Author Profiles – Christine V. Courtney

Christine V. Courtney’s first career was as a professional dancer, moving from Adelaide to Britain to dance with the Ballet Rambert and directing her own small ballet company before returning to Australia to work as a teacher and producer. She first visited Venice while leading fine arts tours to Europe in the 1980s. The city provided the inspiration for her first book, Venetian Voices.

What is your favourite memory from your time in dance?

My favourite memories are of the incredible camaraderie we shared under difficult conditions in the Ballet Rambert. We were on the road 42 weeks a year, in a different city each week, and travelled by train on Sunday between venues. Our six-week tour of the Middle East in 1963 opened my eyes to the world of Islamic sculpture, architecture and the history of that extraordinary area. We all coped with Dame Marie Rambert’s quixotic nature and those she did not break grew stronger. Fortunately I fell in the latter camp. The six years I spent with the company as a young artist (joining at age 19) were the most exhilarating of my life. I was doing what I believed I was born to do, and travelling, two of the four pillars of my life. I will leave you guessing as to the other two.

Would you ever move to Venice?

I would love to have the opportunity to move to Venice for a year simply to gather material for a second volume on the city. Ideally, I would move from district to district and island to island soaking up the atmosphere and local stories. To live in a Palazzo on the Grand Canal for a month would be a dream come true as I would be following in the footsteps of Richard Wagner and Marie Taglioni, the famous Italian ballerina, and many others.

What do you find to be the most difficult thing about writing poetry?

Distilling the essence of what I want to say, working as many drafts as needed, then being disciplined enough to put it aside to rest for some days. Coming back one sees the work with fresh eyes. Some poems came in one rush while others involved an arm wrestle to forge them into shape. When time and circumstances opened up in 2000 and I wrote my first poems I did not have a clue what I was doing except that some imaginary door opened and I stepped through it into the world of words. I’d found a pathway back into the exhilarating feeling of being creative and truly alive. It has been a struggle to find my ‘voice’, and I am still not sure I am there, wherever ‘there’ is. I’ve been plagued by self doubt, but upheld by a belief that I have something to say and needed to find a way to express myself.

What will you be working on next?

This is hard to predict. A new poem about Venice flew into my mind last week following an exchange with a friend relating an experience when he and his wife visited the city. Another local poem jumped out during the Wonder Walls event at Port Adelaide. Dr John Couper-Smartt wants me to again get involved in the reprint of Port Adelaide Tales from a ‘Commodious Harbour’ which we co-authored in 2003. For the time being I am enjoying reading other poets and keeping all my options open.

What is your favourite Italian food and why?

That’s simple: it is whatever I am eating at the time. I adore Italian food. The first orange gelatti I ever tasted was in Spoleto and had the ice-cream poured inside a whole hollowed out orange skin. It was the most beautiful refreshing juice I had ever tasted. One just squeezed the orange and sucked; a sensual experience. Likewise the Baccala Manecato provided at the launch of Venetian Voices was absolutely delicious and a food fit for the Gods. While reading Donna Leon’s books on Commissario Brunetti I become inspired to cook some of the dishes she describes.

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?

As an admirer of C.J. Dennis’s work, I loved every aspect of An Unsentimental Bloke. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the works by Dr Philip Jones such as Boomerang and Ochre and Rust. The monographs on artists like Robert Hannaford and Nora Heysen are always a pleasure to peruse. If I could read everything Wakefield produced it would be wonderful, but my life is now running short and I still have much to do, so it is a case of balance!

Author Profiles – Michael McGuire

Award-winning journalist Michael McGuire has worked for more than twenty years at the Australian in Sydney, and the Adelaide Advertiser where he is now senior writer. He has also dabbled in state and federal politics. His first foray into fiction, Never a True Wordhas been called ‘a political novel for our times’ (Australian).

What were you like as a child? Did you ever get into trouble?

Mostly okay, I think. There were two parts to my childhood. Up until I was 10 I lived in Glasgow, Scotland. Most of my memories from that time involve playing football or watching my dad playing football. I was fairly obsessed. Most people would say that hasn’t changed a great deal. It’s that old Jesuit saying – give me a boy until he is seven and I will give you the man. Just substitute the Jesuits for football and Celtic.

