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5 minutes with author Janet Gover

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Janet Gover, a writer and former television journalist based in London, England. Her 2016 outback novel <em>Little Girl Lost</em> won the Epic Romantic Novel of the Year Award presented by the Romantic Novelists' Association in the UK. Her latest book, <em>The Lawson Sisters </em>is out on January 20.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Gover about Dr Seuss, Terry Pratchett and outback Australia.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em>What is your best writing tip? </strong></p> <p>Janet Gover: Allow yourself to write badly sometimes. Seriously. When I’m doing the first draft of a book, I’m still discovering the characters and their story. Sometimes I’ll write a chapter that I know is not good, but I write it, go past it and continue my voyage of discovery. I then come back and fix the bad bits later, when I know what I was really trying to say.</p> <p><strong>What book do you think more people should read? </strong></p> <p><span>Any book. Just read. Reading is so much more than just a pleasure, it opens your mind to new ideas and places and people. Read fiction, non-fiction, kids’ books, graphic novels… whatever appeals to you. And if you haven’t already, read <em>The Lorax</em> by Dr Seuss. I keep coming back to this book that has wisdom well beyond the years of its intended readers. </span></p> <p><strong><span>How has outback Australia influenced your writing?</span></strong></p> <p><span>When I left Australia to travel, I started to realise how unique outback Australia really is. Things we see every day and often take for granted don’t exist anywhere else in the world. That’s why so many of my books are rural stories. As someone once said to me… You can take the girl out of the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the girl.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I am a huge fan of Robyn Carr’s <em>Virgin River</em> series. I recently reread the first book – and, yes, I got all misty. That’s why her books have such a prominent place on my shelves.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What does your writing routine look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I try to be at my desk by 9 every morning, although sometimes I cheat and linger in bed with a cup of tea, a book and my cat. I spend my mornings doing emails, and paperwork and chatting to friends online. I grab a bite of lunch around midday and that’s when I start writing. I bury myself in the book until my husband calls to say he’s leaving work. That call gives me time to finish what I’m doing – and quickly do the breakfast dishes before he gets home. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I don’t really get writer’s block, but when I am struggling, that’s when [the advice] above becomes important. I just write through it. I know what I am writing is bad, but that doesn’t matter because at some point my Writer Brain kicks in and tells me what I really should be doing. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What romance trope can’t you get enough of? Alternatively, what cliché do you wish romance novels would stop using?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I love a second chance story. <em>The Lawson Sisters</em> is one of those. We all make mistakes in our lives, and I like to think we will get the chance to put things right.  </span></p> <p><span>I am not a huge fan of the ‘forced marriage’ trope. This may have worked in the past, when women had so little power, but I think that as writers in the 21st century, we should be telling our readers that they are strong and able to take charge of their own lives. That’s a theme that reoccurs a lot in my stories.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>This is a tough one. I get terribly nervous around authors I admire and am afraid I’ll say something silly and embarrass myself. I would love to have dinner with the wonderful Terry Pratchett. No author has ever made me laugh or cry as much as he has. I would like to say thank you and I miss you.</span></p>

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Margaret Atwood’s new book to remain unseen until 2114

<p><span>Margaret Atwood’s unread manuscript will remain locked away until 2114.</span></p> <p><span>The Man Booker prize-winning novelist is one of the first contributors to the Future Library project based in Norway. </span></p> <p><span>Conceived by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, the project saw a thousand spruce saplings being planted in the forest of Nordmarka outside Oslo in 2014. In a century, the trees will be cut down, turned into paper and used to print an anthology of 100 unpublished books – including Atwood’s. </span></p> <p><span>“The idea is that one author per year is commissioned specifically to write a new piece of work for the forest, with the knowledge that nobody is going to read it until the trees are fully grown,” Paterson told <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-17/the-future-library-norway-wood-margaret-atwood/11783438">ABC RN</a>.</span></p> <p><span>Paterson said Atwood was the first author she and the Future Library Trust approached for the initiative.</span></p> <p><span>“We got a phenomenal response from Margaret,” Paterson said.</span></p> <p><span>“She responded to our letter not only agreeing to write for the Future Library, but giving us advice about what kind of trees to plant and how to plant them because she grew up in a forest herself.”</span></p> <p><span>Atwood, author of T<em>he</em> <em>Handmaid’s Tale</em>, said of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/05/margaret-atwood-new-work-unseen-century-future-library">her decision to participate</a> then, “It is the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don’t think about it for very long.</span></p> <p><span>“When you write any book you do not know who’s going to read it, and you do not know when they’re going to read it. You don’t know who they will be, you don’t know their age, or gender, or nationality, or anything else about them. So books, anyway, really are like the message in the bottle.”</span></p> <p><span>Since Atwood joined, five other authors have come on board: <em>Cloud Atlas </em>novelist David Mitchell, Turkish writer Elif Shafak, Icelandic poet and lyricist Sjón, Man Booker-winning author Han Kang and Norwegian autobiographic novelist Karl Ove Knausgård. Every year until 2114, a writer will be invited to contribute to the collection.</span></p> <p><span>The trust plans to store the manuscripts in a special Silent Room in Oslo’s new public library, and print 3,000 copies of all 100 texts when the time arrives.</span></p> <p><span>Paterson acknowledged that there are “many unknowns” in today’s world. “We’re in a total climate crisis, in a catastrophic moment, and so we can’t predict entirely that the forest will still be there in a hundred years, but we have to do everything we can to ensure that it will be,” she said.</span></p>

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How to send a letter to the future you

<p>As we enter a new year and decade, it is the perfect time to check in on ourselves, look at what we’ve accomplished so far, and reassess our goals for the future.</p> <p>You can do this by writing a letter to your future self as a reminder of where you’ve been in life and your current aspirations as well as a motivating message to go further.</p> <p>There are many tools that can help you send this letter. Apart from the analog time capsule, you can also use note-taking apps or access special websites such as <span><a href="https://www.futureme.org/">FutureMe</a></span> or <span><a href="https://lettertomyfutureself.net/">Letter to my future self</a></span>.</p> <p>After you write the note, set the time you want it to be sent – be it a week or five years from now – and fill out the email address where you want to receive the message.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Just got my first letter from <a href="https://twitter.com/futureme?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@futureme</a> which I wrote a year ago. <br />Really needed that reminder and a kick up the ass!! 2020 I am SO ready for you 👊🏾</p> — Milo James (@MiloKnowsBest) <a href="https://twitter.com/MiloKnowsBest/status/1213825395503616000?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 5, 2020</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">On New Year’s Day, I received an email from 21-year old me.<br /><br />The email, received on 01/01/2020, was written on 12/3/2015.<br /><br />Judging from the email &amp; from what I remembered, it was the time when I was at a crossroad in my life.<a href="https://twitter.com/futureme?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@futureme</a> <a href="https://t.co/OEee5B1giI">pic.twitter.com/OEee5B1giI</a></p> — Syaza Nazura (@nazu2308) <a href="https://twitter.com/nazu2308/status/1213220010719617024?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 3, 2020</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Got nostalgic after reading a letter that I wrote 4.5 years ago to my future self and realized how far I've really come.<br /><br />The decade ahead is definitely filled with endless possibilities. Let's make sure that we grab every opportunity to improve and make our past selves proud! <a href="https://t.co/WyNrdrMK25">pic.twitter.com/WyNrdrMK25</a></p> — Tyrone Tan (@iamtyronetan) <a href="https://twitter.com/iamtyronetan/status/1212055856524587008?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 31, 2019</a></blockquote>

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5 minutes with author Lily Malone

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Lily Malone, a writer based in Margaret River, Western Australia. Following her 2016 debut trade paperback <em>The Vineyard In The Hills</em>, Malone launched the <em>Chalk Hill </em>three-book series set in the titular fictional Western Australian town. The last addition to the trilogy, <em>Last Bridge Before Home</em>, is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Malone about writing during school hours, the wonders of the outdoors, and the one thing that makes for great romance.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em>What is your best writing tip? </strong></p> <p>Lily Malone: My best writing tip is a very simple one. The darn book won’t write itself so you have to put your butt on the seat and start somewhere, and you have to commit to turning up and writing even on the days you’d much rather go for a walk or go fishing!</p> <p><strong>What was the last book that made you laugh?</strong></p> <p><em><span>Dear Banjo</span></em><span> by Sasha Wasley was just beautiful and had many tender moments that made me chuckle.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What do you think makes for great romance fiction?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Chemistry between the characters. That doesn’t have to be sexual chemistry all the time, but you need things to make it believable that these two would fall in love and stay in love.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What does your writing routine look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I am lucky enough to almost be writing full time these days, so for me, that is four days a week. Monday to Thursday are my writing days and I do a day’s admin work at a local business on a Friday. On weekends I try to keep for running around after my kids – swimming lessons, sleepovers at mates et cetera – making sure we have food in the house, catching up with friends and more. </span></p> <p><span>I try to hit my writing room from 9.30am and work through the school day. I can only write when the house is quiet, so school hours suit perfectly. I don’t write on the school holidays, so generally I set myself writing goals accordingly. For example, I could aim to finish a first draft by the end of Term 2, finish editing by end of Term 3, and get the book out to my beta readers, incorporate feedback and finish the whole book by end of school year. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?</span></strong></p> <p><span>If I’m stuck in a story I go for a walk or do something outside. I can solve the plot problems of the universe when I’m out walking.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Tess Woods (author of <em>Love at First Flight</em>, <em>Beautiful Messy Love</em> and <em>Love And Other Battles</em> and very much alive), because she’s a hoot (and she can cook). So I’ll be inviting myself to Tess’s place for her to cook me dinner!</span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there a trope that you can’t help but love?</span></strong></p> <p>I like reunion romances or second chance romances – I think it’s why I loved <em>Dear Banjo </em>by Sasha Wasley so much. Many of my books will have second chance/reunion elements to them – for example <em>Fairway To Heaven</em>, <em>The Vineyard In The Hills</em> and also my latest one, <em>Last Bridge Before Home</em>.</p>

