Category Archives: The Co-op Book Podcast

Todd Alexander

Todd Alexander – Tom Houghton – Podcast

Todd Alexander discusses his latest book Tom Houghton with the Co-op chat.

Todd Alexander discusses his latest book Tom Houghton. So who is Tom Houghton? As a boy growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Tom Houghton escapes the harshness of the schoolyard by cocooning himself in the cinema of the golden age of Hollywood. When he discovers that his favourite actress, Katharine Hepburn, modelled herself on her brother, Thomas Houghton Hepburn, Tom sinks deeper into his fantasy life. Determined to reveal his true identity to the world, Tom is propelled on a torturous path with disastrous consequences…
www.coop.com.au/tom-houghton/alex…odd/9781925184556


Rob:
Back talking to Todd Alexander to the Co-Op Chat. Hello, Todd.

 

Todd:
Hi, Rob. Thanks for having me.

 

Rob:
Todd, it’s a sense of deja vu interviewing you because we’ve both been in the book industry, and been across various things together, but you’ve done various things in the book industry, from a bookseller to a nonfiction author, and of course your latest book, Tom Houghton. Is it interesting to go across different areas of bookselling?

 

Todd:
Absolutely, it’s really informed my career. When you sit down to write a book, it’s a very creative process, beginning to end. That’s all you, and it’s all just words coming out on paper, but then when you actually start thinking about who to pitch it to, whether it has a sales angle, et cetera, having experience in the book industry really informs the next part of the process. I think it’s tiered me up quite well from finishing something to then getting it out there. It’s been really helpful.

 

Rob:
Tom Houghton is your second fiction book. Who is Tom Houghton?

 

Todd:
Tom Houghton is a 12-year-old boy growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, and he’s a bit of a different kid. He’s pretty obsessed with films, the golden age of Hollywood films, and he really likes to immerse himself in that escapism of film. He comes from a broken family, so it’s a bit of a rough past in their family, and because he’s a bit of a different kid, when he goes to school, he is a natural target of the bullies at school. He deals with this fantasy life at home where everything is cocooned and lovely, and then the brutal harsh reality of what’s happening to him at school. 


It’s how those two clashing, which really creates his character, but the book is also about Tom the 40-year-old, who’s a bit of a prickly guy. He’s pretty self-destructive, not the most committed of friends in the world, and I really set about creating a character that was going to be a challenge for people to get to like, but I wanted to show that what happened to him as a child has contributed to what kind of character he turned into, and hold that up to the reader and go, “Rather than be quick to judge who he is as a man, have a think about his history and see how that impacts your feelings towards him.”

 

Rob:
Do you think there’s an age where you have to reexamine your childhood?

 

Todd:

I think for all of us, it’s constant reexamining. I think through out your daily life, things pop up that remind you of something that happened in childhood. You might see someone who reminds you of someone or is actually from your past. I think there is a constant reexamining. The question for me is how many of us have let go of childhood in the sense that maybe trauma happened, and it’s no longer impacting you, and how many of us are still living a life where we haven’t dealt with things that happened to us in our childhood? It’s certainly different for different people, but I think we’d be crazy to let go of our childhood years altogether, because they absolutely have informed who we are as adults. I think to a large degree, they’re keys in understanding who we are, and being better people.

Rob:
A lot of bullying in your book. How did that come about? Why do you think?

 

Todd:
I didn’t deliberately set out with the theme of bullying. I came up with the idea of Tom the character first, and Tom, because of his differentness, and because of his determination to live a more exciting life, he really thinks that his identity is destined for something great. I suppose that is an outcome of all of the mediocrity around him, but his differentness makes him a natural target, as I said. I think if I was to explore the character and only showed his home life, it would be a pretty biased view of what kind of life he was living. 


When I started thinking about a 12-year-old boy in the western suburbs who is a big caught up in the fantasy world of film and actors and magazines and all those kind of things, it was almost inevitable that his peers would turn on him and single him out as being different. That’s I guess the challenging thing about bullying, is that the person who bullies is doing it for a reason, and sometimes we’ll never know why that’s the case, but one of my theories is that people hide behind bulling. There could be some really bad stuff going on at home, or you might have a few insecurities of your own. 


The best way to hide behind that is to put someone else down for theirs, so that’s how that evolved the young Tom scenes. Bullying was pretty central into shaping who he was as a child, and therefore informed who he was as an adult.

 

Rob:
How much of you is in Tom?

 

Todd:

A bit. It’s certainly not autobiographical. I liked film as a kid. I didn’t need film to escape any of the realities of life. I probably watched more films than the average kid because I just really enjoyed the art form and different actors and different directors, but when I started writing the book and the bullying things started evolving, I was reminded of quite a few kids that I went to school with who were really severely bullied. I was picked on at school. In those days, we were just taught that it was teasing, and to get over it, and to develop a thicker skin, but I remember a really good week for me was getting to Friday and not having anyone pick on me from Monday to Friday, and think, “Hey, that was a really good week.” 


It was very, very rare that that continued much into the second week. Every five, six, four days, I was generally singled out, but I think that’s where the similarities end. This isn’t a book about me, it’s a book about someone who’s quite different to me, and I never really escaped into a world of fantasy. I always knew what I wanted to do and where I was going, and if people picked on me, then I always felt that there was a pretty firm path, a direction for me to follow to get out of it. The oldest scenes of Tom, you know we’ve all been a bit self-destructive. Certainly in our 20s and early 30s, I think most of us go through that invincible period, and we don’t really think about the consequences of our behaviour. 


I’m certainly not the adult Tom, and anyone who knows me would tell you that there aren’t many similarities between us.

Rob:
You heard it here first in the Co-Op Chat. Now, one of the major relationships Tom has in the book is with Hannah. Tell me about their relationship.

 

Todd:
Hannah and Tom met at university, fresh out of school, when both of them felt a little directionless. They were studying degrees but weren’t necessarily setting them up on a straight career path, and they discovered each other when Tom was feeling a little bruised and fragile, and taking life a bit too seriously. Hannah’s a real pragmatist. She’s straight to the point, and Tom really liked that. I guess what’s bonded them together throughout their whole life, they’ve known each other nearly 20 years or so, is that Hannah has always been straight to the point with Tom. She doesn’t beat around the bush. 


She’s quite happy to point out his flaws, but at the same time, she loves him for who he is, so it doesn’t expect that he’s to change. I think with Tom being an actor in his adult life, he’d be surrounded by superficiality nearly day in, day out and people who may want to get to know him for advancing their own careers, but Hannah is not like that. Hannah just holds the mirror up to Tom and says, “This is the brutal reality, so what are you going to do about it? I’m not going to stand for any of your shit.” I think he likes that.

 

Rob:
There’s been some comparisons made with you and Kristoff Socos. Tell me how does that feel?

 

Todd:
Flattery is the first word that springs to mind. He’s an awesome writer, and I’ve read most of his work, and I think for me, if people are comparing us, I would like to think it’s about the brutal honesty in our work. I wanted to present characters and a slice of life without sugarcoating any of it. Some people have faced great adversity, and there are some pretty ugly Australians out there, and I do want to shy away from those characters, much like Kristoff’s never does. I didn’t want to censor myself. I didn’t want to censor my characters, either. I think that’s probably where people are drawing the similarities between Kristoff and I, and I like that about his writing. 


I just like that not all of his characters are lovable, but I like that his writing holds the mirror up to the reader so that we critically assess our own lives and character.

 

Rob:
As you know, a lot of our audience are either at university or about to finish university. What was uni like for you?

 

Todd:

Very different to school. It was almost a revelation. I worked really hard in the HAC. I studied my guts out, and I would spend my weekends inside memorizing essays, etcetera. When I got to university, I said, “I’m not going to work my guts out as severely as that.” The other revelation for me is that there was just everyone accepted everyone else at face value. There wasn’t teasing, there wasn’t bullying. Everyone was just there to sort out the next phase of their life. I really loved university. I studied arts and law. It’s weird, I knew I wasn’t going to be a lawyer almost from day one. It just wasn’t the right career for me, but I loved what the degree did and how it challenged my mind. 


I wouldn’t trade those years. I was there at uni for five years, but I think a lot of people are at uni saying, “I don’t know what my next step’s going to be.” I think that’s quite all right, and I certainly wouldn’t relive my uni years going, “Right, on day one I’m going to be doing this when I live, after five years.” I think it’s quite okay to let those years unfurl before you, and then make your next decision after that.

Rob:
Tell me about writing for fiction versus nonfiction.

 

Todd:
They’re quite different processes for me. Nonfiction is a very structured, almost chapter by chapter, subheading by subheading breakdown of information. There’s a certain amount of information that has to be included in the book. There’s a certain amount of information that you have to go into great detail, and there’s a language. If I’m writing books about using certain websites, there’s a language that I need to use to make sure people can follow it, and so it has to be quite methodical. For me, writing fiction’s the complete opposite. I sit down, and I start on page one, and I finish on page whatever, and I never, ever interrupt that flow. 


I have to write chronologically, and it’s a pure escapism for me. I don’t really censormyself during those early drafts. I just let all the writing come out, and it’s a great escape. I can sit down and write, and then after a few hours go, “I can’t believe I’ve been sitting on my desk for three or four hours,” whereas nonfiction is more like crossing points off a checklist and making sure they were all included.

 

Rob:
What’s plan next?

 

Todd:
I’m working on another novel. I never say never, but I’m not sure that nonfiction and writing Internet guides is where my future lies. I no longer work in the ecommerce world, so I would like to continue writing fiction. I’ve just started the next one. My characters are pretty well = formed in my head. I don’t know if you’re aware, but I run a property in the Hunter Valley, so I have a lot of tractor time, and sitting on a tractor is where I do a lot of my character development when I’m just going up and down the rows, or mowing, or something like that. Characters are very strong, and I’ve got the sense of the plot, and I’ve also got the next idea after that, which involves a bit of research. 


I’ve just started laying out how to get that research done.

 

Rob:
You heard it here first on the Co-Op Chat. Could be a rural romance.

 

Todd:
No, it won’t be. Love’s a very important part of a lot of my work, but no, won’t be rural romance.

 

Rob:

Good. I’d like to thank Todd for joining us on the Co-Op Chat, and we look forward to grabbing a copy of Tom Houghton from the Co-Op Store or online, and seeing what comes next.

Todd:
Great. Thanks very much.
Tim Baker

Tim Baker – Fever City – Podcast

Tim Baker speaks to the Co-op Chat about his latest novel, Fever City.


If you took James Ellroy at his most imaginative and Oliver Stone at his most conspiratorial, and mixed them up in a supersized martini shaker, you would produce the vivid writing, explosive events, and irresistible entertainment of Fever City. Violent, vivid, visceral: Fever City is a high-octane, nightmare journey through a Mad Men-era America of dark powers, corruption and conspiracy.

Tim Baker has lived in Rome and Madrid before moving to Paris, where he wrote about jazz. He later ran consular operations in France and North Africa for the Australian embassy, liaising with international authorities on cases involving murder, kidnap, terrorism and disappearances. He has worked on film projects in India, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and China and currently lives in the South of France with his wife, their son, and two rescue animals, a dog and a cat. www.coop.com.au/fever-city/9780571323852


Speaker 1:
You are listening to the coop book podcast.

 

Rob:
I would like to welcome Tim Buckley to the coop Ted. Hello Tim.

 

Tim:
Hi Rob thanks for having me.

 

Rob:
The pleasure and now Tim through the wonders of [Monte 00:00:26] technologies is actually and friends. Where exactly are you and friends Tim?

 

Tim:
I’m in a little coastal village in between [nice 00:00:32] and Monaco and the French Riviera.

 

Rob:
As an Australian by birth anyway it’s not too unfamiliar is it?

 

Tim:
No not all. In fact there’s a lot Australian vegetation here there’s no food pantries and eucalyptus trees and if we believe and got some cockatoos that escape from the local zoo so it feels just like home.

 

Rob:
We are not here to talk about the wonders of Southern France. Your [deadly 00:01:00] novel favourite city has just been released. Tell us a bit about it.

 

Tim:
Sure I will be happy to. It’s a thriller and at the heart of the book are three mysteries. The first is in 1960 and it concerns the kidnapping of the only son of Americas richest and most hated man. The second mystery concerns who was conspiring to assassinate JFK. Then the third mystery is certain the modern day. It’s about a journalist who is investigating the assassination of JFK and who begins to suspect that his father may have been involved.

 

Rob:
Now I’m one of the lucky few who’s had a preview copy. I’m midway through it. All I can say to the readers out there think first pace. Think James Elroy. I’m not the first one to make that comparison. Is that a style that you like to follow?

 

Tim:
Yes didn’t specifically set out to write in the style of James Elroy. I knew there would be comparisons when I decided to set the first segment of the story. The kidnapping in Elay in 1960. It’s a period that Elroy has already dealt with. I wanted to explore it more. I wanted to create perhaps a lasher even if possible darker style that Elroy.

 

Rob:
What attracted you to setting in in the 60’s.

 

Tim:
I think all of us have an affinity with a certain period of time. For me it’s been 1944 the liberation of Paris. Up until the early 1970’s with water gate and also with the Zodiac killings. 1960 was smack bang in the middle of that period that I really loved. Of course there was a lot of social, cultural and political changes going on right there. It was also the end of colonization in the world. It was a pivotal moment. I had originally set the story in New York. I went to Elay to accept an award for screenplay I had written. I felt in love with the city. I had an epiphany. I knew I had to set the story in Ely. There’s a lot of [Noah 00:03:11] There’s a lot of new ones there. You have access to incredible nature. The mountains and the sea. It’s also an urban jungle. It’s a perfect terrain for a thriller like this.

