Tag Archives: Jennifer Byrne

ABC Book Club, Season 11, Episode 1: #bookclubABC


Image stolen from Marieke Hardy’s twitter account.

It’s back. Life can resume again as Book Club is here. JByrne is of course sleeveless because she hasn’t been working those delts to keep them hidden by sleeves. Marieke is flawless. And Ace, oh my, sleeves rolled up to show off those exquisite forearms and he’s wearing stripey blue and yellow socks. Or is it green and yellow? #sockwatch The exact colour is an enigma just like Ace.

Before we get into the actual show let me take care of a few housekeeping issues:

1) I’m dyslexic, there will be spellos, grammos, typos, and just plain wrongos.

2) JByrne = Jennifer Byrne

Ace = Jason Stegersaurussex

Marieke = jamiest bit of jam.

3) I am unsponsored but if anyone wants to bribe me I love wine and notebooks… and money. Money is my favourite. 

Now onto the show. Joining the heavenly regular panelists are Michael ‘the dagger’ Robotham (known as Robo-Tham from previous episodes) and Clementine Ford. I am wet your pants excited about the Fordinator being on. I hope there is plenty of talk of about uteruses.

The panelists get down to business and discuss books that have been released during their hiatus. Australian author Sarah Schmidt’s 
See what I have Done
 gets a shout out. I’m excited because I’m reading that at the moment. 

And of course they pay tribute to the brilliant Heather Rose who has taken out the Stella Prize this year with The Museum of Modern Love. Rose remembers vividly once getting a royalty cheque that was for less than the envelope would have cost. Thankfully she is getting the recognition she deserves now and more royalties. Big congrats to an outstanding Australian woman writer.

Onto the bones of the show. JByrne says that they’re looking at Sydney author, Kathryn Heyman’s, newest offering, Storm and Grace. JByrne says that it has been touted as the literary thriller of the year. That’s a big call seeing how it’s only April, but then again, she’s an author capable of making a big call. Let’s see if the panelists agree.

They do the dramatic recreation thingo. It looks like a romance movie or teenage coming of age movie. One where the lead female’s ultimate coming of age involves getting boinked. I’m not getting the thriller vibe from this footage. I might be getting slightly hard in the bra region but definitely not suspenseful.

Robo-Tham liked it. He found the book claustrophobic and uncomfortable. That’s exactly the feeling he wanted to get. He respects the level of research that she must have done to get the sensation of deep sea diving just right. Heyman’s research included free diving and deep sea diving. She definitely went all out.

Ace says it’s not a thriller because there is little suspense over the major crime. But he quite liked it. He says it’s a book about an “unusual” relationship and a very odd man. Marieke corrects him and says, “abusive relationship.” Preach. Let’s stop using euphemisms for family violence. They’re not “robust relationships.” They’re abusive. They’re criminal. Let’s not sweep it under the metaphorical rug with niceties.

JByrne was sucked in by the sexyness. Oh myyyyy. It’s a repeat of episode one of season ten where JByrne yearned for Heathcliff’s inky eyes. JByrne we need to talk. Let’s do coffee and Aunty Robin will tell you all about love and life. You’re not simply getting warm in the underpants region over literary bad boys, you’re getting excited for literary wife beaters. 

The knife comes out, Marieke says it’s a year 9 romance and the names of the characters, particularly Storm, are lame. She slams it as badly written and badly structured. So harsh. I think my mouth will never shut again because it is hanging open in shock. Brutal. All I can say is, brutal.

Marieke goes on to explain that her savagery comes from a place of crossness not because she’s a disparaging biatch. She lets us know that she ia quite nice and doesn’t actually enjoy saying awful things about books but she’s cross. She’s super cross because domestic violence is such an important issue and it needs to be explored but she thinks this did it badly. Maybe she wanted something more like Zoe Morrison’s Music and Freedom? I don’t know, but she is not happy. Not happy at all.

She says that Storm is a sleazy creep from the start so why did Grace ever fall for him? She says the seduction and Grace’s vulnerabilities needed to be clearer so that people understood why women get involved with these guys. For Marieke it was a creep from the start becomes a killer and that’s no surprise and wasn’t thriller worthy. 

JByrne is just about crying at this point. Why doesn’t Marieke understand that Storm is sexy? JByrne is all about the sexy. She’s possibly going to overtake Ace in the sexy loving stakes. 

The Fordinator speaks. She wanted the desire to be clearer. She felt that it wasn’t clear why Grace would fall for creepy, controlling Storm. JByrne is looking at her in despair. I can tell she’s thinking, “but he’s fucking hot!” But the Fordinator quite liked the Greek Chorus as a literary technique. JByrne says the Greek Chorus is why it is a literary thriller because Thrillers generally don’t have literary techniques.

I throw my glass of Brown Brothers Moscato at the television. It doesn’t make it. I simply makes a mess of my carpet. I love you JByrne, you are the sun and the moon, but you are wrong, oh so very wrong. Plenty of Thrillers use literary devices. Plenty! I could go on and and give a detailed list (OH, HOW DO I WANT TO GO ON AND GIVE A DETAILED DISSERTATION ON THIS) but I’m supposed to be writing a recap right now, but just know, I’m quietly seething… and sucking at my carpet.

Robo-Tham bravely steps up and explains to Marieke and Clementine the attraction women feel for Storm. He likens it to Trump. People voted for Trump because he talks big. They got sucked in by his confidence and big talk. You know how us ladies love big talk, orange skin, and extreme comb-overs. Amirightoramiright? Ooooo Trumpy, you so sexy. No. 

The Fordinator asks why do all the women have the same attraction. It’s almost as if she thinks us sheilas are diverse. Pfffft. Come on CFord, you know us ladeez are only after one thing.

