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Good Reading Podcasts - Contemporary Fiction

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Laura Jean McKay on crafting a talking animal apocalypse in 'The Animals in That Country'

Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue.

As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals — first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin.

In this episode, Laura Jean McKay joins Max Lewis to chat about the process behind her apocalyptic/speculative fiction debut, and what animal she'd most like to talk to.

 


'Are some deceptions necessary?': Suzanne Leal on betrayal and family secrets in 'The Deceptions'

Prague, 1943. Taken from her home in Prague, Hana Lederova finds herself imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto of Theresienstadt, where she is forced to endure appalling deprivation and the imminent threat of transportation to the east. When she attracts the attention of the Czech gendarme who becomes her guard, Hana reluctantly accepts his advances, hoping for the protection she so desperately needs.

Sydney, 2010. Manipulated into a liaison with her married boss, Tessa knows she needs to end it, but how? Tessa's grandmother, Irena, also has something to hide. Harkening back to the Second World War, hers is a carefully kept secret that, if revealed, would send shockwaves well beyond her own fractured family.

In this episode, Suzanne Leal joins Max Lewis to share the true story of wartime betrayal that inspired the decade-spanning twists and turns of her latest novel, The Deceptions.

 

Below Deck by Sophie Hardcastle

 

Sophie Hardcastle on the colours of the sea and reclaiming your body Below Deck
 
Below Deck is the highly anticipated debut contemporary novel from author Sophie Hardcastle. A heartbreakingly poetic and haunting story about the vagaries of consent, about who has the space to speak and who is believed.

In this episode, Greg Dobbs chats to Sophie about the themes of consent and reclaiming the body, and how her Synesthesia influenced the novel's vivid prose.

 


 

Genevieve Gannon on the real case of an IVF mixup that inspired her family drama 'The Mothers' 

What if the baby you gave birth to belonged to someone else?

Grace and Dan are in their forties and have been on the IVF treadmill since the day they got married. Priya and her husband Nick are being treated at the same fertility clinic, and while they don't face the same pressure as the Ardens, the younger couple have their own problems.

A year on, one of the women learns her embryo was implanted in the other's uterus and must make a devastating choice: live a childless life knowing her son is being raised by strangers or seek custody of a baby who has been nurtured and loved by another couple.

Emma Harvey chatted to journalist and writer of The Mothers, Genevieve Gannon, about the real cases of IVF mixup that inspired her book, and how Australia's IVF policy stacks up with the rest of the world.


 

Heather Rose on sand, sunburn and building a bridge to Bruny

Award-winning author of The Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose, is a sixth-generation Tasmanian. In this episode, Emma Harvey sits down with Heather to talk about the importance of engaging with those we disagree with, how she learned to rid ego and romanticism from her craft, and why her explosive new satire Bruny is proving more prophetic by the day.


The Tiger Catcher Paullina Simons

 

Paullina Simons: 'This isn't a romance. It's a love story.'

Paullina Simons fans have been waiting in eager anticipation for another book from the prolific and internationally bestselling author of the Tatiana and Alexander series. Now she’s rolling out three at once.

In this episode, hosted by Emma Harvey, Paullina shares memories of growing up in Leningrad, drinking raspberry moonshine, and challenging readers' expectations in her genre-defying new trilogy, The End of Forever series.

 


While You Were Reading

 

Melbourne co-authors Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus have never had an argument

Last year, Melbourne co-authors Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus enchanted readers everywhere with their hilarious debut rom-com 'The Book Ninja'. Now the powerpair are back to chat about their new book, 'While You Were Reading,' a warm and witty tale of friendship, first dates and beloved second-hand books.

In this episode, Ali and Michelle talk to gr's Emma Harvey about balancing friendship with co-authorship, sharing a Kindle account, and sneaking their new novel onto Melbourne's public transport.


 The Warming by Craig Ensor

Craig Ensor's literary love story set in an Australia ravaged by climate change

 Two hundred years from now, people are migrating en masse to the poles to escape soaring temperatures. Fifteen-year-old Finch lives with his father in a near-deserted coasted town south of Sydney. Soon they must follow the great migration south, but before they go, a newly arrived couple become a point of infatuation for young Finch.

 Craig Ensor's The Warming is a beautifully written story about love and migration, set in an overheated world we could very well be heading towards. The author joins Angus Dalton.

