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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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5 minutes with author Judy Nunn

<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 Judy Nunn, a novelist, scriptwriter and actor. After achieving success as a writer for the TV series <em>Neighbours</em> and as an actor for iconic soap <em>Home and Away</em>, Nunn expanded into prose in 1991 with her debut novel <em>The Glitter Game</em>. Since then, Nunn has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. In 2015, she was named a Member of the Order of Australia for her “significant service to the performing arts as a scriptwriter and actor of stage and screen, and to literature as an author”. Her latest book, <em>Khaki Town </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Nunn about the books more people should read, a trick she swears by to ward off writers’ block and the difference between writing for TV and novel.</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>Judy Nunn: Best writing tip: Never let the book out of your head for too long or you’ll lose not only the plot but also your confidence.</p> <p>Worst writing advice (actually came from a UK publisher): “All scenes must be written from one character’s perspective”, which means if you have a scene between two major characters, you’re not supposed to see, within their minds, their specific thoughts or points of view. Ghastly!</p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><span>J.M. Barrie’s <em>Peter Pan</em>, Lewis Carroll’s <em>Alice in Wonderland</em> – anything that fires up the imagination of the young and reminds adults that they too were once young.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you laugh?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>Beware of God</span></em><span> by Shalom Auslander. I read it years ago – it was first published in 2005 – and recently re-read it. I laughed out loud all over again.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What does your writing routine look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I head off to my ‘office’ – across the balcony to the room at the front of the house – and start work around 9.30. Break for a sandwich around 12.30, back to work until a rewarding glass of wine at 5, on for another hour or so, and that’s it.</span></p> <p><strong>In your view, what is the biggest difference between scriptwriting and prose writing?</strong></p> <p>Utterly different mediums. Scripts are written for interpretation on the stage or screen, prose is written to be interpreted by the reader’s imagination.</p> <p><strong>Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you handle it?</strong></p> <p>I’ve fortunately never suffered writer’s block, but I have a trick to ward it off. At the end of my writing day I go into ‘upper case’, give no thought to form or ‘correct prose’, just freefall, giving vent to where my characters might go, what they might say and where the plot is leading me. Then, even if I have to leave off writing for several days, I can go back to work, read my big print and I’m right back on track.</p> <p><strong>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</strong></p> <p>Authors are often less interesting than the characters they create. I might prefer to have dinner with Doctor Zhivago rather than Boris Pasternak or to have cocktails with Silas Marner rather than George Eliot. But if pushed, what about a beer with Spike Milligan?</p> <p><strong>What trope grinds your gears? Alternatively, is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?</strong></p> <p>I can’t stand ‘The bottom line is…’ and ‘At the end of the day…’. They’re so constantly repeated that to me they lose impact. I love the cliché ‘Fact is stranger than fiction’.</p>

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How to invent a Tolkien-style language

<p>The success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies brought the languages that JRR Tolkien invented for the Elves to the attention of a much wider public. There are <a href="http://www.councilofelrond.com/content/elvish-resources/">now numerous books and websites</a> that allow devotees to learn Quenya and Sindarin. The <a href="http://www.oocities.org/petristikka/elvish/tikka.pdf">origins of Quenya in Finnish</a> and the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z2hthyc">Welsh inspirations of Sindarin</a> have fascinated Tolkien fans, with many learning and expanding on the tongues that were created by the author the best part of 100 years ago.</p> <p>Though enchanting, language invention has also baffled readers and critics alike. Bewildered critic <a href="https://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/TOLFAIR.HTM">Robert Reilly exclaimed in 1963</a>: “No one ever exposed the nerves and fibres of his being in order to make up a language; it is not only insane but unnecessary.” But that’s where he was completely wrong.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6de_SbVUVfA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">JRR Tolkien recites the Quenya poem Namárië, sung by Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings.</span></p> <p>Language invention for works of fiction has a long history, from <a href="http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/21cc/utopia/more1/moreutopia.html">Thomas More’s Utopia</a> and <a href="http://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item104566.html">Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels</a>, all the way to Tolkien’s immediate predecessors, such as <a href="https://archive.org/details/acrosszodiacsto01greggoog">Percy Gray</a> and <a href="http://www.sacred-texts.com/atl/vril/">Edward Bulwer Lytton</a>.</p> <p>Tolkien himself began composing his Middle-earth mythology at a time when the vogue for artificial languages was at its zenith. At the turn of the 20th century <a href="http://www.omniglot.com/writing/esperanto.htm">Esperanto</a> was taking the world by storm, and it competed with more than 100 other artificial languages, including Volapuk, Ido and Novial. It is also worth remembering too that this same period was a time of language experimentation. Russian zaum, the Dada movement and Modernism (among others) were attempting to break language and make it afresh.</p> <h2>Tolkien’s vice</h2> <p>In <a href="https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008131395/a-secret-vice">A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages</a>, edited by myself and Andrew Higgins, we present Tolkien’s own reflections on his language invention. In particular, the full publication of A Secret Vice, a paper Tolkien gave in 1931 at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he talked about his engagement with Esperanto and his contribution to nursery languages (codes children use, often for playful communication). Tolkien went on to unveil his many experiments in inventing new languages that would be aesthetically pleasing, including a sketch of a previously unknown imaginary language, published for the first time in the new book. He also commented on the “coeval and congenital” art of creating a world and characters that would speak these languages – the first seeds of the vast secondary world of Middle-earth.</p> <p>The book also includes a hitherto unpublished new essay on phonetic symbolism, in which Tolkien muses on the idea that the sounds of words may fit their meanings. Tolkien’s drafts and notes for both essays are also included. Some of these notes make mention of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein – hardly the literary company one expects Tolkien to be seen alongside.</p> <p>Contemporary popular culture has witnessed a renewed interest in fictional languages. Perhaps the best-known recent examples are <a href="http://docs.dothraki.org/Dothraki.pdf">Dothraki</a> and <a href="http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/2014/5/8/high-valyrian-101-learn-and-pronounce-common-phrases">High Valyrian</a>, the languages invented by linguist David J. Petterson for HBO’s Game of Thrones. But they are by no means the only ones. Even non-fans of the Star Trek franchise will have at least heard of <a href="http://www.kli.org/about-klingon/klingon-history/">Klingon</a>, and James Cameron’s Avatar also includes an invented language: <a href="http://learnnavi.org/">Na'avi</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0knxW76bDuI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">The creators of Na'avi, Klingon and Dothraki explain how to make a language.</span></p> <p>Whether intentional or not, Tolkien’s language creation has been highly influential for this new generation of inventors. In A Secret Vice, Tolkien outlined several rules for constructing imaginary languages, which later inventors appear to have followed.</p> <p>First, invented names and words should be coherent and consistent. Their sounds should both be aesthetically pleasing and fit the nature of the people who speak them. For example, the phonetic make-up of Klingon befits its militaristic speakers (who else would recite <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiRMGYQfXrs">Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be” as “taH pagh taHbe”</a>?)</p> <p>Second, fictional languages should have a grammatical structure behind them. In <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Living-Language-Dothraki-Conversational-Original/dp/0804160864">Living Language Dothraki</a>, Peterson gives all the grammatical rules you need to form questions such as “hash yer dothrae chek asshekh?” (“do you ride well today?”).</p> <p>And finally, invented languages should be an integral, indeed vital, part of myth-making - as Tolkien said: “Your language construction will breed a mythology”. There are far too many examples to list here, but what may have astounded Tolkien is the central position that language invention has achieved in the building of new entertainment franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, and Game of Thrones.</p> <p>Like Tolkien himself, many inventors of today’s fictional languages have been linguists and communicators: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5Did-eVQDc">Marc Okrand</a>, the inventor of Klingon, has a PhD in linguistics from Berkeley; <a href="http://www.marshall.usc.edu/faculty/directory/frommer">Paul Frommer</a>, creator of Na'avi, is professor emeritus of clinical management communication at the University of Southern California. Tolkien’s legacy also lives on in the many thousands of constructed languages (con-langs) which are invented just for fun and discovery through groups like <a href="http://conlang.org/">The Language Construction Society</a>.</p> <p>What is rarer, and shows Tolkien’s genius, is that the complex interweaving of myth-making and language invention that make Middle-earth feel real was the achievement of a single man. And that is a tough act to follow.<!-- 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/57380/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><em>Written by <span>Dimitra Fimi, Lecturer in English, Cardiff Metropolitan University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-invent-a-tolkien-style-language-57380" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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"I’ll have what she’s having": How and why we copy the choices of others

