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!).

past, present and future with kirsten krauth

ppandbttfWelcome to Past, Presegirlnt and Future! This is the first post in a new fortnightly series in which I invite a special guest over to Book to the Future to grab a cup of tea and come travelling through time with me.

The idea is simple: I ask someone – an author, a blogger, someone from the literary world – to tell me a little bit about the last book they read, the book they’re currently reading, and the book they’re planning to read next. In other words: past, present and future.

My first guest is none other than Kirsten Krauth, author of just_a_girl!

The books piled beside me as I sleep tend to naturally teeter in the past, present, future categories: books I’ve just read hover there waiting for me to blog about them, take notes on, learn technique from; the book I’m currently reading (there usually is only one at a time) is on the top of the pile or, most likely, it’s the Kindle, where the ‘must have now’ moment sends me scurrying in excitement; and future books sit at the bottom, precarious, weighing me down or enlivening me with their possibilities. I’ll get to them all one day.


I just finished Tim Ferguson’s memoir Carry a Big Stick and this has sent me down a comedy memoir route. I was browsing a friend’s bookshelf and noticed Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I kind of missed the Tina Fey revolution. I’ve never watched Saturday Night Live, and 30 Rock passed me by too. But I recently saw her in the latest Muppets (fabulous Siberian performance) and was struck by her elegance, voice, andbossypants natural comedic talent. The book is brilliant. Funny, geeky, with a feminist edge. When she starts off doing comedy and impro, the women are given sidekick roles — the girlfriend, mother — if they’re lucky enough; often the men prefer to work with other men in drag. But Fey’s involvement in the TV industry has changed all that. The memoir looks at her childhood, her theatrical dreams, her early struggles, her love of impro, and the challenge in balancing young children and producing a highly successful TV show. It’s a great read about how to manage others too. After finishing the book I started tracing her career on YouTube: the Sarah Palin times; hosting the Golden Globes. But what really gobsmacked me (read lower lip on the floor) was the way she (and co-host Amy Poehler) introduced Leonardo di Caprio at the awards ceremony in 2014. Billy Crystal, or even Ricky Gervais, would never have gotten away with this (keep watching, keep watching!). Seeing Leonardo’s beetroot blush still brings a smile to my face — and I have huge admiration for Fey’s audacity and hope some of it rubs off on me.

Holiday in CambodiaPresent

I have just started Laura Jean McKay’s Holiday in Cambodia. Friday Night Fictions is a club for debut authors that I run over at Wild Colonial Girl blog, and McKay’s book featured in the November soiree last year. I travelled to Cambodia in 2005 and wrote voraciously about it in a journal at the time. Though I’ve done a bit of travelling, it’s still my favourite place. McKay’s collection of short stories is challenging and gutsy, and takes on a range of characters and situations that any traveller to the region will recognise. She explores the tensions between tourism and local culture beautifully — with observances that can shock too. Her writing is always convincing and strong. I’ll be interviewing her in the next couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to finding out more about how she collected the stories and her own experiences in the country.


Anna Krien’s Night Games has been at the top of my list for a while now. Her nonfiction narrative about AFL football, rape culture, and how the teams and courts deal with it, has been nominated for the Stella Prize and widely covered in the media. My onightgameswn writing, especially the novel just_a_girl, is very much concerned with the place of young women in contemporary society and culture: how they are viewed; how they are treated; versus how they like to perceive themselves; and where the power in all of this eventually lies. I’m also very interested in this idea of ‘good girls’ (those who don’t provoke) and ‘bad girls’ or ‘sluts’ (asking for it). When I was a teen in the 80s, these were very common ideas and insults and I’d hoped things had changed in the intervening twenty years. But my research — and it appears, Krien’s — reveals that these ideas have pretty much stayed the same, especially when it comes to attitudes of teenagers and those in their early 20s. I’m greatly looking forward to reading Night Games because I love good narrative journalism – and I haven’t read a book like this for a while.

Kirsten Krauth’s first novel just_a_girl was published in 2013, she blogs at Wild Colonial Girl, and writes on regional arts for ABC Arts Online. She will appear at two sessions at the upcoming Sydney Writers’ Festival in May:

Here and Now: Debut Fiction, Monday 19 May, 10–11.10am, Carrington Hotel, Katoomba. (More info – tickets for session at venue or day passes available.)

Forest for the Trees: Writing and Publishing in 2014, how to publish and market a debut novel, Thursday 22 May, State Library of NSW, 10am–4.30pm. (More info – tickets available from the SWF website.)