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Why words for single women have changed through time

<p>In a recent interview with <em><a href="https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/emma-watson-on-fame-activism-little-women">Vogue</a></em>, actress Emma Watson opened up about being a single 30-year-old woman. Instead of calling herself single, however, she used the word “self-partnered.”</p> <p>I’ve studied <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/never-married-9780199237623?lang=en&amp;cc=us">and written about</a> the history of single women, and this is the first time I am aware of “self-partnered” being used. We’ll see if it catches on, but if it does, it will join the ever-growing list of words used to describe single women of a certain age.</p> <p>Women who were once called spinsters eventually started being called old maids. In 17th-century New England, there were also words like “<a href="https://www.whimn.com.au/love/dating/unmarried-and-over-26-theres-a-name-for-women-like-you/news-story/8e72155c24a8fc79719512d7597b4f08">thornback</a>” – a sea skate covered with thorny spines – used to describe single women older than 25.</p> <p>Attitudes toward single women have repeatedly shifted – and part of that attitude shift is reflected in the names given to unwed women.</p> <h2>The rise of the ‘singlewoman’</h2> <p>Before the 17th century, women who weren’t married were called maids, virgins or “puella,” the Latin word for “girl.” These words emphasized youth and chastity, and they presumed that women would only be single for a small portion of their life – a period of “pre-marriage.”</p> <p>But by the 17th century, new terms, such as “spinster” and “singlewoman,” emerged.</p> <p>What changed? The numbers of unwed women – or women who simply never married – started to grow.</p> <p>In the 1960s, demographer John Hajnal <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/115001673/John-Hajnal-1965-European-Marriage-Patterns-in-Perspective">identified</a> the “Northwestern European Marriage Pattern,” in which people in northwestern European countries such as England started marrying late – in their 30s and even 40s. A significant proportion of the populace didn’t marry at all. In this region of Europe, it was the norm for married couples to start a new household when they married, which required accumulating a certain amount of wealth. Like today, young men and women worked and saved money before moving into a new home, a process that often delayed marriage. If marriage were delayed too long – or if people couldn’t accumulate enough wealth – they might not marry at all.</p> <p>Now terms were needed for adult single women who might never marry. The term spinster transitioned from describing <a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/spinster-meaning-origin">an occupation that employed many women</a> – a spinner of wool – to a legal term for an independent, unmarried woman.</p> <p>Single women made up, on average, <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/never-married-9780199270606?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;">30% of the adult female population</a> in early modern England. <a href="http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/PDF/LPS68/LPS68_2002_26-41.pdf">My own research</a> on the town of Southampton found that in 1698, 34.2% of women over 18 were single, another 18.5% were widowed, and less than half, or 47.3%, were married.</p> <p>Many of us assume that past societies were more traditional than our own, with marriage more common. But my work shows that in 17th-century England, at any given time, more women were unmarried than married. It was a normal part of the era’s life and culture.</p> <h2>The pejorative ‘old maid’</h2> <p>In the late 1690s, the term old maid became common. The expression emphasizes the paradox of being old and yet still virginal and unmarried. It wasn’t the only term that was tried out; the era’s literature also <a href="https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001911725">poked fun</a> at “superannuated virgins.” But because “old maid” trips off the tongue a little easier, it’s the one that stuck.</p> <p>The undertones of this new word were decidedly critical.</p> <p>“<a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/33875142?q&amp;versionId=41687269">A Satyr upon Old Maids</a>,” an anonymously written 1713 pamphlet, referred to never-married women as “odious,” “impure” and repugnant. Another common trope was that old maids would be punished for not marrying by “leading apes in hell.”</p> <p>At what point did a young, single woman become an old maid? There was a definitive line: In the 17th century, it was a woman in her mid-20s.</p> <p>For instance, the single poet Jane Barker wrote in her 1688 poem, “<a href="http://www.poetryexplorer.net/poem.php?id=10036317">A Virgin Life</a>,” that she hoped she could remain “Fearless of twenty-five and all its train, / Of slights or scorns, or being called Old Maid.”</p> <p>These negative terms came about as the numbers of single women continued to climb and marriage rates dropped. In the 1690s and early 1700s, English authorities became so worried about population decline that the government <a href="http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/PDF/LPS68/LPS68_2002_26-41.pdf">levied a Marriage Duty Tax</a>, requiring bachelors, widowers and some single women of means to pay what amounted to a fine for not being married.</p> <h2>Still uneasy about being single</h2> <p>Today in the U.S., <a href="https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/visualizations/time-series/demo/families-and-households/ms-2.pdf">the median</a> first age at marriage for women is 28. For men, it’s 30.</p> <p>What we’re experiencing now isn’t a historical first; instead, we’ve essentially returned to a marriage pattern that was common 300 years ago. From the 18th century up until the mid-20th century, <a href="https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/families/marital.html">the average age at first marriage</a> dropped to a low of age 20 for women and age 22 for men. Then it began to rise again.</p> <p>There’s a reason Vogue was asking Watson about her single status as she approached 30. To many, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/27/marriage-by-this-age-babies-by-that-age-when-will-we-stop-giving-women-deadlines">age 30 is a milestone for women</a> – the moment when, if they haven’t already, they’re supposed to go from being footloose and fancy-free to thinking about marriage, a family and a mortgage.</p> <p>Even if you’re a wealthy and famous woman, you can’t escape this cultural expectation. Male celebrities don’t seem to be questioned about being single and 30.</p> <p>While no one would call Watson a spinster or old maid today, she nonetheless feels compelled to create a new term for her status: “self-partnered.” In what some have dubbed the “<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2017/04/the_history_of_self_care.html">age of self-care</a>,” perhaps this term is no surprise. It seems to say, I’m focused on myself and my own goals and needs. I don’t need to focus on another person, whether it’s a partner or a child.</p> <p>To me, though, it’s ironic that the term “self-partnered” seems to elevate coupledom. Spinster, singlewoman or singleton: None of those terms openly refers to an absent partner. But self-partnered evokes a missing better half.</p> <p>It says something about our culture and gender expectations that despite her status and power, a woman like Watson still feels uncomfortable simply calling herself single.<em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-froide-411337">Amy Froide</a>, Professor of History, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-maryland-baltimore-county-1667">University of Maryland, Baltimore County</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/spinster-old-maid-or-self-partnered-why-words-for-single-women-have-changed-through-time-126716">original article</a>.</em></p>

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5 minutes with author Rachael Treasure