<p>Imagine you’re dining out at a casual restaurant with some friends. After looking over the menu, you decide to order the steak. But then, after a dinner companion orders a salad for their main course, you declare: “I’ll have the salad too.”</p> <p>This kind of situation – making choices that you probably otherwise wouldn’t make <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucv012">were you alone</a> – probably happens more often than you think in a wide variety of settings, from eating out to shopping and even donating to charity. And it’s not just a matter of you suddenly realizing the salad sounds more appetizing.</p> <p><a href="https://explorable.com/chameleon-effect">Prior research has shown</a> people have a tendency to mimic the choices and behaviors of others. But other work suggests people also want to do the exact opposite to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/317585">signal their uniqueness</a> in a group by making a different choice from others.</p> <p>As scholars who examine consumer behavior, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0022243719853221">we wanted</a> to resolve this discrepancy: What makes people more likely to copy others’ behavior, and what leads them to do their own thing?</p> <p><strong>A social signal</strong></p> <p>We developed a theory that how and why people match or mimic others’ choices depends a lot on the attributes of the thing being selected.</p> <p>Choices have what we call “ordinal” attributes that can be ranked objectively – such as size or price – as well as “nominal” attributes that are not as easily ranked – such as flavor or shape. We hypothesized that ordinal attributes have more social influence, alerting others to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2013.08.007">what may be seen as “appropriate”</a> in a given context.</p> <p>Nominal attributes, on the other hand, would seem to be understood as a reflection of one’s personal preferences.</p> <p>So we performed 11 studies to test our theory.</p> <p><strong>One scoop or two</strong></p> <p>In one study conducted with 190 undergraduate students, we told participants that they were on their way to an ice cream parlor with a friend to get a cone. We then told our would-be ice cream consumers that their companion was getting either one scoop of vanilla, one scoop of chocolate, two scoops of vanilla or two scoops of chocolate. We then asked participants what they wanted to order.</p> <p>We found that people were much more likely to order the same size as their companion but not the same flavor.</p> <p>The participants seemed to interpret the number of scoops the companion ordered as an indication of what’s appropriate. For example, ordering two scoops might signal “permission” to indulge or seem the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1509/jm.11.0261">more financially savvy</a> – if less healthy – choice, since it usually costs only marginally more than one. Or a single scoop might suggest “let’s enjoy some ice cream – but not too much.”</p> <p>The choice of chocolate or vanilla, on the other hand, is readily understood as a personal preference and thus signals nothing about which is better or more appropriate. I like vanilla, you like chocolate – everyone’s happy.</p> <p>We also asked participants to rate how important avoiding social discomfort was in their decision. Those who ordered the same number of scoops as their companion rated it as more important than those who picked a different amount.</p> <p><strong>Examining other contexts</strong></p> <p>In the other studies, we replicated our results using different products, in various settings and with a variety of ordinal and nominal attributes.</p> <p>For example, in another experiment, we gave participants US$1 to buy one of four granola bars from a mock store we set up inside the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz/CBA Business Research Center. As the ordinal attribute, we used <a href="https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkg.65.1.71.18132">brand prestige</a>: They could pick either a more expensive well-known national brand or a cheaper one sold by a grocery store under its own label. Our nominal attribute was chocolate or peanut butter.</p> <p>Before making the choice, a “store employee” stationed behind the checkout register told participants she or he had tested out a granola bar, randomly specifying one of the four – without saying anything about how it tasted. We rotated which granola bar the employee mentioned every hour during the five-day experiment.</p> <p>Similar to the ice cream study, participants tended to choose the brand that the employee said he or she had chosen – whether it was the cheaper or pricier one – but ignored the suggested flavor.</p> <p>Moving away from food, we also examined influences on charitable donations. In this study, we recruited online participants who were paid for their time. In addition, we gave each participant 50 cents to either keep or donate to charity.</p> <p>If they chose to donate the money, they could give all of it or half to a charity focused on saving either <a href="https://www.savetheelephants.org">elephants</a> or <a href="https://polarbearsinternational.org/">polar bears</a>. Before they made their choice, we told them what another participant had supposedly decided to do with their money – randomly based on one of the four possibilities.</p> <p>The results were the same as in all our other studies, including ones we conducted involving different brands and shapes of pasta and varieties and taste profiles of wine. People matched the ordinal attribute – in this case the amount – but paid little heed to the nominal attribute – the chosen charity – which remained a personal preference.</p> <p>These kinds of social cues regarding others’ choices are everywhere, from face-to-face interactions with friends to online tweets or Instagram posts, making it difficult to escape the influence of what others do on our own consumption choices.</p> <p>And if we believe we’re making our companions feel more comfortable while still choosing something we like, what’s the harm in that?</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Kelly L. Haws, Associate Professor of Marketing, Vanderbilt University; Brent McFerran, W. J. Van Duse Associate Professor, Marketing, Simon Fraser University, and Peggy Liu, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, University of Pittsburgh</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/ill-have-what-shes-having-how-and-why-we-copy-the-choices-of-others-122682" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </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 --></p>

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What makes a book 'good'?

<p>How many copies of <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> does it take to make a fort? A branch of Oxfam in Swansea, south Wales, received so many unwanted copies of EL James’s erotic novel, that staff decided to build a fort out of them in the back office.</p> <p>Well, why not? Once the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18618648">hottest book in publishing</a>, <em>Fifty Shades</em> now can’t be given away fast enough. Relief at last, perhaps, for all those high-brow academics and frustrated authors – myself among them – whose hearts sank when this fan fiction-derived tale became the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9459779/50-Shades-of-Grey-is-best-selling-book-of-all-time.html">fastest-selling paperback of all time in Britain</a> and went on to sell more than 125m copies around the world.</p> <p>But was it any good? <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/28/what-el-james-grey-success-tells-us-about-future-of-fiction">Critics seemed to think not</a>, but just as publishers will tell you a good review does not necessarily sell books, nor, it seems, does a whole series of bad reviews harm sales of a book once momentum has been achieved.</p> <p>When I was a child listening to the Top 40 countdown on Radio 1 on a Sunday evening, there was no doubt in my mind that the higher up the charts my favourite singles climbed, the better those particular songs were shown to be. In my ten-year-old mind there was a straightforward correlation between commercial success and artistic quality. A single that reached number ten was pretty good, but one that went straight into the chart at number one and stayed there for four weeks was clearly better.</p> <p>At some point I must have given voice to this theory, because my elder sister once told me that “just because one song is higher up in the charts doesn’t make it better than another song that’s lower down.” While I reeled at this news, she did happily agree that Slade’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTEGxVDHpGU"><em>Cum On Feel the Noize</em></a> was nevertheless the best song around at the time.</p> <p><strong>Making good</strong></p> <p>So what does make a book – or a film or a song – good? What gives a work lasting value? There are methods of assessment; you can apply criteria. As a lecturer in creative writing, who marks novels written by MA students, I would say that, wouldn’t I? But as a reader – and as an editor for a small publisher – I obviously have my own, subjective views on what’s good and what’s not so good.</p> <p>The lesson my sister taught me has stayed with me over the years and I’ll admit that these days I’m suspicious of anything that seems to be enjoying too much success. Was Zadie Smith’s award-winning <em>White Teeth</em> really that good? How about David Mitchell’s acclaimed <em>Cloud Atlas</em>? <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em>? I don’t know, because I haven’t read them. There are lots of interesting-sounding books out there, but why should I feel obliged to read the same ones everyone else is reading? Is the culture really nothing but a huge book club?</p> <p>It’s frustrating for publishers working hard to launch new careers (they’ve long given up trying to sustain flagging ones) when they know that only a tiny number of titles will account for the vast majority of sales.</p> <p>One first-time author of my acquaintance whose debut novel was published in 2015 to a small number of enthusiastic reviews and poor sales feels so disappointed by the whole experience he often talks of jacking it all in. Is the <em>Fifty Shades</em> phenomenon part of that problem? Would I rather that great literature was achieving that level of commercial success? Well, yes, but can we as a society agree on what is great literature? I don’t think we can and I even prefer to think that we shouldn’t, being inherently suspicious of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-tale-of-squirrelling-away-books-that-sparked-a-nutty-row-over-childrens-literature-35442">the exclusivity of the canon</a>.</p> <p>So, let big houses continue to publish bestsellers. They make money and keep people in jobs and maybe, just maybe, there’s a trickle-down effect. Profits from big books may enable risks to be taken on smaller ones. EL James <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/el-james-fifty-shades-grey-1m-charity-482496">donated £1m of her royalties to charity</a>.</p> <p>And so what if we end up with mountains of unwanted books? As long as we continue to build new roads (and that’s a whole other subject), we’ll continue to need unwanted books. When the M6 Toll opened in 2003, building materials supplier Tarmac revealed that <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/3330245.stm">2.5m Mills &amp; Boon novels had been pulped and used in the manufacture of the asphalt</a>.</p> <p>Swansea’s red-faced consumers of James’s “mommy porn” may not have donated 2.5m copies of <em>Fifty Shades</em> to Oxfam, but a quick calculation, studying the <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2016/03/22/charity-shop-begs-women-not-to-return-used-copies-of-fifty-shades-of-grey-5767801/">photograph of the house-like construction that has been tweeted all over the world</a>, suggests it takes about 600 copies of <em>Fifty Shades</em> to make a fort.<!-- 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/57077/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><em>Written by <span>Nicholas Royle, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/what-makes-a-book-good-57077" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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3 alternative romantic fiction authors that will heat up any beach trip

