Aussie author spotlight: Jacinta Halloran

Last week, I did my first post for the Australian Women’s Writer’s Challenge which is aimed at supporting and promoting Australian women – you should check it out when you get a moment. For this auspicious occasion, I was lucky enough to interview Jacinta Halloran. Keep reading and you can discover what we chatted about.

A little while ago, I speculatively turned up to a book event as part of the Woodend Winter’s Arts Festival.  Since we’d arrived in Woodend, I’d been having an internal debate about whether to buy a ticket to this event. To go, I’d have to get up earlier than I’d like (on a holiday weekend no less) and face a cold, foggy morning (being winter and all). Plus, I hadn’t heard of the author. In the end, of course I decided to forgo the extra sleep and I headed into Woodend to listen to Jacinta Halloran. I’m so glad I did.

Jacinta Halloran
Jacinta Halloran

The more Jacinta talked about her books and her writing that morning, the more I warmed to her – she was articulate and thoughtful and with three books under her belt (Dissection, Pilgrimage and The Science of Appearances) she obviously knew what she was talking about. What struck me most about Jacinta was that, as well as being an accomplished author, she is also a GP and still practises part time. What an extraordinary brain she must have, I kept thinking, to do science-y things and also do creative, art-y things.

August: Books I read and a thing that made me laugh

August has gone by in a blur. A cold, rainy, winter-in-Melbourne blur. I’ve been neglecting this little blog – for which I have no real excuse, other than LIFE.

I’ve done lots of reading (there’s always time for reading), but not a lot of reviewing. Here’s a snapshot of what books shaped my August, my verdict on each and then a little thing that made me laugh.

Reworking New Zealand’s history: Where the Rekohu Bone Sings

Where the Rekohu Bone Sings by Tina Makereti is a beautifully told story set that traverses three different time periods in New Zealand and is conveyed through three different narratives. It’s one of the few fictional stories about the fate of the Moriori people (one of the others being David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas) and despite tackling complex themes of identity, colonialism, racism and shame, it’s carried by a lightness of touch that makes it a pleasure to read.

Three different, interwoven stories might sound convoluted, but Tina Makereti works it seamlessly so that each strand adds a powerful layer to the overall narrative.

Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton: Reigning supreme with Aussie kids

We’d been waiting for this moment for months.  And when I say ‘we‘, I don’t just mean ‘them‘, I mean me and him too.

Master Six and Master Nearly-Eight have read all the Storey Treehouse books, several times over. We’ve listened to them as audiobooks, several times over. They’ve written their own books (or started them anyway) that bear such a resemblance to the Griffiths’ pencraft that copyright is, categorically, an issue. In short, we LOVE the Griffiths/ Denton duo.  And last night we were there in the Melbourne Town Hall, thanks to tickets bought months and months ago, to witness the launch of the next sacred installment – The 91-Storey Treehouse.

The book launch was as chaotic as it was charming. It was improvised, and silly. But it had every child in the house on the edge on their seats. Literally.

‘Books are just a joy to paint’: Jodi Wiley’s book art

There are many ways to express a deep love for books.  You can (obviously) read them, but you can also buy them, hold them, smell them, list them, stalk them in a bookshop, covet them online and photograph them for others to admire. If you’re lucky enough to come across Melbourne artist Jodi Wiley, you can also hang beautiful watercolour paintings of them on your wall.

I discovered Jodi’s paintings thanks to a remarkable bookshop in Port Fairy (a small town on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria) called Blarney Books + Art.  It’s the kind of bookshop that has comfy couches, new and second hand books and even a piano. Already the perfect bookshop, right? It also celebrates ‘biblio-art’ and when I was there last, it was exhibiting Jodi Wiley’s Marginalia series.

I recently chatted with Jodi about the inspiration for her book stacks and why the books she’s painted are special to her.