After we left Scotland we moved to Naracoorte for around four years. That was a great place to grow up. Lots of freedom and days running around the streets with friends. Being the country there was also lots of sport. Footy on Saturday and two games of soccer on Sunday. Bliss. It also gave me my first introduction to cricket. I couldn’t bat or bowl so I became a wicket keeper.

The other memories of childhood revolve around books. Famous Five, Biggles, Hardy Boys when I was younger then lots of Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth. I always had my nose in my book. When I was eight I went to the Louvre in Paris with my family and caused some bemusement by reading a Peanuts book the whole way around. ‘Look son, there’s the Mona Lisa …’

What prompted you to write Never a True Word?

Probably several things. There had been a long-held desire to write something, anything. But I either didn’t have an idea I liked or just blamed the fact that life was too busy. Eventually, I decided I should just stop complaining and get on with it. By this time I had turned 40 and thought unless I start something soon, I will never get around to it. I had worked in politics for a while and found it tough, but fascinating. The personalities, the power, the egos. All the stuff that is hidden away generally from public view. I had loved shows like Yes Minister and, in particular, The Thick of It, but I hadn’t really read anything explained politics as I knew it to be. I wanted to write a book about how politics worked for people who were outside that world.

What is the biggest difference between working in journalism and politics?

They are two sides of the same coin. Now that I am on the side of the angels again in journalism, it’s all about holding politicians and politics to account. Politicians are not the enemy as such but you have to be wary. There’s different mindsets at work. Journalism is more about holding an attacking mentality – we are always chasing a story, pursuing a lead. Politics is often about defence. Killing that story, plugging the leak. There is much more paranoia in politics than media. The bunker mentality is the prevailing mindset in most political offices. Everyone in politics thinks the media is out to get them at all times. There may be some truth in this, but it also breeds an unnecessarily narrow world view and is responsible for much of the short-term thinking you see in politics at the moment.

What’s been the best reaction you’ve had so far to the book?

Lots of people have been very supportive which has been lovely. It’s been well reviewed in the Australian and the Age. On the ABC Peter Goers said many positive things about the book. As a journalist, it’s a bit weird when people are nice to you. It’s hard to know how to handle it.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

Can I be seven again? I would come back as one of the great Celtic players. One of the European Cup winners of 1967, maybe Jimmy Johnstone, or my hero growing up, Kenny Dalglish. Although, unlike Dalglish, I wouldn’t have ruined my career by joining Liverpool.

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?

I couldn’t possibly go past the excellent Red Silk: The Life of Elliot Johnston QC by my friend and colleague Penny Debelle. Although, for a story from the other side of the legal tracks, Dead by Friday by another colleague and friend, Derek Pedley, is also a cracking read.

Author Profiles – Stephen Orr

We decided it was time to bring back our popular author profiles, and who better to start with than Stephen Orr.

Stephen Orr is the award-winning author of six novels, including Time’s Long Ruin, The Hands, Hill of Grace and Dissonance. Peter Goers has called him South-Australia’s finest novelist. A fascination with the dynamics of families and small communities pervades his fiction and non-fiction. He contributes essays and features to several magazines, journals and newspapers. Stephen’s short fiction has been published widely over the last ten years, and a selection has gathered for the first time in his new release, Datsunland. His website is
What did you want to be when you grew up?

I did write a novel when I was sixteen. It was called A Drop in the Ocean. Terrible, I guess, and I later burned it, like some sort of Nazi book-burning to rid the world of undesirable reading matter. Then forgot fiction until I was in my late twenties. I worry that Australian culture is adept at removing the dream gland from kids, when they start out at their most creative, enthusiastic. That’s how I remember it. Like writing in a void. And it still feels this way. I never liked sport. I hated sport. I detested sport. All of my protagonists hate it too (strangely enough). So you become a boilermaker, or sell things, or know someone who gets you a job in the public service. But god, you never waste time writing books. I’ve taught, which is the noblest of professions, and I try to get in the ear of the writer kids, and tell them to keep at it, because although they’ll never get a Best and Fairest trophy, they’ll have a hundred little worlds of their own making (note italics).

Do you have a writing routine? Why/why not?

