All posts by Samuel

About Samuel

Samuel has worked at Mostly Books since he was sixteen years old. He’s now twenty-three. During his time as a bookseller, he’s also completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Creative Writing at Flinders University, with an Honours thesis on the representation of LGBT people in young adult fiction, for which he was awarded a University Medal. He's had a few short stories published, judged the Indie Book Award three times and been twice nominated for Random House Young Bookseller of the Year. He reads practically everything (except for sport biographies and self-help books), and particularly enjoys contemporary Australian literary fiction, young adult and children’s fiction, surreal and magic-realist fiction and long-form journalism. He is the person to ask if you need help finding a book for a reluctant reader. His favourite part of the job is running the Young Writers Group, which has been going strong since July 2012.

Introducing Ben and Jess

They’ve now been at Mostly Books for several months, so it’s about time we introduced them properly. Meet Jess and Ben, our newest booksellers.

Jess

Ever since she started working in her first bookstore at age 17, Jess has always loved selling, reading and talking about books. She particularly likes reading fantasy, science, history and gardening books, but often finds herself falling in love with nearly every other book that comes into the store too! Most of all, she loves the thrill of being able to make someone’s day by tracking down and finding a book that they’ve been searching for but haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

Ben

Ben writes and reads frequently. He has been selling books at Mostly Books since one of the months in 2014. When he is not in the shop he is probably working on a play, review, essay, short story, or tweet (@BenMBrooker). As of this writing, Ben is reading books by Eric Schlosser, Geoffrey Robertson, Margaret Atwood, and Albert Camus.

Meet Margaret Young

Margaret Young with her daughters Marnie Watts and Cath McGee in the Eastern Courier Messenger.
Margaret Young with her daughters Marnie Watts and Cath McGee in the Eastern Courier Messenger.

We’re delighted to announce that local author Margaret Young will be visiting Mostly Books on Wednesday 6 May from 6:00 pm.

Anna McGahan as Olive Haynes in 'Anzac Girls'.
Anna McGahan as Olive Haynes in ‘Anzac Girls’.

Margaret’s mother, Olive Haynes, was an Australian nurse in World War One. Her story is featured in the ABC TV series Anzac Girls.

Margaret received her mother’s diaries and letters from her father following Olive’s death in 1978. She compiled and edited them for publication in 1991, choosing the title ‘We Are Here, Too‘ to highlight Olive’s frustration that public attention was always on ‘our boys’, while ‘our girls’ were all but ignored.

Since editing and publishing her mother’s letters, Margaret has continued to advocate for greater recognition of our WWI nurses’ dedication and bravery. She republished ‘We Are Here, Too‘ last year to coincide with the release of Anzac Girls.

Join us for a cuppa (or a glass of wine) and hear first hand the inspiring stories of these two women.

This event is free, but RSVP is essential. Please email or phone (8373 5190) Mostly Books, or fill in the form below, by Tuesday April 28 at the latest.

Feel free to join our event on Facebook as well.

New Blogger in Residence: Adela

Introducing our newest Blogger in Residence, Adela, who will be joining Eloise, Niav and Jonathan in writing for us this year. Adela has been an excellent reviewer of books for our shelves for a while now, so we’re pleased to welcome her to the team.

AdelaAdela is in Year Eight, and has been reviewing novels for Mostly Books since late 2013. She likes to read quirky, original young adult fiction, and her favourite book at the moment is Laurinda by Alice Pung. (Though Looking For Alibrandi is a close second!) Adela also writes poetry. She has been published in the 2012 and 2013 SAETA Spring Poetry Anthologies, and in the ‘Poet’s Corner’ of Indaily twice. Adela is passionate about music. When she is not reading or writing, she loves to listen to her favourite albums, play her guitar and write on her music blog.

An Evening with Beccy Cole

We’re thrilled to announce that Beccy Cole will be at Mostly Books to celebrate the release of her new memoir, Poster Girl, on Thursday 16 April from 6:30 pm.

Beccy ColeDon’t miss this opportunity to meet one of Australia’s best loved country singer-songwriters in the intimate surrounds of her local bookshop.

From busking with Kasey Chambers as a teenager to performing for Australian troops in the Middle East, from marriage and motherhood to coming out and finding love, via too many music awards to count, Poster Girl charts Beccy Cole’s inspiring personal journey.

Tea, coffee and wine will be provided.

This event is free, but RSVP is essential. Please email or phone (8373 5190) Mostly Books, or fill in the form below, by Friday 10 April at the latest.

If you are young, hip and/or tech-savvy, you may also RSVP on Facebook.

Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2014

Attention all writers aged 10-18:

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant Banner

After three years of running the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, this year the Mostly Books Young Writers Group will also be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.

It’s not a literal camp – more like a mini version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) during the school holidays. Participants are assigned to virtual ‘cabins’ during April and/or July, and choose their own writing goal to work towards over the course of the month. This may be as small as a short story of a few thousand words, or as large as a full length novel of 50 000 words. (Or larger. By all means go crazy.)

You can also work on sections of existing projects, which is something we discourage you from doing during the November challenge. For example, this April you might want to blast through the next 20 000 words of a novel-in-progress, or edit 30 000 words of a completed manuscript.

