A. V. Mather

A. V. Mather is Brisbane-based writer of Fantasy fiction for Young Adults. She has a BA in Fine Arts and a Post-Grad in Education. In previous decades, she has worked as a Scenic Artist and a Secondary School Art teacher. Eight years ago, she finally gave in and devoted herself wholly to writing. She is represented by Tom Witcomb, of Blake Friedmann Agency in London, England.

A. V. Mather enjoys reading widely across genres and is also interested in art, satire, history, photography, popular culture, psychology, road trips and good stories – real and imagined.

You can follow her on Twitter @AVMather

sussex_thiefIn Thief of Lives, Australian author Lucy Sussex explores issues surrounding gender and relationships in four short – and vastly different — stories. Each one provides a different insight into the lives of characters who exist on the fringe of their society. Whether through vocation, origins, personality, or choices – each is living a life which isolates them in some way, making their associations all the more unusual and important. With every story, we look into worlds where attraction runs far deeper than lust or love and evil is a matter of degree.

We begin with Alchemy, a historic fantasy set in Ancient Mesopotamia. In this life-spanning tale, a demon seeks to lure a singularly intelligent young woman to the black arts. He recognises in her a rare mind that would, together with his knowledge of alchemy, advance the Mesopotamian civilisation to unprecedented heights.

Second is The Fountain of Justice, a modern crime story set in Australia. In it, a tenacious solicitor ruminates over past defendants, crimes and coincidences, whilst engaging in a case involving local hoodlums. There is a strong pull of affection and loyalty in her musings, despite the overwhelming sense of a tragedy unfolding.

The Subject of O throws us into the student world where a repressed young woman experiences a belated awakening. Her experiences lead her to value her own opinions and ideals, rather than shed them, as her knowledge broadens.

Thief of Lives is the final, and my favourite, of the four. The mysterious PA of a traumatised author arrives at Bristol station on a research mission. The arrival coincides with a publicity frenzy for a sensational new author, and the PA is inexorably caught up in events. It is an intriguing and tantalising urban fantasy, with witty morals and allusions, and also gives an insight into the history of the town.

The four stories together provide a showcase for the breadth of Lucy Sussex’s vision and creativity. Although the genres differ, the theme of relationships are very much at the heart of each. In delivering variations on the theme, she has created stories with wonderfully diverse voices and layers.

In line with the genres represented, the pacing and tension differs from story to story. There is a dreamy, ethereal quality to the writing in Alchemy: the sense of a lofty viewpoint borne of immortality. Then we are slammed back to earth with the gritty, urban voice of The Fountain of Justice. I felt a genuine sense of self-consciousness reading The Subject of O, and of power and obfuscation in the language of Thief of Lives.

So how does anyone categorise Lucy Sussex? She is at once modernist and historian, fantasy and crime writer, fiction and non-fiction, adult/children’s/YA and a literary critic. She defies pigeon-holing and can only be pinned down by her interests in feminism and exploring the broad theme of gender.

I enjoy stories that provide tangible evidence of relationships beyond the accepted standards of love or lust. There are so many important relationships that don’t come under either heading. Those that go beyond ‘a feeling’ and need a richer vocabulary to describe them. They make our experience of life and other people so much deeper and more rewarding. I am instantly a fan of writing that explores associations borne of proximity, admiration, awkwardness, suffering or affinity. It is the true stuff of life, the relationships that fill in all of the gaps around the big loves, hatreds and lusts. Lucy Sussex plunges deep into the loam with Thief of Lives and should be enjoyed by anyone who likes to think about a story, long after closing the book.

 

Marcus de Courtenay

Marcus de Courtenay is a keen reader on diverse topics. He loves being critical safe in the knowledge that he has no published material to be criticised on. He is also a vegan and urges you to hug not eat the next animal you see.

Goleman_force for goodIn A Force for Good, Daniel Goleman, journalist and internationally bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, brings his art to bear on the growing body of popular literature surrounding altruism.