Now onto discussing what the literary trends for 2017 will be:

  • Progressing from titled with GIRL in the title to WOMEN… Fuck. My book coming out the year is Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women. I’m falling into a stereotype before it’s even set. Shit!
  • Australian Domestic Noir, will be big. Phew. I’m not a complete stereotype. My November release is set in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. So it’s Australian, and it’s dark, but it’s not exactly domestic. 
  • Angry lady books will be big… Shit. 
  • Spec Fic with a literary bent will be in. SHITSHITSHITSHIT! Another glass of wine goes at the TV, hits the floor again.  Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women is Historical Fantasy. I basically take fairy tale princesses and lock them up in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. I’m a great big future trends whore instead of a maverick self publisher. I’m not a special snowflake.

    JByrne picks up Michael Sala’s newest book as an example of a book to look out for. I’m cheering at the TV. I used to teach with him. Go buy his book. Yay. Go Michael, go.

    The Fordinator admits that it’s a good time to be a feminist writer. Maintain the rage, sister, bring out Fight Like a Woman.

    Robo-Tham wants less celebrities writing, long pause, children’s books. What was the long pause? I read into everything he does because he’s a Crime writer. Is the pause because you mean not just children’s books but all books, or is it because you want to emphasise Children’s Books but they can run wild on adult? Tell me Robo-Tham, tell me!!! It probably means nothing and he just had to breathe.

    Which leads us to By the Bed. The segment where the panelists say what books are by the bed and I waft into a fantasy world of lying next to Ace’s bed.

    Robo-Tham is reading Rebus novels.

    Marieke throws a curve ball. She hasn’t been reading in bed but reading drunk in the bathtub. New fantasies are emerging. She’s been loving The Last Picture Show.

    JByrne has been reading Storyland.

    Ace has been reading 
    Crimson Lake by Candice Fox Small excited wee for Sydney crime writer Candice Fox. I adore her. More Candice, more L.A. Larkin, more Tania Chandler, more Emma Viskic, more Cass Moriarty, MORE SISTERS IN CRIME. 

    The Fordinator is reading 
    Circle of Friends. She says it’s like a hug. Awwww.

    And now for 
    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D Vance. Will Marieke go full savage on this one as well?

    JByrne does the intro, it’s a memoir but was billed as the inside story of Trump’s people. However the author said its purpose was to start a conversation not to be the ultimate explanation and lesson.

    Robo-Tham loved it. He kept nudging his wife in bed to read her quotes. She told him she had a headache. We’ve all been there.

    Ace said it reminded him of Jimmy Barnes’s memoir. A man who pulled himself up from poverty and an awful life to achieve greatness. And how they both nearly didn’t make it out of their horrific circumstances alive. 

    Marieke charges into this love fest and calls it a flat telling of an interesting story. She is having none of anyone’s shit today. She said it skimmed through interesting stuff that should have been fleshed out. Ace said he loved the skimming. They stare at each other across JByrne. Horns locked. I await JByrne saying something about sexyness. It does not happen.

    The Fordinator starts to say how she felt that the author was an intelligent guy and that the author should have moved passed the “America is the greatest country” rhetoric and actually given the idea some critical thought. He as a white man could pull himself out of despair. It was hard but would it not be even harder for others that aren’t CIS white men?

    Robo-Tham leaps into the thick of things. He talks more about the problems faced by America and white people in poverty and how beautifully J.D. Vance covered it by showing the good and the bad.

    Fordinator is back and asks why is it suddenly now that people care about poverty. Why is it that black and Hispanic people being in poverty is looked away from in disgust but now that it’s a white problem people are fascinated? Marieke and the Fordinator state that the author fails to recognise his own privilege as a white man. And again raise the issue that he never critiques the trite “America is the greatest country” without thinking about if it actually is or not.

    Robo-Tham tells Ford she wanted the author to “attack” his own country where as he could accept that Vance was still backing his own country. Did she want it critiqued or attacked? There’s a difference.

    In the end, the two white male panelists loved Hillbilly Elegy, and one out of the three white female panelists likewise loved it. Yep, that’s enough to get it voted in.

    JByrne concludes by letting us know that Omar and CS are back next week. Hooray, we loved them last year. They’re discussing Exit West and The Monkey’s Mask. And we are treated to a clip of Roald Dahl saying WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS!!! Because like dreams, you’ll forget them.

    Watch this episode on iView here.

    Read last year’s season highlights here.

    Buy my shit here.


    Book Club ABC Season 10 Summer Special: #bookclubABC 


    It’s here. It’s really here. We’ve emerged from the wilderness and Book Club with JByrne is before us again. I’m so happy I could …


    WTF. They’ve got a desk. They’ve got a news panel style desk. Oh no, no, no, no, no! How can I perform #sockwatch now? ABC, I implore you, get a clear cutout on the bottom. We need to see Jason’s woolly socks. What if BLaw is on? How will we see those magnificent ankles? Is that why you’ve introduced the desk? It was bloody Ben wasn’t it? Benjamin Law and his sexy nude ankles requiring a nudity warning. Deep breaths. Just listen to JByrne’s mellifluous voice and forget the ankles.

    [Do remember I’m dyslexic so there will be typos, spellos, grammos, and just plain wrongos]
    JByne tells us that they’re doing a 5 of the Best special. Each of the panelists gets to choose the best book to discuss that they read this year PLUS they’ll reveal the top 5 books as voted by the Book Club viewers.
    The guests are introduced. Be still my beating brain, it is the beauteous Michael Williams, anonymous Italian novelist, dead British actor, and most importantly, my muse. C.S. Pacat is also on. I am so excited. She was brilliant last time she was on. And of course regular panelists, Magic Marieke and Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex, complete the panel. You complete me, I whisper to my television.

    But before we can listen to these Gods of Australian literature we’re hearing from the gatekeepers, booksellers, on “what sold its socks off.” Too soon, JByrne. Too soon. We’re only just getting used to the end of #sockwatch. Have some sensitivity with your language choice, please.