Whenever I can. Mornings are good, the brain’s clearer. I like quiet, but my street is full of lawnmower-obsessed people (oh, and the metal grinder guy), so when that starts I have to stop for an hour, start again, then someone’s dog starts. So it goes. I’d like to make some sort of writing pod. My dog, Molly, sits with me while I work, and farts, and I growl at her and she looks at me like, Is there a problem here? Then I wonder what the hell I’m doing making up stories when everyone else I know is out earning lots of money, buying holiday houses, skiing.

What do you like about short stories (both writing and reading them)? 

I think short stories are a good way into reading and writing longer fiction. Peter Carey seemed to hone his art with The Fat Man in History. Borges’s Collected Fictions are the first and last word (along with Juan Rulfo perhaps) in short fiction. And Robert Walser’s micrograms, which led to Kafka. The list goes on, especially Joyce’s Dubliners, Chekov’s short stories, Thomas Mann. Each writer found a way to compress the world, find a moment that represents many, pick up on a dilemma, problem, disaster, ecstasy that says much more than it seems to say (on the surface). Leaving the reader anxious, but unable to know more. Then having to rely upon their own sense of ending, or non-ending, to complete the experience. Flannery O’Connor’s stories, too. Dark, unsettling, violent, from this very Catholic and catholic writer.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on next?

Just finished a book about Ethel Malley (Ern’s sister). Yes, I know she was made up, but I wrote a novel about her life, loves, relationship with Max Harris. It’s a strange piece, but that’s just how it comes out. I seem to write stranger books as I get older, and the market seems to want more predictable, clichéd, pointless s*** to feed the groaning shelves of Big W and K Mart. If one of my books ever ended up there I’d know I am, at last, a failure. Where does this leave us? I predict there will soon be a reality show with writers churning out a book, with the prize being a big contract. We can watch them melt down, cook stuff, date in the nudie, try to sing like Celeste (or whatever her name is). And then people can switch over. Hear that ring in your ears? It’s the sound of cells dying. And you’ll never hear that frequency again.

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

If I were Buddhist, this would be a problematic question, because it would suggest I’m moving down through the realms, instead of up. And if that were the case, and assuming I had any say in it (which I think is reasonable, but optimistic) then I’d be a seagull. Spend my days scabbing chips at Semaphore and flying to Adelaide Oval to poop on footballers.

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?

I love that Wakefield publishes so many art books: Drysdale, Dobell, and contemporary artists. Steidl, an excellent German publisher, does the same, and has many similarities to Wakefield: quality books, excellent editing, discerning titles. Wakefield is in one of group of publishers like Transit Lounge, Black Inc, that still stand for what publishing was years ago. As far as I know, big Mick Bollen doesn’t have a numbers-man with a degree in finance or marketing telling him what to publish. Without getting too political, I just wish the SA government would recognise that this type of work needs some support (no, not half a billion, stadium-style, but just a bit). That if Wakefield wasn’t publishing local stories there wouldn’t be anything to remember, wonder about, be moved by. Just the government’s view of the past, present and future. Which is a pretty grim thought.

Book Extract – Lisa Fabry

Lisa Fabry‘s two great passions in life – food and yoga – led her to the ‘divine vegan’ concept, a way of combining practical food choices with ethical, moral and spiritual awareness. Born in London, Lisa now lives in Adelaide. She has worked as a film and television producer, writer, editor, barista, chef, and yoga teacher. In between times, she home educated her two daughters, and ran a vegan, organic cafe. You can visit Lisa Fabry at to drool over her desserts, and then you can head to our website to drool over the book, Divine Vegan Desserts!

The passage below is an excerpt on De Bolhoed, a vegetarian restaurant in Amsterdam:

SharksIt had been a struggle to find vegan food when travelling for three weeks in France and Italy. My two daughters and I had been living, on the whole, on crusty bread and ripe, knobbly tomatoes. The bread and tomatoes in France and Italy are undoubtedly among the best in the world, but one can overdo it. We were desperate to get to Amsterdam and the myriad vegan eats to be had there. De Bolhoed was our destination for brunch on our first morning. De Bolhoed means ‘The Bowler Hat’ in Dutch. Contrary to internet rumour it was not built on the site of an old hat shop but started about 25 years ago as a health food store and is now a well-known vegetarian restaurant. The owner just thought the name sounded nice! De Bolhoed sits on the edge of one of Amsterdam’s grandest and most beautiful canals, the Prinsengracht, about five minutes walk from the Anne Frank House. You can sit outside by the canal and watch the bikes whizz past, or choose one of the tables inside the cafe where the walls are decorated with painted pumpkin vines and eclectic artworks. It was busy when we arrived and all the outdoor and window tables were occupied, so we sat at a cosy corner table on bench seats below shelves covered with ornaments. We wondered why a big, fat ginger and white cat was looking at us strangely, but when he leaped up and installed himself in the corner of the bench seat we noticed the indentation in the cushion and the cat hairs that told us this was his place. He deigned to share it with us for the morning. The food at De Bolhoed is organic, all vegetarian and mostly vegan, with generous portions at a fair price for expensive Amsterdam. The menu is a mix of world cuisines – Mexican, Asian, African, Mediterranean – with an amazing array of salads which are prepared fresh daily. Each day there is a mixed vegan plate on offer, which contains seven or eight different dishes, both hot and cold. And joy of joys, after three weeks of dessert fasting, there was a tall fridge stuffed full of pies, cheesecakes and cakes, many of them vegan. We had a delicious meal, and although we looked at the other restaurants on my list, we came back to De Bolhoed every day for the rest of our stay in Amsterdam.

Author Profiles – Bruce Munday

In 1974 Bruce and Kristin Munday bought a farm in the Adelaide Hills where they raised sheep, cattle and three children, and planted many trees. When the kids left home Bruce established his own business as a communications consultant in natural resource management and discovered how much he enjoyed sharing stories with people living on the land – particularly those who love the land and want to conserve it. Those Dry-Stone Walls documents the beauty of South Australia’s dry-stone walls, many of which have defied gravity – without mortar – since early settlement.

We asked Bruce a few questions about his interest in dry-stone walls and the process of making the book.

Those Dry-stone Walls coverWhen did you first become interested in dry-stone walls, and how? 

I have always admired the stone architecture in SA and we have several old dry-stone walls near our property at Tungkillo. Some are in good condition while others are tumbling down, but they all said something about early settlement in the district. What really got me going was visiting Peru about 10 years ago and seeing the remarkable dry-stone structures about which so little is known as the Incas had no written language. That prompted me to investigate if there had been any research into the dry-stone walls in SA.

What was your favourite moment during the writing of the book?

Favourite was the comment from Marcus Beresford (Nat Trust SA) who, after reviewing the first draft wrote that ‘this is a compelling story, delightfully told. I will certainly buy the book’. At that moment I knew I had a book.

Those Dry-stone Walls has become very popular. Have you received any interesting feedback from readers? 

I have been lucky. The book launch was a great success and that set the scene for a positive reaction to the book. I have received many favourable comments from people who took the time to write or email and several invitations to speak to local history groups, etc. Perhaps the most encouraging comments came from serious history buffs who expressed pleasure that someone had undertaken this work. The most moving came from a letter I received from Liz Mitchell, the widow of Kim to whom I dedicated the book. Liz wrote: The book was passed around the family, and inspired many discussions about stone walls and Kim. The children asked what it meant to ‘dedicate’ a book to someone, and grew prouder of their Dad as I explained as best I could. I found that, and indeed her whole letter, very moving.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be? 

My power would be to recover all the stone that has been pillaged from old stone walls, remove them from their present location in private gardens, etc, and return them to from whence they came. I would leave behind a note saying ‘shame on you’ signed ‘History Superhero’.

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why? 

Your Brick Oven – just what I needed to build my own

The Adelaide Parklands – there is nothing else like it


Author Profiles – Valerie Volk

Another day, another profile of one of Wakefield Press’s amazing authors!

Valerie Volk is a former secondary teacher, tertiary lecturer, and director of an international education program. She has won awards for poetry and short fiction and has published widely in journals, anthologies and magazines. Her first book, In Due Season, won the Omega Writers CALEB Poetry Prize in 2010, and there have been enthusiastic reviews of both her verse novel A Promise of Peaches and her sardonic modern versions of Grimms’ Tales, Even Grimmer Tales. Her fourth book, Passion Play: The Oberammergau Tales, reflects both a love of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that was born during a Year 12 English course many decades ago and also her fascination with the infinite variety of human beings.

We caught up with Valerie to ask a few questions about Passion Play, which is a verse novel based around the Oberammergau Passion Play, performed every ten years in a tradition dating back to the 17th century.

