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Good Reading Podcasts - Contemporary Fiction

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'Mistakes come from vulnerability' - Katie McMahon on her salacious debut, The Mistake

Bec and Kate are sisters, but they couldn’t be less alike. Bec lives the domestic dream with her surgeon husband Stuart and three perfect children. So why is she so attracted to free-spirited Ryan? Kate’s life is hardly a dream. But when she meets Adam – tall, kind, funny – things start looking up. Until she finds out he’s been keeping secrets from her.

Then there is the incident both sisters are desperate to ignore…

Will they discover that some mistakes can’t be put right?

In this episode, Max Lewis joins debut author Katie McMahon to chat about her suburban thriller The Mistake.

Susan Johnson on unlikely friendships in From Where I Fell

Susan Johnson exposes the truths and deceptions in relationships amid a blossoming online friendship between two women in 'From Where I Fell'.

Pamela and Christhani live on different continents, but through a series of email exchanges the two women begin sharing the stories of their lives. Although temperamental opposites they soon establish a connection based on the common ground of grief, loss and new beginnings. 'From Where I Fell' is a funny and endearing story of how unlikely friendships can be the catalyst for deep reflection, new directions and confronting the past.

In this episode. Gregory Dobbs chats to Susan Johnson about the what inspired her to recast the epistolary novel in contemporary form and the overlap between fiction and non-fiction.


Gretel Killeen on the highs and lows of mother-daughter love in My Daughter's Wedding

Nora Fawn's daughter Hope disappeared four years ago and only maintained contact through her big sister Joy. But last night Hope rang Nora to say, 'I'm coming home, I'm getting married, the wedding is in three weeks and it's your job to organise it.'

Desperate to regain her daughter's love and prove her worth as a mother Nora accepts the challenge. Through the medium of a discarded diary, Nora plots the hilarious and emotional journey to redemption through the rocky terrain of mother-daughter relationships and a wedding to end all weddings.

In this episode Gregory Dobbs chats to Gretel Killeen about the confounding complexity of mother-daughter love across three generations.

Madeleine Ryan on autism, self love, and her introspective debut A Room Called Earth

A young woman gets ready to go to a party. She arrives, feels overwhelmed, leaves, and then returns. Minutely attuned to the people who come into her view, and alternating between alienation and profound connection, she is hilarious, self-aware, sometimes acerbic, and always honest.

And by the end of the night, she’s shown us something radical about love, loss, and the need to belong.

In this episode, filmmaker and writer Madeleine Ryan joins Max Lewis to chat about her prismatic debut A Room Called Earth.


Kate Mildenhall talks dystopia, motherhood & the sailing trip of a lifetime in The Mother Fault

Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them ‘safe’.But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.

Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead. From the stark backroads of the Australian outback to a terrifying sea voyage, Mim is forced to shuck off who she was – mother, daughter, wife, sister – and become the woman she needs to be to save her family and herself.

In this episode, Kate Mildenhall joins Max Lewis to chat about living in an almost-dystopia while writing 'The Mother Fault', the influences of her own motherhood on her writing, and almost dying while researching for the book.



S L Lim on desire, art and the power of resistance in Revenge: Murder in three parts

A family favour their son over their daughter ... Shan attends university before making his fortune in Australia while Yannie must find menial employment and care for her ageing parents. After her mother’s death, Yannie travels to Sydney to become enmeshed in her psychopathic brother’s new life, which she seeks to undermine from within …

Revenge is a novel that rages against capitalism, hetero-supremacy, mothers, fathers, families – the whole damn thing. It’s about what happens when you want to make art but are born in the wrong time and place. S L Lim brings to vivid life the frustrations of a talented daughter and vengeful sister in a nuanced and riveting novel that ends in the most unexpected way. It will not be easily forgotten.

In this episode Max Lewis joins S L Lim to talk the fiery follow up to 'Real Differences', the 'grubby compromises' we make in order to create art, and the inspiring work of the brit-pop band Pulp.


Rose Carlyle on exciting twists and evil twins

Beautiful twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of open-hearted Summer's seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband, Adam. Called to Thailand to help sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes.

Now is her chance to take what she's always wanted - the idyllic life she's always coveted. But just how far will she go to get the life she's dreamed about? And how will she make sure no one discovers the truth?

Written with the chilling suspense of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go to Sleep, The Girl in the Mirror is an addictive thriller about greed, lust, secrets and deadly lies.

In this episode, Rose joins Erin Christie to discuss what it's been like writing her first novel and releasing it during a pandemic, and how it was to create a family of siblings who share an intense rivalry, despite the lovely and supportive relationship she shares with her own sister.


AUGUST BOOK CLUB - A chat with Charlotte McConaghy

How far you would you go for love? Franny Stone is determined to go to the end of the earth, following the last of the Arctic terns on what may be their final migration to Antarctica.

As animal populations plummet and commercial fishing faces prohibition, Franny talks her way onto one of the few remaining boats heading south. But as she and the eccentric crew travel further from shore and safety, the dark secrets of Franny’s life begin to unspool. A daughter’s yearning search for her mother. An impulsive, passionate marriage. A shocking crime. Haunted by love and violence, Franny must confront what she is really running towards – and from.

In this episode, Erin Christie speaks to Charlotte McConaghy about The Last Migration - and the incredible amount of research that went into it - launching a book in a pandemic, and leaning into the climate crisis.


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.