<p>There’s no better way to escape the stresses than to put your reading into “romance” gear. For summer relief, try instead the question of the heart versus the mind. That is the core problem of much of my very favourite, intellectually inspiring fiction.</p> <p>Chick lit is out, I’m afraid: an avowed literary snob, I like my dilemmas of desire served up in rich, fulsome English, with slowly unravelled plots and textured characters, not two-dimensional patriarchal fairy tales dished up in elementary school grammatical structures (<em>hides under the table</em>).</p> <p>Current favourites are George Gissing’s <em><a href="https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/odd-women">The Odd Women</a></em> and an assortment of Margaret Drabble, the queen of 1970s British letters, and pretty much anything by Iris Murdoch.</p> <p><strong>George Gissing</strong></p> <p>For the tensions and irrationalities of romantic feeling, <em>The Odd Women</em> (1893) is superlative. What it does so brilliantly is take one of the burning sets of issues of the day – women’s rights, particularly in relation to marriage – and pits its intellectual and ideological propositions against the anarchic, intrusive power of dawning love.</p> <p>Let me lure you further. The book’s main characters are two vehement feminists, the excellently named Rhoda Nunn, and her partner in crime, the angelic yet forceful Mary Barfoot. Together – they live together, too – they seek to save single, or “odd” women from the desolate dregs of the old maids’ job market by training them up as clerks on typewriters.</p> <p>Suddenly, Rhoda finds herself in an odd position. An avowed spinster, determined to practice what she preaches, she is also of “strong and shapely” figure and “handsome” feature. So when Mary’s sexy cousin, Everard, begins visiting the house on return from his relaxed bachelor travels around the Orient, he takes an interest in her. Rhoda’s position is the following: “I am seriously convinced that before the female sex can be raised from its low level there will have to be a widespread revolt against sexual instinct.”</p> <p>Catnip for Everard who – as stubborn as Rhoda – begins a woo that is hard to resist, seeming to fall not only for Rhoda but for women’s equality, too. The delicious yet unexpected conclusion to this story is head and shoulders above your usual romance fare, the work of a master stylist who never abandons humour, even as he makes you cry.</p> <p><strong>Margaret Drabble</strong></p> <p>Drabble, 80 years later, gives a softer but equally crystalline gender-aware portrait of relationships. In <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/97/10/19/home/drabble-oates.html"><em>The Needle’s Eye</em></a> (1972), reserved Simon Camish goes to a dreadful supper party and is offended by the guests’ vulgarity. But then rough-skinned, makeup-free, and self-dispossessed heiress Rose walks in, and with her genteel delicacy of manner and genuine modesty, immediately entrances Simon, himself married to a minor heiress he can’t stand.</p> <p>Simon gets involved in Rose’s divorce saga; desperate to play the legal knight in shining armour (he is a lawyer) to Rose’s sensitive yet deeply stubborn damsel in distress. Both reveal astonishing integrity of character as Rose is buffeted with extreme violence for rejecting social expectations by insisting on being poor.</p> <p>But if you’re feeling anxious, I recommend <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/15/the-millstone-the-crucial-1960s-feminist-novel">The Millstone</a></em>, Drabble’s 1965 peach about an adorable unmarried scholar of Elizabethan verse who gets pregnant the first time she has sex, and never tells the father, who she worships from afar. It’s both soothing and sad. The father is a BBC radio announcer, and she merely switches on the radio when she wants to feel reassured by him, which is a lovely bit of romance. It is a very slim book, but it’s perfectly formed: a story of an intelligent, liberated woman leaving the man out while falling in love with the baby everyone told her not to have on any account.</p> <p>Happy ending? Unclear. Like real life, in which convention, rationality and deep emotional drives do not always mesh? Definitely, but sweeter.</p> <p><strong>Iris Murdoch</strong></p> <p>Iris isn’t for everyone. But I have loved her ever since a friend handed me <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/20/specials/murdoch-prince.html"><em>The Black Prince</em></a> (1973) on a rainy holiday in Sicily. Cowering on a deserted beach, I found myself intrigued and amused as ageing author Bradley becomes increasingly caught in a cat’s cradle of deadly desire, starring a striking assortment of women with men’s names such as Christian and Julian.</p> <p>Booker Prize-winning <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/feb/10/iris-murdoch-sea-booker">The Sea, the Sea</a> </em>(1978) also completely bewitched me: once more, a story of explosive obsession ripping through the reserve of an otherwise orderly, if arrogant, English life of letters.</p> <p>And currently I’m savouring <em><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/20/specials/murdoch-sandcastle.html">The Sandcastle</a> </em>(1957), about a middle-aged Surrey schoolmaster, Bill Mor, who falls ill-advisedly in love with the deliciously named Rain Carter, a nymph-like portrait painter hired to capture the retired headmaster. The parched school grounds, the doe-like yet strong Rain, the prudish ferocity of Mrs Mor and their children’s spectral games cast a magic spell, just as Murdoch – I assume – intended.<!-- 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/61549/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><em>Written by <span>Zoe Strimpel, Doctoral researcher, History, University of Sussex</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/three-alternative-romantic-fiction-authors-that-will-heat-up-any-beach-trip-61549" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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5 minutes with author Favel Parrett