Rob:
It is very true. New York and Elay are very much each side of a coin aren’t they?

 

Tim:
Exactly. In Lay there’s a dark side. There’s a savage side to it. It’s the extremes of the temperature. It’s extremes of the landscape. It’s also the history behind the town. It was just a city that was built on corruption and it’s a wonderful terrain for a thriller. It’s also a place that has a lot of recall for me of my home town Sydney. I felt immediately at home in Lay. I felt comfortable writing about it. I wasn’t intimidated by the fact that it was used by Elroy. It was used by Raymond Chandler. I just thought the grand tradition and I wanted to continue with it.

 

Rob:
You touched on the things of corruption cover ups. Do you think that’s a function of that era or are we … I’m I kidding myself that we’ve got just as much corruption now.

 

Tim:
Well, one of the themes of the novel is that the people behind the assassination of JFK are the people who are still in power. If you like the man whose son is kidnapped, old man [inaudible 00:04:38] he set a symbol of corruption and a man who seeks to acquire as much wealth and power for himself as possible. He’s to me like the god father of the same kind of people who almost destroyed the worlds economy in 2008. One of the things is that those power bases around big business, banking, the military industrial complex and the intelligence networks are still in power today. It all began with the assassination of JFK when they took power into their own hands. They’ve continued to hold it. As we learn in the contemporary section of the novel, things have gotten worse since the assassination of JFK. The rich have just gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer. I think corruption today began with the assassination of JFK and is just as entrenched even more entrenched that it was 50 years ago.

 

Rob:
I absolutely … I don’t think there will be anyone to think that. I think the … The movie that’s out now the big shot, based on the book of the same [inaudible 00:05:40]don’t think is touching on those themes. There’s many fascination with the Kennedy assassination. Do you think people … Especially unique students growing up now realize the significance of it? If you would have think of that happening now. Such a massive event.

 

Tim:
It was a ground shaking event. The reason why I was brought to it, was because it’s the first memory that I had as a child that I could put an actual date to. I Remember how upset my parents and my grandparents were. That’s just goes to show an event. An assassination of a president in the other side of the world really upset people back in Australia. Why did that happen? I think it’s because Kennedy embodied youth change and a generational jump. People were fed up with the post world war to old men. The old generals who were still in power. They wanted change. Kennedy promised change and then he was brutally taken out of the picture with the assassination. I think that marked a huge change in the realities of the political landscape. A lot of people became disenchanted with politics. A lot of people became cynical about politics. That’s something I really wanted to explore. The other notion of the book Rob, is that all of us have our own private dullest moment in our lives. All of us we are growing up we are young and then some event happens. Something happens to us or someone does something to us that changes the course of our lives. It’s how we adapt to that change. Do we become bitter? Do we become mournful and resentful? Do we try and cope with the change and build something on it.. That was one of the themes as well. That all of us have a private dullest moment. A key moment in our lives that can change us for the worst and how do we adapt to it.

Rob:
I think we can all think of those are the personal law events on worlds scale that affect us. I mean I’m a different generation but I think nine elevens an equivalent event.

 

Tim:
Exactly. For me one of the great events that affected me that way, was the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975. Every country has this kind of core moment where things go wrong. How does a country respond as a whole? How does the political government respond? How do we as individuals respond? That was one of the fascinating things that brought me to this story. Of course the whole idea about Kennedy, it’s like Jack the ripper. It’s a sensational event and there’s never really been a conclusion to it. I don’t believe that they have the [inaudible 00:08:29] active of learning. I’m a judge here for Americans don’t either. Why was there a cover up? How did the cover up begin? And who was the cover up protecting? These old stories that are redressed in Viva city.

 

Rob:
Now as I said I’m midway through enjoying it and it is where I will be later tonight. One of the things that occurred to me it’s very film making it’s way. As you eluded to previously, your backgrounds in screenplays and films. Was it different writing a novel compared to a screenplay?

 

Tim:
Absolutely. Writing a screenplay is all about structure. I didn’t plot the novel. This novel began with a low power. A place in the desert. As soon as I had that local in my head, I started writing. As soon as I could create the local in a visual way, that where I could see it, where I felt I was in that terrain, then I got the tone and the voice for the book. Then I was off. It was a real joy to write this book. It took me nearly four years but everyday it was just a wonderfully uplifting moment. I was totally inside this world. Whereas writing a screenplay is much more of a chore. With the screenplay, you really do have to plot it out at the beginning with a dense treatment. Then switch to the screenplay. It’s completely different. Both of them are writing. I did try and bring sort of like the visual elements of the screenplay into the pros. I wanted to create the [cows 00:10:07] that were very visible and you could spill and sense the terrain that the characters are living in. Definitely there was … One of my aims was to create a visual read.

 

Rob:
Look I think the film make elements still come through but I suppose you are not limited by thinking about budgets and locations. Pros means that you can… The walls is your oyster.

 

Tim:

Exactly. In screenplay writing you have so many constraints and you also have so many voices. The impacting upon your writing making suggestions. With a novel, you are on your own and it’s a fantastic place to be because as you said Rob, there are no constraints. The only constraint is your imagination. You can just do anything that you want and as long as it makes sense to you, you are halfway there. I just wrote it. I didn’t know where it was leading to but I sensed a proportion in my writing. I just was eager to get through and discover this journey. Once I had written it two or three times, made two or three drops. Then I stood back and I looked at the architecture of the plots and I realized that there was some things that needed to be changed and furnaced to make the conclusions sharper. Compared to the hard work of writing a screenplay this was nothing but a [join 00:11:33]

Rob:
Now as you know many of our listeners are out there at university now or are now recently finished university. What was university like for you?

 

Tim:
Well I went to the university of New South Wales and I studied political science theater and film. I loved it but at the same time, being a nineteen twenty year-old-kid. I wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. I wanted to leave the formal education behind and start living my life. However, the people that I met in university became the core people in my life. I met my wife in university at the film school. My oldest friend in university as well. It was a hugely pivotal moment for me. If I had never been to the university of New South Wales, my life would not have been what it is now. I suppose you could say it was my dullest moment.

 

Rob:
The university of New South Wales is your dullest moment. It’s good to know. Who are your influencers from a writing point of view?

 

Tim:
Well, when I was growing up I was really drawn to early twenty century writers like Joseph Conrad and Tucker and also the Americans Hemingway Faulkner and Stockner Chevrold. I think the people that you read when you are young are the people who stay with you. They are like your earliest friends. I began my reading when I was about eight or nine years old by really going into Greek mythology and Roman mythology. That was a great love and is still a great love to me. Perhaps that’s why I’m right now living on the Mediterranean because all of those stories of a DCS and the heroes and getting shipwrecked on the Mediterranean was so vibrant and so vivid in my mind as a child. Now when I look out on the sea I think of [homer 00:13:33] and the wine docks sea. I think of the savage storms that swept the DCS onto the farthest shores of the Mediterranean. For me that is what lives in my heart from reading the Homer and the early 20th century.

 

Rob:
Thank you Tim you’ve taken us to a really exciting place. I’d love to be on the Mediterranean now. That must be great to be sort of living in a place with such vivid and vast history. Now …

 

Tim:
It is thanks.

 

Rob:

For those that haven’t had a chance to get the book. Do yourself a favour grab a copy of [save 00:14:15]the city from the [cold 00:14:16] book store. On line or in store. Tim I have no doubt that it will go to bigger places because it’s waiting to be taken to the big screen but it stands alone by itself as a compelling raid and I’m looking forward to finishing it later this evening.

Tim:
Fred, thanks not for having me. Rob I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.

 

Rob:
Thanks Tim it was a pleasure.
Mark Tedeschi

Mark Tedeschi – Kidnapped – Podcast

Mark Tedeschi explores the mind of the intriguing and seriously flawed Stephen Bradley who kidnaped an 8 year old Graeme Thorne in 1960.

The story of Australia’s only known kidnapping of a child for ransom. When eight-year-old Graeme Thorne was kidnapped on his way to school in July 1960, Australia was gripped with fear and loathing. What monster would dare take financial advantage of the most treasured bond of love – between parent and child? Just weeks earlier, Graeme’s parents had won a fortune in the Opera House Lottery, and this had attracted the attention of the perpetrator, Stephen Bradley. Bradley was a most unlikely kidnapper, however his greed for the Thorne’s windfall saw him cast aside any sympathy for his victim or his victim’s family, and drove him to take brazen risks with the life of his young captive. Kidnapped tells the astounding true story of how this crime was planned and committed, and describes the extraordinary police investigation that was launched to track the criminal down. Mark Tedeschi explores the mind of the intriguing and seriously flawed Stephen Bradley, and also the points of view of the victim, his family – and the police, whose work pioneered the use of many techniques that are now considered commonplace, marking the beginning of modern-day forensic science in Australia. Using his powerful research and storytelling skills, Mark Tedeschi reveals one of Australia’s greatest true crime dramas, and what can only be described as the trial of the 20th Century. http://www.coop.com.au/kidnapped/tedeschi-mark/9781925310221


Rob:
You’re listening to the Co-op Book Podcast. I’d like welcome Mark today to speak to the Co-op Chat! Hello Mark.

 

Mark:
Hi, glad to be here.

 

Rob:
Now, we’re speaking at this in Alban’s Writer’s Festivals so we’re all in the country and very lovely surroundings. Now, many people have heard of Mark in his, I suppose, main gig as the Crown Prosecutor, QC, but he’s also a very well known photographer and an author which is why we’re here. This is your …?

 

Mark:
This is my second True Crime book. The first one, “Eugenia,” was published in 2012 and my second one, “Kidnapped,” is about to be published in November.

 

Rob:
Now, what- We will talk about “Kidnapped,” but my first, obvious, question is, especially with all the high-profile cases and things that you’ve been involved with, how do you manage time to do a bit of photography and write books?

 

Mark:
Well, that’s important for my sanity to do other things and I do enjoy writing, and I very much enjoy photography. It’s important to have other things in your life to focus on. I find that, particularly, when we’re on holidays, when we go overseas, I do a lot of photography, but the writing I can do whenever I have some free time.

 

Rob:
Okay, and let’s talk about, “Kidnapped,” because it’s a very compelling book. What would- It’s about a kidnapped case that happened in 1960? Do you want to tell me a bit more?

 

Mark:
Well it’s actually the story of the only kidnapping for ransom of a child in the whole history of Australia. It was in 1960. It was the kidnapping of an eight year old boy by the name of Graeme Thorne, whose father had won 1st prize in one of the early Opera House Lotteries. The Kidnapper was a man by the name of Stephen Bradley. He decided that he was insanely envious of the Thorne Family for their win and that he was going to kidnap their eight year old son to make a ransom demand for 25,000 Pounds. The lottery win was 100,000 pounds which doesn’t sound like much now but it was actually an enormous sum of money in 1960. The unusual part was that Stephen Bradley had his own children. He and his wife between them, had three children. One of them was a natural daughter of Stephen and the other two were natural sons of his wife, Magda. He was a most unlikely kidnapper but he was just so desirous of getting some of this wealth that he was prepared to put everything aside for it.

 

Rob:
Now, the detail in the book is tremendous and I think what one of the bylines is it’s about the beginning of forensic investigations in Australia. Do you want to [inaudible 03:38] on that?

 

Mark:
Well, the crime shocked the whole nation of Australia. Everyone was terribly distraught at the idea that this lovely young boy had been snatched from his family and there was a tremendous amount of sympathy. I was exactly the same age as Graeme. I was eight at the time and I remember it very vividly! It affected children all over Australia. I actually had a newspaper photograph of him plastered on my wall so that if ever I saw him I could notify my parents and they could tell the police. It … The Police threw massive resources into the investigation. They had some highly technical forensic scientific evidence that they managed to get when the body of Graeme Thorne was found because he had been killed. There were techniques of forensic science that had never been used before then that were used for the first time in this case. So it really marks the beginning of modern forensic science in Australia. Most of those techniques have become commonplace since then.

 

Rob:
But, obviously, it marked you by being the same age and growing up.

 

Mark:
Yeah, very much so! Yeah!

 

Rob:
What do you think there- I mean there is a fascination with true crime but these kind of crimes, especially, I can … Me growing up, I remember Samantha Knight which, I think, ironically happened very nearby where this kidnap occurred, in the same suburb.

 

Mark:
Yes.

 

Rob:
And, in more recently, there’s both the William Tyrrell and the McCann mystery which is, as a parent, your worst nightmare.

 

Mark:
Yes, yes!

 

Rob:
Is that what the fascination’s about? Do you think, just, we’re clinging to our fears?

 

Mark:
Look the- I think the main fascination for me was the character of Stephen Bradley. He was such an unlikely kidnapper and I think the death of young Graeme was such a terrible tragedy. I found his personality absolutely intriguing to try and understand why this man could have come to commit such a terrible crime which ended in such a terrible way. I found that very interesting. The Thorne Family was a very standard, conservative, normal, lower-middle class family. There was nothing unremarkable- Ah! Nothing remarkable about them until they won this massive lottery prize. Stephen Bradley’s wife, Magda, was also a very interesting character. Stephen was eventually charged with the murder of Graeme Thorne and there were a lot of people at the time who thought that his wife, Magda, must have been, at least, knowledgeable about what was going to happen. I’ve analyzed that extensively and I’ve come to certain conclusions about it which are in the book. I’ve also- There’s an enduring, a lot of enduring mysteries about the case, as well, how Stephen Bradley abducted Graeme, what he did with him once he’d convinced him to get into his car and how Graeme came to die. I’ve delved into all of the evidence that there is and come up with what I think are logical conclusions as to what I’m sure happened which is a little bit different to what people thought at the time.