    Book sellers tell us that debut, female, authors are the hot trend this year. So glad having a vagingo is hot right now. Hannah Kent is apparently part of this trend because she’s put out her second novel this year. I’ll just let that sink in and move on. Lianne Moriarty is also hot right now. Girl on a Train is still hot. Girls are hot. Who runs the world? Girls! Something I didn’t catch the name of was also hot. The description left me wondering if the bookseller knew the difference between high and low fantasy. I was already questioning someone putting out their second novel being considered a debut author…. But the general consensus is in, girls and escapism are so hot right now.
    And now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. What books will the panelists be discussing?

    My Muse Michael is the first cab off the rank. He’s chosen The Sellout by Paul Beatty. A controversial book from the controversy loving director of the Wheeler Centre / anonymous Italian woman / dead British actor. He’s going to say something naughty and we all await with anticipation. My glass of moscato is positively beside itself and my semi-soft blue-cheese is hanging on his every word.

    He opens by saying it isn’t an easy or comfortable read. There’s slavery. There’s racism. There’s a whole heap of big issues and humour is used to convey them. The humour makes it “spikey” but Michael says he believes Beatty “doesn’t care if you like it or not.” Those spikes are part of the point…. What have I become? I’ve come up with a Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex level pun.

    Interestingly this book is the first American book to win the Man Booker Prize. It’s surprising because not only is the style a tad jarring but the book is not just American but overtly and unashamedly American.

    Marieke says that The Sellout was a “book of ideas in search of a narrative.” What a poetic phrase. I’m stealing it. She says that it had so many big and interesting ideas that it seemed to overwhelm any attempt to wrestle it into a narrative.

    Michael says that it echoes Catch 22 but isn’t as well actualised. But he chose The Sellout, shouldn’t he utterly adore it? He says that it has a great setting but character arcs are weak.

    Jason puts it simply, “the parts are greater than the sum.” This is why Jason and Marieke are the regulars, throwing out sentences of gold.

    C.S. is finally permitted to speak. My wine, my cheese, and I cheer. She says that the experience was like being on social media. It was very contemporary and you were being hit with lots of ideas and snippets. She appreciated the fresh approach and the perspective given. I love her so much. She’s so smart and articulate. Hearts are literally coming out of my eyes right now.

    JByrne says that the message was that “it was ever thus.” Boom! That’s why she’s on the big bucks, people. Four words and she has utterly nailed it.

    Michael concludes that he admired The Sellout more than he liked it and urges people to read it.

    Next up is C.S. Pacat and she has brought The Cursed Child by a little known author called J. K. Rowling. There’s the customary dramatic recreation that I’m the only person on the planet that doesn’t love. You’ve got zombie thespian Michael Williams on, get him to perform them! Sweet merciful cheeses, did Gollum emerge from Middle Earth just to say “Harry Potter” in that recreation. That was terrifying. What next, clowns? I need a hug.

    C.S. says she chose it because J. K. Rowling is a genius at world building and she really missed the world and wanted to visit again. She acknowledges that she doesn’t like “zombie franchises” but wanted to read this. For people unfamiliar with what a zombie franchise is, it’s those long series of books which have totally lost their way and continue on an on and at book 10 you’re questioning what the fucking point is anymore and screaming, “why won’t you die” at characters that you once loved. Spec fic and crime fic fans know what I’m talking about.

    C.S. liked that it was about a bad father. Segue to Michael. That’s a bit rough. Michael was also keen to step back into Harry’s world but he’s not as eager to go back in after hanging out with the Cursed Child.

    Marieke was not super jazzed about it. She’s not a Potterhead and says she felt like she was at a party where everyone knew each other except her and she was just lingering by the dips table all night. Somebody give this woman a raise immediately. She is throwing out soundbites all over the place. She tops it off with, “Who the fuck is Hagrid?”

    Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex talks about how he read the Harry Potter books to his children. My ovaries are tingling. He then jumps to the heart of the matter and says that it works very well for theatre script, which it is, but to make it more accessible to novel readers, which Harry Potter fans are, more details needed to be added.

    Jace, JByrne, and Michael start chatting excitedly about the Potterverse, you can see Marieke travel back to that dips table in her mind. I can’t help but wonder if C.S. has been muted. She brought the book. Where are her words?

    A producer must have noticed this also, C.S. is permitted to speak again. She notes that it was interesting to go into a plot driven series through a character  driven script. She’s slayed it again. You know what, she doesn’t need to speak as much because she bloody kills it every time she opens her mouth. More love hearts come out of my eyeballs.

    Marieke wasn’t impressed with the logic flaw in the manuscript in regards to time travel and multiple realities. Michael quotes Terry Pratchett at her in response. I am always happy for a Terry Pratchett reference.

    And now it is time for Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex’s choice. Music and Freedom by Zoe Morrison. Ace loved the use of music. JByrne also liked the music and said it was one of the two pillars of the novel. The other pillar was domestoc violence.

    Marieke liked the book but was not a fan of the structure. Whereas both Michael and Jason liked a bit of muddling of the structure because it mimicked the loss of control.

    Marieke goes out on her own, she didn’t love the music but found the story of domestic violence incredibly effective.

    Michael reasserts the importance of music because it represents control. Ace and C.S. (who has finally been allowed her voice again) says that music actually represents freedom, but is of course important.

    In the end the whole panel agree, they would recommend the book to friends because not only is it important but it was artfully written.

    Okay, the panel are now recommending books.

    Michael recomends The Mothers by Brit Bennett

    Marieke recommends The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese

    JByrne recommends Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

    Ace recommends The Return by Hishmash Matar

    C.S. recommemds Swing Time by Zadie Smith

    JByrnes now gets the spotlight. She goes a little bit rock’n’roll with Jimmy Barnes’s memoir. She loves Barnesy, she loved the book. She even got Barnsey himself to do the voice over for the dramatic recreation…. I’m still backing Michael performing this as being better. Just sayin.