Past, Present and Future will be back on Monday, May the 12th, when another author will come time travelling with me – and no, I’m not giving you a hint who it is!

(And f you’re wondering what happened to my usual Book to the Future Bookmarks post, worry not: it’ll be online next Monday. And yes, this means there’ll be at least one new post on Book to the Future every week.)

Finally, huge thanks to Kirsten for being my first guest! If you’ve read any of these books (or you’d like to) Kirsten and I would love to hear your thoughts…

five favourites for 2013

Okay. Look. Yes, I know I said in my previous post that I wasn’t going to do this…but I couldn’t help myself.

I might not have read or written much this year – but that doesn’t alter the fact that some great books came my way in 2013. So, with nothing to do on New Year’s Eve other than ordering takeaway and watching Sherlock on DVD, I thought I’d put together a last-minute post and ramble a little about five of my favourite books for the year. Grab a seat!

(Due to my…ahem…near complete lack of reviews for the books I’m about to mention, I’ll post a link with each book where you can find out more. Then, ideally, purchase a copy to add to your 2014 reading list!)

Ready? Let’s get started.

seaheartsSea Hearts ~ Margo Lanagan

This book. It’s a bad influence. It made me want to run to the ocean and throw myself into the waves; feel the squelch of sand between my toes and take sanctuary from the biting cold of the wind in the warm, salty water – but all that would have meant I’d have had to stop reading Sea Hearts. And there was absolutely no chance of that happening. I wasn’t putting this book down for anyone.

Sea Hearts enchanted me completely. And I’m not the only one. Take a look at this year’s Meanjin Tournament of Books!

Click here to find out more about Sea Hearts

if_nobody_speaks_of_remarkable_things If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things ~ Jon McGregor

Completely irresistible. From the first sentence to the last, I was utterly hooked. Reading this book is the literary equivalent of stuffing your face with chocolate mud cake. It’s dense and lavish and delicious. But at the same time, there’s a rawness about Remarkable Things that will catch you unaware; it will overwhelm you. It’s sad and sweet and almost impossibly intricate. It burns with an intensity that hurts – but in the best possible way.

Click here to find out more about If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

rosieThe Rosie Project ~ Graeme Simsion

Yes, The Rosie Project. I know – it was everywhere this year.

You know what? This book is everywhere because it’s actually really good. Popularity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Rosie Project is simply delightful. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to love Don.

Sequel, please.

Click here to find out more about The Rosie Project

darknessDarkness on the Edge of Town ~ Jessie Cole

From a book that was everywhere, to a book that’s slipped by with little fanfare (as Elizabeth Lhuede has already pointed out). Which is a shame, because it’s such a tense, thrilling read. And that ending! I still haven’t recovered.

My first New Year’s Resolution is to review this book. I will I will I will. But the thing with writing reviews is that sometimes, the books you desperately want to tell the world about aren’t always the books that are easy to write about, for whatever reason.

Click here to find out more about Darkness on the Edge of Town

girl just_a_girl ~ Kirsten Krauth – reviewed here

I was nothing like Krauth’s Layla when I was fourteen. I read lots of books – usually ones about dragons and wizards and spent most of my time listening to unbelievably awful pop music. I was still a child. Layla and I have nothing in common. But still, there’s a connection. Or is it just that I’ve become one of those sad thirty-somethings who thinks they still have what it takes to get Kids These Days? Who knows.

After reading just_a_girl, I’m unable to forget Layla. She’s left a piece of herself behind. I commute from Western Sydney to the city every day and I see echoes of her. The closing image of just_a_girl left me with a chill that’s settled into my bones. I find myself wondering about Layla all the time – and wishing her a little warmth.

Click here to find out more about just_a_girl

Honourable mentions? Don’t mind if I do! I loved all the short story collections I’ve read this year. Ryan O’Neill’s Weight of a Human Heart, Cate Kennedy’s Like a House on Fire, White Light by Mark O’Flynn (reviewed here!) – all brilliant.

Another exciting collection of short stories – The Great Unknown – is next on my reading list, and I’m really looking forward to getting into it.

In fact, my To Read pile is getting seriously out of control. I’d better get on to that tomorrow.

That’s it for me for this year. Another year of literary adventure beckons.

Happy new year – and even happier reading!


2013 – just_a_girl ~ kirsten krauth

Today, I’m lucky enough to be over at Newtown Review of Books reviewing Kirsten Krauth’s debut novel, just_a_girl. Click here to take a look…


One more thing: this is my second review for the 2013 Australian Women Writers Challenge. You know, it’s not too late to sign up