 

Rob:
Interesting. Now, your day-to-day life involves dealing with some horrific scenes and murders and we don’t need to talk about them because there’s enough detail about them out in the world, but how do you deal with that in your personal life? How do you, when you come home after going through horrific bits of evidence?

 

Mark:
Look, I think one tries as much as one can to adopt a professional attitude. It’s a little bit like being a surgeon. You have to have a degree of detachment between yourself and the case that you’re doing if you’re going to do a good job. The people who don’t manage to have that detachment, I think it negatively effects their performance. One, obviously, realizes that there’s a lot of horror and tragedy that’s involved and we often have contact with victims and with victim’s families and we have to- We try to shepherd them through the process so that there’s the least amount of trauma for them. Often, there’s an enormous amount of trauma involved, but … Look, I think I’m also fortunate that I’ve got other interests and I do manage to put my case aside when I get home in the evenings and do other things, do family things, and focus on other aspects.

 

Rob:
As you know, the cart book store is on every campus in the country, what were you like at University?

 

Mark:
Well, I went to Sydney Uni. I was at the law school for four years which, at that time, was in Phillip Street, not on the campus. Yes, I went to the cart bookshop every now and again to get all my books. I’m still a member and I still go there. They’re wonderful! There’s a great one in Phillip Street, now, that I go to regularly because I’m often in court in the area. My life at University was fairly unremarkable! At the time, I saw myself as becoming a suburban solicitor. I never thought I’d become a barrister or a Crown Prosecutor, let alone Senior Crown Prosecutor. I never filed anything, but I never- I didn’t, kind of, excel either. I was a fairly average student.

 

Rob:
I think that will make a lot of people feel very happy to hear that! Give’s us all an opportunity! What- Who do you read?

 

Mark:
Who do I read? I read mainly non-fiction. I read a lot of biographies. At the moment I’m reading a lot about international economics because I’m fascinated by the current financial situation that the world is in so I’m doing a lot of reading about economics to try and understand it. I don’t get much time to read. In fact, my reading time is limited to a short train trip to work in the morning and a short train trip home. It’s any about 20 minutes twice a day and that’s the extent of my reading time. By the time I … By the time I get home and have dinner and do every thing at home, I’m usually really tired and I’ll just fall asleep.

 

Rob:
I’m a big fan of that. Mark, today [inaudible 11:25] a pleasure to have you on the Co-op chat!

 

Mark:
Thank you very much!
Sophia Laguna

Sofie Laguna -The Eye of the Sheep – Podcast

Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2015, The Eye of the Sheep is told from the mesmerising point of view and in the inimitable voice of the child Jimmy Flick.

The Eye of the Sheep is an extraordinary novel about a poor family who is struggling to cope with a different and difficult child.

http://www.coop.com.au/the-eye-of-the-sheep/9781743319598


Speaker 1:
You’re listening to the Co-op Book podcast.

 

Rob:
I’d like to welcome Sofie Laguna to the Co-op chat. Hello, Sofie.

 

Sofie:
Hi, Rob. Nice to speak with you.

 

Rob:
Now, as everyone can probably hear, we’re using cutting-edge technology to speak over the phone, because Sofie’s based in the southern port of Melbourne. Sofie, the main reason we’re talking is about your book The Eye of the Sheep. It’s an amazing multifaceted journey. I suppose it got a bit of publicity with winning the Miles Franklin award. What did that award mean to you?

 

Sofie:
An enormous amount. I think it’s taken months to actually believe it happened, really, because it’s got the highest profile of all the literary awards. I was just stunned to receive it, to be honest. I was honoured to be in that short list of five fantastic authors, and I wasn’t prepared to win. It’s taken months to get my head around the fact that it happened, and it has meant an enormous amount of publicity for my book, and of course significantly increased sales. It’s now been optioned for films …theatrical rights have been optioned … and people are talking about it and reading it. It’s had a huge effect on the life of the book, and probably the future of the book.

 

Rob:
It’s obviously a dream, also, when you start reading the previous winners, like Michelle de Kretser, Tim Winton, just to name a couple of recent-ish ones. How do you think the book will translate into a film?

 

Sofie:
That’s an interesting question. My first book is also being translated in to film, and both of the characters have very rich inner lives, so it will be a matter of discovering the best way to translate that inner world onto the screen. It will have to be the point of view of… the boy will have to be very well-cast, and the whole story will have to be told consistently from his point of view. I think it will be an interesting and not impossible challenge.

 

Rob:
The boy, or the protagonist, that you’re alluding to … Jimmy Flick. Who’s Jimmy Flick?

 

Sofie:
Jimmy Flick, when the story begins, is a six-year-old boy who lives with his parents, Gavin and Paula Flick, in the industrial suburb of Altona, where I, myself, actually rented for a couple of years, which is what inspired that choice of setting. Jimmy is an original sort of a person. He’s unconventional, he’s manic, he’s speedy. I think he’s a visionary in his own way, but he’s difficult for his father to manage. I’m sure, today, he would receive some sort of diagnosis of being somewhere on the spectrum, probably autistic, although I’m really resistant to using a label like that, because labels are limiting, and he’s not his symptoms. He’s a human being, in my mind, anyway … in my crazy author’s mind. That’s Jimmy. The book is very much about Jimmy, more than it is about anything else. It tackles, I guess, some challenging things. Jimmy’s dad is highland. He drinks in the story. It’s constantly fed back to me that it is a book about those challenges, but to me, it’s always, consistently, a book about this character. I’m driven by character. Character is what drew me to writing in the first place, I think. I trained originally as an actor, so it’s a love of character that, I think, is also driving my work as a writer.

Rob:
Why did you portray the story through Jimmy’s eyes?

 

Sofie:
It’s partly a mystery to me why I continue to be drawn to these younger voices, but I’ve had a long history of writing for children, and writing in the voice of a young person I find to be a liberating and pleasurable way to write. The children’s voice does not play by the rules or follow the same convention, so it’s really freeing, and you can be really playful with language, and they’re vulnerable, too, which raises the stakes in the story. As soon as you’ve got a character who’s vulnerable, if they’re well-written, the audience is going to care. If you care, you want to read it or you want to watch it. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about falling for your protagonist. A well-drawn young character is easy to love.  
I love them, I guess. Maybe if I look at it on some unconscious level, am I trying to … ? I don’t know. Why am I playing in the voice of a child? It’s enjoyable. Maybe it’s the child in me. I don’t want to ask too many questions. I just know I love it. Really, it’s a way of exploring an adult world. Don’t be deceived. It’s not a book about the innocent world of the child. It’s a reflection of an adult world. That’s why I’m doing it, I guess. I’m making a comment on or I’m exploring the adult world, though I’m using the artifice of a younger voice. That make sense?

 

Rob:
No, no, absolutely. Where I especially related to is … The nature of a child’s thought is that they’re non-judgmental. They just say what they see.

 

Sofie:
Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. They’re also experiencing everything for the first time, so it’s got a freshness, because they take nothing for granted. They don’t take an adult world for granted, which allows us to see it in a fresh sort of way.

 

Rob:
Absolutely. Now, not to underplay the subject matter, but it’s quite confronting. How is it to write scenes about alcohol abuse and domestic violence for you?

 

Sofie:
How was it? I feel like the right answer should be that it was really … a harrowing writing experience, but it wasn’t, because it’s all the time through his eyes. I’m identifying with him. He is traumatized by it, but he doesn’t understand it in ordinary adult terms, and there’s always a poetry to the way he sees it in the darkest moment. He sees the ship on the [Caddyshack 00:07:01] bottle of scotch coming down from the cupboard, and he sees ices in the glass as calling out for help. I’d always intended that the father was going to drink too much, so it wasn’t a shock for me. 
 
It’s going to sound like I’m trivializing my own work, but it’s liberating and it’s enjoyable to go to the places we don’t get to go, or we don’t … how do I put it? It’s an exploration, so it’s a release to explore that sort of stuff, to cross that sort of territory, because I know I’m safe writing these stories. I’m not an alcoholic, and the family’s well, and yet I get to go and cover all sorts of darker territory. 
 
It’s not a trial to me. I care very much about the sufferings of my characters, and I need to rescue them at some point, but I like to test them at the same time.

Rob:
Let’s explore your writing process a bit further. What’s a Sofie Laguna writing day look like?

 

Sofie:
Before kids or after? (laughs). Before children or after children? There are two worlds here.

 

Rob:
We’ll go in the now, so how does it look now?

 

Sofie:
The way the book was written … often in chaos. All my working, studying, writing life, I’ve thought that a successful book required an entire work day and a really firm routine, and I’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to work that way at all, which is pretty good. It can work between the cracks of a child’s needs. It can happen in short and concentrated bursts. I think it does need to happen consistently, but it actually suits me to write very quickly and sometimes for only forty-five minutes, if that’s what I’ve got.

 

Rob:
How does it compare, writing an adult’s book versus a kids’ book?

 

Sofie:
Is it different, did you ask?

 

Rob:
Yeah. How …

 

Sofie:
No, no, the only difference is that you go to darker places. Again, you don’t want to stay in those dark places for too long, so perhaps writing in short bursts is good for that, too, because it allows you to sort of go there and come out. You can allow the writing … the writing is quite distilled, it seems. 
 
The creative mind is a funny thing. I think it knows … if it knows it only has fifteen minutes, it’ll allow itself … it can have twenty while I’m talking about it … One will allow oneself to go different places that it might not if you had a lot longer, because it’s … Lots of times, it’s intimidating. I don’t want pages of blank space, and the blank page. I like short bursts.

 

Rob:
As you know, many of our listeners are either at university or recently finished university. What was uni like for you, Sofie?

 

Sofie:
I started a law degree a long time ago at New South Wales University. I began that degree only because I had the marks and it seemed to me the sort of next step to take, but I always knew I wanted to be an actor. It was the dream of acting that was sort of the most important thing. I’d had that dream since I was about five, and I think … as I was saying before … that comes from this love of character, of pretending, and of inhabiting other worlds, seeing the world through different eyes other than my own. I always wanted to act, so after a year, I left that degree and I went to acting school, Victorian College of the Arts. Acting school is very different to ot her kinds of university experiences. It’s very physical. It’s about making theater. It was very intense. Five days a week from eight thirty ’til four thirty, I think, every day. You live and [bread 00:11:20] with sixteen other students’ acting experience. 
 
Then, I ended up studying professional writing and editing at RMIT while working as an actor, so I sort of mixed it all up. Doing that diploma on the side of an acting … it was an acting struggle, really, because I was unemployed a lot of the time and doing all sorts of things to make a living … it was a terrific mix. Beginning to study writing at RMIT really saved me, I think. It gave me a structure and ultimately, it nudged me towards my true calling, without wanting to sound too romantic or poetic about it. I was very grateful for the part that RMIT played, really, in my writing life.

Rob:
You had a broad experience across a few different university experiences.

 

Sofie:
Yes, yeah, and all very different experiences.

 

Rob:
Who do you like to read, Sofie?

 

Sofie:
It depends, of course, where I’m at a bit. Again, children have changed that, because … and I’m sure this is boring to hear unless you’ve got a child or you’re doing the early parenting thing … you’re much more tired, so you can’t concentrate in the same way. There’s a saying that writers read the kind of books they like to write, and I think there’s some truth in that, because I do like character-driven fiction … literary fiction … but character-driven. I am drawn to the first-person narrative, although of course I can love a third-person narrative. 
 
I love Catcher in the Rye, for example. That’s a great example. I loved The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe. I think that was either shortlisted or won the Booker in the early nineties. There’s an amazing trilogy by Marilynne Robinson that she won the Pulitzer for called Gilead. Strong characters … strong characters. I like musical language. I like a lot of Irish writing. I read Colm Toibin recently, and I like Roddy Doyle. I’m scared I’m saying all male writers. 
 
I re-read Tim Winton’s That Eye, the Sky the other day, and I really love that. That is another example of the sort of writing that I like, and the sort of writ ing that I’m in the same area as, I think, because that was a very young protagonist on kind of a spiritual search. That was very raw, literal sort of Australian writing … very Australian writing. I think probably [Iris Idbis 00:13:56] is very Australian writing, too. The setting plays a real part in Eye of the Sheep, as it does in Tim Winton’s book, That Eye, the Sky. 
 
I like a huge range. I like a huge range. I’m having a look at I Can Jump Puddles, Alan Marshall’s memoir. That’s a fantastic book. I love Helen Garner. I love lots of women’s writing, as well. I’m embarrassed because I keep mentioning men writers today, don’t I? I don’t know what that’s about. [My mind 00:14:30] has slipped.

Rob:
Absolutely. Well, listen, before you have your next coffee for the day, what’s in store for you? Are there any books on the horizon?

 

Sofie:
There are. I’m probably a third of the way into a draft of a new adult book, but the Miles Franklin has made all sorts of other responsibilities for me … various articles, and justdealing with media … and that’s just going to have to be enough. I think that will take me through to the end of the year, and the baby will be a little bit older. I’ve got two now … babies, that is. Then I’ll return to that draft.
 
I find I’m someone who … I’m either on and involved in a book, or I’m off. I always think of writing a book as getting on a train, and a train that doesn’t stop at many stations. Once you’re on the train, there’s a slight stretch to it … the responsibility of finishing it … and you can’t get off, so you don’t want to get on until you know you’re going to be able to make the journey. That’s the only time I’ve ever described it that way, but that’s how it feels. 
 
It’ll be a little while. I’ve got another picture book coming out, because I can sort of write them very quickly between doing other things, and then I’ll take Christmas out and regroup.


Rob:
Sofie, I appreciate your time in your busy schedule. Well done, again, on the Miles Franklin Award. We look forward to seeing what happens next for you.


Sofie:
Thank you so much. It’s been really, really nice talking to you.