<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 Favel Parrett, a Victoria-based writer. Her 2011 debut novel <em>Past the Shallows </em>won the Dobbie Literary Award and was shortlisted in the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. Parrett’s short stories have also been published in various journals, including <em>Island</em>, <em>Griffith Review </em>and <em>Wet Ink</em>. Her new book <em>There Was Still Love </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Parrett about her best writing tip, the wonders of nature for writing, and the most epic novel she’s read.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is your best writing tip?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Favel Parrett: It is possible! Keep going, keep working, keep putting your work out there.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now? </span></strong></p> <p><em><span>Big Sky </span></em><span>by Kate Atkinson.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry or laugh?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>Tin Man</span></em><span> by Sarah Winman – it made me cry.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think is underrated? </span></strong></p> <p><em><span>The Vanishing Act</span></em><span> by Mette Jakobsen.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What do you think is the most challenging work you’ve ever read?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Maybe not the most challenging, but the most epic – <em>The Grapes of Wrath</em> by John Steinbeck.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How do you deal with writer’s block?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Surf, walk, daydream, garden, bird-watch. Nature is the key! </span></p> <p><strong><span>Which three authors – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Tove Jansson, Maya Angelou, and Sarah Winman.</span></p>

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“Extraordinary permission”: Queen Elizabeth allows close friend to write tell-all book

<p>The Queen’s personal dresser and confidant Angela Kelly has been given “extraordinary permission” from the Queen herself to write a tell-all book that details their working relationship.</p> <p>Kelly has been employed by Her Majesty since 1994 and is the first member of the royal household to be given permission to write about their experiences on the job, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://honey.nine.com.au/royals/queen-elizabeth-dresser-angela-kelly-given-permission-to-write-book/72ecda56-bfa1-42e1-9e7d-44737ca321e8" target="_blank">Nine Honey</a></em>.</p> <p>The monarch has "personally given Angela her blessing to share their unparalleled bond with the world", says a spokesperson for the publisher, HarperCollins.</p> <p>Kelly, 51, started at the palace as the Queen’s senior dresser before rising to Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor and Curator, which includes jewellery, insignias and wardrobe as well as in-house designer.</p> <p>She is the first person in history to hold such a job title and shares a uniquely close working relationship with the Queen.</p> <p><em>The Other Side of the Coin</em> will include never-before-seen photographs from Kelly's private collection as well as anecdotes of their time spent together.</p> <p>"Angela Kelly is the first serving member of the Royal Household to have been given this extraordinary permission," the publisher says.</p> <p>Kelly likened her relationship with the Queen as “two typical women” who “discuss clothes, make-up and jewellery” in a 2007 interview with<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1571986/The-Queen-and-I-by-Her-Majestys-PA.html" target="_blank">The Telegraph</a></em>.</p> <p>"I don't know why the Queen seems fond of me - because I don't give her an easy time," Kelly said. "I do think she values my opinion, but she is the one who is in control. I do worry about her and care about her. But we also have a lot of fun together."</p> <p>Australian palace aid Samantha Cohen, assistant Private Secretary to the Queen between 2011-2018, says the book "gives a rare glimpse into the demands of the job of supporting the Monarch, and we gain privileged insight into a successful working relationship, characterised by humour, creativity, hard work, and a mutual commitment to service and duty".</p> <p>"Angela is a talented and inspiring woman, who has captured the highlights of her long career with The Queen for us all to share."</p>

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5 books on work by French authors that you should read

<p>An emerging genre of fiction in France is providing an unlikely brand of escapism. Growing numbers of French writers are choosing work as their subject matter – and it seems that readers can’t get enough of their novels.</p> <p>The prix du roman d'entreprise et du travail, the French prize for the <a href="https://www.prixduromandentreprise.fr/">best business or work-related novel</a>, is testament to the sustained popularity of workplace fiction across the Channel. The prize has been awarded annually since 2009, and this year’s winner will be announced at the Ministry of Employment in Paris on March 14.</p> <p><a href="https://www.placedelamediation.com/">Place de la Médiation</a>, the body which set up the prize, is a training organisation specialising in mediation, the prevention of psychosocial risks, and quality of life at work. Co-organiser <a href="https://www.technologia.fr/">Technologia</a> is a work-related risk prevention consultancy, which helps companies to evaluate health, safety and organisational issues.</p> <p>The novels shortlisted for the prize in the past ten years reflect a broad range of jobs and sectors and a whole gamut of experiences. The texts clearly strike a chord with French readers, but English translations of these novels suggest many of the themes broached resonate in Anglo-Saxon culture too.</p> <p>The prize certainly seeks to acknowledge a pre-existing literary interest in the theme of work. This is unsurprising in the wake of the global financial crisis and the changes and challenges this has brought. But the organisers also express <a href="https://www.prixduromandentreprise.fr/">a desire to actively mobilise fiction</a> in a bid to help chart the often choppy waters of the modern workplace:</p> <blockquote> <p>Through the power of fiction, [we] want to put the human back at the heart of business, to show the possibilities of a good quality professional life, and to relaunch social dialogue by bringing together in the [prize] jury all the social actors and specialists of the business world.</p> </blockquote> <p>What better way to delve into this unusual genre than by reading some of the previous prize winners. Below are five books to get you started.</p> <p><strong>1. <em>Underground Time</em></strong></p> <p>The first prize was awarded to Delphine de Vignan for <a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/underground-time-9781408811115/"><em>Les heures souterraines</em></a>. In this novel, the paths of a bullied marketing executive and a beleaguered on-call doctor converge and intersect as they traverse Paris over the course of a working day. A television adaptation followed, and an English translation was published by Bloomsbury in 2011. Work-related journeys and the underground as a symbol for the hidden or unseen side of working life have proved enduring themes, picked up by several subsequent winners.</p> <p><strong>2. <em>The Man Who Risked It All</em></strong></p> <p>Laurent Gounelle’s <a href="https://www.hayhouse.co.uk/catalog/product/view/id/21204/s/the-man-who-risked-it-all-1/"><em>Dieu voyage toujours incognito</em></a>, winner of the 2011 prize, takes us from the depths of the underground to the top of the Eiffel Tour, where Alan Greenmor’s suicide attempt is interrupted by a mysterious stranger. Yves promises to teach him the secrets to happiness and success if Alan agrees to do whatever he asks. This intriguing premise caught the attention of self-help, inspirational and transformational book publisher Hay House, whose translation appeared in 2014.</p> <p><strong>3. <em>The Reader on the 6.27</em></strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/jean-paul-didierlaurent/the-reader-on-the-6-27/9781509836857"><em>Le liseur du 6h27</em></a> by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, the 2015 winner, tells the story of a reluctant book-pulping machine operative. Each day, Ghislain Vignolles rescues a few random pages from destruction, to read aloud to his fellow-commuters in the morning train. The novel crystallises the fraught relationship between intellectual life and manual work.</p> <p>It also illustrates the tension between culture and commerce, arguably at its most pronounced in France, where cultural policy has traditionally insisted on the distinction between cultural artefacts and commercial products. <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-reader-on-the-627-by-jean-paul-didierlaurent-book-review-set-to-woo-british-readers-and-become-a-10300236.html">The Independent review of the English translation</a> describes the book as “a delightful tale about the kinship of reading”.</p> <p><strong>4. <em>Undersea View</em></strong></p> <p>Slimane Kader took to the belly of a Caribbean cruise ship to research <a href="https://www.allary-editions.fr/publication/avec-vue-sous-la-mer/"><em>Avec vue sous la mer</em></a>, which claimed the 2016 prize. His hilarious account of life as “joker”, or general dogsbody, is characterised by an amusing mishmash of cultural references: “I’m dreaming of <em>The Love Boat</em>, but getting a remake of <em>Les Misérables</em>” the narrator quips. The use of “<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1892853.stm">verlan</a>” – a suburban dialect in which syllables are reversed to create new words – underlines the topsy-turvy feel.</p> <p>Unfortunately, there’s no English version as yet – I imagine the quickfire language play would challenge even the most adept of translators. But translation would help confirm the compelling literary voice Kader has given to an otherwise invisible group.</p> <p><strong>5. <em>Woman at Sea</em></strong></p> <p>Catherine Poulain’s <em><a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1112907/woman-at-sea/9781911214588.html">Le grand marin</a></em>, the 2017 winner, is a rather more earnest account of work at sea. The author draws on her own experiences to recount narrator Lili’s travails in the male-dominated world of Alaskan fishing.</p> <p><em>Le grand marin</em> (the great sailor) is ostensibly the nickname Lili gives to her seafaring lover. The relationship is something of a red herring though, as the overriding passion in this novel is work. But the English title perhaps does Lili a disservice – she is less a floundering Woman at Sea, and more the true <em>grand marin</em> of the original.</p> <p><a href="https://www.placedelamediation.com/prix/?service=la-selection-2017">This year’s shortlist</a> includes the story of a forgotten employee left to his own devices when his company is restructured, a professional fall from grace in the wake of the Bataclan terrorist attack, and a second novel from Poulain, with seasonal work in Provence the backdrop this time.</p> <p>The common draw, as in previous years –- and somewhat ironically, given the subject matter –- is escapism. We are afforded either a tantalising glimpse into the working lives of others, or else a fresh perspective on our own. English readers will be equally fascinated by French details and universal themes – and translators’ pens are sure to be poised.<!-- 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/112115/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><em>Written by <span>Amy Wigelsworth, Senior Lecturer in French, Sheffield Hallam University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/five-books-on-work-by-french-authors-that-you-should-read-on-your-commute-112115" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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5 minutes with author Nicola Marsh