Passion Play coverHave you ever attended the Passion Play at Oberammergau?

Yes, three times, in 1990, 2000, 2010 – but I first discovered Oberammergau when driving through southern Germany in 1973 (a non-Passion Play year) and became fascinated by the place and the ten-yearly event.

How did you develop the structure and characters for your verse novel Passion Play?

I’ve always wanted to do a modern parallel to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, so this four day bus trip and its group of varied characters travelling  to the Passion Play provided me with the perfect structure for such a creation. Except that these people do not copy Chaucer’s and tell stories to entertain each other; instead they reveal their own lives in monologues or discussions that are often painfully honest. As for the characters? Most of them are today’s equivalents of the Chaucerian group – even to Chaucer’s Cook becoming a modern TV cooking contest winner …

What is you favourite line or two of verse in the book?

This is so hard – it’s difficult to extract lines from a novel, which is basically a narrative. Perhaps the journalist, as she returns and sits in Changi airport, waiting her last stage flight home :

How that word sums it up.
I am in transit.

Around me all the buzz of airport lounge.
The crowds of travellers,
arrivals weary as they trudge
to baggage claims,
then out into the humid dark
of Singapore, its tropic night,
its frangipani air.

If you weren’t a poet, what do you think your occupation would be?

I’d be properly retired, sitting in the sun, reading a crime novel  …  instead of feeling compelled to write!

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?

A long way back favourite, Peter Goldsworthy’s Bleak Rooms, for its brilliant vignettes of life in a short story collection, and his amazing understanding of people.
Lolo Houbein’s One Magic Square, for its vision of sustainable life, which almost sent me out to plant my own small plot of ground.
John Neylon’s Robert Hannaford, for the insight it gave into this great South Australian artist, and the wonderful reproductions of his work – I’ll never be able to afford an original, but I can enjoy them in the book.
Jude Aquilina’s poetry, especially in the witty and sardonic WomanSpeak.

Author Profiles – Jude Aquilina

Jude Aquilina’s poetry and short stories have been published in newspapers, anthologies and literary journals in Australia and abroad. Jude has been a guest speaker at numerous writers’ festivals, including Adelaide Writers’ Week, Canberra Spring Poetry Festival and Penola Arts Festival. She has published two collections of her own poetry: Knifing the Ice (Friendly Street Poets/Wakefield Press 2000) and On a Moon Spiced Night (Wakefield Press 2004). She has also published one coauthored collection, WomanSpeak (Wakefield Press, 2009), co-written with Louise Nicholas, and one edited collection, Tadpoles in the Torrens (Wakefield Press, 2013). Many of her poems have won awards.

We asked Jude a few questions about being a poet, and Tadpoles in the Torrens.

Jude AquilinaCan you tell us a bit about the process for putting together Tadpoles in the Torrens? Did you have a favourite moment as editor?

A few years ago, I was looking for collections of poetry for children, by South Australian writers. I soon realized it was over 20 years since one had been published. When I told Michael Bollen, he said he’d be interested in such a book. I was excited and set about gathering the poems. It was a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but it didn’t matter if pieces of the sky ended up in the river – I just chose the pieces I liked the shape, feel or colour of!  I had over 300 poems from children’s poets and authors to choose from. I called for submissions from the writing group ‘The Echidnas’ who are all published SA children’s writers, and I looked through past issues of The School Magazine (NSW Education Dept), to find SA poets who were being published at present.  I was amazed to find so many wonderful poets and poems, hiding like frogs in the state’s backyard!
Some of the best moments, as editor, were talking on the phone to the late and great Max Fatchen. He was thrilled with the idea of Tadpoles in the Torrens and would call me from time to time; he was always full of encouragement and loved to talk about poetry and words.  He told me he thought ‘Seagulls on the Oval’ was the best poem he’d ever written. I was thrilled to include it in Tadpoles in the Torrens, along with other Max Fatchen gems.  I loved Max’s sense of humour and the way he wrote about everyday things, yet made them special – and he never said a bad word about anyone. He will always be my writing role-model.

Do you have a writing routine? Why/why not?

No, I do not have a routine and never have.  As a freelance writer/mentor and TAFE teacher, my working hours are haphazard, so there is not much point in a strict routine. I prioritise. This means some projects on the back-burner take longer, but I believe writing and publishing books happens from a cumulative effect. Eventually everything you do comes in handy!