Rob:
Thanks, Sofie.
Sally Hepworth

Sally Hepworth – The Things We Keep – Podcast

Sally discusses her latest book, The Things We Keep, with Rob in the Co-op Chat.

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke. Sally wrote The Secrets of Midwives, published worldwide in English, as well as in France, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2015. A novel about three generations of midwives, The Secrets of Midwives asks readers what makes a mother and what role biology plays in the making and binding of a family. http://www.coop.com.au/the-secrets-of-midwives/9781743538906


 

Rob:
You’re listening to the Co-op Book podcast. I must welcome Sally Hepworth to the Co-op Chat. Hello Sally.


Sally:
Hello, thank you for having me.


Rob:
It’s a pleasure and we’re talking today about your latest novel, the book called These Things We Keep. Now people that have probably read Sally’s best seller, The Secrets Of Midwives, but Sally, this book is very different.


Sally:
Yes, people have said that. That’s been a response I’ve got and yet it has a lot of similarities as well. It still dealing with 3 women, 3 different points of view and it’s to do with women’s health with has been a niche that I have not intended to go into so there are similarities but of course it’s a different book, it’s different challenges that my characters are facing. I think it will appeal to people who liked The Secrets of Midwives that are looking for something different.


Rob:
Now for many people the content may be a little bit challenging, not from anything other than it forces you to face your own future because it focuses on something which doesn’t get a lot of coverage which is early onset Alzheimer’s. How did you come to that as a theme?


Sally:
Well it all started, a little kernel of and idea for this book came 5 years ago when I was writing but I wasn’t thinking about it for a book and I saw a little TV segment on Today Tonight or Current Affair about a woman who was 31 years old and she was newly married and pregnant with her first child and she had just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. As I said I wasn’t thinking about if for a book at that time but that story stayed with me and I remember her name. Her name was Rebecca Dawg and I didn’t know why I remembered it but I kept thinking about it. 


A few years later I was talking to a cousin of mine who is a nurse at a facility for people with dementia and she was telling me stories about the people in her facility and they were all really uplifting stories. You know, you can be drowned in these horrible stories and it’s a very debilitating terrible illness but in fact, all the stories she was telling me were wonderful. There was one story in particular about a couple that were at the facility that she worked but they weren’t a couple, they had come in separately and they both had memories less than 5 minutes long and yet every day when they came into the communal area of their facility they sat next to each other and they held hands. There’s no way that they would have known that they had held hands the day before, they couldn’t remember what they had done 5 minutes earlier but every day they did the same thing and I just put that together with what I had seen 5 years ago with this young woman and I thought this is an opportunity to write a book that doesn’t focus on the tragedy of this illness but the beauty of it. 


Of course, it’s a realistic story and it does go into some areas of tragedy but what I’ve read most from people who’ve read early copies is that it’s an uplifting story about a difficult topic which is unusual and that’s what makes the book special.

Rob:
Look, you’ve got some cross generational strong female characters, have you always gravitated towards your main characters being in that situation?


Sally:
Yes, and in fact the book that I’m writing now, my next book, also has 3 women of different generations. With The Things We Keep it was initially going to be 2 women which was Anna who is the 38 year old protagonist who has early onset Alzheimer’s and Eve who is a similar age who comes into work at the residential care facility as a cook housekeeper. She was going through a different kind of change in her life and so these 2 stories came together quite well but then as I was writing it I thought there’s something missing here, I need another voice and like with the Secrets of Midwives I thought about it being one of the elderly people in the book and there are many but I thought but no, we need someone young, we need innocence in this book and we need freshness so I have one of my point of view characters as a 7 year old child in this book.


Rob:
I think it’s interesting to get the contrast between the different perspectives and I think there is something in viewing the world through a child’s nonjudgmental eyes.


Sally:
Yes, yes, exactly and she’s going through, Clementine, the 7 year old child is also going through her own tragedy and making sense of the past and that’s what draws these 3 women together, is they’re all facing unreliable pasts and for Anna, she’s accepting her memory is disappearing and for Eve she has found out that her husband is not the person she thought he was and her marriage is not what she thought she was and for Clementine, she’s dealing with the fact that her father isn’t who she thought he was. All of these women have unreliable memories that are able to and they have to decide how they’re going to move forward and what they’re going to use to move forward. That’s why it’s called The Things We Keep, it’s about what you hold onto when you lose so much and what we truly are.


Rob:
I thank you [inaudible 00:06:11], I’ve been one of the lucky people that have read the book because it’s not out until February, is that correct?


Sally:
No, it actually came out in Australia on the 22nd but it’s only just getting into book stores now because of the Christmas rush but it’s coming out into bookstores fairly, right now.


Rob:
Okay. To me I look at all of these women going through their challenges, you know the young girl Clementine, it’s the ability of humanity to adapt and our resilience.


Sally:
Yes, yes and that’s what this book is about. It’s about adapting and resilience and it’s about finding the joy in the situation that you’re in and all of these women are able to do that and it’s how they navigate their way through these challenges and what it makes them. When you feel like you’ve had so much stripped from you you feel like you’ve got nothing left but in fact you do have something left and that’s what this book is about.


Rob:

Tell me, was it hard to follow up after the success of the Midwives?

Sally:
Well I was a bit lucky in this case because I had already written the majority of The Things We Keep by the time The Secrets of Midwives came out so I’ve heard a lot of authors speak about that terror of following up a successful book and looking at the blank screen and wondering what on earth they can write that can match what they had written before and what was so well received but I was not looking at a blank screen, I was looking at a book that was almost finished and so I didn’t have that self doubt and self questioning. Luckily I just finished that book and sent it off. I’ve since written another book which I’m about to deliver to my publisher and that time I started to have those nerves of gee, what if this doesn’t meet expectations? 


I don’t know if as an author you’re ever guaranteed to not get that feeling but not for The Things We Keep. The Things We Keep really I felt confident about it and it was one of those books, doesn’t happen very often in a writers career, so I hear but it was one of those books that really wanted to be written and it came to me fairly easily and without too much self doubt.


Rob:
Tell me a bit about your writing process, like are you systematic? Do you say, “I’m going to write from 8 to 5.” Do you plan things out or does it just come out?


Sally:
Well, I write from 9h30 until 15h00 because I work around school hours, I have little children. In terms of plotting, there’s 2 schools of thought, there’s the plotter and the pancer and I think I’m somewhere between. I call myself a plancer because I do plot at a high level, sometimes I plot more intricately. I do always plot. I feel really envious of writers who talk about having an organic kind of process and they just have an idea of what the books about and they just write. For me I need to know what my characters are going to be challenged with along the way. I never know the ending. I don’t know how they’re going to respond to those challenges but I do have an idea of what’s going to happen but then in between those plot points a lot of things happen organically. I find that I may find my way to the midpoint of the book and realize that that challenge isn’t going to work and I will change it so it’s just about having a structure for me to write within and the magic happens within that structure. Often the structure changes but to have no structure I think for me would be a bit debilitating so I’m a plancer, I’ve coined that phrase.


Rob:
A plancer. We’ve got it here logged if anyone else wants to try and claim plancing. Now as you know many of our listeners are either at university or just finished university, what was uni like for you? Where did you go? What did you do?


Sally:

I did an arts degree at Monash University and it was the best thing I could ever do. I had people say, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I thought about doing journalism, I thought about doing various writing things and in the end I thought, I didn’t want to be a journalist, I knew I wanted to work with words but the journalism degree seemed to be going in a different direction to what I was looking for. When I decided to do arts some people said it’s a degree in nothing but in fact it’s a degree in everything and it gave me such a good groundwork in life and in history and in information that I was really well versed to do anything. I came out of university and did various jobs. I worked in event management, I worked in human resources. I went back and studied a bit more to become a human resources professional. Then at age 29 decided to write a book when I had a degree, I had life experience, I’d had various jobs and I still think the arts degree was the b est thing I ever did.

Rob:
Okay, a lot of people clapping to themselves listening to this I think. What do you enjoy reading or who do you enjoy reading?


Sally:
My all time favorite author, Australian author is Leon Marriati. He’s obviously had massive success commercially. I’ve been reading her books since the first one and so I felt a little bit like I had ownership of her when Husband’s Secret came out and went completely crazy and broke out. She’s one of my favorite authors. I also love Jodi Piccault, I love Sue Monkid. I try to keep an eye on what’s happening in the New York Times best seller list, to read what everyone is excited about because I write commercial fiction. I also go to a lot of literary festivals and I love discovering a new author, especially local authors so will buy books from them and hopefully disco ver someone new. Yeah, definitely, Leon Marriati is my number one author whenever anyone asks me.


Rob:
That’s good to hear. You’ve touched on you’ve got another book coming out. Any hints on themes or anything like that?


Sally:
Yeah it’s due on the 30th of this month so I’m frantically finishing it right now but it’s called By Myself With You and like my previous books it has 3 women, different generations again and it deals again with women’s health. That’s probably about as much as I can say but I think it will appeal to the readers of my previous books and it will still be something different and a new challenge and a new thing which is relevant to a lot of people.


Rob:
As everyone knows who listens to the Co-op chat The Things We Keep will be available either online on the Co-op website or obviously in store around campuses around Australia so Sally, thank you for your time.
Rosie Waterland

Rosie Waterland – The Anti-Cool Girl – Podcast

Rosie Waterland discusses her debut book, The Anti-Cool Girl, the Bachelor and growing up!

http://www.coop.com.au/books/the-anti-cool-girl/waterland-rosie/9781460750643


 

Rob:
You’re listening to The Co-op Book Podcast. I’d like to welcome Rosie Waterland to the very first Co-Op Chat. Hello, Rosie.


Rosie:
Hi.


Rob:
Now, we’re talking to Rosie, the infamous Rosie Waterland, famous for her “Bachelor of Love,” but we’re not talking about “The Bachelor.” We may touch on it, but we’re actually going to talk about her autobiography, I suppose, the “Anti-Cool Girl.” Rosie, what was it like writing about yourself?


Rosie:
It was hard, I mean, I’ve always loved writing, ever since I was a little kid, so it’s definitely a book that I’ve always wanted to write, and I think it’s always been in me. Given my childhood was quite dysfunctional, a little tumultuous, I guess, it was a lot harder to do than what I had anticipated. A lot harder.


Rob:
What was it like revisiting all those issues in past?


Rosie:
Look at it this way: I took a month off to write the book, and I ended up staying away from work for seven months, so it ended up being a much bigger job than what I thought, a much harder job than what I thought. It was just really confronting. I mean, you have those memories, and you think you’re okay with them, but when you have to actually sit down and write about them really vividly, you relive them in a way that you weren’t anticipating. It was harder than I thought it would be.


Rob:
Traumatic.


Rosie:
Yeah, it was, yeah. I think it was.


Rob:
Not to give away too much from the book, but yes, your childhood wasn’t conventional.


Rosie:
Yeah.


Rob:
Give us a snapshot of the young Rosie Waterland.


Rosie:
Both my parents were addicts. They both drank a lot. We, my sisters and I, were sort of sent to different foster homes and family members. We were shipped around a lot. There was a lot of dysfunction at home and through all of that, I guess, my sisters and I were just trying to get by and also be kids. I think that’s what I tried to do in the book; I tried to show that even though it’s set as this backdrop of dysfunction and a traumatic childhood, I also went through what everyone else went through, like, you know, I had crushes on boys and I got my first period and I was jealous of my older sister for being so beautiful. You still have to live the normal life things even when there’s chaos going on at home.


Rob:
Absolutely. Now, you mention that you grew up in housing commission.

Rosie:
Yeah.


Rob:
Was there a stigma attached to that, growing up?


Rosie:
Not that we knew of at the time. I mean, when we were kids, because we lived in one of Australia’s few housing commission exclusive-only areas; it wasn’t integrated into any other kind of private housing, so we knew that where we lived was called the ghetto. We knew that that’s what people called it, but I think we didn’t really get what that meant. It wasn’t until later when I grew up that I realized what it meant to have grown up somewhere like that.


Rob:
The title of the book, “The Anti-Cool Girl.”


Rosie:
Yeah.


Rob:
Why that?


Rosie:
I guess because a running theme throughout the book is that I spent my whole life trying to be cool, just trying really hard. My older sister was really cool. I was always a dweeb. I was like this little, freckle-faced kid with a helmet head haircut who loved reading, and I never quite got the cool kids, and I tried so hard my whole life to be cool, and then it was only after going through everything that I went through and learning all the lessons that I did, that I sort of got to my mid-20s and I thought, like, “Being cool just means trying too hard, and trying too hard is exhausting. I just want to stay home in my undies and drink wine and watch TV.” There isn’t anything wrong with that, I guess, and so that’s sort of the point that I got to.


Rob:
You reached the point of self-acceptance.


Rosie:
I think so, yeah, just like, “You know what? I’m anti-cool and that’s fine because that means I can just have a really unnatural, unhealthy relationship with television and not care about it.”


Rob:
You like TV and pop culture. What do you like? What do you currently like?


Rosie:
On TV? Oh, my gosh. I’m obsessed with a show called “UnReal,” which, I guess, because of what I write about “The Bachelor,” “UnReal” is a show that’s sort of a fictional show based around the people who produce “The Bachelor” in the US, so I love that show. Any kind of comedies. I love “Broad City.” That’s a great show produced by Amy Poehler. “Difficult People” is a great new show. Just anything funny about people who are kind of dweeby, I guess.


Rob:
What about authors and books? Who do you like?


Rosie:

I’m actually just finished reading Richard Glover’s memoir about his childhood. We keep joking with each other that we have competing difficult childhood memoirs coming out. His memoir is incredible. I also recently read Jenny Lawson’s book. What’s it called? Her first memoir. I forget. Something about a squirrel. Anyway, Jenny Lawson is this incredible writer, who a lot of people said reminded them of a lot of me, and so I read her memoir and it’s brilliant, and she’s got a new book coming out. I recommend everybody read her first book before her new book comes out; it’s so great.