<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 Nicola Marsh, an award-winning fiction writer. She has published 70 books – ranging from romance and domestic suspense to urban fantasy and supernatural thriller – and sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. Her newest book, <em>Long Way Home</em>, will be released on September 24. </span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Marsh about J. K. Rowling, the amnesia trope, and what truly makes for a good romance.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is your best writing tip?</span></strong></p> <p>Nicola Marsh: <span>My best writing tip is to make it a habit. Daily if possible. The more you write, the faster you become. I like to compare it to flexing a muscle; using our writing muscle will hone and strengthen it. Writing is all about voice and the way to find your voice is by actually sitting down and getting the words on paper regularly.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think more people should read?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>The Kiss Quotient</span></em><span> by Helen Hoang, for the simple reason it showcases what a great romance is. It’s a great opposites attract story that’s both tender and sexy. Stella is a neuro-diverse heroine that hires a half Vietnamese-half Swedish escort to teach her about sex. It’s wonderful.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How have your past job(s) influenced your writing?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Working as a physiotherapist for 13 years before I started writing means I appreciate my dream job even more now. The creative side of my brain has taken over the scientific side and I’m loving it. I get to manipulate characters rather than manipulating backs!</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you laugh or cry?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I can bawl at movies but rarely cry when reading, so a book really has to touch me for that to happen. I read Kelly Rimmer’s <em>Before I Let You Go</em> a few months ago and that definitely made me cry. It’s a beautifully poignant story about sisters, the trials of their upbringing, drug addiction and a baby. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you have any writing routine? If so, what does it look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Writing is my full-time job, so I treat it as such. Once I get the kids off to school I do a 40-minute gym workout before settling down to write. I try to get 5 hours done before the madness of being a mum starts all over again with school pick-up and the rest. If I’m juggling tight deadlines for several publishers, I’ll try to write a few hours in the evening too.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What do you think makes a good romance fiction?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Creating characters that readers connect with and invest in. I’m an avid reader and nothing keeps me turning pages faster than characters that are real and that I care about. So that’s what I strive for in creating my stories.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p>J. K. Rowling, because her story fascinates me. The number of times she was rejected, being published, having her books become a worldwide phenomenon, the movies, her change in lifestyle… intriguing stuff that would make the perfect dinner conversation.</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’m not a huge fan of the amnesia trope. It’s one I’ve never tackled in my writing once in 70 books because I find it hard to connect with as a reader. </span></p> <p><span>As for tropes I love, there’s nothing better than a good friends to lovers romance.</span></p>

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Why do I still write shorthand?

<p>I am frequently asked this question. Often it is prefixed by the statements “I thought shorthand was dead” or “It’s no longer used in business”, and it is usually said with some surprise that I may be unaware of this opinion! I am then quizzed as to my interest in shorthand – a question which I could answer in a number of ways.</p> <p>I <em>could</em> answer by explaining a brief history and the uses of shorthand. Although shorthand dates back to Roman times, it was Sir Isaac Pitman who revolutionized shorthand with the innovation of the phonographic method. Shorthand was developed for the purpose of recording words more quickly than using longhand, whether it was a person’s own thoughts or what others were saying. Pitman shorthand was originally taught to and used by men with positions of status – judges, barristers and businessmen so they could record the proceedings for their own benefit, even if not in complete verbatim form. Others, like Charles Dickens and US President Woodrow Wilson used Pitman shorthand to record their thoughts or works and prepare speeches.</p> <p>Later on, particularly in the early 1900s when many women learned shorthand, they gained employment in offices. Men still studied the skill, especially for court reporting and journalism. As the 20<sup>th</sup> century wore on stenography became known more as a female occupation, being taught in girls’ schools and with girls making up the majority of business college students. (as a stenographer I always wondered how shorthand could in any way be gender-specific!)</p> <p>Once the skill is learned thoroughly, it tends to be retained. I have read countless comments from shorthand writers who say they use it to jot down a thought, a Christmas list, or parts of an interview on TV. My use resembles that of Dickens and Wilson – in meetings I write accurate notes of important aspects and perhaps the discussions leading to decisions. I have a sense of privacy when others cannot read what I’m writing. I’m sure President Wilson felt the same.</p> <p>I <em>could</em> answer by explaining the brain benefits as to why I find shorthand so important. Writing shorthand stimulates the brain in several ways to assist neuroplasticity of the brain, which assists prevention of memory loss. Both the short-term and long-term memories are exercised as we make decisions as to the theory to apply, we store words heard, then we precisely write the outline. As well as memory we are using concentration, decision-making, motor skills and dexterity. This brain health concept lead to a German study conducted over several years on shorthand writers who regularly wrote shorthand. Results showed their memories either improved or suffered no deterioration with the regular writing of shorthand.</p> <p>Needless to say, these achieved benefits to the brain are not only applied to the writing of shorthand – the benefits of sharper thinking spreads across all their other activities. One woman in the study said she felt as if her brain ‘had been freed up’ by participating in the shorthand activities.</p> <p> I <em>could</em> answer the question by asking a range of other questions to justify other popular pastimes – Why do people ride bikes when they have a car? Why do people learn to paint when they could take a photo on their phone? Why do people learn a language when they could use Google translate or are not intending to spend a lengthy period of time in that country? Why learn music when they could just download that piece? – these questions could be applied to so many worthwhile, beneficial leisure activities in which we partake.</p> <p>The answer is that these activities are enjoyable and we do them because we love doing them. We need to stop thinking that shorthand was devised purely for the office situation and to be written by women. In Japan university students form shorthand clubs, whilst in Europe a number of stenography clubs have youth sections where they train for competitions. It is challenging and satisfying.</p> <p>I frequently read opinions online that shorthand is now useless and I generally find these opinions are from people who have not studied it, had difficulty learning it or who didn’t have a choice about learning it. I learned it because I wanted to. Parents, often unaware of the complexity of shorthand, pushed their daughters into the subject as a ‘back up’ skill for employment.</p> <p>For each of these comments, the number of positive comments is multiplied by the people who love it and gain great satisfaction from writing it. Of course, shorthand is not for everyone – no one hobby is. The people who come together at U3A in Melbourne to revise their skill are the ones who love this hobby. So do the members our Facebook group of “Pitman Shorthand Writers of Australasia” where we share history, readings, horoscopes in shorthand and a range of activities to exercise our skill. We are not seeking employment; we are seeking enjoyment. </p> <p>Yes, shorthand is very handy. Yes, shorthand has a unique brain benefit. There are other reasons I could give in my answer to the question, but my main answer is this: I write shorthand because I have a love for it, I find it challenging, and it gives me satisfaction – it is my hobby!</p> <p>Simple as that!</p> <p><em>Carmel Taylor has worked as a stenographer and personal assistant prior to teaching business. Her passion is shorthand and her hobbies are art deco, fashion and sewing. She is a member of the Commercial Education Society of Australia.</em></p>