    Spoiler alert, right up front they reveal the end, it ends with Jimmy Barnes leaving his family in a van with the band. It does not end with his current life. That’ll come in like volume 3 apparently. Fingers crossed Cold Chisel makes it into volume 2.

    Marieke was expecting a rock’n’roll memoir but got Angela’s Ashes. She says it was very important but staggeringly difficult to read. It was about immigration and displacement. It was about child abuse and resilience.

    Acec was skeptical at first but was won over. He notes that there were some bad puns but in the end he became a Barnsey fan. Michael was okay with the bad puns because he felt that the humour was a coping mechanism.

    C.S. liked the gaps. Such hideous abuse was depicted yet there were still stories that clearly went untold. It meant that Barnsey endured even worse child abuse than depicted.

    Michael acknowledges that the known future of the writer is an important driving force. Even though the book doesn’t get to Barnsey making it huge, the reader knows that he did. The contrast of the staggering success with the horrific abuse is important even though it goes unsaid.

    Looks like another unanimous reccomendation.

    Marieke is being a total rebel and chooses an older novel, Terms of Endearment. She claims that she has replaced JByrne with a new literary life coach, Aurora Greenway. What the actual eff! Replacing perfection with that selfish, narcissistic, meanie??? I don’t even know how to feel anymore. I started this season saying that Marieke was right about Wuthering Heights and JByrne was so terribly wrong, and here I am at the end saying Marieke is wrong and JByrne so very right. It’s like I’ve come full circle but finally remembered to put my underpants on the right way. I just can’t even.

    Marieke imagines flipping off everyone who doesn’t agree with her love of Aurora. I think JByrne and Marieke may come to blows. I’m scared and excited all at the same time. Ace is trying to be diplomatic. I can tell he is also scared.

    C.S. doesn’t vibe on the book. Marieke declares that she doesn’t care with such emotion cracking in her voice that you know she does in fact care and her heart is being ripped out of her chest. C.S. soldiers on, she doesn’t like books with characters that are so awful that you’re supposed to feel smuggly superior to them. She wants to be in the world not looking down on it. That’s so beautiful, more love hearts. Marieke externalises her flipping off of everyone.

    Michael talks about the structure of the book echoing how little space the daughter is given. Aurora is so all consuming that very little is left for her daughter

    Michael says that the men in Terms of Endearment range from dissapointing to criminal. Marieke likes this because it’s just like real life.

    And my kids are up yet again so I’ll have to finish this recap later. Will “edit” in the end shortly. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! It has been an interesting night. Random fireworks, yelling drunken neighbours, increasingly grumpy trio of children. Not that I blame my neighbours, I’m excited for Book Club too. If I had fireworks I’d be letting them off too.

    The top 5 books as voted by the viewers were:

    1. Clementine Ford’s Fight Like a Girl
    2. The Dry by Jane Harper
    3. Man in the Corner by Nathan Besser
    4. The Good People by Hannah Kent
    5. Insults About Age Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner

    And now there’s a quiz.

    Marieke is so excited…. she is not at all excited. The M Team vs Ace and C.S. Who will win, who will be victorious, who shall sob and who shall cheer? In short, the M Team won. C.S. somehow missed a quote from Tolkein. I have no idea how because I screamed the answer psychically at her. TOLKEIN. IT’S IN THAT LETTER GANDALF WROTE THEN BILBO SAYS IT. IT’S A REOCCURRING MOTIF. IT’S ACTUALLY IN REVERSE IN MERCHANT OF VENICE. I AM OF NO HELP ON ANY OTHER QUESTION!

    And now they’re wrapping up for the year with Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen performing. They assure us they’ll be back next year in the weekly format.

    But don’t forget to vote for the Book Club ABC in the Logies.

    Catch up on episodes in iView.

    Michael Williams will be my next #Robinpedia entry. Keep an eye out on Thursday.

    Why Writers Need to Vote in the Logies


    I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the Australian book industry has taken a bit of a beating of late. The government seems intent on bankrupting authors with trying to reduce the copywrite on their works and changing parallel important laws. Not since sleazy venture capitalists took over Borders then tried to use it’s success to prop up their other failing companies and ultimately bankrupted all of their companies, have books been so under threat in Australia.

    This year Australia’s most prominent television show on books, The Book Club ABC hosted by Jennifer Byrne, has been nominated for a TV Week Logie. I urge you to vote for it. Even if you hate TV, even if one of the panelists said something mean about a book you liked, even if you saw some mainsplaining going on in an episode, and yes, even if you’re just not that into the show. I urge you to vote for it anyway. And not just because I love the show and write recaps.

    I urge you to vote for The Book Club ABC in this years TV Week Logies because it is this country’s most successful show about books and we need to show people that we still love books and that we support authors. Let’s get behind the Books Create Australia movement, let’s lobby politicians, but let’s also show popular culture that books matter. Books are just as loved and necessary as they always have been, so vote for them. Vote for books to win.

    Voting closes on the 18th so you need to vote now rather than leaving it until later. So what should you do if you really want to get behind books and vote right now but there seems to be a few pesky categories you need to vote in before you are allowed to skip straight to Best Lifestyle Program and vote for books and you have no clue who to vote for? Here are some suggestions to help you out in a book loving way.

    Best Actor

    Anthony Brandon Wong from Family Law. The Family Law is Book Club regular Ben Law’s baby.

    Best Actress

    Virginia Gay from Winners and Losers. Virginia Gay has been an enthusiastic panelist on Book Club a number of times

    Best Presenter.

    Jennifer Byrne from the Book Club.


    Jennifer Byrne from the Book Club.
    Those are just suggestions to get you past the mandatory voting fields so that you can skip straight to Best Lifestyle Program and vote for The Book Club ABC. Obvious vote for who you want in those fields. But books need you. They don’t even usually rate a mention on the Logies, this year they need you to advocate for them. Vote for books to win best Lifestyle this year.