Rob:
What was university like for you?


Rosie:
The first time around, I had a false start, so I went to USYD and was studying psychology and lasted about a month. I hated it. Then I took a few years off, went to drama school, and then I think I was ready for uni when I was a bit older, so I went to UTS and I studied writing and cultural studies. I really loved it. We got to do screenwriting, we got to do creative nonfiction. It was just the first time I got to explore my skills as a writer in a more kind of vocational context. I’d never done that before, so I really loved it.


Rob:
One of the things I found interesting about the book is that you don’t ignore mental illness; in fact, you embrace it.


Rosie:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.


Rob:
What’s your relationship with mental illness? Tell me about the history or-


Rosie:
Yeah, well, I mean, after going through, I guess, my life, in my early 20s, PTSD hit pretty hard, so I dealt with that for a few years. I had a couple suicide attempts, I had an eating disorder. I think people who’ve had childhoods like mine tend to really struggle with that trauma later. A huge part of my 20s, I mean, I’m 29 now, but a huge part of my early 20s was just going to therapy and working really, really hard. Trauma is incredibly difficult to work through. I embrace it, and I talk about it openly because it’s just what happened to me and it happens to a lot of people, and I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m on medication now, that I see a therapist once a week, and I probably always will, but that’s just how I have to live my life.


Rob:
We do what we can to hope, don’t we?


Rosie:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think I’ve gotten to a point now where I have a system worked out where I handle it really well. My PTSD is, I’ve largely recovered from that. I still get anxiety, though, and that’s just something I have to deal with. I think especially with anxiety, it’s something that never quite goes away; you just learn how to deal with it better. That comes with age and time. I love how I’m 29; I’m like, “That comes with age.” Like I’m so old.


Rob:
The big 30.


Rosie:
The big 3-0, yeah.


Rob:
How do you think things will change for you then, or will they?


Rosie:

I don’t know if they will. I feel like, I think everybody thinks this. I just still feel 17 all the time. I still feel like a kid, so I don’t know if it’ll change, but I love that I’ve at least written a book. I’m like, “Okay, well at least on my 30th birthday, I’ve accomplished one big thing.” I’m not married, don’t have kids, but I have a really cool job and I’ve written a book, so doing okay.


Rob:
Obviously the book’s an amazing achievement and I highly recommend the book for anyone, and I think especially for uni students in their late teens and 20s sort of grappling with life, but before the book was written, how did you end up writing for Mamamia and writing about “The Bachelor?”


Rosie:
I graduated my writing degree from UTS and then like most people who graduate writing degrees, I was like, “What do I do now?” because I didn’t study journalism, I studied creative writing. I just kind of started a blog and started sending them some stuff, and they started publishing it, and then they offered me a job as an editorial assistant and I just sort of slowly worked my way up to editor and then when “The Bachelor” started in season one, I said to them, “You have to let me write about this,” like, “I promise I can make it funny.” They were like, “No, that show’s gross, we don’t want to write about it,” and I was like, “No. I will make it funny. Please let me.” 


They let me do it but at home in my own time because they didn’t trust that it would work, and after a few weeks it had sort of gotten such a following that they were like, “Okay, you can watch it and do it at work now.” Season one was pretty big, season two became huge, and now this season, it’s just out of this world. I don’t even understand it. Like, people come up to me in the supermarket. It’s crazy but exciting. It’s fun. It’s fun to write about.


Rob:
Last year, there was amazing stuff going on in the news with “The Bachelor,” so that must have been an absolute blessing.


Rosie:
I mean, in a way, but I never write about the gossip of it. I largely just write satire about the show, and when … what was his name?


Rob:
Blake.


Rosie:
I can’t even remember his name! Blake! When Blake left the girl for the other girl and it was this whole thing, and people were like, “Please, tell us what you think about this,” and I was like, “Nah, leave the gossip to entertainment reporters. I’ll just write about the silly TV show,” so yeah, that’s sort of what I-


Rob:
Have you met any of the people you’ve written about?


Rosie:

In the first season, I did. I met the final few girls, and I met the bachelor, but then last year I just decided to put up a bit of a Chinese wall, like it felt easier to write the satire if I hadn’t met them because it’s largely fantasy. What I write about all of them is not, none of it’s true, like I say that some of them shed their skin and become crazy pube monsters, and I just write all this ridiculous stuff. I think it’s just easier to not really know anything about what their personalities actually are because I just give each of them a character and go with it. I think it’s all in good fun, though, like I’ve had a lot of them contact me on social media and just say that they think it’s so funny and they love what I wrote, and so I think everybody appreciates that it’s all done with affection.

Rob:
What would you say to the nine-year-old Rosie Waterland, if you could say anything now?


Rosie:
I would say, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, man.” Back then, I knew I was going to be something better than what my childhood had offered, and I loved writing, I loved TV, I loved being creative, and I think I would just say, “Man, it’s going to be shit for a while, but just stick it out because one day you’ll be doing interviews about your first book, which is just nuts,” so that’s what I’d say.
Roland Perry

Roland Perry – The Honourable Assassin – Podcast

Roland Perry is one of Australia’s best known authors and speaks to the Co-op Chat about his newest book, The Honourable Assassin.

He has written 28 books, many of them going on to become bestsellers, including The Queen, Her Lover and the Most Notorious Spy in History, Horrie the War Dog, Bill the Bastard, Bradman’s Invincibles, The Changi Brownlow, The Australian Light Horse and Monash: The Outsider Who Won a War. Weaving together a face-paced, all-too-real story The Honourable Assassin is part psychological thriller and part today’s headlines about massive illegal drug trafficking in Australia and corruption at the highest levels in South East Asia.

http://www.coop.com.au/the-honourable-assassin/9781760291426


 

Rob:
You’re listening to the Co-op Book podcast. I’d like to welcome Roland Perry to the Co-op chat. Hello Roland.


Roland:
Rob, thank you for having me.


Rob:
Roland, we’re talking to today about your latest book, “The Honourable Assassin”. Is this book number 28?


Roland:
29.


Rob:
29, excuse me.


Roland:
It’s now 29. When you got the blog, it was 28 on the board. Now it’s published it’s number 29.


Rob:
Another sort of run. You have done a whole range of different sort of genres of your books. You have done fiction, non-fiction, a bit of journalism, cricket books, bio books. Tell me a little bit about “The Honourable Assassin”.


Roland:

This is fiction, return to fiction. I got a kick start with fiction way back in ’79. I had a hardcover come out that didn’t sell very well. I think about 4000 in England, I was based there, and it took off in [inaudible 00:01:07] Bay absolutely ripping, literally 350, something like, that without translations. It allowed me to write, learn to write. Any one who is a good writer after one book is kidding themselves or the publicist pumped them up. Ask any pro who has been around a long time or has had around 4 books. 


The next marker is that first book bought me time on the other 3 to get a voice. I don’t know anyone unless they’re a complete idiot, narcissist, arrogant so-and-so who ever says or thinks they’re good after their first book. It takes a while to get the voice and the confidence which come together. I was sort of on the track after 4 but that first fiction gave me that. I did a couple more fiction, one which was successful in commercial terms, the other one wasn’t. 


Then I had a really good run on non fiction. Global one, Monash biography and so forth. Cricket and espionage, “Fifth Man” and all that. I just recently thought, I want to have another crack at fiction just to … If I’ve developed because if you don’t develop the muscle, if you don’t work the muscle it doesn’t happen. You learn a lot in the way through … I’ve probably done more biography than anyone in the country and you learn a lot about character, about the minimal use of dialogue. You know, don’t be too significant in asking how you are and if a dialogue starts with, “Hi, how are you doing today Rob?” “All right Roland”. You know that they can’t write and a lot of fiction writers today go along with it prepared. 


You learn a bit on the non-fiction but I still had to work fiction so I went back to this one. Primarily because I have been travelling through South East Asia on several books, 4 or 5 books now. I’m travelling through Thailand quite a bit and a very mysterious country for many reasons. It’s exotic, it’s erotic, it’s mysterious in the sense of a closed society because of the now fecund junta generals running the country, literally a military dictatorship. You aren’t allowed to speak anything about the royal family and by association anyone representing, which means the military and several. The ruling party can use that, the ruling junta can use that any way they like. 


The society is closed which adds to the mystery of the place and I like the Thais. I’ve got say I love the Thais and I also like the fact they’ve never been colonized. This adds several facets to the background of “The Honorable Assassin” which gives them a certain kudos in my mind because the French took one look at them, didn’t like them that much. The English did the same. The Japanese, they rolled over the Japanese and said, “We’re not fighting you” during World War II. The Japanese didn’t have a chance to colonize them. The Americans, after they’ve beaten the Japanese in World War II, said not interested. No minerals. Nothing out of the ground. 


They’ve kept this identity. Music wise, cultural wise, language wise, which adds to the appeal. It’s very low key. They don’t push themselves up in that way at all, and it’s a beautiful country. The people are really very friendly on mass, and that’s a nice thing. I’ve based there writing a couple of books, in just a hotel, but writing a couple of books in a remote part of the northern part of Thailand. This book was coming to me all through that 7 or 8 year period, and finally I got around to writing it. 


The thing about me as a writer is that I’m not Grisham, who has 25,000 legal cases to draw on for his writing, which is highly successful. I’m not a doctor who can draw on medical files. I have to go and do the hard yards and research every time I do a new genre and book, which is good. Good for the brain and good for the synapses going in new directions. In this case I had a fair feel for the country, having been there so many times for the last 8 years for other books and all the way through, and so forth, and the remote parts that people don’t get to. The parts that other people don’t touch. 3 pagoda pass, [inaudible 00:05:02], The Golden Triangle that everyone knows about. How many have done the full ride down the Mekong right down to Vietnam, which I’ve done, from the north. Laos near by, so I had a feel for the country in many respects, and that forms the background of the story.

Rob:
It’s definitely a roller king ride. I think you definitely represent sort of the role of the Thai. It’s like subtle independence, proudly subtle. Characters. The characters… Tell me, what drives you to talk about “The Honorable Assassin” and the relationship with drugs, and that whole caper.


Roland:

Yes. Well, one of the backdrops of the story is what’s actually happening. They’ve got porous borders, but we Australia have just as porous borders in sense of drug movement. That attributed to the story, looking at the background to who’s doing the drug running, who are the big pins, how are they basing in the country, how are they getting in and out of Thailand and Australia and so forth. That’s the solid background, but I like writing [inaudible 00:06:12]. He knows what the inside of MI6 looks like, but you never hear him describe it. You have to get to the stage as an author to know the background of the story. Just little snipits. We’re not doing research. It’s not 40 ways to pick a lock, it’s not 34 side. It’s not non-fiction. You have to make the reader feel you know what’s going on. You should, doing the homework. That’s the other side of it, but the characters… I’ve got a male and female character that are equal in this story and that’s just the way it is. I haven’t planned it that way.

Rob:
Roland, you were talking before about your writing method. Comparative non-fiction vs. fiction. It sounds like you have a similar approach in your research. Is there something different about your writing method when you start writing fiction?


Roland:

You’ve got to approach it in an entirely different way. It’s a narrative. You’re looking at character development. [inaudible 00:07:09] your way through a story, maybe psychological in this case, in a couple of instances, you’ve got to follow what’s being said as the reader, to understand the characters in depth. Dialog is important. It’s a big change from non-fiction. You can use dialog of course when you’re sourcing in non- fiction, but you have to edit it otherwise you’d be embarrassed people, just like you’d embarrass me if you didn’t edit this particular type, so forth, if you’re doing it down to 3 minutes. You have to find the essence in non-fiction, which helps the dialog when you move into fiction. It’s a different ballgame altogether. You have to have a different mindset, and because I’ve done 3 already, and this was a return to it. I knew the basic approach to it. The road map for it, if you like. 


With the main character too, there were 2 characters, one female one male. The female was interesting, for me anyway because I’ve been inspired by the Millennium series, about “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. I thought that was the best character association in modern literature, in the last 30 years. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I use it for students when I’m talking about fiction writing. I thought, well I’ve got to do at least as well as that, but I can’t copy it. You cannot. There’s no point. It’s not plagiarism, but copying, and I wouldn’t do that. I thought how the hell, how the hell do I get something as good as that without doing the same sort of character or style, and I found it through the travels with Thailand. It was an epiphany. I thought I’ll go with that. It’s a bit outrageous but it’s worked. It’s worked because I know the publisher Allen & Unwin’s Sue Hines had read that. Being a woman and liking the development of females in fiction of course, she thought it worked. I’ll let other’s judge that, but that was my yardstick. 


As for the main character, or the 2nd main character, the male, I used my own experience in many ways as a journalist there, and I’ve been in the business 47 years, primarily books, but I’ve done a bit of journalism and sided often that way. During that period, I had 3 or 4 agencies, spy agencies approach me for work. 


Unlike Freddie Forsyth who owned up and said recently, which was a big headline, “Iwork for MI6”, Freddie worked for MI6, I never took an offer. I never took a plane ride, never took even a bus on one of the agencies , but I did have 5 offers. 1 when I was journalist for The Age in 1974, until I found out what this man represented. I was very tempted. He offered me 3 times the salary I was on with The Age. He was a PR man, he wouldn’t say what the companies were he was working for, and when he wouldn’t tell me I politely said “Well, I’m not going to be involved unless you tell me what I’m going to be in for.” It went on for about 6 months of him wooing me. Later I found out he was mixed up in representing the Noogan Hand Bank which was [inaudible 00:10:11]. I was very pleased I said no to that. 


