Author Interview with Leah Swann & New Releases

Hello fellow book lovers!

It has been a little while since we shared what has been happening in store with you all and we thought now would be a good time.

There are some exciting new books we would like to tell you about and we were also lucky enough to score an interview with Australian author Leah Swann, whose debut novel Sheerwater has quickly become a staff favourite in store!

We are still open with our updated hours and you can visit us in store or place online orders via our website.
We hope everyone has been well and safe.

Warm Regards,
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with Leah Swann

Where did your inspiration for Sheerwater come from?
I was on a road trip and the first scene – almost exactly as you now read it in the first few pages of the book – drifted into my mind. I saw a woman on her way to a place called Sheerwater, with two children in the back of the car, and she’s just starting to relax, she’s almost there, when she witnesses a light plane crash and stops to help. When she gets back to the car the children have vanished – every parent’s worst nightmare.

Curious to learn more about the story, I wrote that scene down, and then the next ….


The imagery in this novel was beautiful. What made you choose to set the story in Victoria and near the Great Ocean Road?
We spent few weeks of every summer in a tiny little town called Peterborough on the Great Ocean Road when I was growing up and its beauty captured my imagination. It’s the perfect gothic setting with shining sandstone cliffs and wild seas – so many breathtaking blues and golds on summer’s day but often stormy or raining, with dark skies. That’s where you see those incredible rock formations like London Bridge, The Arch, and The Twelve Apostles. Everyone who drives that road is taken by the beauty but it’s also treacherous and known as the ‘shipwreck coast.’


Did you always plan to tell the story over the course of three days?
Originally it was five days but I made a decision to cut it down early on. The speed at which events unfold means that the reader is hurtling through them alongside Ava and Max and Teddy, the main characters – and something that I discovered as I was redrafting was that pace really helps build suspense. Three days is a long weekend, it’s a beginning, middle and end, it’s a manageable parcel of time.


Was there a specific character you preferred writing? Were any of them more difficult or challenging?
Max was wonderful to write. He’s a sensitive, shy, indecisive boy suddenly plunged into a dangerous and frightening situation. He has to draw on new inner resources and make decisions for himself and his brother that force him out of his habitual caution. Writing from his perspective was surprising – something about his warmth and kindness and above all his innocence, opened the door to childhood. I found myself remembering how mysterious adults seem when you’re young and reconnecting to that childlike, unclouded sense of justice.

Lawrence is an emotionally complicated character and by far the most challenging to write!


What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
I interviewed a pilot, a few nurses, a detective a few times, and a family lawyer to understand what happens with intervention orders and so on – this was mostly to make sure all the details were right. I read a few books on conscience and sociopaths and did a lot of online research on the migratory flights of birds for the short passages on the shearwaters.


How long did it take you to write Sheerwater?
It was at least four years. The first draft – called Five Days – was quite fast, and then I really had to redraft a lot to get it all to flow right. There’s a car chase, there’s four perspectives that often conflict with each other – I had to get my fictional ‘facts’ straight to make it all feel seamless and inevitable to the reader.


What made you want to be a writer? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Like every writer, first I was reader. Discovering the magic of being swept up in a story and forgetting the real world for a while was astonishing to me as a child, and addictive. There was no moment of decision — I was always filling notebooks with the stories in my head and it dawned on me over time I was a writer. This crystallized into the hope that one day those stories would be published and people would enjoy reading them – that I would be able to create that magic for someone else.


What is your writing process? Do you need to stick to a strict schedule, or do you write when inspiration strikes?
Oh both – I always carry a notebook to jot down those moments of inspiration (often when I am falling asleep!) When I am in a project I make sure I turn up at the desk each day even if I’m not feeling particularly inspired, and do something or other, sometimes I’ll do a bit of editing to get back into the flow of it


What are your top five favourite books you’ve read this year?

  • Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout
  • Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
  • Essays from We Are Here, edited by Meg Mundell
  • Sorrow and Bliss (proof copy – available to pre-order) by Meg Mason
  • and I am loving The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel


Do you have any future projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I have a few ideas but they are sketchy. I’d love to write something that’s sort of gothic and suspenseful again. I’d also love to write something about art, maybe with an artist character.


Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading! There is so much out there competing with reading these days but I really believe that there is no experience like reading fiction and the way it lets you step into a new world, feel new sensations, think new thoughts, and expand the inner life.

 


NEW RELEASES

Here are a few new releases we are excited about!

FICTION

‘I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.’ So begins the exquisitely written new novel from New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings, it is no wonder we have included this new novel by Sue Monk Kidd, The Book of Longings in our list of new releases we are excited about.

During the Gold Rush, two siblings carry the dead body of their father on their backs, looking for a place for a burial. How Much of These Hills is Gold has high praise from authors such as Sebastian Barry and Emma Donoghue and we can’t wait to read it!

Mammoth is such a unique and bizarre story but it is absolutely brilliant. Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct mammoth, this is the (mostly) true story of how a collection of prehistoric creatures came to be on sale at a natural history auction in New York in 2007. With a mix of history, fiction and humour you won’t be able to put this one down!

Exciting Times is a slyly humorous and scorchingly smart modern love story about three cynics in Hong Kong and has been getting a lot of great reviews from our customers in store!

 

CRIME

9781760877989

Stalwart journalist Jack McEvoy – the hero of The Poet and The Scarecrow – tracks a serial killer who has been operating completely under the radar – until now – in this thriller from #1 bestselling author Michael Connelly.

9781788164184Who We Were by B.M. Carroll is a gripping novel about the power of childhood cruelty, and how it makes us the adults we become. Her previous novel, The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy was a staff favourite so we are excited for this new release!

 

 

FANTASY & YOUNG ADULT

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso is an exciting epic fantasy that we have been excited about for months! We loved this one and highly recommend picking it and her previous trilogy up if you are a fantasy lover!

The Girl and the Stars is another new release we have been excited about and eagerly awaiting. From the critically-acclaimed author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister comes this chilling new epic fantasy series.

We had to include the new Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins, not only because we are very excited about it but also because we have read it and loved it! The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a definite must read for fans of the original trilogy. Read a review from one of our staff members here.

Patrick Ness is a staff favourite and we were excited to hear he had a new novel coming out. Burn is one we love and involves the FBI, cults, assassins and dragons!

 

NON-FICTION

Radio Girl by local author David Duffy tells the story of the extraordinary Mrs Mac, pioneering and wartime legend.

It is probably no surprise that both staff and customers alike are excited about this biography of Jacinda Ardern.
She is a progressive and a social democrat. A millennial woman in leadership. Only the second elected leader in the world to give birth while in office. But who is the real Jacinda Ardern? And why does she inspire such global admiration?

The latest installment in the OnSeries, On Secrets by Annika Smethurst is a fascinating and eyeopening read that we couldn’t put down.

Wow, No Thank You is a global publication with major impact from bestselling author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life and one of the funniest people in print: Samantha Irby.

 

KIDS

Welcome to The StrangeWorlds Travel Agency where every suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside…
A magical adventure perfect for readers 9+.

The Year the Maps Changed is a middle-grade coming-of-age story inspired by true events about the bonds of family, the weight of grief and the power of compassion for fans of The Bone SparrowWolf Hollow and The Thing About Jellyfish.

The Suitcase is a touching, timely tale about the importance of kindness and understanding. A story full of heart, hope and kindness about how we treat those in need. This picture book quickly became a staff favourite in store.

Green Lizards and Red Rectangles and the Blue Ball is the follow up to Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles which was a favourite here in store when it was first released. This is a thought-provoking book about living in harmony and learning to get along from the author of Please Mr Panda and The Queen’s Hat.


 

Keep tuned for more recommendations, author interviews and book reviews coming soon. Stay safe!

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