    Vote now. Let’s make books win on TV.

    [If you get time, please also vote for some scripted shows, TV script writers work hard, so knowing that their shows resonate with you would also be fab.]

    20 Real Life Wonder Women


    In honour of Wonder Woman Day I’d like to share with you twenty real life wonder women. Some I know and some I admire from afar. [Warning : I’m dyslexic, grammar nazis run for your lives]


    Anita Heiss
    Scholar, writer, possessor of the best calves in Australian writing, Anita Heiss is the embodiment of Wonder Woman in the Australian writing scene. When she’s not writing highly successful books, ranging from non fiction to choc lit to children’s books, she’s off running marathons to raise money for charity, or teaching other people how to write. I’m not even exaggerating. Did I mention she has a PhD?

    Calista Spiro
    Actually that’s Calista Spiro MD, soon to also be PhD. She’s a General Surgeon, a PhD candidate, a friend to the nurses, and an angel to her patients. On top of this she finds the time to be a great mum, a warm friend, eat food, and shower. I can only manage to do two of those things, and probably only 60% of the time. Yet Calista manages to do it all. She truly is a wonder woman.

    Canna Campbell
    Forget sugar daddies, it’s all about the Sugar Mamma now. Financial wizard, savvy business woman, social media expert, and TV presenter… and that’s just on her lunch break. I’m convinced that there is nothing that this money expert can’t do. She even gives fashion advice.

    Donna Colombini
    This babe left school to follow her dreams to become a hair dresser. She consequently became the best hairdresser I have ever met. So she set herself a new challenge, teaching others at TAFE. She then went to university, all the while juggling her career and her children with her studies. This year she was named NSW/VET Trainer of the year. She is living proof that with passion and enthusiasm you can rise to the very top. But this isn’t even her greatest attribute. Donna is the kindest person I know. Always available with a smile and lovely words. A role model for kindness and compassion. And I am sure that anyone who has ever met her would testify to this fact. She is the kind of woman I strive to be.

    Emma Viskic
    Concert clarinetist, award winning writer, mango hater. She’s a supporter of the arts and artists. Generous with her outreach to others and is hilarious… I’m jealous of her and am going to go have a little cry for a moment.

    Emily Maguire
    Award winning writer of fiction and non fiction. Board member of the NSW Writers Centre. Feminist. Teacher. And she’s super nice too. I did a course with her a few years back and she still let’s me pick her brains. She’s a wonderful mentor to writers and a credit to the Australian writing community.

    Helen Petrovic
    Helen is hands down the best unpublished writer I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This is not an easy thing to achieve as I am lucky to have many talented writer friends and acquaintances. She is professional, productive, and incredibly talented. Whenever I think about the fact that she hasn’t been picked up by a publisher I just want to give up on writing. Her work is so visceral yet eloquent. Her talent leaves me speechless.

    Jan Cornall
    Jan was the very first person I did a writing course with. She opened my eyes to organisation and self belief. Without her I would never have started this blog. I owe her a great debt and so much love.

    Jennifer Byrne
    JByrne is perfection. Her eyes sparkle, her wit sparkles, everything about her sparkles. She hosts a show about books, I love books. She’s nice to obsessed fans who scream out, “Oh my God, I love you,” then faint at her feet. She is the queen. Love, love, LOVE, the Byrne of J.

    Kate Forsyth
    I can sense regular readers of this blog rolling their eyes at this point. She’s gushing over Kate Forsyth again? Yes! Yes, I am! And you will darn well gush with me or go throw yourself down a toilet. Kate Forsyth is an incredible writer, internationally published and celebrated, AND a Doctor of Fairy Tales. Literally. She has a PhD in Fairy Tales. This is the coolest thing I have ever heard of. Wonder Woman indeed.


    Kerri Sackville
    I just took a peek at her FB page before writing this, as I do regularly, and she’s writing about running around the kitchen screaming FUUUCK. She makes me laugh so much. When she isn’t making me laugh she’s off being a writer, columnist, and TV presenter. Because why not do one thing brilliantly when you can do several, brilliantly. 

    Leah Kaminsky
    You know what, I’m just going to put the link to her Robinpedia entry here. She’s so mind-bogglingly brilliant that it would blow the word length of this blog entry out of the water. But here’s a quick summary, she’s a doctor, an award winning writer, has television credits, and I hear she can embroider. She is so Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is looking at Leah, and wondering why the UN didn’t name her ambassador instead of her.

    Lee Lin Chin
    Queen of Australian television, and she beat Wonder Woman in a fistfight once. The UN initially approached her to make this day about them but she just maced them and kept on walking. I don’t even mean pepper spray, I’m talking about the medieval weapon. She just keeps one on hand. You may be cool but you will never be Lee Lee Chin cool.

    Lisa Fleetwood
    She’s one of my besties and I love her! She is incredibly driven. Last year she self published her memoir Destination Dachshund. It became an Amazon bestseller. She organised every aspect of her launch as carefully as any publishing house, with press releases and adverts. She amazes me that she truly can do it all. I am so proud to be her friend.

    Oliver’s Mum
    Growing up Oliver’s mum took me under her wing as if I was her third child. She’d greet me with hugs, take me on family trips to exciting places, and always make me feel as if I was wanted and special. I can’t articulate how thankful I am for her presence in my childhood because I keep tearing up every time I try to write this section. But, you are one heck of a woman and I wouldn’t be the mother I am today without your love. I still think of you fondly and often.