The CIA had another crack 20 years later. MI6, because I use to use then as a resource, as I might with politicians or anyone else. Finally getting information, they offered me work. Now, the reason I was popular, if you like, quote un-quote, was that I had access to Russia that they don’t have as a journalist and a writer. The Russians, of course, are watching you during that whole period, but you’re not representing a spy agency, unless you run into something, you run fowl of somebody, or you make a big error or you take a stupid risk, you’re not to get into trouble. I didn’t ever get into trouble. 


The ASIO offered me work once. I’m a good friend, or a friend I’d say of the former head of ASIO, David Irvine. We sat on the same National Archive Advisory Council. Never offered me work. Never got near it. We were mates. This is recently, we’re friends on the advisory council. The one person I know well would never go near us, like your friend. 


The KGB disappointed me greatly by not offering me work, because I was doing a lot with the old KGB, but they did say to me, this is a wonderful line I got from Yuri Ivonovich [inaudible 00:11:26], THE master spy, that is banded around stupidly by people. This man ran the [inaudible 00:11:32]. He said “I’m not giving you anything more than military intelli…, [inaudible 00:11:37] intelligence has already”. I said, “Yuri, that’s good enough for me, because that puts me ahead of the media pack”. My background in dealing with this dark world, the demimonde if you like, of espionage, is a wonderful vehicle for the writing. 


I have another itch, the main character, which is in the story, and it’ll give too much away if I said what that was. There, I using my own. That’s the best way to do it. Use your own. If you have the experience, use it. That’s where I’m not far off of Grisham, because he’s had the background in law, so I can say write in espionage, I’ve dealt with these people. Another one who offered me work, by the way, was the DGSE. That’s French intelligence. I was dealing with a publisher in Paris who was connected, shall we say, with the DGSE. I was fascinated counting backwards and forwards from Russia too.

Rob:
Do you think the world’s changed from a while back where the Cold War, who was on each side of the fence, so to speak, or the war is a better way of saying it. With the world were in at the moment, is it difficult to know who’s a friend and who’s an enemy?


Roland:

No, it’s the same principal as the Cold War. It’s a little more hidden. The Russians are highly active. The CIA is highly active, it’s got a massive budget. Putin is on the KGB list as a Colonel. He’s still a Colonel in the KGB and he takes it very seriously. It’s the only institution in Russia that’s expanded in the last, since democracy allegedly came in and the walls went down. Democracy hasn’t come in as we know it. He’s a dictator essentially. It’s ongoing. It’s spying just as heavily as ever. It’s just not as sexy. It’s not the Cold War, it’s not a confrontation with the West. We have a common enemy basically now in the extreme Islam. That’s going to be the main focus for a lot of people. Still, the west and the east are unfortunately still “at loggerheads”. There’s a lot of industrial spying, political spying, a massive amount. It’s just not safe for you to write about it. Doesn’t mean anything. In my books, it’s not about spying, it’s about an investigative journalist looking at things and searching for things.

Rob:
Now, as you know many of our listeners at University, or just finished University, what was Uni like for you?


Roland:
Terrific. I’d bombed out of Pharmacy or left after a couple of years, and went to The Age newspaper and did full time economics degree at the same time at Monash. I pumped it with political subjects I was interested in. I felt intellectually [inaudible 00:14:10] for the first time. I was doing subjects that had nothing to do with anything I had in mind for the future. Loved it and it was a very good undergraduate degree for me. 


At that stage I’d done 7 years tertiary, because I did it as a primer for journalism at Melbourne University as well, so I thought at being a producer rather than an academic or an intellectual I felt I had to get out. I was 26, even though I had full time work, I felt I had to get out. I’m not built for academia. 


As it turned out, 30-40 years later, the vice-chancellor at Monash pulled me back in to act as a professor and to occasionally lecture to Ph.D’s and Doctorates on all aspects of writing and some aspects of Australian history. I’m just completing that this year. That was fun giving back. I’ve enjoyed that. They wouldn’t let me near the first year students which was a disappointment. I would’ve been a spare in the works for all of their progress because I would’ve taught real history not the theoretical and rubbish that they do teach unfortunately. It doesn’t give the real history of Australia in the last 100 years, but that’s another story. I didn’t mind. I was lecturing intelligent people, who were interested in writing, all aspects of writing, and also a bit of Australian history, World War I and II particularly.


Rob:
Roland, finally, where to from here? Is there another fiction book in the offering? Non-fiction?


Roland:
I’ve got, done and dusted, fict… non-fiction. I can’t talk about next year, it’ll come out. I’ve got contracted, and finished writing it yet, a book for 2018. It’ll come out in 2017. When that’s done, I’ll have another crack at a fiction, I want to have another go. The next 3 years are very well planned out. There’s always room for a film script or something like that but basically I know where I’m going, which is a nice feeling. It’s a very tenuous, even now, after 40 years, 30 books, it’s still a tenuous profession.


Rob:
For those that haven’t had a chance to read any of Roland’s books, they’re available [inaudible 00:16:26] bookstore online or on campus.


Roland:

I’ll just say too, my computer assistant said to me, don’t forget to mention the website. I’ve got to get use to this. Latecut.net will get to my website, and you’ll see a lot of the books. It’s not a payroll job. I occasionally write a feature, a long form feature, so if the brilliant students who are listening out there who want to read something other than the trite newspapers, I can give that. I occasionally do that. I enjoy the long form reading myself, and I love writing them, 3 or 4 thousand words rather than 800 words. So, there you go. Latecut.net, couldn’t be easier than that really, could it?

Rob:
Definitely. Thank you Roland for your time.


Roland:
Rob, Thank you.
Bruce McCabe

Bruce McCabe – Skinjob – Podcast

Bruce McCabe talks about his dark debut novel, Skinjob. Skinjob explores the near future Silicon Valley.

It has taken virtual sex to the extreme, encouraging men to act out their darkest and most violent sexual fantasies. Militant feminists and churches are bitterly opposed. Powerful corporations battle for market control. In the midst of a fierce protest campaign, a bomb goes off in San Francisco. This is a page turner.

http://www.coop.com.au/books/skinjob/bruce-mccabe/9780593074091


Rob:
You’re listening to the Co-op book Podcast. I’d like to welcome Bruce McCabe to the Co-op chat and we’re speaking directly at the [St. Albans 00:00:23] Writers’ Festival. How are you today Bruce?

 

Bruce:
I’m very well. This is tranquility, isn’t it? What we’re sitting in here.

 

Rob:
[inaudible 00:00:32] just to give you a little bit of context, we’re in our makeshift studio in a donated houses living room looking out to cows and hills and a bit of rain, but as a couple of city slickers, I think we feel very privileged to be here in the semi-rural areas.

 

Bruce:
We do. No mobile phone coverage, so it’s just really nice.

 

Rob:
Now, Bruce, you’re not one of these authors that’s started and only ever written. You’ve got a whole career before you became an author and they’re intertwined, I would say. You’re an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and passionate about the future. You’ve written for The Australian and set up innovation practices for consulting. How did you come up with this blockbuster novel Skinjob? How did that fit into your busy lifestyle?

 

Bruce:

I think you hit it on the head with that word, intertwined. Much of my life and my professional life has been about exploring what the impact of technology is on people and how it’s changing us and what’s coming. I’ve made a living, if you like, for many years helping companies understand the implications of what’s just around the corner and what’s really coming out of the labs, not the science fiction, but what’s really coming. That really lead the inspiration for this story. I obviously love writing and did a lot of that, but all short form non fiction. There was a technology I had seen in my work that I found quite provocative and it often happens. This one was the genesis of this story.

It was effectively lie detection software being used in a call center, an insurance company call center. The company demonstrated to me and I got to listen on a phone call where the person making a claim on the phone would say something about the car being stolen and every now and again there’d be a little beep in the ear of the person at the call center. We’d actually be listening to someone being alerted that the other person on the phone might be lying. I found that very provocative and that’s just an example of the sort of thing that gets me going and thinking. That lead to Skinjob because I followed the produce of that technology and when I began writing fiction that was the genesis of this novel.

 

Rob:
That’s interesting because I imagine in many corporate environments you go through a scenario, planning and lots of in the consulting world the “what if” phrase is probably overused.

 

Bruce:
Yep.

 

Rob:
Does fiction give you the license to actually take that to the next level?

 

Bruce:
It was quite a profound experience when I first started writing fiction. Skinjob was actually the first time I’d ever wrote fiction. I sat down, I wrote the first few chapters of that in a pub in [Holbrook 00:03:27], I was staying the night on my way down to Melbourne, driving down a little town Holbrook. I haven’t actually written much if any non-fiction since because I found it profoundly liberating. I can’t emphasize just how powerful that’s been because for the first time I’ve been off the leash in the ability to portray the real truth about what’s coming without worrying about names or reference checking or whatever, making sure you have all your ducks in a row with facts and so forth. This is about what’s coming, what I believe will come but on an emotional level and a personal level. I could be very provocative with the scenarios. Much more provocative than I could ever be with a business audience. I found it profoundly liberating. It’s actually, everything about it is liberating.

Rob:
There are some really interesting things in Skinjob and I don’t want to give away too much because it’s like any page turner, you want people to read them and have their own experience. The issues of privacy that you’ve already eluded to, I think a few years ago we would have thought this is way too science fiction. What you’ve touched on in the book, that sort of omnipresence being monitored is not too far in the future.

 

Bruce:
No, it’s here now to be honest. All of this technologies, they form the back bone of the story, or the background of the story. They’re all real. By the way, there’s very different technology written into the story. The enormous effort [inaudible 00:05:03] was to write it out and just to make sure that it was the background, the real stories how to fix the lives of these people. That lie detection software led to me seeing trials or getting wind of trials in the US military of hand held lie detectors in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then seeing a study in the US by Lockheed Martin, which showed that this was the number one item for future technology on the wish list of US police departments.

Now the “what if” there and the very provocative thing to think about is what happens when a policeman in the streets stops you and actually holds a lie detector on your nose while you’re having the conversation? The technology does exist. It’s not perfect. It’s not nearly as perfect as I’ve portrayed it here, but it’s getting rapidly better. It’s about audio and visual and looking at the eye blinks and the face flush detection with thermal cameras, all which are very small. All of which, all the technology’s on an average Xbox today, to give you an example. It’s all happening very quickly.

That’s one thing, what does it do to the life of, not only someone who’s interviewed by the policeman, but also how does it affect the policemen. How does it affect them when internal affairs comes in with those things? How [inaudible 00:06:26] differently? How does the law change? A lot of these things are quite negative, quite provocative and very interesting.

 

The other side, the other major thing explored in Skinjob, and hence the title, is the future of where Silicon Valley takes the adult industry. Where digital sexual entertainment goes. I’ve sort of painted that picture of sleaze and so fourth. Really there’s a very, very strong thing of what’s the nexus between ultra realistic simulated sex and roboticized sex dolls, which are in the media this week and Time Magazine and so forth because there’s a campaign to stop them and before, that sort of relates to, it’s too late. What happens to society and what’s the nexus between that and violence against women. Where does it go when they introduce roboticized child sex dolls and all these very provocative things because they’re doing child sex dolls. These things exist as well already.

Rob:
I think there may be arguments from manufacturers in saying this is stopping the real thing happening, the idea.

 

Bruce:
That’s right. All of that’s explored in Skinjob and it was one of my great pleasures doing book groups. The first thing women ask is what’s your position on this? Where do you think it’s going? That’s really a big part of why I wrote this story. It’s a [inaudible 00:07:41] about two very different law enforcement officers and how their lives are affected, but underneath there’s this poke at the reader, where are we going? What’s it going to look like fifteen years from now?

 

Rob:
Bruce, you’re speaking at a festival and your relationship with a writer with your audience is often theoretical. You’re now meeting your audience, what’s that experience like?

 

Bruce:
It’s fantastic. It’s really, really good. I get so much energy from these things. One of the contrasts is I used to do, and still do a lot of professional speaking in the [inaudible 00:08:17] on what’s coming. A lot of those festivals don’t have any money. There’s no money involved, you know? You’re lucky if you can get lunch or something, but what you do get is this tremendous energy from people who care about something you’ve written, want to talk about it, extend yourself intellectually in conversations with those people and they tell you they want the next book. You go away that that pumps you up for two weeks worth of writing, I can tell you.

 

Rob:
In a way, it’s old school technology in an intimate kind of way because when you’re reading a book, it’s in your head. You’re really getting deeper than most conversation’s getting. Then when you’re processing book, you’re interacting with it in your brain and putting your own perceptions on it, but at the end of the day it’s a really intimate thing, so people do feel like they know you.

 

Bruce:
Yeah, yeah. It’s always a big moment when someone comes up that you’ve never met before in your life and they say, “I read Skinjob,” or even better, “I made my husband read it.” You go, oh this is good, it made a change somewhere. Someone’s actually being provoked by the ideas in the story.

 

Rob:
You’ve portrayed and I’d say the near future is quite a dark kind of place. Do you think that’s the truth? It’s not a great indictment on humanity.

 

Bruce:
True. This novel definitely shows the colorful side of religion, the sex industry, the dark side of police work in all its glory. That’s the fun and dramatic part. I think about, and I step back, and think about the world, I’m equal parts optimistic and pessimistic. I guess I’ve been trained to be a realist to try and think about practical and plausible outcomes and scenarios. This is part of that story. I’m leaning towards the darker stuff because it’s great. If I’m asked a question about something like where genetics is taking us, as an example. You can look at the dark side and look at, well genetic testing on unborn fetuses, for example, and profiling which is happening. That’s potentially very dark. Or you can look at the new cures for cancer that are about genetically engineered viruses to attack cancer cells, and that’s amazing. Not necessarily the greatest novel, so that probably doesn’t make it into my fiction, but I’m inspired by that as much as anything.

