past, present and future with annabel smith


theark-annabelsmithWelcome back to Past, Present and Future, the fortnightly (ahem) post in which I invite a special guest over to Book to the Future for a nice, hot cup of tea and a spot of time travel.

For anyone new to Book to the Future, here’s the deal: I ask someone bookish to share with me a little bit about the book they’ve just read and the book they’re reading right now. I also get them to take a peek into their crystal ball and let me know what they’re planning to read next.

My guest for this edition of Past, Present and Future is none other than Annabel Smith, author of digital interactive novel, The Ark. Here’s what Annabel’s been reading…



The last couple of months have been a reading wasteland for me, as I have worked every spare minute preparing for the publication of my novel The Ark. Now it is out in the world I’m very happy to get back to to my ridiculously enormous reading pile.



I adored Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and have since been exploring her backlist, most recently with her novel The Ten-Year Nap, which explores the difficult line walked by working women who become parents.

I read a few reviews which dismissed the novel as the whining of privileged white women but I found it incredibly relatable and I respected Wolitzer’s willingness to tackle a subject which is so ordinary as to seem unworthy of being the subject for a novel. The timing was perfect actually, as in November, I’m lucky to be writer-in-residence at Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, and I’ll be starting a new novel which engages with similar themes, and draws on my experiences with post-natal depression.



Yesterday I devoured Edan Lepucki’s debut novel California in one sitting. Set in a not-too-distant and easily imaginable future in which extreme weather events and environmental problems are making parts of the country uninhabitable, Cal & Frida create a new life for themselves in the wilderness. When Frida becomes pregnant they journey to a closed community, hoping to be accepted.

The novel is beautifully written and the day-to-day details of post-apocalyptic survival are fascinating, as are the dynamics of the communities that form under extreme conditions. California is also a very insightful portrayal of the ups and downs of marriage, especially under fraught circumstances.

Though the settings were quite different, in terms of themes I found many interesting parallels with my recently-published novel The Ark.


For the third year in a row, I am taking part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge, in which I have challenged myself to read at least one book by an Australian female author each month.

I have just begun Emily Bitto’s The Strays, and am instantly beguiled by its gorgeous writing and sepia-toned depiction of childhood in the Melbourne of the 1930s.

Centred around the family of an artist, it looks like it is going to explore ‘bohemian parenting’ and female friendship and I can’t wait to see where it goes.



Annabel SmSONY DSCith is the author of Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her short fiction and non-fiction has been published in Southerly, Westerly, Wheeler Dailies and Junkee. She holds a PhD in Writing, is an Australia Council Creative Australia Fellow, and is a member of the editorial board of Margaret River Press. Her digital interactive novel/app The Ark has just been released. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you so much for being a part of Past, Present and Future, Annabel! Congratulations on the launch of The Ark – here’s wishing it every success. Best of luck with the new novel…

past, present and future with julie proudfoot


the-neighbourPast, Present and Future is the fortnightly series of posts in which I invite a very special guest to grab a cup of tea and come time travelling with me. I ask someone bookish to tell me about a book from their past, the book they’re reading now, and a book they’re planning to read soon. Hence the name – past, present and future.

It seems pretty much everyone’s talking about this fortnight’s guest, Julie Proudfoot. She’s the author of The Neighbour – one of four novellas published as a part of Seizure’s second Viva la Novella competition. Here’s what Julie’s been reading.

I love a good exploration of the psyche, especially by Australian women, with that jolleyessence of Australia that you won’t find anywhere else: honesty and courage. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead, anything by Charlotte Wood, Kate Grenville, Margo Lanagan, and, always Elizabeth Jolley. I used to wonder about those layers of personality and emotion that Jolley put into her characters, what did she draw on? And now, after her passing, and new stories about Elizabeth Jolley have surfaced, it all makes sense.