In a series of interviews with the Dalai Lama, Goldman has compiled a part-self-help and part-biographical work which seeks to broaden the audience of the spiritual leader of Buddhism and in particular his message about the need for active compassion and tolerance. The narrative of the book flows from a focus on inner development to that of external interventions, counselling the reader to develop a compassionate character and then exercise this character on the many sorrows in this world.

The writing maintains the Dalai Lama’s teachings as its central foundation expounded through direct quotes and paraphrasing, but takes various detours to supporting examples from diverse fields such as science, sociology and the travails of budding social enterprises. There is an emphasis placed on the Dalai Lama’s immense respect for science and, as such, the capacity to marry scientific insight with fostering a more compassionate world.

The book is an ambitious project, promising that it will reveal the Dalai Lama’s vision for the world. However, of course this is not a book written by the Dalai Lama and in many ways you question how much of the voice of the Dalai Lama you are reading and how much is a liberal paraphrase. Despite this, the writing is elevated by the many simple but fundamental truths contained in the synthesis of the spiritual leader’s thoughts. Further, Goleman’s clear reverence for his subject gives a sense of tremendous weight to every quote.

You can’t help but be delighted by some of the examples in the book detailing the powerful efforts of altruists around the world, even if at times the book reads as an inventory of the ails facing the world like could be found in any newspaper. Ultimately, A Force for Good has the best of intentions and teaches the best of the practices, so one can hardly be too critical. This is certainly a positive introduction to modern charitable work and the overriding need for an infusion of compassion into all human interactions.

Bec Stafford

Bec Stafford has a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Queensland. She blogs and interviews for the Escape Club and The Spotlight Report.

coupe-Godinski_FrontPgAs a long-time music journo, band manager, label owner, and author, Stuart Coupe is able to talk about the Australian music industry with more than a little authority. He’s not only a well-informed raconteur, but a man who demonstrates great affection for the industry and its players, both major and minor. Writing a biography, albeit unauthorised, about Michael Gudinski can’t be an easy task; Gudinski’s towering personality and legendary career may be compelling in themselves, but he’s notoriously prickly when it comes to granting interviews or having copy written about him without his personal sanction. Ultimately, Coupe is among a selection of writers who can lay claim to not only having an intimate understanding of Gudinski’s career, but also to having known the man personally.

Gudinksi is a fascinating, exhilarating tour through the wild, impassioned career of Australia’s most influential music mogul. From his early days, back when he was an ambitious teen organising dances in halls across suburban Melbourne, to Consolidated Rock and the halcyon days of early Aussie pub rock, all the way through to his creation of the imposing forces of Premier Artists, Mushroom, and Frontier Touring, Gudinski is an unstoppable force, virtually unmatched in the Australian music landscape.

Depicted as a wild, inspired maverick as much as a shrewd and aggressively competitive businessman, Gudinski is also presented as what he’s also been at his core all along: a passionate music fan who loves nothing more than revelling in the energy surrounding the creative artists he so tirelessly promotes. Coupe recounts some hairy encounters that he and others have had with Gudinski: screaming phone calls, feverish rants delivered from office desktops, champagne flutes hurled against boardroom walls, dismissals, relentless outmanoeuvring and outgunning.

We are given unique insight into his long-standing friendships and associations with other industry personalities, including the indomitable Molly Meldrum, Barnsey, Michael Chugg, and Rupert Murdoch. And we are told, in a frenetic, thrilling storytelling style, of the heart-stopping and often stressful realities behind some notorious events: the nail-biting postponement of the Stones’ 14 On Fire tour; the logistics behind the doomed Alternative Nation; damage control during a Madonna visit; the inspired decision to sign Skyhooks, Split Enz, Paul Kelly, and Kylie. This book is a must for music lovers and anyone seeking an action-packed, electrifying glimpse into the life and times of one of the most energetic, extraordinary and important figures in the history of the Australian music industry.

 

Gudinksi: The Godfather of Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll – by Stuart Coupe

Bec Stafford

326 pages

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733633102

Publication date: 28 Jul 2015

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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