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We spoke to Stella shortlisted author CATHERINE DE SAINT PHALLE about The Sea and Us, a mesmerising new novel in which trauma, loss and heartache play out against the backdrop of a local fish and chip shop.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • If you set out to write a thriller, you’re going to have to do some research. And while your story will be fiction, you’ll probably uncover more than a few fascinating real-world facts, as Australian thriller author L A LARKIN discovered while researching for her latest novel, Devour. Read on >
  • Marine biologist SHANNON LEONE FOWLER was embracing her fiancé, Sean, in the ocean off the coast of Thailand when a box jellyfish stung and killed him.Thai authorities tried to dismiss his death as a drunk drowning. Traveling with Ghosts follows the months Shannon spent on a strange trajectory through Eastern Europe, fleeing from the ocean and from grief. She tells us how her memoir came to be, 14 years after Sean’s death. Read on >
  • The jazz era of the 1920s in America was
 filled with exuberant music, fast cars and young men and women determined to have a good time. But at the same time in working-class Far North Queensland, life wasn’t lived at quite the same level of opulence.
In a new novel, Treading Air, Queensland author ARIELLA VAN LUYN uses fiction to investigate the life of a real young woman from Townsville named Lizzie O’Dea, who shot another woman in 1924. Read on >
  • The stories of SUSAN PERABO have been likened to the work of George Saunders and Raymond Carver. Her latest novel, The Fall of Lisa Bellow, kicks off when school student Meredith is kidnapped together with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow. Meredith is set free – but Lisa remains. We asked Susan to tell us about short stories versus novels, her love of baseball and writing advice she has received. Read on >
  • Serious social issues, including the plight of unwed mothers, domestic violence and the place of women in Australia's history are wrapped up in poignant romace in VICTORIA PURMAN's new novel, The Three Miss Allens. She spekas with MAUREEN EPPEN about the inspiration behind the family saga set on the South Australian coast. Read on >
  • American author and hairdresser DEBORAH RODRIGUEZ lived in the Afghan capital of Kabul for five years, and in that time she founded her own beauty salon and coffee shop. On her return to the US, she wrote a bestselling novel based on the bustling cafe, and now she’s taking us back to Afghanistan in Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. ANGUS DALTON reports. Read on >
  • Meet the author who won the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year 2015, and find out about her latest title, The Art of Keeping Secrets. Read on >
  • A Melbourne woman proud of her 7000-year-old Persian heritage shines a light on family violence in a memoir covering three generations. SOHILA ZANJANI, author of Scattered Pearls, speaks with JENNIFER SOMERVILLE. Read on >
  • Church attendance has been plummeting for decades, yet enrolments for church-based schools are soaring. Nearly all non-churchgoers say that they like having a church in their suburb – although they never go inside it. Leading social researcher HUGH MACKAY takes a look at our contradictory attitudes to religion in his new book, Beyond Belief. In this article, Hugh recounts a part of his own spiritual journey and how he came to write the book. Read on >
  • After reading a few thrillers lately I got to thinking about writers in the crime and thriller genres and the research they need to do to make their books seem real. Research can be an exciting part of writing any book. Determining how a killer might think and how their victim could become entrapped is one thing, but I can’t imagine looking at dead people or reading detailed reports of the methods that serial killers use to stalk and murder their prey.That’s the sort of awful stuff police deal with and psychologically struggle with for the rest of their lives. But could even researching this sort of thing affect a writer?  Read on >
  • Think of the typical problem drinker, and we usually imagine alcoholics, drink-drivers, underage drinkers and the perpetrators of one-punch attacks. The brother of Brisbane writer ELSPETH MUIR was none of these things. But three days after a heavy night of drinking, he was found dead in the Brisbane River – his blood alcohol level was 0.25 at his time of death. Elspeth tells us about her memoir, Wasted, an investigation into Australia’s drinking culture, and what might have been done to prevent Alexander’s death.  Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This is a wonderful novel, both uplifting and heartbreaking. The uncompromising, relentless Mallee is as vivid a character as the people. The hard slog of farm life, the insularity of small communities, the beauty of art and its ability to inspire hope in dark times and the resilience of people in the face of tragedy are all woven together into an unforgettable story. Read on >

  • Ten Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It’s one of the saddest, but one of the most uplifting, and certainly the most human. It’s also been shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, if you needed any further indication you should definitely read this book. It’s chock-full of gorgeous imagery that flows from page to page, never once losing focus. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is a book I’ll recommend to everyone until I die. It’s one of the few I’d describe as a ‘perfect’ book. Read on >

  • Reading this novel is like following an intricate pattern for macramé. Not only is it a story based on the research the author carried out for her own Doctorate of Creative Arts; but her main character, Olivia Wells, is portrayed as carrying out research for her thesis, based on a mid-20th century writer, Gloria Graham, who lived in Brisbane during WWII. Read on >

  • England in 1348 is a very different place. Class distinction is absolutely defined, and the classes do not mix, unless by necessity or accident. In this novel we have three very different characters: a young Scottish gentlewoman who is determined to flee an arranged marriage to an older man that is not who she wants; a Scottish proctor who sees things perhaps too clearly and who needs to return to his home in Avignon; and a young ploughman who is seeking adventure and advancement of his skills by joining a company of archers in France. Overshadowing their earthly concerns is the Black Death. Read on >

  • The author, a barrister with many awards as a writer, ensures Stephen Maserov has the skills, the guile and the determination to take on the challenges thrown at him. Uncovering corporate corruption and finalising sexual harassment claims are tempered by humour, surprises and fascinating personalities. Read on >

  • This novel should come with a small warning. For readers living with someone who has dementia, it may prove a little close for comfort; but for others it will be a satisfying love story. Evelyn Parker has lived aboard an ocean liner with her husband, a retired ship’s doctor, for 20 years; and before that spent many years travelling the world with him on various ships. When she steps onto the liner after its regular turnaround, it is her 662nd cruise aboard that ship, with her cabin full of mementos from years of cruising. But Evelyn seems to have misplaced Henry, her husband. It becomes obvious that she is not just eccentric, but confused; and has major memory problems. Read on >

  • It’s the story of a little caterpillar who hides inside a beautiful cocoon and a hungry kookaburra waiting for him to come out. What a surprise when he sees a handsome butterfly. No wonder he starts laughing. Read on >

  • Chihiro Takeuchi has written and illustrated this little book which is, as the title suggests, full of animals. But it’s not your normal animal book. It’s a search-and-find book. Read on >

  • This is one of the funniest picture books I’ve read in quite a while. How Nicki Greenberg decided to portray Miss Kraken the way she does is pure genius. And those naughty children’s faces say it all. My smile stayed around right to the very last page where it even got wider. Read on >

  • Henry’s moved house and now lives 2003 kilometres away from his Grandpa. Henry’s missing his Grandpa but they write to each other constantly. Henry’s letters are full of the exciting new things he is discovering: new scientific facts about blue whales and the 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. But he still misses his Grandpa’s goodnight kiss. Every page in this picture book is a delight. And, of course, like all good picture books, the illustrations fill in so much more of the story. Read on >

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Books for Boys