I was lucky enough to interview her once for an American magazine. My instructions were to interview high profile authors. When I snapped the Elizabeth Jolley interview I was super excited (this WAS in the Eighties) but when I put it to the editors their response was that nobody in America had heard of her. So they didn’t print it. I have it on my blog now, and the most blissful part about it all was that due to Jolley’s hectic schedule at the time we ended up doing the interview rabbits weddingby letter. (She wasn’t a fan of email.) Her assistant was on holiday so she hand-wrote the letter with the answers, and I still have that now. Anyway, did I cry the day she passed…

I can’t speak of the past without a nod to the first book I ever loved. It was given to me by my Nanna. Nanna would purchase a huge pile of tumbling books every Christmas that she placed on a trestle table for all the cousins to choose from, and we’d take it to her for her to write in. The one I love is The Rabbits’ Wedding. I love rabbits, have had many as pets, and I always weep like a sooky at weddings.


This very minute I’m in deep with Anna Krien’s Night Games. I’m reading it for Kirsten nightgamesKrauth’s book club. I’m only four chapters in, and already I’m feeling uncomfortable. It’s about sex, consent and power within sport. The book centres on a rape trial after an incident that occurred during celebrations after an AFL Grand Final. We all know the kind of story; we’ve cringed as they’re displayed on our screens. It reminds me of Helen Garner’s The First Stone the way it teases out the issues that no one wants to talk about; a powerful theme. I don’t want football ruined by this stuff, but it needs to be exposed.

I’m also reading three books for a panel I’m chairing at the Bendigo Writers Festival in August entitled Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon: Kirsten Krauth’s just_a_girl, Jenny Valentish’s Cherry Bomb, and Nicole Hayes’ The Whole of My World. Each is sweet, gutsy and loveable in its own way – the books and the authors!


Dawn Barker’s Fractured waits patiently on my tall to-read pile, and I’m so looking forward to it, but I needprivacy to get on it quick because her second book has just been released. I love a good psychological analysis and that’s what I’m led to believe Fractured is, among other themes.

Genna De Bont’s Privacy is waiting on my Kindle, it’s based in country Victoria, and I love that about it. The blurb says it all to me:

For readers of thought-provoking literary fiction, this is a novel that challenges the boundaries between snooping and surveillance.

…how can you not read that?

Okay, also in my future is a book that is an interactive app. Annabel Smith’s third book,the ark The Ark, is due out in September. It’s to be published not only as an e-book, but as an interactive app. What will this mean? Who knows, but I’m looking forward to finding out, come on September!

Last month I picked up The Loud Earth by Elisabeth Murray at The Novella Prize event at the Emerging Writer’s Festival. Elisabeth began her reading by saying ‘I’m going to lower the tone of the room now,’ with that I was hooked! I was lucky enough to chat with Elisabeth afterwards and sign each other’s books, which has to be one of the coolest things for writers to do.

I’ve opened up Murray’s book, and pulled out a sentence or two to show off, and if this is anything to go by we’re in for a ride.

…I heard her moving about, small movements that I
had taken for granted so many evenings but that could have brought me to tears. Then silence. The storm was brutal and I didn’t want it to end. It was keeping her here. It was tying her hands behind her back and gagging her with cloth…It got late. There was all this silence in the house. The blood on the floor. It was dark and they wanted me.


Julie Proudfoot’s first novel, The Neighbour, was recently published and announced as winner of the Seizure Viva La Novella Prize 2014. She will be appearing at The Bendigo Writers Festival this year as chair of the panel, Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon and will also be hosting the official launch of The Neighbour, a free event, all welcome. Julie blogs at and you can follow her on twitter @ProudMumbles

Thanks Julie! All of these books sound excellent. Here’s a link to the Bendigo Writers Festival website, where you can find out more about Julie’s panel (I wish I could go!).

muddled thoughts on ‘a room with a view’

Paul de Maria, Field of Violet Flowers. Click here to visit Paul's website.
Paul de Maria, Field of Violet Flowers. Click here to visit Paul’s website.

“It isn’t possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.”

– E M Forster, A Room with a View

When author Annabel Smith, invited me over to her blog to write about my favourite book – or, at least, one of my favourite books – E M Forster’s A Room with a View came immediately to mind.

Click here to pop over to Annabel’s blog and have a read!

(Oh, and while you’re there, make sure you find out more about Annabel’s novelsWhisky Charlie Foxtrot and A New Map of the Universe. You should also take a look at all the other talented authors, bloggers and bookish sorts who have contributed to Annabel’s Friday Faves and read about their favourite books)


In other news, I am finding myself falling in love with writing again. And yes, I’m currently reviewing a book published in 1960. Finally.

More words. Soon. Really.