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Rachael Treasure, an author based in southern rural Tasmania. Her 2002 debut novel <em>Jillaroo </em>has been recognised for inspiring more women’s stories to be shared in the contemporary rural genre. Her screenplay <em>Albert’s Chook Tractor</em> was filmed for SBS Independent TV. Her seventh novel, <em>White Horses </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Treasure about brainwave states, sustainable farming and finding time to write in the ute.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em>What is your best writing tip? </strong></p> <p>Rachael Treasure: Trust that there’s a big swirling creative field of energy inside you. As a writer our job is to get beyond the everyday beta brainwave state – the state that is self-critical, fearful of other’s judgement or limiting. Once you allow yourself to get into an alpha brainwave state and beyond you can then relax and trust the ideas to come and let the creativity flow.</p> <p><strong>What book do you think more people should read?</strong></p> <p>My latest novel <em>White Horses</em> – not just because I wrote it but because I’ve woven my heart and soul into it. It’s a book to show that no matter what life throws at you, you can heal. The book also gives people hope that regenerative agriculture can help us reverse climate change and the ill health of humanity.</p> <p><strong>What was the last book that made you laugh?</strong></p> <p>Meg Bignell’s <em><span>The Sparkle Pages</span></em> – it’s about a Tasmanian mother who is struggling with life. It’s poignant, funny and a very clever first time novel.</p> <p><strong>How has living and working in rural Australia influenced your writing?</strong></p> <p>My rural journey underpins all my novels – from serious issues like rural youth suicide and succession planning where the farm is often left to sons and not daughters, to the land degradation we now see across the entire continent… it’s all taken from my direct experience. On the upside also in my stories is my daily work on the farm. We are restoring the ecology and regenerating our soil using regenerative farming techniques. Mother Nature is responding so well it inspires me to keep using story to get information out to the masses. I want to entertain my readers, and I also want other farmers to see how they can cut costs, reduce chemical use and avoid droughts and return their land and life to healthy systems.</p> <p><strong>What does your writing routine look like?</strong></p> <p>There is no routine, but I aim to write everyday even if I can only find ten minutes. I generally do the morning farm chores, drop the kids to school, do an hour or so in a café on the way back to the farm then move the livestock. We move our sheep and cows daily so the land gets long rests. Then I write again on my laptop – either in the ute or sitting in the shed or the paddock. Sometimes I get an idea whilst cooking and I write on my laptop on the kitchen bench… the meals on those nights are often a bit hit and miss!</p> <p><strong>Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?</strong></p> <p>I don’t get writer’s block as I’ve learned about brainwave states and how they impact creativity. So if I feel sluggish in terms of creativity, I meditate for ten minutes. Plus, my life is so varied and rich that inspiration is all around me! I only have to look at our Aloeburn Poll Merino ewes or our cows to come up with an idea. Or look at people as I drive to school. Art is all about observation. So I look and listen and observe all the time. Julia Cameron’s <em>The Artist’s Way </em>is a brilliant book for people who feel they are blocked artistically.</p> <p><strong>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</strong></p> <p>Can I have a dinner party? There are so many! I’ve had dinner with Monica McInerney in Dublin and that was beautiful and I’d love to do it again, however I think on the top of the list would be William Shakespeare. It would be very entertaining and interesting given the language and era difference, and culturally I’d love to see what he thought of me – a Tassie-as lass!</p> <p><strong>What trope grinds your gears? </strong></p> <p>Something that really irritates me is this belief that farmers are in drought because it hasn’t rained. It’s not true. We are in drought because in 200 years of white settlement we have drained the marshes, drained the river mouths to allow ships in, overgrazed the land, ploughed our soils so they blow away, reduced biodiversity in everything and continue to now kill most life in the soil to grow monoculture crops that have very little nutrients. All these things are avoidable and that’s where I stop getting irritated and begin to get excited as we and other farmers all over Australia and the world are changing to regenerative farming, so we have healthier food and healthier environments and cleaner water.</p>

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A history of loneliness

<p>Is loneliness our modern malaise?</p> <p>Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy <a href="https://hbr.org/cover-story/2017/09/work-and-the-loneliness-epidemic">says</a> the most common pathology he saw during his years of service “was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”</p> <p>Chronic loneliness, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/12/duncan-selbie-isolated-bad-health">some say</a>, is like “smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” It “<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/08/dangers_of_loneliness_social_isolation_is_deadlier_than_obesity.html">kills more people than obesity</a>.”</p> <p>Because loneliness is now considered a <a href="http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/lonely-die.aspx">public health</a> issue – and even an <a href="http://fortune.com/2016/06/22/loneliness-is-a-modern-day-epidemic/">epidemic</a> – people are exploring its causes and trying to find solutions.</p> <p>While writing a book on the history of how poets wrote about loneliness in the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/art/English-literature/The-Romantic-period">Romantic Period</a>, I discovered that loneliness is a relatively new concept and once had an easy cure. However, as the concept’s meaning has transformed, finding solutions has become harder.</p> <p>Returning to the origins of the word – and understanding how its meaning has changed through time – gives us a new way to think about modern loneliness, and the ways in which we might address it.</p> <h2>The dangers of venturing into ‘lonelinesses’</h2> <p>Although loneliness may seem like a timeless, universal experience, it seems to have originated in the late 16th century, when it signaled the danger created by being too far from other people.</p> <p>In early modern Britain, to stray too far from society was to surrender the protections it provided. Distant forests and mountains inspired fear, and a lonely space was a place in which you might meet someone who could do you harm, with no one else around to help.</p> <p>In order to frighten their congregations out of sin, sermon writers asked people to imagine themselves in “lonelinesses” – places like hell, the grave or the desert.</p> <p>Yet well into the 17th century, the words “loneliness” and “lonely” rarely appeared in writing. In 1674, the naturalist John Ray <a href="http://www.thesalamancacorpus.com/varia_various_1500-1699_ray_a-collection_1691.html">compiled a glossary</a> of infrequently used words. He included “loneliness” in his list, defining it as a term used to describe places and people “far from neighbours.”</p> <p>John Milton’s 1667 epic poem “<a href="https://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Emilton/reading_room/pl/book_1/text.shtml">Paradise Lost</a>” features one of the first lonely characters in all of British literature: Satan. On his journey to the garden of Eden to tempt Eve, Satan treads “lonely steps” out of hell. But Milton isn’t writing about Satan’s feelings; instead, he’s emphasizing that he’s crossing into the ultimate wilderness, a space between hell and Eden where no angel has previously ventured.</p> <p>Satan <a href="https://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Emilton/reading_room/pl/book_2/text.shtml">describes</a> his loneliness in terms of vulnerability: “From them I go / This uncouth errand sole, and one for all / Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread / Th’ unfounded deep.”</p> <h2>The dilemma of modern loneliness</h2> <p>Even if we now enjoy the wilderness as a place of adventure and pleasure, the fear of loneliness persists. The problem has simply moved into our cities.</p> <p>Many are trying to solve it by bringing people physically closer to their neighbors. <a href="https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2014/loneliness_2010.html">Studies</a> point to a spike in the number of people who live alone and the breakdown of family and community structures.</p> <p>British Prime Minister Theresa May has set her sights on “combating” loneliness and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/europe/uk-britain-loneliness.html">appointed</a> a minister of loneliness to do just that in January. There is even a <a href="https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org">philanthropy</a> called the “Campaign to End Loneliness.”</p> <p>But the drive to cure loneliness oversimplifies its modern meaning.</p> <p>In the 17th century, when loneliness was usually relegated to the space outside the city, solving it was easy. It merely required a return to society.</p> <p>However, loneliness has since moved inward – and has become much harder to cure. Because it’s taken up residence inside minds, even the minds of people living in bustling cities, it can’t always be solved by company.</p> <p>Modern loneliness isn’t just about being physically removed from other people. Instead, it’s an emotional state of feeling apart from others – without necessarily being so.</p> <p>Someone surrounded by people, or even accompanied by friends or a lover, can complain of feelings of loneliness. The wilderness is now inside of us.</p> <h2>Populating the wilderness of the mind</h2> <p>The lack of an obvious cure to loneliness is part of the reason why it is considered to be so dangerous today: The abstraction is frightening.</p> <p>Counterintuitively, however, the secret to dealing with modern loneliness might lie not in trying to make it disappear but in finding ways to dwell within its abstractions, talk through its contradictions and seek out others who feel the same way.</p> <p>While it’s certainly important to pay attention to the structures that have led people (especially elderly, disabled and other vulnerable people) to be physically isolated and therefore unwell, finding ways to destigmatize loneliness is also crucial.</p> <p>Acknowledging that loneliness is a profoundly human and sometimes uncurable experience rather than a mere pathology might allow people – especially lonely people – to find commonality.</p> <p>In order to look at the “epidemic of loneliness” as more than just an “epidemic of isolation,” it’s important to consider why the spaces of different people’s minds might feel like wildernesses in the first place.</p> <p>Everyone experiences loneliness differently, and many find it difficult to describe. As the novelist Joseph Conrad <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=8P99Y2HWGK4C&amp;dq=under%20western%20eyes&amp;pg=PP1#v=onepage&amp;q=true%20loneliness&amp;f=false">wrote</a>, “Who knows what true loneliness is – not the conventional word but the naked terror? To the lonely themselves it wears a mask.” Learning about the range of ways others experience loneliness could help mitigate the kind of disorientation Conrad describes.</p> <p>Reading literature can also make the mind feel like less of a wilderness. The books we read need not themselves be about loneliness, though there are lots of examples of these, from “<a href="https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/69506-10-books-about-loneliness.html">Frankenstein</a>” to “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/aug/24/teju-cole-top-10-novels-solitude">Invisible Man</a>.” Reading allows readers to connect with characters who might also be lonely; but more importantly, it offers a way to make the mind feel as though it is populated.</p> <p>Literature also offers examples of how to be lonely together. British Romantic poets often copied each other’s loneliness and found it productive and fulfilling.</p> <p>There are opportunities for community in loneliness when we share it, whether in face-to-face interactions or through text. Though loneliness can be debilitating, it has come a long way from its origins as a synonym for isolation.</p> <p>As the poet Ocean Vuong <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/someday-ill-love-ocean-vuong">wrote</a>, “loneliness is still time spent with the world.”<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/91542/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amelia-s-worsley-443122">Amelia S. Worsley</a>, Assistant Professor of English, <em><a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/amherst-college-2155">Amherst College</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-history-of-loneliness-91542">original article</a>.</p>

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4 simple strategies to reclaim your attention and look up

