Saturday, 16 March 2013

Do you remember The Thompson Twins?

Iconic 80's Brit band the Thompson Twins had big hair and stony faces, quite at odds with their upbeat brand of pop music. (Remember "Hold me now' or 'Love on my side'?)  They were a household name in the UK when I was at uni but I had all but forgotten them by the time I moved to Sydney. Until I met one, that is. Standing on the sidelines at a kids' soccer game one Saturday morning, I started talking to the dad next to me. I didn't know him but he turned out to be Michael White, Thompson Twin turned author with some 38 books to his name.

The Thompson Twins - back in the day
A few weeks later I interviewed him for The Australian and we talked about his writing career. He told me that when he's in the middle of a book he doesn't like to read novels because the voices of the characters in the book he's reading compete with those of the characters he's creating.

I didn't think about his remark again until I was writing Burned and discovered exactly what he meant.  I still read, of course, but it was much more important to me to read non-fiction, especially newspapers. The little filler stories in newspapers often give fascinating glimpses into the lives of others, into situations too bizarre to be dreamed up, into characters we might never otherwise encounter. They can provide inspiration for plot points, character development and more besides.

So for the last couple of years, I haven't read as much as I would like. But now Burned is in the capable hands of my editors at Random House and we're counting down to publication on June 3rd, I'm hungry for all the books I've missed. Here are just a couple I'm planning to tuck into very soon:

Wonder by R J Palacio.  Beautiful cover, intriguing blurb: 'My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.' Can't wait to read this and have already bought two more copies as birthday presents for friends.

Love this cover

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. So much has already been written/said about this quirky rom com that I feel I need hardly say more. Interestingly, the Penguin website promises: "It will make you want to drink cocktails." Never has a book tempted me more.

Keen for a cocktail?

It's autumn in Sydney and the soccer season is almost upon us. This year as I rug up on the sidelines, I won't be wondering where the coffee cart is or even pondering the off-side rule. I'll be looking around at the other parents and wondering how many of them were big in the 80's.

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