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5 minutes with author Lucy Treloar

<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 Lucy Treloar, a writer and teacher in creative writing. Her 2015 debut novel <em>Salt Creek</em> won the Indie Award for Best Debut, the ABIA Matt Richell Award and the Dobbie Award. She has also published her short fiction in <em>Sleepers</em>, <em>Overland</em>, <em>Seizure</em> and <em>Best Australian Stories</em>, and her non-fiction in outlets such as <em>The Age</em>, <em>The Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, </em>and <em>Womankind</em>. Her latest book <em>Wolfe Island </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Treloar about <em>Bridget Jones’s Diary</em>, the risk of suspense, and how to start writing a book.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is your best writing tip?</span></strong></p> <p>Lucy Treloar: <span>When you’re starting a new book, the vastness of the project can feel overwhelming. It can help to narrow the focus to getting some words down, concentrating on the sentences for a while and on discovering voice, and let the daily achievement accumulate, giving you hope that one day there will be enough to make a book.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I’m reading English filmmaker, artist and writer Derek Jarman’s wonderful memoir, <em>Modern Nature</em>, in part about the garden he created on barren ground not far from a nuclear power station in Kent. And I’m also reading Elizabeth Smart’s intensely poetic classic <em>By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept</em>. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry or laugh?</span></strong></p> <p><span>A book I dearly love to laugh at is <em>Bridget Jones’s Diary</em>. As for crying, Karen Foxlee’s <em>Lenny’s Book of Everything</em> is lovely, but oh so sad.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Who is your favourite literary character?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Such a temptation to say Elizabeth Bennet, but I will resist. A character I often think about is Jack Broughton from Marilynne Robinson’s novel <em>Home</em>. He’s the black sheep of a large family, and has a tarnished glamour and elusive sadness that I’m always trying to understand. He’s as opaque to himself as he is to readers, and yet utterly believable. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Which trope grinds your gears?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I don’t mind any trope as long as it’s well done and feels fresh in an author’s hands. But plotting that relies too heavily on suspense to create narrative traction or reader investment at the expense of interesting characters is likely to lose me. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there any book by other writers that you wish you had written?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I discovered Denis Johnson’s writing only last year, and read his novel <em>Train Dreams</em> several times in quick succession, each time more slowly, trying to absorb its lightness and density as well as its remarkable voice. Marilynne Robinson’s extraordinary <em>Housekeeping</em> is a book I reread every few years. It’s about orphans Ruth and Lucille and their strange coming of age in the care of their Aunt Sylvie. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you have any writing routine? If so, what does it look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I wake at 6am, and over a pot of tea handwrite in my notebook, then go into my studio and write using the handwritten notes as a jumping-off point for the day’s writing. I stay there until I have at least a thousand new words, usually at around lunch. I often do a little more handwriting last thing, or fiddle around with writing on the computer in the afternoon or evening.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author(s) – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>A dinner with admired authors I’ve never met before sounds quite stressful, but I think I’d like to chat to English novelist Jane Gardam, whose work I love, especially <em>The Hollow Land</em>, my favourite comfort read. And perhaps listening in on a conversation someone else was having with Deborah Levy would be fun. She seems incapable of being boring. </span></p>

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10 common sayings that sound way funnier in other languages

<p>‘Nice guys finish last’ means something very different in Spain… have a giggle at some of these international sayings. When you think about it, they’re probably giggling at some of ours!</p> <p><strong>Money doesn't grow on trees</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’, try:</p> <p>‘The sky doesn’t throw chicks’. (Arabic)</p> <p><strong>Nice guys finish last</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Nice guys finish last’, try:</p> <p>‘A cat in gloves catches no mice’. (Spanish)</p> <p><strong>Don’t count your chickens before they hatch</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Don’t count your chickens before they hatch’, try:</p> <p>‘Don’t praise the day before evening’. (German)</p> <p><strong>All talk and no action</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘All talk and no action’, try:</p> <p>‘If he made 100 knives, none would have a handle’. (Farsi)</p> <p><strong>To beat around the bush</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘To beat around the bush’, try:</p> <p>‘To walk like a cat around hot porridge’. (Finnish)</p> <p><strong>The grass is always greener on the other side</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’, try:</p> <p>‘Tasty is the fish from someone else’s table’. (Yiddish)</p> <p><strong>A drop in the bucket</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘A drop in the bucket’, try:</p> <p>‘Nine cows, one hare’. (Chinese)</p> <p><strong>Out of the frying pan, into the fire</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Out of the frying pan, into the fire’, try:</p> <p>‘Fallen from the sky, stuck on a date palm’. (Hindi)</p> <p><strong>To cost an arm and a leg</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘To cost an arm and a leg’, try:</p> <p>‘To cost the eyes in your head’. (French)</p> <p><strong>Nothing ventured, nothing gained</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’, try:</p> <p>‘If you don’t enter the tiger’s cave, you won’t catch its cub’. (Japanese)</p> <p><em>Written by The Bathroom Reader's Institute. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/thought-provoking/10-common-sayings-that-sound-way-funnier-in-other-languages"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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5 minutes with author Barbara Hannay

<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 Barbara Hannay, a romance novelist based in Far North Queensland and two-time winner of the Romantic Book of the Year Award. Many of her 40-plus books are set in rural and outback Australia. Her latest book <em>Meet Me in Venice </em>is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Hannay about Seven Little Australians, the things that make a romance novel great, and the family trope she keeps coming back to. </span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is your best writing tip?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Barbara Hannay: Read widely and write what you love to read. Make writing a regular habit and your muse will learn to turn up. If you’re aiming for publication, don’t give up at the first rejection. Persistence is key.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now?</span></strong></p> <p><em><span>The Second Chance Café </span></em><span>by Amanda Prowse, <em>Twenties Girl</em> by Sophie Kinsella and <em>Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind</em> by Yuval Noah Harari.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Actually, if you don’t mind, I’ll twist this by remembering the very first book that made me cry. It was <em>Seven Little Australians</em>. I was only eight years old and totally devastated by Judy’s death.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What do you think makes a great romance novel?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Compelling characters that the reader cares about, convincing emotional complications that keep the couple from getting too close too soon and a capable, sexy hero you can fall in love with.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What are the tropes that you can’t help but love? Alternatively, which trope grinds your gears?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Well, I find myself writing every possible version of the secret baby trope. I really have no idea why, although I do believe almost every family has a few surprising secrets. I can’t do revenge and I would love to try a marriage of convenience, but I just can’t seem to make it work in this day and age.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there any book by other writers that you wish you had written?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I was deeply impressed by Gail Honeyman’s <em>Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine</em>. I especially loved the author’s voice and the way she portrayed Eleanor’s “spectrum” personality, but I also really enjoyed the way she flipped the stereotype of a romantic hero and created such a gentle, “almost” romance.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you have any writing routine? If so, what does it look like?</span></strong></p> <p><span>When I’m working on a first draft, I like to write a thousand words a day. On a perfect day, I wake early before sunrise, start thinking about my story and the scenes ahead, and when descriptive phrases or pieces of dialogue start flowing, I leap out of bed to get them down before they vanish into the ether. Sometimes, rarely, I’ve made my word count before breakfast. Alas, there are plenty of days when I’m still plugging away at tea time.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author(s) – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I’d love to meet Jane Austen. She was so witty and such an acute observer of the society of her day, I’m sure she’d be a lively dinner guest, especially if I had the chance to show her around today’s world first. I’d love to see her reactions.</span></p>

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Samuel Johnson’s touching letter to his father