<p><span>After a period living and volunteering in the far north of India, Australian primary school teacher Hugh van Cuylenburg was blown away by the remarkable positivity of the comparatively underprivileged locals. How was it, he wondered, that young people he knew at home, who had food, shelter, friends and a loving family, struggled with their mental health, while these kids seemed overwhelmingly happy? This experience led him on a journey to find answers to this question.</span></p> <p><span>Years of study, research and questions followed and, through this, van Cuylenburg came to understand that practising gratitude, empathy and mindfulness leads us to happier and more fulfilling lives. </span><span>Backed by evidence-based analysis and inspiring personal anecdotes, <em>The Resilience Project</em> brings these life-changing messages to life for an ever-broadening audience. In the passage below, van Cuylenburg offers four tips to help reclaim our attention, look up from our devices and better experience the incredible real world that surrounds us.</span></p> <p><span>**</span></p> <p><span>A 2017 Deloitte survey found Australians checked their phones more than 35 times a day on average, an increase of around 17 per cent on just the year before. Thirty-five per cent of us check our phone within five minutes of waking up in the morning, and 70 per cent use phones during mealtimes with family and friends.</span></p> <p><span>Needless to say, it’s extremely hard to be mindful and mentally present when some of the world’s biggest media corporations are trying to rip our time and attention from our hands. Smartphones are here to stay, and so is social media. And they’re not the only threats; in 2018, the World Health Organization classified gaming addiction as a mental health disorder. Our kids are copping it from everywhere.</span></p> <p><span>That’s the bad news. The good news is that we are not powerless, and the other side of this shiny technological coin has many benefits that can help enrich our lives. But we need to be careful. There are four simple strategies that I strongly recommend you try, so you can reclaim much of what the attention economy has taken from you:</span></p> <p><strong><span>1. Delete Facebook from our phones</span></strong></p> <p><span>On 2 July 2018, I dumped Facebook from my mobile and vowed only to look at it when I was using my laptop. I haven’t been on Facebook since, and it’s not because I’m trying to avoid it – I’m just not as easy a target for Mark Zuckerberg’s addiction engineers as I was when I had Facebook in my pocket.</span></p> <p><span>The decision to delete the app was a life-changer. I didn’t feel that I was any less connected to the people I wanted to connect with, and I realised I had spent most of my time on Facebook looking at garbage – stuff that, if someone asked me to check out in real life, I’d laugh at and walk away. I’ve often wondered how I’d react if I walked past a cafe, saw a friend and they said, ‘Just in time! My coffee has arrived. Would you like to see how it looks from directly above?’</span></p> <p><strong><span>2. Turn off notifications</span></strong></p> <p><span>There is no reason whatsoever to have notifications on our phones switched on. The only reason they exist is to suck us back into the app abyss. We don’t need to know every single time someone has liked a photo, sent us a message, commented on a thread we’re following or tagged us on Twitter. It’s getting to the point where we don’t really decide when we check our phones; our phones are deciding for us – more than 35 times a day!</span></p> <p><strong><span>3. Rearrange our home screens</span></strong></p> <p><span>The only apps we should have on our home screens are ones we’re not addicted to. Once you clear all the addictive stuff off your home screen, you’ll be amazed how few things you really ‘need’ on your phone. In my case I was left with just three apps: music, podcasts and Google Maps. That’s it. Everything that has an addictive component I have placed in a separate file on the sixth screen across labelled ‘Regret’.</span></p> <p><strong><span>4. Leave home without our phones</span></strong></p> <p><span>When we disconnect from our phones we reconnect with life. Thanks largely to persuasive technology we’ve been conditioned to think we can’t be without them. When we leave home these days we check that we have our keys, wallet, sunnies and… ‘Where’s my bloody phone?’</span></p> <p><span>A few years back I started leaving mine at home at every opportunity. OK, often I need my phone for work, but do I need it if I’m going out to dinner? Going for a run? To the movies? Cricket training? Phones only serve to interrupt these moments and derail the joy of being present with the people we’re with, even if that person is ourselves.</span></p> <p><span>Not long after setting myself the rule about limiting my phone use, I caught up with a mate at a pub in Fitzroy.</span></p> <p><span>It was a very quiet night at the pub as I sat at the bar and swapped stories with my mate. After a while he got up to go to the gents’. ‘Back in a sec,’ he said and disappeared. Suddenly I was one of only a few punters in the entire pub. Like Pavlov’s dog I reached into my pocket to get my phone, and I actually felt annoyed that I’d left the thing at home.</span></p> <p><span>I had nothing to do for the next minute or so. It was a strange feeling, like the world had stopped. ‘How did we not look weird when we were sitting without anything to do, in the time before smartphones?’ I pondered. That’s when I noticed the barman just a few feet away, cleaning a pint glass.</span></p> <p><span>‘How’s your night going?’ I inquired. ‘It’s pretty quiet – you must love that?’</span></p> <p><span>‘No,’ he said, ‘I actually prefer it when it’s busy.’</span></p> <p><span>‘Really?’</span></p> <p><span>‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘I’m just going through some difficult stuff at the moment and when it’s really quiet I can’t get it out of my head, but when it’s busy I escape it for a bit.’</span></p> <p><span>Suddenly I was in the midst of a serious moment with a fellow human being, and the world felt very full again. ‘Oh,’ I said, giving him my complete attention. ‘Are you alright?’</span></p> <p><span>‘No, not really,’ he replied. ‘I’m just going through a breakup and it’s pretty full-on at the moment.’</span></p> <p><span>‘I’m really sorry about that,’ I said. ‘I know exactly how that feels. It’s awful.’</span></p> <p><span>The barman and I were still talking about his situation five minutes after my mate returned.</span></p> <p><span>‘Anyway,’ he said as a couple of customers appeared at the other end of the bar, ‘I’ll let you guys get back to it.’</span></p> <p><span>‘Take care of yourself, mate,’ I said as he turned to serve the others. He flashed me a little thumbs up.</span></p> <p><span>When I got home later, all I could think was, ‘Thank God I left my phone here.’ The barman clearly needed to reach out and make that connection in that moment; as soon as I opened my mouth to speak to him he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. If I’d had my phone with me, that conversation would never have happened. I’d have buried my head in the internet, and if the barman had wanted to talk about his emotional problems he’d have had to lean over and say, ‘Excuse me, do you want to talk about my breakup for a minute?’</span></p> <p><span>Increasingly, over the past ten years, more and more of us have been using social media to try to fulfil our basic psychological needs: the need to feel loved, to feel like we belong, to feel validated and achieve degrees of social status.</span></p> <p><span>If we’re hungry for love, we post a photo of ourselves and all people have to do is press a heart button to let us know they approve. If it’s status we crave, we can simply add a ‘status update’ to show people we aced the job interview, took the holiday, skied down the mountain or welcomed the child. In return we hope our screens will bloom with little blue thumbs to feed our psychological hunger.</span></p> <p><span>But it doesn’t really nourish us. The flesh-and-blood thumbs up that the barman at the Union Club Hotel gave me meant more than a million likes on Facebook could. I imagine our talk that night meant much more to him than a sad-face emoji, too. This was an everyday illustration of the benefits of communication and social connection, something I am passionately advocating for day in, day out at The Resilience Project.</span></p> <p><em><span>Extract from </span></em>The Resilience Project<em><span> by Hugh Van Cuylenburg, published by Ebury Australia on 19 November 2019, RRP 34.99</span></em></p>

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5 minutes with author Peter Watt

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Peter Watt, a historical fiction writer based in Maclean in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. He has worked as a soldier, prawn trawler deckhand, builder’s labourer, surveyor’s chainman, pipe layer, real estate salesman, private investigator, police sergeant and advisor to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. Currently he spends 6 months of the year working as a volunteer bush firefighter with the NSW Rural Fire Service. His latest book <em>The Queen’s Tiger </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Watt about Les Norton novels, historical fiction, and a memorable pearl of wisdom from his mother.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em>What is your best writing tip? </strong></p> <p>Peter Watt: The best tip is simply persevere and don’t get your mum/wife/partner/best friend to tell you what she thinks of what you have written.</p> <p><strong>What book do you think more people should read?</strong></p> <p>Wow! I think it cannot be simply just one book. Reading is a feast of many courses.</p> <p><strong>How have your past jobs influenced your writing? </strong></p> <p>I guess being exposed to the best and worst in humanity has helped shape my reflections on life. Nothing is black and white when you finally reach your 70<sup>th</sup> year on the planet.</p> <p><strong>What was the last book that made you laugh?</strong></p> <p>If I wanted to laugh, I read the great Robert G Barrett’s Les Norton novels.</p> <p><strong>What do you think makes for a great </strong><strong>historical fiction work?</strong></p> <p>I think that careful research makes for great historical fiction. To be able to take the reader back to a time of their ancestors and let them see how they have much in common with them. They are the living ghosts of our current lives who haunt us.</p> <p><strong>What does your writing routine look like?</strong></p> <p>During the non-fire season, I dedicate six months to research and writing. That means buckling down to a 10-hour day, six days a week. Part of being a writer also means I have to mow the lawns, take out the garbage and every other job my wife finds for me around the house! Occasionally during the day I reply to reader’s emails.</p> <p><strong>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</strong></p> <p>Many authors of some note writing in our genre admire Bernard Cornwell – as I do.  I have had the pleasure of dining with a true gentleman, Wilbur Smith, whose work inspired me to write the novels that I do.</p> <p><strong>Is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</strong></p> <p>My old Irish grandmother used to tell me that you can’t afford to buy cheap. My own mother would always say when things got tough on the farm where I grew up [that] this, too, shall pass. How true in both cases, despite being clichés.</p>

