…. My own three kids don’t accept it and the oldest one is only five. Sigh. 

Getting back to Thoraiya Dyer and #robinpedia, Book 1 of The Titan’s Forest Trilogy is phenomenal. It has the scope of Feist with the deft touch of Marillier. It truly is a master work, one we’ve been lacking for so long. I was like a kid again whilst reading Crossroads, with that same level of curiosity and excitement. And the characters from different areas actually genuinely look different. They’re not all just super sexy humans. I honestly didn’t even realise how much I’d missed truly great epic fantasy until I read this.

When she’s not writing Thoraiya is shooting things with an arrow. She loves the standing stillness and focus of target archery as it helps clear her mind. Fellow writers looking for a new approach to mindfulness might do well to try archery out. It has certainly worked wonders for Thoraiya who has an absolutely prolific output.

Find Thoraiya Dyer’s website here.

Find Thoraiya Dyer on Twitter here.

If you have any information you would like added to this entry please leave it in the comment section.

Learn more about Robinpedia here.

P.S. Yes, I’m already fully aware that I am dyslexic.