    Pamela Freeman
    The cheekiest character you’ll meet in the Australian writing lineup. She’ll tell you that she’s well behaved but that twinkle in her eye gives it all away. Direct, honest, funny, passionate, diverse. That pretty much sums up Pamela who also publishers under Pamela Hart. Yeah, she writes for kids and adults. Picture books, chapter books, fantasy, crime, historical fiction, and whatever the heck she wants. Her drive and diversity are her super powers. Such an incredible range of successful genres from the one writer. And she’s real. She’s not an amalgamation. I’ve met her, definitely real, definitely one person, despite her superhuman talent. And yes she has a PhD too.

    Selwa Anthony
    The face of fabulousness in the Australian book industry. She is a literary agent that has clients such as Tara Moss. Unlike the stereotypical literary agent (who only exists in people’s imaginations) that is only interested in boring and sad stories, Selwa Anthony is excited about passion and connection. She brings a sense of fun, class, and above all else, sass to the Australian writing world. She’s a woman that probably even Wonder Woman herself wishes she could be as fabulous as.

    Tara Moss
    A picture says a thousand words.
    Image by http://valerhon.com/


    Toni Jordan
    Love her. Her skin looks like she eats sunshine. She is the most glowersome person that I have ever clapped eyes on. She is just so lovely to everyone that she meets. You honestly feel like you’ve been kissed by a rainbow after you meet her. I loved her work before getting the opportunity to meet her… okay I threw myself at her after a screening of ABC Book Club one day before security could catch me… because she is an amazing writer with such wonderful characters. She also has the best sock collection in the Australian writing community. Bet Wonder Woman doesn’t have that!

    Virginia Gay
    Virginia Gay I love you, let me count the ways. Actually numbers aren’t really my thing so how about I talk about it instead? I just love the energy that Virginia Gay gives off on the screen. She is just the most captivating actress. Whenever she’s in a scene my eyes are always on her because she just burns with intensity. I don’t know what it is but she’s just magnetic. But on top of being a brilliant actor of screen and stage, she loves books and is a feminist. She’s younger than me, yet she’s my hero. Love her energy. And if you don’t follow her on twitter then you better get on it, she’s hilarious.


    I’d love to hear about the wonder women in your life. Please do leave a comment about them.

    I Am Acutely Under Virginia Gay-ed



    Earlier this year was a golden age of Virginia Gay. Her show Winners and Losers was on and she was appearing regularly on ABC Book Club with Jennifer Byrne. It was brilliant. Not only did I get treated to her statuesque visage, but she also live tweeted the shows. It was magnifique. But now… well… now I live in a puss-ridden, toilet of a world, that does not have Virginia Gay on my television twice weekly. I’m not happy and expect this situation to be remedied immediately. And I have come up with the perfect solution to mine, and the rest of the viewing public’s, dilemma. The Tonight Show with Virginia Gay.

    How has someone not thought of this before? A weekly night time talk show hosted by Virginia Gay. Somebody get me Russel Howcroft on the phone. She’s quick witted, very knowledgeable, has an excellent sense of timing, and a love of theatrics. Virginia Gay is your perfect variety show host. And yes, I definitely mean night time. I’m sick of this weird divide between genders with talk shows. The menz in the evening and the wominz during daytime. Enough of that… Although, I’m a mum so I like to go to bed early, so could late night please mean 9pm?


    And Russ, while I’ve got you here I’ve got another idea for a TV show, this one is more a dark fantasy/horror than talk show. It involves an intrepid reporter busting open the supernatural sex slave industry. Stay with me, don’t look away, Russ. Starts with the spunky lady reporter thinking she’s getting an exposé on the regular sex slave industry but whilst she’s undercover at a high class brothel she goes to place a bug under a bed and discovers a minotaur there. He begs her for help. She calls in a cop. Minotaur gets rescued. Reporter endevours to uncover the rest. Cop and minotaur likewise want in. Reporter’s boss says do what you like but you’re reporting it as “freak show sex ring” until there’s proof that they’re mythical creatures and not just deformed. The boss lady isn’t exactly the most PC person on the planet. I’ve got so much more to give Russel, so much more. Email me, robin.elizabee@gmail.com. We can even add in lots of sugar consumption, I watch Gruen, I’m on your side, buddy… and, I’m a redhead. You know what they say, “Always bet on red.”


    So please, TV execs, get me more Virginia Gay. Me AND the entire Australian viewing public is suffering right now. Help us help you. Give us Virginia Gay and we’ll pay attention to your advertisers.

    … and seriously, Russel, call me.


    The Book Club ABC, Season 10, Episode 12: #bookclubABC


    So it’s here. The season final of The Book Club ABC. There shall be even more typos, spellos, grammos and just plain wrongos, in this recap because not only will my  dyslexia lead us afoul, but a steady stream of tears are making it hard for me to see. Don’t go, JByrne. We love you.

    The epic conclusion to season 10 of The Book Club ABC starts as it should, with a warning for sexual references. Oh that smouldering little crumpet Jace the Ace contains enough sexual energy to short out the sun. He should have a sexual reference warning following him around in real life.


    JByrne smiles bravely at the camera but you can tell that she’s emotional. We’re all emotional. The end is nigh. Even Marieke looks a little moist around the eye region. Ace just looks sexy, as always. That’s why he’s there, eye candy.

    Virginia Gay is back and looking like she is channeling the spirit of the revolution. Golden curls fall about her shoulders and she’s wearing a long flowing dress to hide her muted footwear. As punishment for speaking out of turn in episode 7 she had all her signature colour pop shoes confiscated and has been locked under JByrne’s stairs and only just let out. You may have taken her shoes, JByrne, but this look says you’ll never take her freedom.


    And of course Margaret Pomeranz is there. How else can you see out 10 seasons without getting the queen of television on as your special guest stars. God I’ve missed hearing that sultry voice. I could just close my eyes and listen to her all day. Sigh. The audience does a standing ovation for her. And by the audience I mean me and my wine.

    The first novel is The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera. JByrne calls it a stunning take on film noir. There’s a dramatic recreation, I’m still not a fan of them and really feel making the panelists act it out would be much more fun. Charades anyone? There’s no whale murder this week so that’s good. But, if you’re doing a take on noir… shouldn’t you have your recreation in the style of film noir? It isn’t.