Crossings by Alex Landragin

 

ALEX LANDRAGIN didn’t write the most daring debut novel in decades – he stole it 

Crossings, the novel billed as the most daring debut in decades, is made up of three compelling stories: a letter written by lyric poet Charles Baudelaire to an illiterate young girl, a noir romance story in wartime Paris that begins in a graveyard and a tale about a woman with paranormal powers. They all weave together to create a stunningly imaginative story about seven lifetimes and two souls.

Author Alex Landragin joins Angus Dalton to tell us about his travel writing days in Africa, how he 'stole' this stunning story, and why literature is 'a form of recorded empathy’.

 

 

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

 

MARKUS ZUSAK: 'We are all made of stories'

In Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, there are five Dunbar brothers living a chaotic suburban existence alongside a border collie, a cat, a pigeon, a mule and a furious goldfish named after the King of Men. Their father, the Murderer, has fled, and their mother, the Mistake Maker, is dead.

The Book Thief author joins Angus Dalton to talk about the decade it took to write Bridge of Clay, his reverence for books, and the stories that have made him.


 

The Time is Now, Monica Sparrow

 

Matt Howard's accidental life in books

Now the author of four novels who works in one of Australia's biggest publishing houses among blockbuster titles like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Boy Swallows Universe, Matt Howard never planned to make a life surrounded by books.

In this episode of the Good Reading podcast, Angus Dalton pays a visit to Matt's office to talk about his latest novel, The Time is Now Monica Sparrow, which centres on an aspiring writer, an accidental death, and a guy who takes Marie Kondo way too seriously.

 


 

Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty

 

JACLYN MORIARTY: 'I think I'm a bit hopeless at life'

In her first book for adults since 2004, Gravity is the Thing, treasured children's author Jaclyn Moriarty writes about a mysterious self-help book called 'The Guidebook' that is sent to selected mailboxes one chapter at a time.

Jaclyn joins Angus Dalton in this episode to talk about getting sucked in to self-help, why she would like an external committee to be in control of her life, and why she has a bone to pick with her sister, Liane Moriarty.

 

 


 

The War Artist by Simon Cleary

 

SIMON CLEARY on the artistry of tattoos and Australia's longest war

As a writer, Simon Cleary brings art and creativity up alongside experiences of war. In his latest novel, The War Artist, a Brigadier called James Phelan escorts the body of a young soldier home from Afghanistan. Struggling to adapt back to civilian life, an encounter with a tattoo artist named Kira changes Phelan permanently - both inside and out.

Simon joined Angus Dalton to talk about the legacy of the Afghanistan War, PTSD, and the significance of tattoos in this episode of the Good Reading Podcast.


 

 Islands by Peggy Frew

PEGGY FREW on the novel she began as a teenager

Peggy Frew's Hope Farm was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Stella Prize. The Melbourne writer and ARIA Award-winning musician is back with Islands, a novel about a family in crisis that covers many generations, viewpoints and timelines.

In this episode, Peggy tells Angus Dalton about creative doubt, running into the ocean in her undies, and 'the big, enormous, sprawling mess' of family.

 

 

 


 

 JENNIFER SPENCE on slipping back into your own past

If given the chance, would you adjust the past to avoid a terrible tragedy in the future? And if you went back in time 20 years and tracked down a younger version of yourself, what kind of person would you find?

These questions are central to Jennifer Spence's new novel, The Lost Girls. Stella slips back in time to 1997 and must disguise herself in the past, resist changing her family's fate, and attempt to get back to the present.

We spoke to the author about time travel, the innocence of 1997, and gleaning writing advice from a famous parable.


 

The Girl on the Page by John Purcell 

JOHN PURCELL 'I always thought books were deadly, deadly boring.'

For a guy who once thought that books were excruciatingly tedious, John Purcell has made quite the career from selling, reading, and writing them. He opened his own secondhand bookshop in his 20s, wrote a trilogy of bestselling erotica novels, and is now the Head of Books at Australian online bookshop, Booktopia. As part of that job, he's quizzed over a thousand of the world's brightest, bestselling writers.

Here John tells Angus Dalton about his oddball bookshop customers, how Catch-22 and 50 Shades of Grey kicked off his career as a published writer, and his satirical, sexy new novel, The Girl on the Page.


 

Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby

 

 

HOLLY THROSBY on why a book tour trumps a music tour

Singer-songwriter HOLLY THROSBY took Aussie fiction lovers by storm in 2016 with her debut novel, Goodwood. Her latest book, Cedar Valley, came to form because she couldn't quite leave the world of her first book.

Here Holly talks to Emma Harvey about quintessential Australian 'dagginess', Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and why a book tour is a hell of a lot better (though slightly less rock and roll) than a music tour.