On tour: Meet the author Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver is the author of Pandemonium, the follow-up to Delirium, published by Hodder & Stoughton. She is touring Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in March.

What would you put on a shelf-talker for your book?
‘A world without love; a society on the brink of revolution. Read it and weep. Literally!’

What is the silliest question you’ve ever been asked on a book tour?
Sometimes people ask me to sing The Little Mermaid, which is silly but also kind of fun!

And the most profound?
I’m consistently surprised and delighted by the level of profundity my books seem to elicit. I’ve been asked what my greatest values are, how I would spend my last day, whether I’ve had my heart broken …

What are you reading right now?
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (Fourth Estate).

What was the last book you read and loved?
The Game of Thrones (George R R Martin, HarperVoyager). I thought it was brilliant.

What was the defining book of your childhood?
Matilda by Roald Dahl (various imprints). I still read it every time I’m sick!

Which is your favourite bookstore?
I have quite a few. I love Anderson’s in Naperville, Illinois; when I was growing up, I spent loads of time in a local bookstore called Second Story, which is unfortunately now shuttered.

Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter, probably. Facebook has gotten, like, too complicated for me. Timeline? No, thank you. I feel like it’s pointing the way to my death.

If I were a literary character I’d be …
Elizabeth Bennett, so I could marry Mr Darcy, of course, or Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

In 50 years’ time books will be …
Beautiful collectibles; stories will commonly be told via interactive mediums.

On tour: Meet the author Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray is the author of Balthazar, the final book in the ‘Evernight’ series (HarperCollins). Gray is touring Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth in March and is a guest of the Somerset Celebration of Literature in Queensland. 

What would you put on a shelf-talker for your book?
It would be the tagline that appears on the Balthazar cover: ‘Finally, it’s his turn.’

What’s the silliest question you’ve ever been asked on a book tour?
Honestly, I haven’t been asked very many truly silly questions. The last tour I was on, though, people asked some very personal ones! I mean, stuff I would ask my best friends but not many other people. ‘Tell me about the first time you fell in love,’ that was one. I mean, before I start spilling stuff that intimate, you have to at least buy me coffee. At a minimum.

And the most profound?
Somebody asked what made a love scene truly good, which was thought-provoking, because I’d never pulled it out quite that abstractly before. It was interesting to consider. Ultimately I decided that it was about discovery, that great love scenes are about each person simultaneously discovering something about the other and about themselves. That they’re learning who they are together.

What are you reading right now?
My Place
by Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press). I’m about two thirds of the way through, so I think I’ll finish before I leave for Australia.

What’s the last book you read and loved?
The Invisible Gorilla
by Daniel Simons (HarperCollins). While I’m in the thick of writing, which I have been recently, I read much more nonfiction than fiction. The Invisible Gorilla is all about the limits of human perception and memory; we think we know and notice a great deal more than we do. It’s an entertaining, but sobering, read.

What was the defining book of your childhood?
There’s no one single defining book—I read so much, so avidly, that there are dozens that helped to shape my imagination. If there is one, it’s probably Mysteries of the Unexplained, a Readers’ Digest compilation of highly dubious ‘news’ about werewolves, hauntings, cryogenics, and anything else that could be considered weird. My grandparents had a copy, which I absorbed as though through my skin. That fascination with the bizarre is very much a part of me to this day. (And I now possess my own copy.)

What is your favourite bookstore?
What a cruel question to ask a book lover! During my childhood, the answer would definitely be Square Books of Oxford, Mississippi, near where I grew up. My dad would take me there to buy the occasional book as a treat; at the time, it was only on the second floor, and all the stairs were painted red with different genres lettered on each step. While I lived in New York City—specifically, during the heyday of Harry Potter madness—I developed a soft spot for Books of Wonder, which always had a big midnight bash for the books, to which they invited live owls. Yes, while waiting in line for your Harry Potter book, you got to see these beautiful owls, talk to their trainers, and donate to the conservation society. And, of course, because it was near midnight, the owls were wide awake! Spectacular.

Facebook or Twitter?
Both! And Instagram. And Tumblr.

If I were a literary character, I’d be …
… oh, dear, I think I’m Marianne Dashwood.

In 50 years’ time, books will be …
… around, for sure. I think we’ll see format changes that are hard to predict now, but we’ll never lose touch with the fundamentals of story.

On tour: Meet the author Jo Nesbø

Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø is currently touring Australia and New Zealand. His latest book is Phantom (Harvill Secker) starring police detective Harry Hole. (Warning: this interview contains some colourful language.)

What is the silliest question you’ve ever been asked on a book tour?
Well, this one nearly qualifies.

And the most profound?
‘How do I get to f**k Harry Hole?’ Or ‘Is the name Harry Hole an in-joke, referring to hairy hole?’

What are you reading right now?
A history about Taiwan [Nesbo was recently a guest at the Taipei International Book Exhibition]. And a play based on Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot.

What was the last book you read and loved?
I re-read Ibsen’s plays. This may not be breaking news, but he is great.

What was the defining book of your childhood?
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (I thought it was a children’s book because of the cover) and Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer.

Which is your favourite bookstore?
Actually, I loved some of the book stores in Sydney when I was there 15 years ago. Don’t remember the names though. There is one mystery books store in Southern Manhattan. Name … ah, no.

Facebook or Twitter?
Nope. I hear somebody is borrowing my name on Facebook though, so hopefully he or she is doing the job for me.

If I were a literary character I’d be …
Harry Hole, I guess. All writers are in some way or the other writing about themselves.

In 50 years’ time books will be …
… read, I think. Or more precise, stories will be read. The book is—after all—just a medium.

On tour: Meet the author Alain De Botton

Alain de Botton is touring Sydney and Brisbane during February. His most recent book, Religion for Atheists, is published by Hamish Hamilton.

What would you put on a shelf-talker for your book?

The perfect book for those who are bored both by militant atheists and the fundamentalist religious—but who are still really curious about religion and want to find ways that it might help them in their own lives.

What is the silliest question you’ve ever been asked on a book tour?

Anyone who shows up to listen to me discuss my work is immediately a friend: so I tend never to mind the ‘odd question’ bit of the evening.

And the most profound?

‘Isn’t all your work basically trying to help people to live and to die?’ I had to agree.

What are you reading right now?

My friend Geoff Dyer’s new book, Zona (Text).

What was the last book you read and loved?

John Armstrong’s The Secret Power of Beauty (Allen Lane), a lovely book about our relationship to art.

What was the defining book of your childhood?

I loved the adventures of Babar when I was five.

Which is your favourite bookstore?

A beautiful independent chain in London called Daunt Books.

Daunt Books Marylebone

Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter, where I have 160,000 followers. At Facebook, just 18,000.

If I were a literary character I’d be …

The narrator of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (various imprints).

In 50 years’ time books will be …

Much as they are today, though the hardbacks will be yet more beautiful and a bit more expensive. Ebooks won’t ruin everything.