    Virginia loved The Transmigration of Bodies. It made her very aware of her own body. She could feel her skin tingling and her house closing in around her as she read. Virginia says it’s incredibly sexy. No need to hear from Ace, we’ll go ahead and assume he liked it.

    Margaret Pomeranz also loved it. She says it’s actually very funny and the phrasing unique. I wait for her to give it a star rating. Please give it a star rating. I beg you, give it a star rating. There is no star rating.

    Marieke of course hated it. She talks about how ridiculous it is that there is some woman in there who is so up for it that she risks the plague to get a packet of condoms. Marieke reckons that Yuri Herrera is the kind of writer at writers’ festivals that leaves his sunglasses on inside even though it’s dark just to be cool. I slowly push my beret, scarf, and pipe to the side.


    Jason loves the plague and the corruption… what? Where’s the sex, Ace? Marieke says the set up was interesting but the execution crapola. Ace and JByrne then say that plot isn’t important anyway. Marieke pulls her WTF face. JByrne uses Blade Runner as an example of another text where plot wasn’t important, the mood was. Now I’m pulling my own WTF face.

    They talk about the translation. It’s a foreign text so they must discuss it… they approve of it.

    Queen of film, Margaret Pomeranz, says there’s a film in it, a very bleak one.

    And now it’s time for By the Bed. Excuse me whilst a fantasise about Ace’s bedroom.

    Virginia Gay is reading Speaking Out by Tara Moss.


    Ace is reading Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler.

    JByrne has been reading The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz.

    Marieke just read Lust and Wonder by Augustus Burroughs

    Margaret Pomeranz has been on a Michael Robotham binge.

    And now for Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Two lonely older people who decide to share a bed to get through the cold, lonely, nights.

    Ace found it sweet and tender. He found it beautiful and felt the characters came alive through the dialogue. In fact, Ace is off to read more Kent Haruf books.

    JByrne said it was a tiny book, simply written but big on issues and big on feelings. She’s put her heart out there, let’s see Marieke stomp on it.


    Marieke says the book was one of the most beautiful books she has ever read and that she can’t talk about it without weeping. She says it is about romance as kindness rather than as lust. Awwwww. Dats beautiful.

    Margaret Pomeranz became so invested in the characters that she became afraid of what the author would do to them. Everyone agrees that the investment in the characters is what makes this book so moving. Virginia kisses this book. That’s two book kisses this season, LaRose and Our Souls at Night.

    They all love that this is a book about the inner life of the elderly. Not many people focus on the lives of the elderly. Often they’re used almost as stock filler characters so it is lovely to have such a well written book featuring this marginalised group.

    Oooooo, treat time. Time for a flashback to the very first show, back when it was called First Tuesday Book Club, which I confess I still call it. JByrne, Marieke, and Ace are huddled around in a circle with Jackie Weaver and Peter Cundall and they are discussing American Psycho. Peter Cundall did not find the book to his liking. He shakes the book and says it’s about the most parasitical people on Earth, and he couldn’t find one bit of decent prose or anything of any value.

    They see out the end of the episode with tears in their eyes and holding hands.


    Is someone dying? Is The Book Club dying? Is this the last regular episode ever? It can’t be, they wouldn’t be so cruel to do a final episode without giving us advanced notice to stock up on wine and tissues. They’d let us know in advance so that we can appreciate and savour the final season. They’re not monsters. You always have to advertise that it’s the GRIPPING final season to really get the viewers in. Deep breath. They’re just emotional from a really good book. Breathe, Robin, just breathe.

    It’s been fun. You can relieve the entire season through my recaps and also look at my highlights of the entire season. Or watch past episodes on ABC iView. I love you all and don’t be a stranger. Do drop in from time to time to get updates on my release of Confessions of a Mad Mooer, my recap of my time in a psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression.


    The Book Club ABC, Season 10, 5 Top 5s: #bookclubABC


    Well it’s happened. The Book Club ABC’s 10th season has come to an end. It was glorious! I for one have never felt so exhilarated by a season. So let’s reminisce about some of the best things we experienced this season with my 5 of 5, before I can bring myself to write the final recap of the season. I need time to grieve.

    The Five Best Episodes:

    1. Episode 7 Gaudy Biatches. The biatches were flying thick and fast and Toni Jordan and Virginia Gay became bffs. Michael Williams had the flu so was extra bitter. Heaven.

    2. Episode 1 Wuthering Loins. Teenage JByrne came out to play as she lusted after Heathcliff but Marieke was having none of her shit.

    3. Episode 11 An Extra 13 Stories of Hatred. Gorgi Coghlan possibly needed therapy after being forced through the classic text.

    4. Episode 12 The Sexy Plague. Ace and JByrne reckon plot doesn’t matter, mood matters… a mood so sexy you’d risk the plague to get a packet of frangers.

    5. Episode 5 A Titanorak By Any Other Name. Rosie Waterland lost her shit because she loves the Titanic so much.

    6… yeah, I broke my own rules. I’m a rebel. Episode 9 The Naked Elephant Returns. Marieke wants to join a whaling ship and BLaw’s ankles are completely naked.

    The Five Best Moments:

    1. In episode 7 Marieke Hardy called the characters in Gaudy Night a bunch of “disparaging biatches” and Virginia Gay in turn said maybe Marieke was the disparaging biatch. If you play it in slow motion you can see when Toni Jordan’s heart literally breaks as Marieke savages her favourite book.

    2. JByrne referenced BLaws ankles in episode 9 and how wild they had driven the viewers. She listens to us!!!

    3. In the very first episode of the season JByrne screamed, “but can you imagine having sex with him?” in regards to Wuthering Heights‘ Heathcliff. Marieke threw up in her mouth a little because she hated the book, apart from the vaguely amusing dog attacks. Meanwhile an erotic montage of all the actors who have played Heathcliff over the years, appeared above Virginia’s head to the soundtrack of Kate Bush’s famous track.