Rob:
Now, you’ve taken what’s seeming to be a well worn path of first time authors in fiction field of self publishing and then being picked up by a big publisher.

 

Bruce:
Yeah.

 

Rob:
Tell me about that experience.

 

Bruce:
Well, if I’d known how hard it would be when I set out, I would never have had the courage to do it. The amount of work has been phenomenal. I’m sorry, you can’t shy away from it. People too, they glass over it and you’re an overnight success and all that. Right! Three years of working and writing the novel before I even thought about the publishing process. Three years of hard work and that’s the real love and joy of the process. I then, I call it, I like the term [Indie publishing 00:11:38] only because there’s always other people involved. I got a lovely editor involved and a wonder cover artist who only did work, before me, for major publishing houses. I convinced him to do me as his first independent author. Which was already a great human experience because people were getting on board my bandwagon and doing stuff.

 

I published electronically and in print, and all the conventional wisdom says, “Electronically, you put all your effort there. There’s no costs and so forth.” Well, that didn’t go anywhere. Having an author tell you that you should read their book doesn’t work. I learned that the hard way after months and months of very hard draft of blogging and getting out there and, I made a list of hundreds of journalists, met them all and got back no responses. That’s just the reality. The magic for me, happened with bookstores. What happened was a bookstore picked up, one store in Sydney, agreed to stock it. The bookstore manager read a proof copy and went, “I want it.” Then the next store came the next day. You guys came on board and some of the bigger players came on board. Most independent bookstores came on board, and then I had sixteen stores. Enough readers were getting it through those bookstores and then word reached an agent in the UK and is a really big name agent. He contacted me and then the publishing deal followed. It all became the fairy tale then.

 

I learned a lot about keeping your options open and not assuming anything. I learned a lot about bookstores because the people that really love books were working in independent bookstores and they read the books! That’s what I couldn’t believe. All these managers are reading all of the books they stock and making individual decisions, “No, actually I will stock that.” It was an amazing and very humbling experience, the whole thing, but it was very hard.

 

Rob:
Now, you know have audiences, a lot of [UNE 00:13:40] students or recently post UNE students, what was your time like at UNE?

Bruce:
I loved UNE. I love learning anyway. I am very motivated by learning and love writing as an excuse to go interview people and meet interesting people you’ve never met before and talk to them about what they do. It’s just an extension of it. UNE was a great time for me. I think I was a little too intense. There were so many parties going on that I missed out on. It was such a good time. I really was committed to getting good marks and I was very into science. I think now, gosh, I should have had a better time really, honestly.

 

Rob:
Youth is wasted on the young.

 

Bruce:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I did love it. That was at Sydney for my undergrad and then UTS for post grad.

 

Rob:
Who do you read?

 

Bruce:
I read very widely. Right at the moment I’m reading a Michael Connelly book called The Poet, which I’m enjoying. I love The Lincoln Lawyer, but I didn’t like one of his. I read widely and test. My favourite author, is probably a little bit unusual, I don’t know how many people know me, actually a best seller, it’s Robert Harris. Not Thomas Harris, but Robert Harris. Now, Robert Harris wrote a book called Pompeii, a detective story set in Pompeii before the volcano blows up. Another one beautifully researched. He’s written some amazing, very well researched books. Another one called Fatherland, which is detective stories set in postwar Germany where the Nazi’s won. The list goes on. There’s quite a few. There’s Archangel, which is set in Russia and it’s in a story on a detective journey, if you like, of discovery.

 

What’s in common in all his books and what I’m in love with and what I try and inspire to in my writing is that there’s a big backdrop. Yes, there’s a thrilling [inaudible 00:15:38] and that’s the first mission of the author. You’ve got to have ripping out. That’s what it’s all about, but beyond the first layer of the story, there’s all this stuff to consider about what Pompeii was really like, or what the world could have been like if WWII ended slightly differently. You’ve got so much to think about and intellectually be stimulated by. I’m trying to do the same thing in my books, for this and the second one.

 

Rob:
There you pumped up my next question. Come on, tell me about, is it a follow up or is it a separate book?

 

Bruce:
Well, it’s not the same characters. It is exactly the same genre, so it’s a techno thriller. It’s definitely that sort of same flavour. Set ten to fifteen years from now, but this [inaudible 00:16:27] is set in Japan. I have a variety of colourful characters in Japan in the second book. Some of the issues deal with some of the things that effect the national psyche in Japan, the way the economy works, where some of the darker areas of that country and the brighter ones and energy issues. You know, their love/hate relationship with nuclear power. I’ve got that simmering in the background and it’s taking a while to write. I’m on my second visit to Japan in a couple months because I love the place, very evocative. That’s probably as much as I’m giving away at the moment, but it is very much the same flavour. The third novel I’m tossing out two plans that are evolving, but one is to return to these characters in the first one. I think I’ll do it. If it’s not the third, it’ll be the fourth, I’ll come back to.

Rob:
Bruce McCabe, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

 

Bruce:
Thank you very much.

 

Alex Malley

Alex Malley – The Naked CEO – Podcast

The Naked CEO’s guide to achieving your dream, starting now. From suspended schoolboy to disruptive CEO, Alex Malley, The Naked CEO, has led a life rich in successes and mistakes.

Through it all he has learned a lot about what it takes to successfully build not only a big career, but also a big life. Gain insights from a successful CEO who’s lived a big life. Be inspired by his unabashed real-life stories. Learn how to dream big and have the courage to pursue your passions and be willing to fail in that quest. Take the practical tips and apply them to your own career. Whether you’re a student, jobseeker, professional, new to the workforce or just stuck in a rut, this book is your guide through the hurdles of the career journey to a big life. As a father of seven, Alex knows that this is the perfect book for parents or mentors looking to inspire the next generation.

http://www.coop.com.au/the-naked-ceo/alex-malley/9780730314592


Rob:
You’re listening to the Co-Op Book Podcast. I like to introduce Alex Malley to the chat. Hello Alex.


Alex:
Hi, how are you?


Rob:
Now for the very few people here who don’t know Alex, he’s the CEO of CPA Australia, and what we’re here to talk about is the book, The Naked CEO. Also Alex is on the Nine Network with his latest series, The Bottom Line. Alex what prompted you to write The Naked CEO?


Alex:
It’s I guess the book that, is the only book I would have read when I was seventeen. I was not a great book reader and continue not to be a perfect book reader, but really was keen for young people, particularly those who were struggling to engage with transition from school to university, or university to life, to write something in a version that I would have read. I guess it was something I wished I had. Also, it was about saying in leadership, the most generous thing you can do is open the door and let people see what it’s like. No one did it for me, so I thought I’d do it for the universe and write this book.


Rob:
Now Naked CEO, the viewers can’t see us, but we’re obviously both naked here in the tradition of the book. Is it about no holds barred?


Alex:
Absolutely. It’s the whole truth, exactly as I think and it’s nudity in middle age isn’t a perfect thing, so it was more about the truth. I’m saying things that some CEOs would think are not prudent to say. Not that they wouldn’t agree with me. This is about saying, while I’m in the role, while I’m in this life I’m leading that’s exciting and passionate life, I want you to see warts and all what I see, what my views are based on my experience, so that all of the mistakes that I happily celebrate now, you might make a few lists and have the big life you want to have, quicker than I got to mine.


Rob:
Interesting, now, you haven’t gone in the book, too much into your upbringing, it’s more about the now, however there is an under pinning that you had a challenging upbringing from a family life point of view. Do you think that built you a resilience?


Alex:
I think it was huge. My mom had depression, and my parents migrated from Europe. There are a whole lot of pressures that go with that anyway. I visited a psych hospital reasonably regularly during my childhood, you see some really tough situations; I think the great thing about that is that it gives you context and if you can have a context of a much wider range of experiences, particularly early in your life, I think it helps you to prioritize and to see bull dust from fact. People tend to be fearful and embarrassed by things I would never be fearful and embarrassed by. I think it’s that context. If you don’t have a range in your life, build a range. Broaden your experiences, broaden your horizons. Everyone has much more in them than they thought, but I’m the guy that’s thumping your chest with my index finger saying, “Come on, what more have you got in there?”


Rob:
I think you do live that, because one of the by-lines of the book is the fact that you were suspended in year twelve. You had a bit of a rocky school-hood, but you adapted and moved on from that. What do you say to people about mistakes?


Alex:
I think they’re your friends, right? If you learn from them and you don’t make the same mistake all the time, which is a separate category called dumb, which I don’t address. Then you do learn a lot of things. The interesting thing with the suspension was, that was the first time I felt real isolation from the community and it drove me to do some things as a result of that sense of isolation and what I love most about the book actually, is the inside cover on the first page, where there is the original school suspension letter on the left hand side, which talks about a grave offence which was hardly so grave. On the right had side is an email from the same headmaster thirty-eight years later on seeing me on television, telling me I looked good, but I still had issues with my grammar. The message to young people, middle aged people and old people is life’s a long game and sometimes you’re combatant one day, don’t ever presume you’ll be a combatant forever. I think it’s really important for the young to not presume the moment defines the lifetime.


Rob:
Now, growing up today is something that most of us didn’t grow up with, social media. You’re very much across social media in the professional side, in Linkedin sphere. You’re a big advocate and influence on Linkedin. Do you have any guidance for people trying to manage their social profile while still living?


Alex:
Look, it’s interesting, not that long ago, not that long ago, [inaudible 00:05:08] I asked one of my daughters, who is mostly nice to me, “Darling, do you think I should get a Blueberry?” She said, “Don’t ever say that in public, it’s a Blackberry.” From that I’ve gone to an iPhone and Twitter and everything. But the message is, particularly for those who are in senior roles who intuitively don’t get it. Other than it being a separate channel, use the same mode of your communication, all channels. If you want to get to people then I speak to people on Twitter, not in language I don’t understand, in language I understand. There’s a hundred thousand plus followers now. Linkedin the same. Linkedin is the emerging leader, so I talk about what’s a horrible boss look like? Why do you send out such boring resumes? Provocative, thought for leadership for young people. I just see them as channels that I communicate my normal way. I think we get a bit carried away by our own ego and our own reputation. Ironically there hasn’t been too much ugly social media commentaries on me and there’s been plenty of social media out there. I presume it’s because they recognize whether they agree with me or not, that I’m telling them what I think, and I think that’s the key. If you say things to sell them, or you say things that you don’t mean, they sniff it out really quickly in social media.


Rob:
Absolutely. One of the focuses of the book that I really related to was your focus on people and making sure, I suppose in the workforce, in your first job, you have a rapport with people. How do you do that?


Alex:

It’s everything. Your whole life, is about people. You might be the shyest person on earth, but your life’s going to pretty small if you stay there. I just do it every day of my life. My kids still get embarrassed when I say hello to people on the street. Particularly when they don’t reply. I’ll say good morning and they don’t. They’ll say to me, “Why do you do that?” “Because it’s my code.” They may not say, “Good Morning” because they’re having a bad day. That’s okay, I get it. It is about practice. Everything is about practice. For some it’s a natural thing. For me it was reasonably natural, but I always say hello to people, always make eye contact. It’s a good habit, it’s a good habit for anyone of any age to build a capacity to communicate with people and more to the point, to like people. We all get disappointed at times with people, but in the end, you’ve got to get up every morning knowing you like people. That’s got to be a starting point.

Rob:
Now you focus on knowing people’s names. Any tricks to that one?


Alex:
It gets harder and harder, I know that much. In the role I’m in now we have about five hundred staff across nineteen offices globally, and the first thing I asked for when I got the job was the photos of every person in the business. Took about a month, because that’s pretty hefty request, actually when you think about it. They all sit on rails in the head office and every day I look at them and I just remember a few more names. My old headmaster used to give out [inaudible 00:08:14] frogs on birthdays, that’s how he would go in and individually give… This is post me, of course, he was never that generous in my day. He’d give out this frog and each time he gave out the frog he reassured himself of the name. You just got to practice, look at photos, and occasionally if you forget and you’re with a colleague, just whisper in their ear, “Who’s this person coming towards us?” and hope they know.


Rob:
Absolutely. Job interviews, now a lot of our listeners are at the end of their university or looking for internships during their university years or just punters having a listen, what are some hints in going for a job interview? What are some of the things that you look for?


Alex:
Every train crash I’ve seen in a job interview is someone who’s literally been preparing lines like an actor, and you sniff that out pretty quickly and you think “The last thing I want is someone in the organization who is going to be uncomfortable to live with.” The very, very most positive advice, and I think accurate advice I can give is, be relaxed going into the interview. Look in the mirror before you go into the interview and say, “I don’t care if I get this job or not.” Because you’ve got to go in there not caring whether you get it. It will show in your body language, it will show in everything you say and do. Make sure you bring yourself out in that interview. You talk about who you are and what you do in a sensible way across the room. Addressing people directly with their questions. Understanding that in that room there may be some political play going on anyway because they’re sitting in front of their boss, so they might be trying to impress their boss. You go in there to be a social, well adjusted, interesting person. What I say to my kids, what I say to my executive team, what I say to my staff is, “Tell me what makes you interesting.” When they tell me and I look like I’m yawning, I say “That’s not good enough, tell me more.” Learn to talk about something about yourself that is interesting and there’s interesting things people do on Saturdays, I want to know that they can bring their Saturday excitement to the job.

Rob:
The format of the book is very practical, it’s got a series of quotes and one of the areas that I’m very interested in, your mentor-ees.


Alex:
Yes.


Rob:
Who are your mentors?