Is there one poem that has inspired you more than any other? If so, what is it and why?

Throughout my childhood, my father read poetry to me from little suede-covered books.  I loved all the English poets, but the poem I thought about the most was a poem called ‘The Sands of Dee’ by Charles Kingsley. It was about Mary, who went to bring the cattle home, but a high tide came and drowned her. I’d lay awake in bed, thinking of Mary and all those bloated cows … And never home came she … for the cruel, foaming sea, the cruel, hungry sea, had taken her away! Later, I discovered contemporary women poets like Gwen Harwood and Judith Wright whose poetry  inspired me to write my own poetry.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

If I die, I’d like to come back as a pelican … a large bird that other birds can’t pick on; liked by humans and not considered edible, that lives near water, fishes and flies around all day and fills its bill with nibblies for later on.

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?

An all-time favourite WP book is The River Kings by Max Fatchen.  I think every South Australian should read this book. Max was a master story-teller and captures the SA landscape and its people so accurately. A recent favourite novel is Margaret Merrilees’ The First Week.  I couldn’t put this beautifully-written book down. No wonder it won the WP Unpublished Manuscript Award. The story is told through the eyes of a country mum (like me) in such a way that the reader becomes that character as she finds out about a tragedy that will change her life.  Another favourite is The Colour of Kerosene by Cameron Raynes. I’ve always loved reading short stories and this collection of stunning contemporary stories continues to resonate. And of course there are many poetry books I love, including Miriel Lenore’s In the Garden, and Mike Ladd’s Karrawirra Parri. It’s great to see WP supporting genres like poetry and short stories, when they are not considered fashionable (goodness knows why!).

Author Profiles – Sharon Kernot

Sharon Kernot worked as a community support worker in a child protection agency in the northern suburbs of Adelaide for eleven years. She has a masters in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide and a PhD from Flinders University. Underground Road is Sharon Kernot’s first novel. It was shortlisted in the Unpublished Manuscript category of the Adelaide Festival Awards in 2010. Sharon is also the author of a collection of short stories, In the Shadows of the Garden, and one of poetry, Washday Pockets. You can find her website at

We asked Sharon a few questions about Underground Road.

Sharon KernotWould you be able to identify a high point during the writing of Underground Road? And a low point?

When I was writing the Underground Road I had no idea how it was going to end because I’m not a plotter or planner and my writing practice is a bit chaotic so I don’t always write scenes (or chapters) in chronological order. I didn’t know if all the threads from each character would tie together. This wasn’t a low point as such but it did provide quite a bit of anxiety along the way. The high point came in the end when everything fit together neatly despite my concerns. I’ve just finished a draft of a new novel and while I was writing I had to keep reminding myself to keep writing because even though I had no idea where it was going, it’d all work out in the end.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on next?
As mentioned above, I’ve just finished the draft of another novel; it’s tentatively called Remembering Faith. The story revolves around Faith who has issues with her memory due to a serious accident when she was younger. Throughout the course of the novel she tries to uncover her past and discovers that her life was nothing like she thought. The story is set in two different time periods – the mid-2000s and the 1960s – the 1960s scenes are written from a child’s perspective. It’s really quite different from Underground Road but there’s still a lot of tension and suspense.

Who is your favourite Australian author?
I don’t have a favourite as such but I do love Tim Winton’s books and I’m currently reading his latest, Eyrie. I went to listen to him read at Elder Hall recently along with about 600 others. I love the fact that he’s so down to earth and unpretentious. Chris Tsiolkas’ new novel, Barracuda, is next in line. I enjoyed The Slap particularly for its multiple viewpoints and structure, so I thought I give this one a go too.
I admire Helen Garner’s writing for her brevity and precision, and her courage to write about difficult issues as in The Spare Room and Joe Cinque’s Consolation. I also love Sonya Hartnett’s novels – Sleeping Dogs, Of a Boy and Butterfly; the late Dorothy Porter’s verse novels particularly The Monkey’s Mask and What a Piece of Work, and Cate Kennedy’s short stories.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
When I was in my early twenties I lived on the Greek island Hydra for a short time. I loved it and have always wanted to go back. It’s quite a famous island in the sense that a lot of writers, artists and musicians have lived there over the years – George Johnson, Charmian Clift, Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley to name a few. I think Leonard Cohen still has a house there. Ironically, at the time of staying, I had no idea who might have been living there. It clearly had a vibrant artistic community but what I loved most, apart from the stunning views, was the fact that there were no cars only donkeys, bicycles and boats for transport. I’d love to go back and live there for a while, perhaps a year … and if Leonard Cohen’s there – all the better!