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5 minutes with author T.M. Clark

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is T.M. Clark, a Zimbabwe-born author based near Brisbane. She has continued to showcase her passion for Africa in her novels and children’s picture books. Her first novel <em>My Brother-But-One</em> was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Award 2014. Her latest book <em>Cry of the Firebird </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Clark about binge writing, second-chance romances, and her favourite Afrikaans words.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em><span>What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?</span></strong></p> <p><span>T.M. Clark: “You must write every day.” I’m a binge writer, the worst advice for me is to try to give me a routine. People need to remember that what works for one writer might not necessarily work for another. This is one of those pieces of advice that, for me, simply doesn’t gel – ever!</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Just starting <em>Hangman</em> by Jack Heath. Knowing Jack primarily as a children’s author, I’m still wrapping my head around him writing awesome successful thrillers, with serial killers, gritty crime and criminals! I’m excited that he has spread his wings and doing both genres. I am loving this book and can’t wait to find out what happens.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>The Trouble with Christmas</span></em><span> by Amy Andrews. I laughed out loud and loved this story. I think everyone should read it to get a little joy in their lives, smile and have the happy feeling I had by the end of the book. I loved this book for the unadulterated romantic comedy that it was – from the cowboy on the cover to the last tacky Christmas decorations.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How have the places you’ve been influenced your writing?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Obviously growing up in Zimbabwe and South Africa has had a huge influence on my writing, but also on the way I think things through. I know that now I’m an Australian princess who loves my internet and electricity working, but I still love Africa! I believe more than anything that being an Australian has opened my eyes to the beauty that is still there in Africa, and the difference of the people who just do their job and who have a seemingly bottomless source of optimism despite all the chaos going on around them. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What does your writing routine look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Routine – what routine? Seriously, other than running around after the men in my life (hubby and two university-going sons), I organise the CYA Conference and the Writers at Sea Retreat and collect books from all over Brisbane and South East Queensland for our Papua New Guinea library building project. When would I get a routine?</span></p> <p><span>I do, however, have time blocked out in my diary to write and I guard that with the same ferocity as a mother leopard. Every Friday I’m usually found at the Queensland Writers Centre, joining others for the Writing Friday event, where we use the Pomodoro method of timed sprints to achieve words from 10am to 4pm. I also have my time blocked out to write my book during September and October. I don’t do much socialising or anything in those months as that is writing time.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What is your favourite word, in English or any other language?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>Voetsak.</span></em><span> It’s a South African word that means ‘go away’. Everyone in southern Africa and every dog understands it – no matter their upbringing, all colours and languages under the rainbow. </span></p> <p><span>Another favourite is the word <em>yebo</em> (Zulu origin but shared across most of the languages now), meaning ‘yes’. It also is the answer to everything whenever anyone asks and you don’t know the answer. If you are feeling under the weather but don’t want to tell someone when they ask, you just say ‘yebo’. If you ask directions from someone and they say ‘yebo’, you know they are just politely saying ‘hello and I don’t know’. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there a cliché that you can’t help but love? Alternatively, what trope grinds your gears?</span></strong></p> <p><span>While I know they’re a trope that doesn’t suit everyone, I love second-chance romances. Recently in real life, I got to know about a writer friend who is now in his 70s and had a second chance with his very first girlfriend from when they were 16 years old. It ended happily this time when they got married, and it just made my heart flutter because I am a softie. I believe in soulmates and fate, and I adore that they gave it another chance. </span></p> <p><span>A trope that irritates me… No, nothing. I’m blank on that, but bad or lazy writing irritates me and I have a lot to say about that. The poor tropes get an unnecessary bad rap – it has nothing to do with the author writing a bad book.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Sir James Percy FitzPatrick, writer of <em>Jock of the Bushveld</em>. It was read to me as a kid, and I reread it every now and again now as an adult. It’s one of the few books that have been with me across four changes of country and are still on my bookshelf. I adore the period he wrote of, the wagons, the teams of oxen pulling them through the <em>bundu</em> and the wild game, the frontier of Africa of yesteryear. </span></p> <p><span>He was a forward thinker for his time, with the underlying theme of this book being one of a man not accepting ‘the way’ that burdened him, wanting to break away from it all and be free. I wonder how much of himself he put into his characters, or if it was all just the story at the time…</span></p>

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5 minutes with author Maggie Joel

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Maggie Joel, a British-born writer and an operations manager based in Sydney. Her historical novels have been published in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK. Her latest book <em>The Unforgiving City </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Joel about writing while having a full-time job, Virginia Woolf, and the experience of reading evocative books.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em>What is your best writing tip? </strong></p> <p>Maggie Joel: Definitely show not tell. I’m always surprised when writers tell us what their characters are feeling instead of showing us. It was drilled into me in every creative writing class I attended that the skill for the writer was in working out ways to show us the character’s emotions whether it be by mannerism, physical description, dialogue or whatever. Simply telling us they are scared or delighted or anxious is breathtakingly lazy almost to the point of disrespecting the sophistication of the reader.</p> <p><strong>What book do you think more people should read?</strong></p> <p><em>Little Boy Lost</em> by British author Marghanita Laski. In the ‘60s and ‘70s Laski was a well-known author and TV pundit in the UK, but she is all but forgotten now. This novel, published in 1949 and set in France in the months following the end of the war, appears to be a simple enough tale of a man’s search for his child – but don’t be fooled, this is a masterpiece of storytelling. I have never had such an emotional response to a novel before or since. It is a little gem.</p> <p><strong>What was the last book that made you laugh?</strong></p> <p>Probably the biography of Muriel Spark by Martin Stannard that a friend loaned me a few months ago. She was such a confident, witty and often quite savage observer of life and people that I’m sure I laughed out loud at various points in the book. To have that kind of confidence in your abilities and such utter contempt for the abilities and frailties of others is joyous to read. I relished it!</p> <p><strong>What do you think makes for a great </strong><strong>historical fiction work?</strong></p> <p>I think it all boils down to one thing: creating an emotional response in the reader. When I look at the books with a strong historical setting that have influenced me – <em>The Remains of the Day</em> by Kazuo Ishiguro, <em>The Go-Between</em> by L.P. Hartley, <em>The Shooting Party </em>by Isabel Colegate, <em>Brideshead Revisited</em> by Evelyn Waugh – they’re all books that look back, both fondly and critically, on the recent past, and where nostalgia for a bygone era plays a major role. They are incredibly evocative works, utilising research and literary devices to generate an emotional response within the reader.</p> <p><strong>What does your writing routine look like?</strong></p> <p>I work full-time, so my writing routine means weekends. If I am in the throes of a new novel, I will be at the computer by 8am Saturday morning and will work all day, and all-day Sunday. If I have managed things well, I take a few weeks of long service leave from work and that can make a huge difference in getting that first draft down, really in a matter of weeks. All my books involve a substantial amount of research which I try to fit in around the writing and in the evenings when I get home from work.</p> <p><strong>Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?</strong></p> <p>When I had writer’s block – for two years about eight years ago – I didn’t deal with it. That is to say, I tried everything and nothing worked. In the end I gave up trying, gave up reading even, and admitted I was no longer a writer. It was awful, like giving up a part of myself, but looking back I think I needed to reach that point, to start living a life that no longer involved writing, no longer involved books. After a year or so it just lifted, almost overnight. I haven’t suffered from it since. But really, if the book I am writing is not so utterly absorbing to me that I am compelled to write, then the book isn’t worth writing.</p> <p><strong>What trope grinds your gears? Alternatively, is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</strong></p> <p>Diaries! That handy little journal that your character conveniently finds secreted away in the victim’s or suspect’s bedroom at exactly the right moment and that conveniently fills in all the blanks that the character otherwise could not know. And then we have to suffer page after tortuous page of italicised excerpts from said dairy. Dear God! Save me from it.</p> <p><strong>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</strong></p> <p>Oh, definitely Virginia Woolf. Cliched I know, but I’d be lying if I gave any other answer. Her life and writing have inspired me more than any other writer, I come back to her time and time again. Having said that, I can imagine her being a rather reticent, if not so say, prickly dinner guest who would sit there the whole evening contributing absolutely nothing then coming out with some pithy and piercing observation right at the end of the night that leaves the rest of the company speechless and slightly offended – at least I hope she would!</p>

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5 minutes with author Penelope Janu

