Joanita Wibowo


5 minutes with author Alli Sinclair

5 minutes with author Alli Sinclair

In 5 minutes with authorOver60 asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Alli Sinclair, a romance author and avid traveller. The award-winning writer has lived in Peru, Argentina and Canada as well as worked on hosting writers’ retreats and writing workshops around Australia. Her latest book, The Cinema at Starlight Creek, is out now.

Over60 spoke with Sinclair about romance tropes, Crazy Rich Asians, and why she would love to have dinner with Ernest Hemingway.

Over60: What is your best writing tip?

Alli Sinclair: Some days the words will flow, other days it will be a struggle but each word you get on the page is a step forward to finishing your story. Don’t worry if you have holes in the first draft, you can always go back and fix them. Just get the story down first, everything else will fall into place on subsequent edits. You can do it!

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading an advance reader copy of Postscript, the sequel to Cecelia Ahern’s brilliant book, P.S. I Love You. It’s been years in the making so I’m excited to be reading it! I’m also reading non-fiction books as research for my book that is coming out in 2020, so I’m learning a lot about the airline industry in the 1940s.

What was the last book that made you cry or laugh?

I’m a crier so it doesn’t take much to set me off. The last book that made me laugh and cry was Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I recently saw the movie and I laughed and cried in that as well!

What book do you think is underrated?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It came out in 1993 and it’s a book I often go back to read again even though it is a whopping 1,349 pages! It is a beautiful story set in India post-partition and is about four families struggling to cope with their new India. At the heart of the story is a romance and it is uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. The characters are wonderfully complicated and the setting is divine. I’ve read a lot of books over the years and this one has sat firmly at number one on my list since I first read it in 1993. I think people are put off by the length of the book but if they give it a try, I’m sure they’d be delighted to step into this magnificent world.

What are the tropes that you can’t help but love? Alternatively, which trope grinds your gears?

My favourites are friends to lovers, fish out of water, soul mate/fate, secret romance and second chance at love. There’s no particular trope that grinds my gears, but there are some I favour more than others.

What do you think is the most challenging work you’ve ever read?

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Another book set in India it is about a group of children born between 12am and 1am on the night India gained independence in 1947. The story uses the technique of magical realism and covers a great deal of Indian history. It took me three tries before I finally finished the book because the style of writing was unlike anything I’d read before. But it was absolutely worth persevering because Midnight’s Children is one of my all-time favourite books.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love spending time with my young family, whether it’s playing board games, watching a movie or travelling. I’ve recently started working on some projects for the screen, which is very exciting, so I’m doing a lot of study about writing for film and TV. And, of course, I read for fun in my spare time as well. I have a very large pile of books that grows every week, but I’ll get through them eventually!

Which three authors – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with?

I’d love to have dinner with Isabel Allende, a South American author who writes the most beautiful, haunting books that speak to the soul.

[The second is] Nina George, a German author who kindly wrote a wonderful recommendation that went on the cover of one of my books that have been translated into German. Nina’s books are lyrical and whisk the reader off into worlds that capture the heart.

[The third is] Ernest Hemingway because I have visited many of the places he has travelled and lived in and I’d love to ask him about all the adventures he’s been on and the people he met.