<p><em><span>Samuel Johnson is an actor, breast cancer advocate and </span></em><span>Dancing With The Stars <em>winner. This month, he launched his edited book </em>Dear Dad, <em>a collection of letters from notable Australians to their father. Here </em>Over60 <em>features Johnson’s letter to his father as an excerpt from the book.</em></span></p> <p><span>Dear Dad,</span></p> <p><span>One day when I was about eight or nine, I was sitting at our family table (the rectangular one you swapped the round one for) and I rather thoughtlessly mentioned that I was bored. You bristled and then your ears went hot red. You glared at me with that look that said, “Don’t you dare look elsewhere!” Your lip curled. Your eyebrows were tight. Your contempt and your fury jostled for position. Eventually you said, very calmly, very intently, way too politely … “<em>Bored</em>, are you?”</span></p> <p><span>I gambled well on this being rhetorical and you stormed off into your study. I didn’t move. After some loud noises you seethed back to me, hiding something behind your back. I had time to wonder whether it was your belt. You slammed a pad of paper down on the table in front of me as hard as you could. It made a huge sound and the table nearly broke. I was terrified. This was a new level. Out of nowhere, you slammed a pen down just as hard, frightening me equally. You stood back over my shoulder. I couldn’t see you, and you spoke calmly, very measured, sickly polite.</span></p> <p><span>“On that piece of paper you will write down ten things – no, let’s make it twenty things – that don’t cost any money, that would <em>alleviate </em>your <em>boredom</em>. Give me an example.”</span></p> <p><span>I fumbled through my mind nervously for an acceptable answer. “I could read a book?”</span></p> <p><span>“Excellent! What else?” “I could ride my bike?”</span></p> <p><span>“Fantastic, now don’t move off that chair until you finish the list, then call me.”</span></p> <p><span>It wasn’t a hard list to fill, once I thought about it. I triple-checked the list before calling for you in my chastened voice. You came back into the room without all the bluster. You ordered me to read the list out to you.</span></p> <p><span>Then you leant down and put all your weight into your words … “<em>Now f***ing pick one! </em>And <em>then</em>, if you get <em>bored </em>doing that, I dunno, how about you <em>pick another one!</em>”</span></p> <p><span>Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day choosing from my list and doing stuff. I remember you kissing me goodnight in your study that night. As I was walking away you called after me … ‘I hope you don’t grow up to be a boring person.’ I’m writing to thank you, Dad. I’ve remained curious since that day, and that curiosity you fostered in me has, all these years later, propelled me beyond my wildest aspirations. Your many other wisdoms endure, too, and I remain gratefully yours,</span></p> <p><span>Mister Happy</span></p> <p><span>Sammy Seal</span></p> <p><em><span>This is an extract from </span></em><span><a href="https://www.hachette.com.au/samuel-johnson/dear-dad">Dear Dad</a><em>, a collection of letters from Australia’s most notable notables to their fathers, edited by Samuel Johnson (Hachette Australia, RRP $22.99), out now.</em></span></p>

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5 minutes with author Kate Forsyth

<p><span>In <em>5 minutes with author</em>, <em>Over60</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in the series is Kate Forsyth, a novelist and children’s book author. After writing her first novel at the age of seven, Forsyth went on to publish more than a dozen titles. Her retelling of Rapunzel, <em>Bitter Greens</em>, won the 2015 American Library Association Award for Best Historical Fiction. Her latest book, <em>The Blue Rose</em>, is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Forsyth about the Brontë sisters, a romance trope she can’t get enough of, and the importance of setting small, achievable targets.</span></p> <p><strong><em>Over60: </em></strong><strong>What is your best writing advice?</strong></p> <p><span>Kate Forsyth: Write what you like to read, get in the habit of writing every day, and set yourself small achievable targets such as writing one chapter a month – then slowly increase the difficulty of the target. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now? </span></strong></p> <p><span>I'm reading <em>Circe</em> by Madeline Miller.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry or laugh? </span></strong></p> <p><em><span>When Breath Becomes Air </span></em><span>by Paul Kalanithi – it choked me up.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think is underrated? </span></strong></p> <p><em><span>The Tenant of Wildfell Hall</span></em><span> by Anne Brontë.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What are the tropes that you can’t help but love? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Any story of star-crossed lovers who need to overcome enormous obstacles before they can be together.  </span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there any book by other writers that you wish you had written? </span></strong></p> <p><em><span>Daughter of the Forest </span></em><span>by Juliet Marillier. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Do you have any writing routine? If so, what does it look like? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Every morning I have a cup of tea in bed and write in my journal – I’ve done so since I was 11 and so I have a great many volumes! Then I have breakfast, tidy the house and then walk with my dog somewhere beautiful for an hour, and think about what I plan to write that day. I settle down to work around 10am, work through till lunchtime, have a little break to eat and chat to my husband, and then work through until it's time to start cooking dinner. In the evening, I usually read - either for pleasure or for research. </span></p> <p><span>I try and have Sundays away from my computer, though I still write in my journal and read. The only time this routine varies is when I’m on the road, talking about my books, teaching and telling stories and/or travelling for research.    </span></p> <p><strong><span>Which author(s) – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with? </span></strong></p> <p><span>The Brontë sisters.</span></p>

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Living in your seventies: How to revive your best life

<p><em>Andrew Fuller is a clinical psychologist, author and Fellow of the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Learning and Educational Development at the University of Melbourne. Here now, in an excerpt from his book </em>Your Best Life At Any Age <em>(Bad Apple Press, 2019)</em><em>, he discusses how people aged 71 to 77 could navigate their lives</em><em>.</em></p> <p><span>Most people don’t fear being old when they finally get there. They do fear being bored, lonely or being treated as invisible, silly or confused. Loneliness can stem from the lack of close intimate relationships or social networks.</span></p> <p><span>The sense of indignity that can affront people at this age is life robbing. If you are surrounded by people who act as if you are mentally deficient or unable to complete rudimentary tasks it can cause feelings of deep hurt, rage and embarrassment. Extreme embarrassment can kill you years before your time.</span></p> <p><span>There is a lot of bunkum written about this time of life. Despite the prevailing myth that these years are accompanied by fragility and senility, only 5 per cent of people over sixty-five are in nursing homes and less than 10 per cent will ever be. Only 5 per cent of people over sixty-five suffer from dementia.</span></p> <p><span>Psychiatrist Gordon Livingstone wisely says that old age is not for sissies. It’s not, but it’s also not a time to turn into a dodo. Author and physician Oliver Wendall Holmes, at the age of eighty–four, upon seeing a beautiful woman said, ‘Oh to be seventy again!’ People are just as smart, switched on and shrewd as ever but the world seems to be intent on labelling them as incapable and old. Ageing does not have to mean growing old.</span></p> <p><span>This is the time of life to insist on being in the world; being part of your community and spending time with people that you love. It is easy to feel that you should really pack yourself off somewhere – to a home, to a gated community (or penitentiary for the aged) or to a highly desirable but almost inevitably lonely location.</span></p> <p><span>People may want to make arrangements and plans for you. Tell them decidedly to go and get stuffed. There is a dignity in controlling your own destiny.</span></p> <p><span>Others want to be helpful. Let them help but don’t let them control what happens to you.</span></p> <p><span>It is a time when the body does not work as it once did. Twinges turn into aches, aches turn into pain, power turns to frailty. Sleep can prove elusive. You may be up roaming in the middle of night and then unable to keep your eyes open after lunch. Names can fail to arrive on your lips. Clarity of purpose can become wayward.</span></p> <p><span>This phase of life is unknown territory. Most of your ancestors did not achieve this age. For most of history people couldn’t dream of living into their seventies.</span></p> <p><span>Across history the average life span has varied dramatically. In classical Greece and Rome it was twenty-eight years, in medieval Britain it was thirty-three years, by the end of the 19th century in Western Europe it was thirty-seven. Historically speaking, you are doing very well.</span></p> <p><span>There has been a 50 per cent increase in life expectancy since 1900, especially for women. Despite this, many people use this additional time waiting and ailing and complaining. It is an important time of life to question the contemporary view of ageing, and ask how are you going to use this additional lifetime. Will you embrace life or just spend more time being old?</span></p> <p><span>I was delighted to discover a 1933 issue of Time magazine that contained an interview with Li-Chang Yuen, a man who purportedly lived to the age of 256. For those of you interested in attaining this fine age, I include Li-Chang Yuen’s four-step formula for living for your consideration:</span></p> <ol> <li><span> Keep a quiet heart.</span></li> <li><span> Walk sprightly like a pigeon.</span></li> <li><span> Sit like a tortoise.</span></li> <li><span> Sleep like a dog.</span></li> </ol>