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Penelope Janu, a writer based in northern Sydney. She won the 2017 XO Romance prize for her book <em>On the Same Page </em>and the Romantic Book of the Year title at the 2019 Romance Writers of Australia awards for <em>On the Right Track</em>. Her fourth novel <em>Up on Horseshoe Hill </em>is coming out on November 18.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Janu about the books everyone can relate to, the prejudice towards the romance genre, and her dream dinner guest.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em><span>What is your best writing tip? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Penelope Janu: My best tip is to write something that you’d love to read. That enables you to connect with the characters and the world that you will create. Writing a novel is a long, hard process – if I didn’t find a lot of joy in what I did, I’d never be able to finish the manuscript.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Books can mean such different things at different times in our lives. I often go back to my favourite classics by writers like Austen, Gaskell and Dickens, because reading these books is not only enjoyable, but it also reminds me that good writing and character driven stories are timeless.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you laugh?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I’ve just finished <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/books/5-minutes-with-author-joanna-nell">Joanna Nell</a>’s <em>The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker,</em> which made me laugh and cry! Jo and I are good friends and writing group partners. I love the way she writes and the wonderful characters she creates – just about anybody can relate to them, whatever stage of life they are at. My mum is 84 and loved this book too. It was, in her words, “magical”. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What do you think makes for a great romance?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I like to think of characters spending long and happy lives together, for which they’ll need to have shared challenges, laughter, trust and passion. My husband and I met at law school at eighteen and have been married for thirty-three years, so I appreciate that perseverance is important as well! Sexual tension is my catnip, and is often the reason that characters find each other fascinating, notwithstanding their differences – Elizabeth and Darcy from <em>Pride and Prejudice</em> encapsulate this. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What does your writing routine look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>We’re renovating our house at the moment, so… shambolic! My best-case writing scenario is waking at five in the morning and writing until around eleven, and then reviewing what I have written late in the afternoon. But the most important thing for me is to write every single day so that I stay connected to the characters and their story. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I worked as a solicitor and legal academic for many years before writing creatively. In those jobs, just like my current one as a writer, there are times when you are overwhelmed by the task ahead and you simply don’t want to face it. But generally… you do. Once I’m over halfway through a manuscript, I find it much easier to write because the story drives me, not the other way around.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What trope grinds your gears? Alternatively, is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I’d like to mix these questions up! I think any trope well written can get away with being a trope, and that most storytelling is one form of trope or another. Which brings me to my cliché, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Some people say, “I’d never read a romance”, perhaps without fully appreciating that it is romance that drives so many stories in both literary and genre fiction.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I’d love to have dinner with J.K. Rowling! My eldest daughter was the same age as Harry when each book in the series came out, and she and J.K. Rowling set the scene for all six of my children’s reading lives for years to come. I loved the books too, and remember tiptoeing into the room of whichever child had fallen asleep reading the latest ‘new release,’ and taking it away to read before returning it (quietly!). I now enjoy J.K. Rowling’s crime fiction, and she seems friendly, so I think we’d have plenty to talk about over dinner!</span></p>

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5 minutes with author Tricia Stringer

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Tricia Stringer, a writer based in the Copper Coast region of South Australia. Her body of work spans across various genres, from rural romance to historical saga. She won the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award in 2013 for her book <em>Queen of the Road</em>. Her latest fiction novel, <em>The Model Wife </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Stringer about happy endings, ‘listening’ to places and why she doesn’t believe in writer’s block.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em>What is your best writing tip? </strong></p> <p>Tricia Stringer: The best writing tip I received and that I always pass on is to write every day and if you can’t, at least write regularly. Make it a habit.</p> <p><strong>What book do you think more people should read?</strong></p> <p>Mine of course! That aside there are so many wonderful books and as long as people are reading, I’m happy. I did enjoy <em><span>Taking Tom Murray Home</span></em> by Tim Slee. It’s a moving contemporary rural Australian story, full of highs and lows and underpinned by the importance of community in our lives.</p> <p><strong>How have the places you travelled to influenced your writing?</strong></p> <p>Setting is very important to my stories and it’s imperative to get it right so the places I’ve lived in, holidayed in, travelled through, experienced in any way, have had a great impact on my writing. I like to spend time in a place, ‘listen’ to what it’s telling me about the people and the lifestyle, what’s good and what’s not so.</p> <p><strong>What was the last book that made you laugh?</strong></p> <p>Tricky question, I seem to have been reading a lot of crime or domestic thrillers lately. I recently enjoyed <em><span>Just One Wish</span></em> by Rachael Johns and while the story is a contemporary family drama and tackles some serious issues facing women in the current day, the interactions between the main characters spread across three generations often included a clever sprinkle of humour that made me chuckle.</p> <p><strong>What does your writing routine look like?</strong></p> <p>When I work on a first draft, I start work at eight in the morning and aim to write two thousand words, five days a week. I do my best to stick to that… however, I am a procrastinator.</p> <p><strong>How do you deal with writer’s block?</strong></p> <p>I don’t believe in it. If the words don’t flow it usually means a break is needed, a change of scene, time to think and then I’m off writing again. Finding a way to overcome what’s stopping the creative process is the trick.</p> <p><strong>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</strong></p> <p>There are so many. I’m a big fan of Monica McInerney. We do catch up from time to time, but we live in two different countries so it’s a long time since we had dinner. I’d love to do it again.</p> <p><strong>What trope grinds your gears? Alternatively, is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</strong></p> <p>If a story is well written is doesn’t matter what the trope is. I like stories that leave me with hope, where good people prevail, and have happy-for-now endings. This may be considered cliché but I never tire of it.</p>

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5 minutes with author Deborah Rodriguez

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Deborah Rodriguez, a writer, hairdresser and business owner based in Mazatlán, Mexico. She has written two fiction bestsellers – <em>The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul </em>and <em>Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul </em>– as well as two memoirs about her life in Afghanistan and America. Her latest novel, <em>Island on the Edge of the World</em>, is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Rodriguez about her life as a grandmother and spa owner, her unconventional writing routine, and the reads she recommends.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60: </span></em><span>What is your best writing tip? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Rodriguez: Just write. Write from your heart. Don’t pay attention to spelling or punctuation, just get lost in your stories. Practice getting them out of your head, letting them flow down to your fingers and onto the keyboard. Don’t put it off. Tell your story, and tell it proudly. </span></p> <p><span>I struggled in school with spelling and punctuation. I still battle with it, and am very thankful for spell check and punctuation apps. When I was in school, I had a teacher discourage me from taking a writing class. I had many stories and I wrote all the time, recapping my days in a journal. But this teacher thought I would be better suited for art than for writing. I loved art and still do, but it was a shame that I had that choice made for me. I almost let that teacher take away my storytelling. I wish he had said, “Creative writing would be excellent for someone like you, who seems to have a lot to say.” </span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><span>That’s a tricky question. Any of my books, of course! But seriously, to me, it’s books that open our eyes and our hearts to other cultures that I feel are always “should-reads”. It’s hard for me to pick just one book, but I can share with you a couple of my favourites. What I am enjoying right now is In <em>Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams </em>by Tahir Shah<em>.</em> I’m really enjoying these stories about past and present Morocco. One of my favourite books is <em>The Hummingbird’s Daughter</em> by Luis Alberto Urrea. I could read this book over and over. It’s a mystical drama of a young woman’s sudden sainthood in late 19th century Mexico. I live in Mexico, near the area where the book takes place, and the book just captured me from beginning to end. </span></p> <p><strong><span>How have the places you travelled to influenced your writing?</span></strong></p> <p><span>The places I’ve travelled and the cultures I’ve experienced have greatly affected all my books. There is not one moment when I am travelling that I am not weaving stories in my head. I have never vacationed well, because I’m always trying to peek behind the curtains. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I am working on my next book, which takes place in Morocco, so I’m reading all things Moroccan. I recently picked up a book that I first read 18 years ago, <em>Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail</em> by Malika Oufkir. I was horrified at this true story of imprisonment and escape. It is impossible to read this book and not weep. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you have a writing routine? If so, what does it look like? </span></strong></p> <p><span>My life is a little crazy, as I still run a small spa in Mexico, not to mention my duties as a mother and grandmother. So I write whenever I can find the time. What may be somewhat unique about my process is the development stage. I start with a thought, I choose an appropriate (and interesting) location, and then I travel. I talk to everyone I meet along the way, and keep my ears open to everything. If I’m lucky, I come home with a novel in my head!</span></p> <p><strong><span>Who is your favourite literary character, if any?</span></strong></p> <p><span>One of my favourite literary characters is Liesel from <em>The Book Thief</em>. Of course I admired her resilience and bravery, but mostly I identified with her desire to keep books close to her. Even when she was still illiterate, she could feel their power and the need to protect them. She’s literally a “literary” hero. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I would like to have dinner with J.K. Rowling. It’s not hard to be impressed with this woman, but I have a new level of respect for her now. During the writing of <em>Island on the Edge of the World</em>, which deals with the issues surrounding the orphanages of Haiti, I learned that Rowling is the founder and president of the international non-profit organization Lumos, which works to end the institutionalisation of children globally, and ensure that all children grow up in a safe and caring environment. I would love to have dinner with her to thank her for taking on such a massive job of promoting family preservation. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What trope grinds your gears? Alternatively, is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</span></strong></p> <p><span>One trope that really irritates me with that the bad guy always wears black. I am a hairdresser and hairdressers always wear black. </span></p> <p><span>I live in Mexico, where there are a lot of Canadians who spend winter in my town. The first time I heard the saying “I’m off like a dirty shirt”, I thought, “What?” It means you are finished with something, and leaving quickly. I now try to use it whenever I can. </span></p>