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
I’ve just finished reading Margaret Merrilees The First Week which I really enjoyed. I could empathise with the main character, Marian, as she struggled to understand why her son has done something horrific. Mothers, I think, tend to blame themselves when things go wrong for their children, and Mag captured this beautifully. She also writes evocatively of the Western Australian landscape and how it has been ruined by farming. Jude Aquilina and Louise Nicholas’s poetry collection Woman Speak is an old favourite – it’s funny and rude and obviously quite different from The First Week but I love these two talented South Australian poets. I also have a copy of the Tadpoles anthology of poetry which was edited by Jude; it’s full of wonderful children’s poems by South Australian poets including the late Max Fatchen. I’d recommend it to teachers or anyone who has children or grandchildren

Author Profiles – Rodney Fox

In the summer of 1963, Rodney Fox became famous when he survived a brutal shark attack off a suburban beach. Gathering his courage he returned to the sea, determined to make his living there. He fished for abalone and built the first shark cage. Hollywood came calling. Over five decades Rodney Fox has led hundreds of expeditions to introduce filmmakers, scientists, shark researchers and tourists to one of the world’s great adventures — each endeavour adding grand stories to an exciting life.

We asked Rodney a few questions about this extraordinary life, and his experiences with the great beasts of the deep.

Do you have a favourite memory from your years of interacting with sharks?
My favourite memory would be when I scratched the back of a 10m whale shark and watched it wobble and shake in pleasure.

Can you share any bizarre or little known facts about sharks?
When I witnessed two young adult dolphins harass a 4.5m great white shark whilst other dolphins in the family group ushered their baby dolphins away.

Who’s the most famous person your work has led you to meet?
I’ve spent a few hours in a shark cage with a Miss Universe and made films with Jean Michel Cousteau and also Fred Gwynn from The Addams Family.

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
I would be a tall, elegant and colourful giraffe.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite books, and why you like them so much?
Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey series, starting with Master and Commander, is a favourite of mine because of the books’ sense of adventure and camaraderie, as well as the way that O’Brian brings early history to life.

Rodney Fox

Author Profiles – Derek Pedley

Derek Pedley is a journalist with more than 25 years’ experience at Australian newspapers. He is now engaged in the dark art of daily news production at the Advertiser and His work has been shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime twice, with Australian Outlaw – The True Story of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott shortlisted in 2007, and Dead by Friday shortlisted in 2013. Pedley lives in Adelaide’s far northern suburbs, on the wrong side of the Mullet-Proof Fence.

We asked Derek a few questions about his career as a crime writer, and the fascinating story behind his latest book, Dead by Friday.

Derek PedleyWhat was it that drew you to write about this particular crime?

Michelle Burgess and her thoroughly deranged behaviour and personality. She is a remorseless sexual predator and I wanted to find out what made her tick. There was also the fact that the hitman ate one of the murder contracts in a sandwich. For me, that really summed up the bizarre nature of this case.

As a journalist with more than 25 years of experience, can you tell us what the most interesting story you’ve worked on is?
The exploits of bank robber and fugitive Brenden Abbott were sufficiently fascinating – and elusive – to keep me occupied for ten years and two books.

What will you be looking at in your next book?
I have an idea for another book involving unsolved major crimes. But I’m taking an extended break because since 1998, I’ve been constantly planning, researching or writing a book. It’s time to recharge the batteries and I’m enjoying spending a lot more time with my family.

Which living person do you most admire?
That’s a dead heat between American writer David Simon and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why?
It’s hard to narrow it down. What I like most about the Wakefield catalogue is the amazing breadth of Australian stories, whether it’s landscapes, histories, people, or infrastructure. It is absolutely essential that readers support a publisher like Wakefield, because no one else in SA – and perhaps even Australia – gives a voice to Australian stories the way Wakefield does. Their motto is “We love good stories and publish beautiful books” and I think that’s exactly what readers want.