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5 minutes with author Fiona McArthur

<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 McArthur, an author based in country New South Wales. Drawing from her life as a former rural midwife, McArthur has shared her experience and love of working with women, fellow medical professionals and the outback community in her fiction and non-fiction books. Her latest novel, <em>The Desert Midwife</em> is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with McArthur about outback heroes, a book series she wished she had written, and a scene she could not bring herself to write.</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>Fiona McArthur: That was a question I really had to think about. Most of the writing advice I’ve been given has been all about adding to the toolbox, full of good intentions, and most of it works in some little nugget for me if I interpret it in my way. But, most amusingly, the one that didn’t work for me was, “Write more sex.” I’m sorry. Not me. I’m a closed-door writer, a sweet writer, though sometime characters do surprise me with their intentions, they just have to do it when I’m not looking. </span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now? </span></strong></p> <p><span>I’ve gone crazy for Darynda Jones’ paranormal romance works – I love her fast-paced <em>Charley Davidson</em> <em>Series</em> and of course I’m hooked on series books. Which is why I do link my books though each can be read as a stand-alone book. I can’t help wanting to revisit past towns and people. I should say I mostly read on audiobooks.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry or laugh?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Darynda Jones’ <em>Eleventh Grave in Moonlight</em>.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think is underrated? Alternatively, is there any book that you think gets more credit than it deserves?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I think <em>Mills &amp; Boon </em>medical romance novels are underrated. Australian Marion Lennox is a writer who has the most amazing small town, feel good, incredibly three-dimensional romances that can change your day to smiles. She’s a romance author and is underrated for the star she is. Her 120th book just came out.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What are the tropes that you can’t help but love? Alternatively, which trope grinds your gears?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I love ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Like single mum makes it big. Like outback heroes. Like midwives and doctors who live to help people/patients/clients/ mums when they are vulnerable. I don’t like violence and unhappy endings.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there any book you wish you had written?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Absolutely. <em>Outlander</em> – also known as <em>Cross Stitch</em> – LOVE that book. Though I skimmed the really violent parts.</span></p> <p><strong><span>How do you deal with writer’s block?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I haven’t suffered yet, sympathy to those who have, and I hope I won’t. 500 words a day keeps me going forward. There are much faster days but if I feel blocked just 500 words will do. Even if it’s on a different project. But don’t stop writing. </span></p> <p><strong><span>Which three authors – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Peter O’Donnell/Madeleine Brent – he was my author hero when I was young and he taught me about strong heroines and having men as friends. Georgette Heyer who taught me about subtle humour and, again, strong heroines. And for the third, I’d say Diana Gabaldon but I’d be in too much awe, so Darynda Jones as she’d be hilarious as a dinner guest.</span></p>

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Affect or effect?: How to use the terms

<p><span>It is one of the most popular conundrums in the English language. Choosing between the word “affect” and “effect” can indeed be confusing – they are both verbs and nouns, and their meanings overlap.</span></p> <p><span>To help quash any doubt, there is a simple trick. In most contexts, the acronym RAVEN – Remember Affect Verb, Effect Noun – can be applied.</span></p> <p><span>Affect is more often used as a verb, meaning to influence, produce a change, make a difference in something. For example, bad habits <em>affect </em>your health, an argument <em>affects </em>your relationship, and a nightmare will <em>affect </em>your mood. </span></p> <p><span>Effect is generally used as a noun, meaning a result or a consequence. The group warns of the <em>effects </em>of climate change. Cycling has positive <em>effects</em> on your health. The <em>effect</em> of the policies has been overwhelming.</span></p> <p><span>The word can also be used as part of phrasal verbs, such as take <em>effect</em> (rather than <em>affect</em>) and in <em>effect</em>. For example, the new rule may take effect soon and once it does, it is in effect.</span></p> <p><span>Keep in mind that some exceptions apply – affect can be used as a noun, and effect can be used as a verb. In the noun context, affect means a feeling or an emotion: “My friend has a sad affect”. Effect as a verb could be defined as to bring about or cause something to happen: “The government is unable to effect any change”, or “The tax cut is hoped to effect economic growth”.</span></p> <p><span>These cases are less common, but it is good to understand how the two words can be used in different ways.</span></p>

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5 minutes with author Annie Seaton

<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 Annie Seaton, a writer based on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. Her romance fiction works have earned her numerous acclaims, including the titles of Author of the Year (2014) and Best Established Author (2015 and 2017) in the </span>AusRomToday.com Readers’ Choice AwardsAusRomToday.com Readers' Choice Awards<span>. Her latest novel, <em>Undara</em>, is out now.</span></p> <p><em><span>Over60</span></em><span> talked with Seaton about romance tropes, time travel, and the historical authors she would love to have dinner with.</span></p> <p><strong><em><span>Over60</span></em><span>: What is your best writing advice?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Annie Seaton: The best writing advice I can give comes down to three essentials: Have passion, determination and tenacity. Believe in yourself, work hard and you will succeed. Also joining a writer’s association when I began writing and learning about the craft of writing and self-publishing was a key factor in my own development as an author.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book(s) are you reading right now? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Dervla McTiernan’s second <em>Cormac Reilly</em> book, <em>The Scholar</em>. Absolutely awesome! And Nora Roberts’ <em>Under Currents</em>. I’ve gone off Nora Roberts’ books lately, but thought I’d give this one a chance.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What was the last book that made you cry or laugh? </span></strong></p> <p><span>Jojo Moyes’ <em>Me Before You </em>had me ‘ugly crying’ on a bus tour in Europe. I missed a lot of Swiss scenery because I couldn’t see through the tears! It was a wonderful story that has stayed with me for a long time. Her characterisation was superb.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What book do you think is underrated?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Rebecca Wells’ <em>Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood</em> is a powerful, poignant and moving book about mother-daughter relationships, female friendships, alcoholism and abuse. Unfortunately it was trivialised by the movie. It is one of my ‘read again’ books every couple of years.</span></p> <p><strong><span>What are the tropes that you can’t help but love? </span></strong></p> <p><span>I love paranormal tropes with witches and magic, and the romance trope where the characters are isolated together in a location where they must survive. I indulged and wrote a novella a couple of years ago called <em>Sorry We’re Closed</em> where a maybe-ghost locked my two characters in a room together for a night. I also adore time travel books and indulged my love of seventies music in writing a time travel series.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Alternatively, which trope grinds your gears?</span></strong></p> <p><span>Star crossed lovers – you know that the characters should be together, but fate always throws everything at them to stop it happening, to make a story! I get impatient and frustrated!</span></p> <p><strong><span>Is there any book you wish you had written? </span></strong></p> <p><span>The <em>Harry Potter</em> books, of course!</span></p> <p><strong><span>How do you deal with writer’s block?</span></strong></p> <p><span>I have a very strong work ethic, and I know I have words to write each day. I sit at my desk and write until they are down. I am a prolific writer, and always have deadlines to meet, so I can’t afford to indulge in procrastination.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Which three authors – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with?</span></strong></p> <p><span>The first is Anya Seton, who wrote wonderful historical books over fifty years ago. <em>Katherine</em> is my favourite ever book. The second is Diana Gabaldon, who wrote about time travel and history in the <em>Outlander</em> series. The third is Sharon Penman, who wrote the Welsh historical series that began with <em>Here Be Dragons</em>. Hearing how they did/do their research would be fascinating. </span></p>

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