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5 minutes with author Fiona McIntosh

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Fiona McIntosh, a novelist and travel magazine co-founder based in South Australia. After years of working in the travel industry, McIntosh made a career switch and became a full-time author. Her latest book <em>The Diamond Hunter </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with McIntosh about the dictionary, revenge stories, and why she doesn’t believe in writer’s block.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?</span></strong></p> <p>Fiona McIntosh: <span>The worst writing advice I actually watched being delivered to a classroom of adult writers was… ’so here are the rules’. There are no rules!</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now?</span></strong></p> <p>Everything I can about the history of champagne, production of champagne during World War I in Epernay, as well as war books about the Marne region during WWI [for my next novel <em>The Champagne Lovers</em>]. </p> <p>On the go novels include <em>A Gentleman in Moscow</em> by Amor Towles, <em>Munich</em> by Robert Harris plus a couple by Le Carré.</p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><span>The dictionary. It’s powerful stuff.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How have the places you’ve been to influenced your writing?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I spent 20 years in the travel industry travelling between the ages of 20 and 40 years. I have spent the last 20 years of my life travelling so that I can write books about the places I have seen. Yes, without any of those places of the past four decades I would not have the inspiration for my stories. It always begins with place for me.</span></p> <p><strong>What was the last book that made you laugh or cry?</strong></p> <p>Everything by Bill Bryson makes me laugh.  And I think it’s much harder to win a laugh than a tear.</p> <p><strong><span>How do you deal with writer’s block? </span></strong></p> <p><span>By not believing in it. It has no power over me.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Sharon Penman. The way she brings the deep past back to life for me is inspirational.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Revenge stories. Can’t beat them!</span></p>

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Summer reads: When you can’t travel, let a book transport you

<p>I don’t understand beach reads. And I’m not the only one. There’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/02/beach-read-summer-books-holiday-vacation">no universal consensus about the category</a>, though the marketing tends to revolve around those books popularly considered disposable, unserious, or at the very least, books “<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/what-exactly-is-a-beach-read-anyway-summery-sexy--or-sexist/2016/08/05/41ea6ea8-58e5-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html?utm_term=.03921e2c51bc">you don’t mind getting wet</a>.”</p> <p>Last year, I toted <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15823480-anna-karenina">Anna Karenina</a> along with me — it got soaked, and I abandoned it in an AirBnB in Dubrovnik, Croatia, after I’d finished reading it. It lasted nearly the whole trip and left a gaping, souvenir-sized hole in my suitcase; it was perfect. So as much as I’d like to dissolve the beach read label entirely, I must also admit I have a type: I want a meaty, absorbing book that takes me further into a vacation by connecting with the cultures that produced it. I want a book that can’t be disposed of, one that will take me somewhere entirely new.</p> <p>What I really want is to decouple the notion of summer reading as a <a href="https://electricliterature.com/what-the-fk-is-a-beach-read-anyway/">lifestyle marker</a> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/39952655">of class</a> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/what-exactly-is-a-beach-read-anyway-summery-sexy--or-sexist/2016/08/05/41ea6ea8-58e5-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html?utm_term=.ccc299550f05">or gender</a>. If the “<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-invention-of-the-beach-read">pursuit of intellectual betterment</a>” feels inaccessible or off-putting, I would like to propose at least the pursuit of expanding our emotional connections.</p> <p>In a cultural climate where the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-empathy-have-limits-72637">limits of empathy</a> are increasingly under a microscope, forging cross-cultural connections feels like a pressing task. Much has been made of the relationship between <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/377">fiction reading</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23383160">empathy</a>, but what happens when the limits of our worldview are bounded by the English language? While <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/census-family-language-highlights-1.4231841">linguistic diversity is growing in Canada</a>, the majority of Canadians still <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/census-wednesday-language-1.4231213">speak only English at home</a>, and <a href="https://www.vulture.com/2019/05/translated-fiction-has-been-growing-or-has-it.html">comparatively few books are translated</a> into English. If, as José Ortega y Gasset proposes, reading in translation should <a href="http://dialogos.ca/2015/09/the-misery-and-the-splendour-of-translation-v-the-splendour/">transport the reader into the language</a> — and therefore the perspective — of the author, then reading translated works may be one of the best ways to expand empathy beyond the boundaries of language.</p> <p>I’m not going abroad this summer, at least not physically. I’ll be staying in Canada, with only my books to pull me to other times and places. While in recent years, I’ve focused on <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/12/29/10634416/reading-list-books">keeping up with new releases</a>, this year I’m fixated on atmosphere and transportation, in a mix of old favourites and new-to-me classics from around the world.</p> <p><strong>Italy</strong></p> <p>I won’t tell you to read Elena Ferrante, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/30/elena-ferrante-fan-girl-modern-tribes">because you’ve probably heard that before.</a> Instead, I will be delving into the work of Elsa Morante, a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/books/la-ca-jc-elena-ferrante-interview-20180517-htmlstory.html">possible inspiration for Ferrante’s pseudonym</a>. <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40180043-arturo-s-island"><em>Arturo’s Island</em></a>, originally published in English in 1959, has been published in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/11/books/review-arturos-island-elsa-morante-ann-goldstein.html?auth=login-facebook&amp;login=facebook">a new translation by Ann Goldstein</a> (translator of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels). The novel promises a mix of the remote island setting steeped in Morante’s preoccupation with social issues and the spectre of war.</p> <p><strong>Poland</strong></p> <p>One of my favourite themes in European literature is that of movement and fluidity, the running sense of unity of purpose amidst myriad diverse pockets of culture. The ubiquity of trains and boats support transcontinental journeys by characters who switch language mid-conversation. Last year’s <a href="https://thebookerprizes.com/international/news/flights-wins-man-booker-international-prize-2018">Man Booker International</a> winner, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36885304-flights?from_search=true"><em>Flights</em></a> by Olga Tokarczuk takes traveling and travelers as the subject of its interconnected musings, making it an ideal choice for the vacation headspace. This year’s winner, <a href="https://thebookerprizes.com/international/"><em>Celestial Bodies</em> from Oman’s Jokha Alharthi</a>, has an English edition but has not yet been published in Canada.</p> <p><strong>Croatia</strong></p> <p>In my opinion, no contemplation of Pan-European lore can be complete without Dubravka Ugrešic’s <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/baba-yaga-laid-an-egg-by-dubravka-ugresic-1728869.html"><em>Baba Yaga Laid an Egg</em></a>. Once <a href="https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-13827983/five-women-who-won-t-be-silenced-croatia-s-witches">labeled a witch herself</a> and driven into exile from Croatia, Ugrešic’s take on Baba Yaga explores the shifting nature of popular folklore.</p> <p><strong>Nigeria</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18749.Half_of_a_Yellow_Sun?ac=1&amp;from_search=true"><em>Half of a Yellow Sun</em></a> by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is not a translation, but it will take you to a place that only briefly existed: Biafra, a West African state founded in 1967. While the brutality of recent war may not make a particularly appetizing subject for vacation, Adichie contrasts the brutality with sumptuous descriptions of pre-war food and luxury, giving her vision of Biafra the aura of a lost dream. Adichie has referred to the war as a <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/hiding-from-our-past">shadow over her childhood</a>.</p> <p><strong>Norway</strong></p> <p>There are no beaches in <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6217.Kristin_Lavransdatter?from_search=true"><em>Kristen Lavransdatter</em></a> and many more Christmases than summers, but if you start Nobel Prize-winner Sigrid Undset’s oeuvre now, it may take you until winter to finish it. Set in Medieval Norway, the book follows the titular Kristen from childhood until death, focusing on her tumultuous love affair and marriage to Erlend Nikulaussøn. Tiina Nunnally’s translation, <a href="https://slate.com/culture/2017/01/why-sigrid-undset-author-of-the-kristin-lavransdatter-trilogy-should-be-the-next-elena-ferrante.html">focusing on plain, stripped-down language,</a> presents a change in philosophy from the first English translation that cut large portions of the text and enforced stiff, archaic language absent from the original Norwegian.</p> <p><strong>Argentina</strong></p> <p>Samanta Schweblin’s <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30763882-fever-dream?from_search=true"><em>Fever Dream</em></a> is slight in length but packs a heavy punch in both atmosphere and psychological investment. The story of a vacation gone terribly wrong, the novel’s Spanish title closely translates to “<a href="https://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-fever-dream-20170112-story.html">rescue distance</a>,” a recurring concept instantly familiar to parents of young children and terrifying as it becomes repeatedly destabilized. Fever Dream is so unsettling that I sometimes hesitate to recommend it, but I’ve found myself repeatedly drawn back to its tantalizing surrealism.</p> <p><strong>Canada</strong></p> <p>I’ve spent much of my life moving around, and as a recent settler on <a href="https://tkemlups.ca/profile/history/our-land/">unceded Secwepemc territory</a>, I want to learn more about the land I live on. In a summer steeped in fiction, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34733963-secw-pemc-people-land-and-laws?ac=1&amp;from_search=true"><em>Secwépemc People, Land, and Laws</em></a> by Marianne and Ronald Ignace is the only history on my list, but in many ways it feels similar to the others, reaching out to add a new dimension to a place in which I’m still mostly an outsider. <a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/5371282/b-c-fire-season-expected-to-be-busier-than-normal/">For better or for worse</a>, Kamloops feels the most like itself in summer, the climate wants to have its stories told. It can feel intimidating to contemplate a 10,000 year history I know nothing about, but also comforting and necessary to reach back and hear the tales of the land I now call home.</p> <p><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><em>Written by </em><span><em>Amy McLay Paterson, Assessment and User Experience Librarian, Thompson Rivers University</em></span><em>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/summer-reads-when-you-cant-travel-let-a-book-transport-you-119519" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/119519/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p>

