The Books You Read At School

Ask anyone who, like me, was a kid in Australia the 1970s, “What were the books you read at school?” and we’re likely to recall at least three novels. There may be more, but for me, these three are the classics, the ones I had to read, analyse and write essays on in English. And, in their different ways, they left a deep impression on me. Perhaps that’s why I still have copies of them in my bookcase – though none are school days’ originals! Continue ReadingThe Books You Read At School

Large Print Editions

After watching the movie versions of Their Finest by Lissa Evans and The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, I was pleased to track down the books in my local library. The librarian, however, quizzed me with an arched eyebrow, “They are large print editions, is that okay?” Continue ReadingLarge Print Editions

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

As the idiom says, you should never judge a book by its cover (though this book’s cover with the dog would catch my eye in a bookshop). But I’ve found the first sentence to be a fair judge of whether or not I’ll enjoy a novel:  “I could smell him – or rather the booze on his breath – before he even opened the door, but my sense of smell is pretty good, probably better than yours.” Continue ReadingDog On It by Spencer Quinn

We Need to Talk (microfiction)

To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The “@Meanjin Twiction” rules were simple, tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280! The prize? The top ten stories to be published on the Meanjin Blog the following week and the authors paid $1 a word.  Continue ReadingWe Need to Talk (microfiction)

Their Finest by Lissa Evans

It was a warm, lazy afternoon at home last Sunday and I took advantage of it to sprawl on my sofa and finish reading Their Finest by Lissa Evans (originally published as Their Finest Hour and a Half). 

I started reading the book after seeing the film, also titled Their Finest, a British period comedy-drama about the making of a propaganda film and life on the home front under The Blitz during the Second World War.   Continue ReadingTheir Finest by Lissa Evans

Signed Stark by Ben Elton


I recently attended a special screening of Three Summers, which had a Q&A session with the writer/director, Ben Elton. I have loved his work since seeing him on TV in England in the 1980s. And I love his writing, from his first novel, Stark (1989), through to his most recent, Time and Time Again (2014). So it was a great privilege to meet Ben in person after the Q&A and for him to sign my yellowed copy of Stark, 30 years after I first fell in love with his work!  Continue ReadingSigned Stark by Ben Elton

Days of Gentle Rejections


In these days of instant gratification via the web, emails and social media, it’s hard to believe once upon a time wanna-be writers would type and print their manuscripts in double-line spacing, post them to publishers with a reply-paid, self-addressed-envelope, and then wait … and wait … and wait, for an offer to publish or, more often than not, a rejection letter. Continue ReadingDays of Gentle Rejections

Their Finest


I watched Their Finest (distributed by Transmission Films) the other night. In many ways, it’s a typical British period comedy-drama about the making of a propaganda film and life on the home front during World War II. But it had an interesting and modern take on the role of women in society and their contribution to the war effort.  Continue ReadingTheir Finest