A Short History of Stupid by Bernard Keane and Helen Razer (this is non-fiction, I've been reading a chapter at a time over the past few weeks), Yrsa Sigurdardottir's Silence of the Sea and Arthur Upfield's Wings Above the Diamantina (although to be truthful this is on my phone as it's an audio book but the phone occasionally rests on my nightstand).
Who is your favourite novelist of all times?
I don't have one. I'm 47 - far too old and with far too many books under my belt now to have just one favourite.
What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
I imagine different people would be surprised by different books.
Last year I was a judge for Australia's Ned Kelly Awards and when I'd finished with the large pile of books I took them into my office and left them in the tea room with a 'help yourself' sign. People kept stopping me to exclaim that they'd never pictured me as a reader of that sort of thing (most of these comments were at least mildly derisive though the process did reveal a fellow devotee of the genre and we now share recommendations and swap books with much enjoyment).
Conversely the people who know me from my blogs - where I talk about crime fiction almost exclusively - might be surprised to see the historical fiction that doesn't involve murder or the entire shelf devoted to non-fiction books about religion and its troubled history and place in our world.
A recent houseguest was astonished to find a non-fiction book about sports on my shelves. I am (in a very un-Australian way) not very interested in sports at all so the fact a well-read copy of Keith Miles’ Not for Glory, Not for Gold has a place on my shelves is legitimately surprising. It's the story of the athletes who strove to be the first to run a mile in under four minutes. I don't remember where I picked it up but I do remember being utterly captivated by it.
Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Again it feels almost sacrilegious to have just one. But perhaps I can talk about one who represents the type of hero I am drawn to. Thea Farmer is the octogenarian star of The Precipice by Australian author Virginia Duigan. As the book opens the global financial crisis has caused Thea to have to sell the dream home she has built but not yet moved into and to make matters worse she must live in 'the hovel' next door and watch her new neighbours live her dream. In my review of the book I described her like this
She is reclusive, opinionated, proud, distant and is disenchanted with her fellow humans as a species. She is also independent, a loyal friend and a woman of action. As the story opens she is bitterly disappointed, bereft almost, at the loss of her dream and all it represented. And yet she gets on with the graft of living. No breakdowns or wallowing in self-pity for her.
Thea is my kind of hero.
What book do you return to?
Probably the books I have returned to most often over the course of my life are Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (both read for the first time the year I turned 13 but I don't know if that is significant in terms of my development or purely coincidental). Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders is a frequent return visitor to my nightstand too. I tend not to re-read crime fiction though Ken Bruen's The Dramatist and Adrian Hyland's Gunshot Road are exceptions. Both authors write like poets.
I’ve been reading avidly for as long as I can remember, blathering about the subject since late 2008 at Reactions to Reading and am co-host of Fair Dinkum Crime, a site devoted to promoting and discussing Australian crime fiction. I have twice been a judge for one of our national crime fiction awards and for the last three years I’ve been one of a team of coordinators for the Australian Women Writers Challenge which aims to get people reading and reviewing books written by Australian female authors.