Alex:
That’s a great question and I don’t think I had any in terms of individuals. When I look at say, my headmaster, I think he became a surrogate mentor at the time from a distance just for his generosity of building a relationship at the time. I was big on, I guess as a young man, I was big on heroes. I had sporting heroes that I looked up to. I had some political heroes that I looked up to, like the Mandelas and others. I wasn’t smart enough or thoughtful enough to seek out mentors. If I could revisit something, I’d revisit that. That’s why, like I’ve done in most of my life, I try to over correct what I didn’t do very well. I think it’s fantastic when a young attractive young person goes up to someone who’s got a couple more wrinkles than them and says “Do you mind if I have a cup of coffee with you and ask you about how my job’s going to go, what I would expect?” It’s a delight for an adult to be given that opportunity. I think I was, the ego was a bit too inflated and, to think I needed one. In retrospect I did, and perhaps could have shortened my early stages of failures, by having people I could talk to.


Rob:
Any other books planned?


Alex:
Yes, I say yes, with a pause, because I’ve begun to speak into a Dictaphone, which is a bad sign for me. It means potentially something could be coming. I’m conscious that we’ve created this very interesting audience for this book and while I wrote it for the seventeen year old that I was, who never listened, incredibly, the overwhelming evidence is that either junior Johnny in the family bought the book, saw it, and then mom and dad saw it and thought, “Wow, this is a good book” and it’s on the family coffee table; or mom and dad bought it and little Johnny’s reading it, or JoAnne. It’s become a family book and the number of people that have contacted me who are not the demographic I anticipated says to me that although the book was about young people transitioning, it’s about anyone transitioning. The Naked CEO.com website, which originally brought the publisher to me to say “You should look at writing a book.” I video respond answers to young people that ask questions, but I’ve recently had questions from a sixty-seven year old who’s just had a marriage breakup and she’s wanting advice. This advice thing’s getting out of hand, I’ve got to tell you.


Rob:
Obviously [inaudible 00:13:12] therapy looks like the next path.


Alex:

My favorite chapter in the book is Sucking it Up, which doesn’t appear until chapter seventeen, I think, from memory, and that’s the chapter that I’ve built the relationship with the reader, they sort of like me and get where I’m trying to take them and then I take them to Chapter Seventeen and hit them like a sledgehammer with reality checks. First job, don’t worry about it, if you don’t like it, stay there until you learn to respect the people you don’t like. The more people that you don’t like that you can turn that relationship around, the quicker you’re going to get to the next stage of your life. There’s this very confronting chapter that if I’d written that in Chapter One and they were flicking in the book shop, they would never have gone to Chapter Two.

Rob:
Alex Malley, thank you for your time.


Alex:
Thanks very much.
Jessica Sepel

Jessica Sepel – The Healthy Life – Podcast

After many years of struggle in her relationship with food and body image,  nutritionist Jessica Sepel inspires many people with her passion to heal your body.

Jessica explores a more gentle approach in taking care of your beautifully unique body. Jessica is a trained nutritionist with a burgeoning private practice and a hugely popular health blog. Her philosophy is simple: good health starts in the kitchen. Her focus is on fresh produce, prepared simply and with love. Her work with girls and young women has taught her that the common practice of counting calories and restricting food groups is counterproductive to a healthy relationship with food. Her message is ‘get healthy’ rather than ‘lose weight’. The Healthy Life is fully photographed, and has 100 recipes, meal plans, and a kind approach to creating better health and stress-free living. Jessica Sepel is a qualified nutritionist with a Bachelor of Science, health blogger and wellness coach. She has a large social media following

http://www.coop.com.au/books/the-healthy-life/sepel-jess/9781743536889


Rob:
You’re listening to the Co op book podcast. I’d like to welcome Jessica Siple to the pop chat. Hello Jessica.

 

Jessica:
Hi, I’m so excited to be here today.

 

Rob:
Jessica first and foremost congratulations on the book The Healthy life.

 

Jessica:
Thank you.

 

Rob:
Tell me about the writing process, and putting it all together.

 

Jessica:
I studied a bachelor of health at Macquarie University, then I went on to do nutritional meds for 2 years, and in my 4th year of study I started writing a blog about my own personal health journey, and my relationship with food, and the recipes that was discovering while was healing. I started blogging about this, and my blog to cut a long story short kind of went a bit viral. People were latching on to my story. People were resonating with it, people felt very connected to me, and wanted to heal with me. I was sharing my recipe on creations with them, and I decided to put together a E book, and the E book was a huge success, and that’s when publishers started approaching me. Saying you know this would be an incredible book. We would love to publish, because all my community kept saying “this E book is great, but we need a hard copy book. Especially when you have such beautiful recipes”. They wanted to have it in their kitchens, so it’s a real dream come true, because this book is my story. It’s a very personal manifestation. It’s an honour to have it on the shelf’s of all these bookstores.

 

Rob:
As you describe it’s not a recipe book, although there are thousands of recipes you know…

 

Jessica:
Hundreds.

 

Rob:
It’s a holistic sort of look at health and lifestyle. What I find interesting it, it’s interactive. Do you want to explain what I mean by that?

 

Jessica:
Yes, what you mean by that is that there are worksheets, because what I have is 10 very powerful principles in there. They’re actually the 10 principles that when I sat down to write the book I thought “what were the 10 most powerful things that changed my body” that helped heal me, and so at the end of each principle is a worksheet. Where you can really just reflect on how you’ve gone with sticking to the tips, and the protocols that I give. Then you can look back, and it’s very powerful, because when you see it. When you write your answers down in the worksheet pages you can see what a big change you’ve made, and how incredible it is how your body responds to small changes.

 

Rob:
And what mean worksheets, you’ve also got a contract that you write with yourself.

 

Jessica:
Oh yeah.

 

Rob:
That helps you.

 

Jessica:
The contract, well that’s just you know … I wanted everyone who reads this book to make a contract with themselves, that they will try their best, and not put too much pressure on themselves.

 

Rob:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Jessica:
And make an effort to put themselves first, because when it comes to healthy living you really need to remember that you are number 1.

 

Rob:
When you start your day how do you start your day? From a [inaudible 00:03:27] point of view?

 

Jessica:
I of course have a very healthy morning routine. I wake up and I have a little meditation that I do. Obviously I have my lemon water, I’m a typical nutritionist. I then definitely try and get out in nature, very calming for me. Actually I always [inaudible 00:03:45] a morning routine. I think it’s a very big part of a healthy life, and then I try and do a workout if I can, and then I start blogging, and attending to my work at around normal hours 9 o’clock, and I have my coffee, 1 a day. My community know that I love my 1 coffee a day.

 

Rob:
That’s got to be good quality coffee.

 

Jessica:
Great quality coffee, yeah. Good quality milk, and a big part of what I talk about is enjoying all the indulgences of life. Just in moderation, so I don’t restrict anything from my diet.

 

Rob:
Now your whole approach is very holistic. There is a big relationship between the body and mind.

 

Jessica:
Yeah.

 

Rob:
How would you characterize that?

 

Jessica:
For myself?

 

Rob:
Yeah.

 

Jessica:

Well I only began to make that connection very recently, because I’m studying health, and I was very disconnected from my body, and I was doing all the right things. I was eating really healthy food, and I’m studying health, but I was disconnected from my hose foods. It’s a strain on our digestive system, and good quality produce.

Rob:
So organic, and …

 

Jessica:
Listen I’m not a 100% strict on being organic, because sometimes it’s very unrealistic, and very expensive so it’s about doing the best you can do. You know local produce. Go to your local farmers markets, sourcing the best produce that you can possibly, but I’d rather … However you can get those vegetables in get them in. I don’t care if they’re organic or not. Just get the veggies in, and make the changes you can, because I can start preaching to my community eat organic, but they’ll most likely to not want to follow me anymore, because it’s a big request.

 

Rob:
Now [inaudible 00:07:47] there’s always I suppose fads and approaches, and some are valid and some are not. What’s your take on say Paleo?

 

Jessica:
Yeah, so if you read this book you’ll know that the whole core of it is I’m against every fad, and I think what’s happened for women especially is, because of all these fad diets and all. This overwhelming amount of information that’s been thrown our way we’ve lost touch with what works for us, ourselves, and what’s good for our bodies, because we are so bi-chemically unique. So what works for me might not work for you, and I think it’s quite dangerous when we put ourselves under these umbrellas of Paleo, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian. Unless you’re doing it for a really good reason which I 100% respect. If you’re just doing it because your friends say “oh by the way I’m Paleo, you should be Paleo. It’s really good for you”, without really knowing what works for you, and what suits your body, and not connecting to how those foods make you feel. I’m really, really against every fad diet, and think teenagers especially. I’m very worried about them, because there’s becoming this obsessive and extreme [natchile 00:08:51] relationship that’s been developed, that’s being developed around food, because of these fad diets, and extremes like maybe Paleo.

 

Rob:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

 

Jessica:
And that’s a concern to me, and I think why cannot we be Paleo inspired? Or gluten-free inspired, or vegan inspired, because I am. Some days I wake up and I think listen my body needs a break from animal protein, but other days I wake up and I’m tired, and I think I really need some animal proteins. We need to reconnect with what works for us, as very unique, bi-chemically unique individuals.

 

Rob:
I’m a big fan of protein.

 

Jessica:
Me too.

 

Rob:

Which protein do you recommend I’m like?

Jessica:
In the book I … In the nutrcian 101 guide I state all the proteins that I think are great, and that’s of course … I do believe in animal protein, so chicken meat. As long as they’re good quality, and yes when it comes to meat I do absolutely recommend going organic. Fish is great although you’ve got to be careful now with the Mercury, and other heavy metals that are in fish. I’ve had actually Mercury poisoning from Tuna.

 

Rob:
Wow.

 

Jessica:
So I’m very cautious about that. I have Tuna maybe once or twice a week now, and just getting your fish from good quality places. Eggs are a great source of protein, vegetarian proteins like lentils, chickpeas all very good beans. I do actually think good quality dairy is a great way to add protein to a diet, and if you’re a vegetarian, and a vegan adding things like rice or pea protein is another great way to get the protein in.

 

Rob:
Now a lot of our listeners are either starting at university, thinking about starting at university or just completed that, and university is a [tremotioul 00:15:32] time in life where you moved away from home, or looking after yourself, or have long hours. What’s your recommendation for a uni student that wants it all? Work, study and play.

 

Jessica:
Yeah, so you cannot have it all. Probably, but my advice is just to take … Healthy is like a lifestyle, you don’t have to … And it’s also it’s a journey, so you don’t have to do everything now, and everything perfectly now. It’s taken me 10 years to learn how to eat well for myself. Build myself up a healthy lifestyle. I often say to my patients “just pick 1 thing a week, 1 change a week is a really powerful way to change your health”, and when it comes to uni students I totally remember being there with so much work on my plate. I needed to keep up with my social life, and it’s a lot to balance, but you’ve got to just make the best choices you can available to you, and that’s healthy living. For uni students, my biggest message to all of them is keeping your stress levels under control, because in my opinion as a nutritionist it’s stress that is the number 1 health killer, and if you are a stressed out person your digestive system is probably not working very well. Your hormones will be out of whack. Your skin will be breaking out, and you won’t make healthy choices, because you’ll be so stressed about it. Healthy living shouldn’t be something so stressful. It should be something that you just make apart of your lifestyle. Prioritize it the best you can.

 

Rob:
Speaking of flawless skin Jessica, what food are good for the skin? I know you focus on that in the book.

 

Jessica:

Yeah, I mean there are lots of food that are good for the skin. I definitely will tell you again digestive health is a big, big part of skin health. If you’re breaking out around, especially the chin area. They say somethings going on with digestion. Everyone starts to worry about if they have something on their chin when I answer that, but sometimes taking a break from dairy can really help with skin, and when it comes to what foods to eat for your skin. Really good quality fats, like avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Oily fish like Salmon, lots of greens, dark leafy greens. Really great to have citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit because of the vitamin C that builds collagen in your skin. Protein, so a lot of people are not eating enough protein, and protein of course … Amino-acids build our skin cells, so animal protein, fish, eggs. All those things is very important when it comes to healthy and strong collagen.

Rob:
You’ve got a massive social followings, social media following. How does that feel? Is it very odd that you’ve got …

 

Jessica:
Yeah it is odd. Like it totally is. I don’t wake up and I’m like wow look at my social media following, because my social media following is a result of my absolute crazy passion for health, and healthy food and so it’s only just exciting to me t hat when I see my … When I look at my Instagram for example. I just think wow it’s all these peop le that want to make changes in their life. They’re excited about making healthy recipes. It’s almost just like a treat for me that these people are willing to … Are excited about making healthy changes, or adopting healthy practices in their life, and they’re using me as just you know role model or mentor to guide them through it. It’s more of an honour than any thing. It definitely hasn’t gone to my head yet. That’s very hard for me to grasp even what that means. That I have 80 something thousand people following me. I don’t really know what that means.

 

Rob:
Football stadium. Have you ever had anyone sort of recognize you like in person?

 

Jessica:
I’m starting to get recognized, because of the book, and then it’s all right because people come up to me and just share their excitement. They’re like ” oh my God I made this recipe, and I make it every morning now, or I started adding apple cider vinegar into my diet and my skin cleared up. I stopped having dairy, and this has happened”. It’s just again seeing the excitement that is a result of small changes. I think everyone is starting to realize how great they feel when they embrace health. That as a nutritionist, and someone who is now public healthy that is just so exciting.

 

Rob:
All right and just to finish with this what’s for lunch?

 

Jessica:
We’ve actually have a work lunch today, and we’re going to Lock Stock and Barrel and we’re having the … It’s a [fatouch 00:14:49] salad with lots of rocket, fennel, tomato, nuts and seeds, ocean trout and techie lemon dressing.

 

Rob:
Sounds lovely. I may have to crash it. Thank you Jessica for being on the pop chat.