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5 minutes with author Katherine Johnson

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Katherine Johnson, a novelist and science journalist based in Tasmania. Her book <em>The Better Son </em>was longlisted for the Indie Book Awards and the Tasmania Book Prize. She recently completed a PhD in creative writing, which formed the basis of her latest and fourth novel <em>Paris Savages</em>.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Johnson about her book recommendation, source of inspiration, and the universal wisdom of Henry David Thoreau.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is your best writing tip?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Katherine Johnson: Best tip(s) are: be observant, be brave, be honest, read, write and revise. People speak about waiting for inspiration and then writing when they are in the right frame of mind, but I think we would be waiting forever to write if that was the case. Inspiration and creativity happen when you sit down at the keyboard and let the ideas flow, one after the other and sometimes sideways in directions you didn’t anticipate. That’s the magic of it.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I always struggle with choosing one book – it’s like choosing one family member or one friend. I’ve read such varied books for different reasons and they all impact in various ways. I do think if people are interested in writing, or any form of creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert’s <em>Big Magic</em> is wonderful.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How have your past job(s) influenced your writing?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I worked as a science journalist for over a decade and it influences my fiction in that, if there are factual elements to a story, I like to stick to those, then imagine the rest. I also like to make it clear in the epilogues of my novels where the fact ends and the fiction begins. It’s my contract with the reader in my head.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>No Great Mischief</span></em><span> by Alistair Macleod. I actually read it some time ago, but re-read parts just recently. So beautiful but so sad. Footsteps in the snow that simply stop… You’ll need to read it to know what I mean.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you have any writing routine? If so, what does it look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>My writing routine is to write whenever I can. It can be difficult to fit it in around the demands of other work and family et cetera, but I have managed to carve out time. I’ve just finished a PhD in creative writing, so I had the luxury of writing full time – 8.30am to 4.30pm every day of the week. And during editing and other processes, often some evenings and weekends as well. </span></p> <p><strong><span>How do you deal with writers’ block?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I can honestly say, I have never experienced writers’ block. Or if I have, it has felt like something else. A piece of the puzzle that wasn’t yet fitting perhaps? A walk is good. And talking out the problem with someone patient enough to listen!</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Margaret Atwood. What a woman. What a writer!</span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I’ve recently been thinking about Henry David Thoreau, who, although writing in the 1850s, has made it onto many a fridge magnet. His thoughts about noticing nature, simplicity, walking, finding your own path, and not always conforming rang true to me when I read <em>Walden</em> as a young teenager – and I have to confess they still sit pretty comfortably now.</span></p>

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5 minutes with author Nathan Besser

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Nathan Besser, a novelist and businessperson. Having dropped writing in his young adulthood, Besser began writing again after spending years focusing on his alcohol delivery company Jimmy Brings and several other businesses. He went on to publish his first novel <em>Man in the Corner</em>, which has been optioned for film. His second novel, period drama <em>Wild </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Besser about Ritalin, Australian bogan gothic and the importance of speed chess for his writing.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is your best writing tip?</span></strong><span> <strong>Alternatively, what is the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?</strong></span></p> <p><span>Nathan Besser: Best: Coffee or Ritalin. Worst: Coffee or Ritalin.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Anything will do, more people reading books would be my hope.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How have your past job(s) influenced your writing?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I worked as a home delivery driver for many years. When I used to work longhand, the manuscripts were often scented with tamarind or pizza dough.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you laugh or cry?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>Joy in the Morning</span></em><span> by P.G. Wodehouse. What ho!</span></p> <p><strong><span>What trope grinds your gears? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Australian bogan gothic.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you have any writing routine? If so, what does it look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Typically I will reserve mornings, if I can. When I can’t establish something regular, I steal available moments like a desperate meth head.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How do you deal with writer’s block? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Self-hatred and speed chess in equal measure.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Montaigne. But I don’t speak French, so we’d need a translator. And I don’t know that he’d eat… Or be good company.</span></p>

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Highly anticipated Naomi Wolf book cancelled after error was discovered

<p>Acclaimed US author Naomi Wolf was left red-faced after a major factual error was discovered on BBC radio.</p> <p>The book,<span> </span>Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love<span> </span>has been pulled from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt after the interview.</p> <p>The publisher announced that they and Wolf have “mutually and amicably agreed to part company”.</p> <p>The book centres on the treatment of gay people in Victorian England and previously offered examples Wolf had discovered of “several dozen executions” of men convicted of sodomy in Britain. The last example of this was back in 1930.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzzmbaxp11-/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzzmbaxp11-/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">‪Major UK based Feminist News and Opinion site, The F Word, calls Naomi Wolf’s Outrages, “a valuable piece that exposes the foundations for the outrages that still exist today when it comes to gay love.” https://thefword.org.uk/2019/07/gay-love-in-victorian-britain/ #feminist #LGBTQ #naomiwolf #naomiwolfbook‬</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/naomirwolf/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Naomi Wolf</a> (@naomirwolf) on Jul 11, 2019 at 11:14pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>During a promotional tour for the book in the UK, BBC interviewer Matthew Sweet pointed out to Wolf that she had misinterpreted the legal term “death recorded”.</p> <p>The term, which is found in historical documents, left Wolf interpreting it as men who were executed for being gay.</p> <p>Sweet mentioned that it actually means that the judge abstained from pronouncing the death sentence and that the prisoner was pardoned.</p> <p>“I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened,” Sweet told a stunned Wolf.</p> <p>Wolf took the incident in her stride, saying that she didn’t “feel humiliated”.</p> <p>“I had read death recorded as meaning death recorded. The death penalty was the law of the land until 1861, [but] I misunderstood the phrase,” according to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/21/naomi-wolf-book-outrages-new-york" target="_blank">The Guardian</a>.</p> <p>“The bottom line is that [Sweet] did me a favour by identifying a misreading that I corrected.</p> <p>“I don’t feel humiliated but I’m grateful for the correction. I feel great responsibility and humility about this history.”</p>

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Elton John reveals shocking Princess Diana confession

<p>Elton John has lived quite a colourful life, from getting into an argument with Princess Diana to sharing a joke with the queen, the musician has not held back in his new autobiography,<span> </span><em>Me</em>.</p> <p>Releasing shortly after his musical biopic<span> </span><em>Rocketman</em>, the honest memoir explores every moment of his extraordinary life.</p> <p>But possibly the most anticipated revelation is regarding his relationship with the late Princess Diana, who he first became friends with in 1981 at Prince Andrew’s 21st birthday party.</p> <p>He revealed that her thirst for gossip and company was irresistible, and after her separation from Prince Charles, there was a moment where Hollywood A-listers Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere competed for her attention.</p> <p>Elton’s husband David found the two “squaring up to each other” and preparing to trade blows.</p> <p>It was then that Stallone stormed off, saying: “I never would have come if I’d known Prince f***in’ Charming was gonna be here.”</p> <p>The 72-year-old also addressed his infamous row with Diana, which he says was over a photography book featuring nearly naked men, by designer Gianni Versace – the proceeds of which were going to Elton’s Aids Foundation.</p> <p>Diana had originally agreed to write the foreword but decided against it at the last minute.</p> <p>The two made up in July 1997 after Versace was shot and killed. It was seven weeks before Diana herself passed away.</p> <p>Elton paid tribute to the royal by playing<span> </span><em>Candle In The Wind</em>, which he admitted to only listening to once since.</p> <p>He also revealed that he felt uncomfortable that the single, which is the biggest-selling UK song of all time, stayed at Number 1 for five weeks as it meant footage of Diana’s funeral was played constantly on<span> </span><em>Top Of The Pops.</em></p>

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