    4. Toni Jordan’s socks. Oh those heavenly socks. Toni Jordan had listened to what the people wanted, more ankle related coverage, and wore glorious library card socks in episode 11. She truly is the people’s panelist. I have even started a pinterest board dedicated to her ankles.

    5. Virginia Gay broke protocol in episode 7 and squealed “me to,” when Toni Jordan did the initial introduction to Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers. She was then locked under JByrne’s stairs and forced to wear muted footwear for daring to talk out of order, until the final episode. Worth it.

    6. Gorgi Coghlan said that Wake in Fright gave her an anxiety attack and she cursed JByrne for her ever having to read it. I love that a panelist was so affected by a book that they cursed JByrne’s holy name. You NEED to get her back on. Marieke said a book inducing an anxiety attack was high praise for the writing.

    The Five Best Books:

    1. The North Water by Ian McGuire. It made Marieke want to join a ship and stab someone.

    2. LaRose by Louise Erdrich. It was so good that Virginia Gay literally kissed the book. No tongue or anything. And such a gorgeous premise.

    3. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Not only did it challenge concepts of gender and humanity in the novel but it also carried on into the panelists’ real lives. It made them question how they thought about others and their own subconscious bias.

    4. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Hilarious tale about an out of place academic lecturing in history who ends up getting drunk and making a speech.  It’s fun, it’s witty, it’s just too good.

    5. “Arseholes at Night” by Kent Haruf. That’s what I heard when JByrne said the title. Apparently it’s actually Our Souls at Night. This book made Marieke cry.

    6. An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire. It made the male panelists go all #notallmen. Which means you know it must be quite challenging to patriarchal thinking and therefore a valuable read. We need to value the experiences of the “other.”

    The Five Best Guests:

    1. Virginia Gay. Actress extraordinaire and passionate book lover. She wasn’t afraid to say when she loved a book. Her looks of utter horror when fellow panelists didn’t share her passion were priceless.

    2. Michael Williams. Director of The Wheeler Centre. His snarky comments and insights into the book industry, and not just the books, were delicious.

    3. Toni Jordan. Novelist of goodness. In her first appearance of the season she was so sweet and loving. Marieke then crushed her soul. A new Toni returned, one that had built a whole new level of hatred and laughed at the cruelty inflicted on protagonists. Her character development was sublime. Someone should write a novel about it.

    4. C S Pacat. Fantasy author of the people and for the people. Brilliantly articulate.  Able to back up all her insights with reference to classic literature. She was like a modern day, gangster, Shakespeare.

    5. Margaret Pomeranz. She’s the queen. End of story.

    6. BLaws ankles. Oh myyyyyyyyy.

    The Five Best Future Guests:

    This is the bit where I get to go into the realm of fantasy and pretend I’m a producer.

    1. Walter Mason. Author of Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. Writing teacher. Inspirational guru of fabulosity. I would go watch this man clean his toenails because he would somehow make it interesting.

    2. I’m going to cheat. I’d like to see a father daughter combo. John and Kitty Flanagan. Yeah, I bet some of you were surprised that comedian Kitty wasn’t in my top 5 guests, I’ve cheated by putting her in here so I could get an extra extra one in that category. It was hard. I wanted to choose every guest. John Flanagan is the author of the extraordinarily popular Ranger’s Apprentice series for those wanting to know.

    3. Laura Jean McKay. An author who says muses aren’t dead because they never existed. She would no doubt say something controversial and funny.

    4. Speaking of funny, Steven Oliver. I can just imagine him responding to Jason’s analysis with, “What’s this then, Slut?” It needs to happen!

    5. Kaz Cooke. She knows what The Book Club ABC is all about, pyjamas and wine. She’d sit there in some glorious fluffy slippers, sipping away at a chardonnay and tell it like it is.

    6. Robin Elizabeth. In fact, fuck those other fucks. Me, me, me! Nobody knows more about reading on the toilet than me. Plus, you put up a clip of me asking you a question about Sally Morgan’s My Place last year. It was under my “real” name, Robin Riedstra. You said it was a good question, JByrne.

    “JENNIFER BYRNE: Actually, just like to drop in here. There’s a video comment which goes to that. Her name is Robin Riedstra and this is what she said.

    ROBIN RIEDSTRA: Hi, I’m Robin. When I first read Sally Morgan’s My Place I found it really accessible and it made me want to read more and more texts in that genre. But other people have criticised it as being too accessible and so that once people had read that they felt they knew the Indigenous story and didn’t need to read any more. What are your thoughts on the matter?

    JENNIFER BYRNE: I thought that was a really good question, actually. I mean, because you read it and… It’s got these three stories within the story of the mother and the grandmother and the grandmother’s brother, all of whom talk about how they were stolen from the family. And you read that and you feel that you’re across this idea.”

    See, I can be insightful, I just know I can do it again. You and me JByrne, all the way. Forget those other clowns. Pick me.

    Well, until the Christmas Special, I bid The Book Club ABC adieu. The rest of you can find me lurking around here on my blog. I’ll be doing Robinpedia entries for Australian authors who don’t  have Wikipedia entries yet. A fact I plan to remedy once I learn how to do the appropriate coding to create new pages with the correct layout and referencing. I’ve already experimented by adding a little to Virginia Gay and BLaw’s Wikipedia entries.


    See, I know real stuff too. I added the Calamity Jane stuff, not just “ape shit.”


    And do keep an eye out for the release of my book Confessions of a Mad Mooer which recaps my time in the psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression. I’ll blog about it closer to the release in December.

    Don’t you, forget about me.


    And yes. I’ll put out the recap of the season final soon… just let me finish crying first…. here it is.