Participants will have access to online support and motivation via the Camp NaNoWriMo website. In addition, our own team of participants will be able to pep-talk each other at the April meeting (Saturday April 11), catch-up on missed words at the write-in (Sunday April 19) and procrastinate in our online chat room while (theoretically) typing away at their novels.

All local school-aged writers are welcome to join our cabin, including those who haven’t been to group meetings before. Spread the word!

To register your interest, email samuel@mostlybooks.com.au.

Breaking Beauty: A Reading

In January last year, Lynette Washington, a short story writer and Ph.D candidate at Adelaide Uni, called on writers from the university’s postgraduate Creative Writing program to submit for an anthology of short fiction. Apart from a 3000-word limit, the only requirement was that the stories address the idea of ‘beauty’.

‘Immediately it struck us as a theme that would work,’ she told a small audience at Mostly Books last Wednesday night.

(Photo by Gay Lynch)
Photo by Gay Lynch.

At first, she said, she lay awake worrying that her inbox would be flooded with conventionally ‘beautiful’ stories, well-written but uninteresting.

‘Then the first submissions started coming in, and I realised I was an idiot.’

Just as I had hoped, the writers took the theme of beauty and cracked it open, looking at the underside of the idea and the fact that beauty cannot exist without its companion and alter ego – ugliness.

Lynette gave us a glimpse into the process of assembling and editing the anthology. Then, after recommending a couple of her favourite stories from authors who were not in attendance – among them, Amy T. Matthews’ ‘This is the Body of Wonderful Jones’ and Katherine Arguile’s ‘Wabi Sabi’ – she introduced the evening’s first reader: Gillian Britton, whose story ‘Beautiful Girl’ follows an recently remarried architect through a single morning, when her struggle to hold her family together comes to a head.

She turns away. Stares out of the vast, horribly expensive triple-glazed windows that run the length of the passage opposite the kids’ bedrooms. Last night she’d stared out in exactly the same way and seen a mother fox and its litter standing motionless in the field, illuminated by the full moon. She would like to tell Tom this. She would like not to be having this endless wrangle over Lucy.

Gillian Britton reads from 'Beautiful Girl'.
Gillian Britton reads from ‘Beautiful Girl’.

Rosemary Jackson followed with the blackly humorous ‘Athina and the Sixty Nine Calorie Burn’, a story told through the blog posts of an anorexic high school student, as well as from the perspective of the middle-aged man who becomes her lover and enabler.

I’ve found this really cool website for pro-ana’s. Which is what I’ve decided I am. They’ve got pretend names and stuff because if you’re seriously pro-ana your parents and teachers start giving you shit. There’s lots of cool ideas for fooling people like having bits of carrot and celery and shit and kind of nibbling them all day so people think you’re eating all the time BUT there’s hardly any calories and then people stop hassling you.

Because we Gotta Stay Strong! And these chicks are all really supportive of each other, so that’s what we’re gonna do here. MWAAH!

Rosemary Jackson reads from 'Athina and the Sixty Nine Calorie Burn'.
Rosemary Jackson reads from ‘Athina and the Sixty Nine Calorie Burn’.

Our three presenters formed an impromptu panel to answer questions about short fiction, Creative Writing degrees and the ideas behind their respective stories. ‘Beautiful Girl’, said Gillian, had begun with the image of the fox – something that she had seen and been compelled to use – while Rosemary had been writing partly to explore the dynamic of relationships between older men and younger women, which intrigued her.

Breaking Beauty coverBetween glasses of wine and cups of tea, we even managed to sell a few copies of the book.

I wish Lynette all the best with her future editorial projects, and look forward to the day when I can hand-sell a collection of her own stories. Perhaps when the Ph.D. is done?

Breaking Beauty is published by Midnight Sun and is available from Mostly Books for $24.99.

Jane Austen’s Sweethearts – The Card Game

We’re delighted to announce a new card game based on the works of Jane Austen, to be launched at Mostly Books on Sunday July 20 at 2:00 pm.

Joan TingJoan Ting, a lifetime lover of Austen’s work, first created Jane Austen’s Sweethearts as an activity for members of the Jane Austen Society of Adelaide, who encouraged her to develop it further. After two years of testing and refinement, the game is finally ready for public release.

The game will will be launched by Gillian Dooley, Special Collections Librarian and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Flinders University. Gillian has published and presented widely on various literary topics, including essays and articles on Jane Austen, often with a particular emphasis on music. As a singer,  she has performed music from Jane Austen’s era in both Australia and the UK.

The Jane Austen’s Sweethearts website will also go live on July 20.

All are welcome. For catering purposes, please RSVP to mostlybooks@internode.on.net, or using the form below:

An Evening with Liz Harfull

Liz Harfull

We’re delighted that Liz Harfull, Australian rural food/literary journalist extraordinaire, will be visiting us again on Thursday June 19 at 6:00 pm.

Australian-Blue-Ribbon-Cookbook-cover-low-resThe last time we saw Liz was two years ago when she released her biography of eight Australian women who run their own farms, Women of the LandIn the meantime, she’s travelled the country in search of prizewinning recipes for her second Blue Ribbon Cookbook.

If you’ve ever entered any homemade food in the Royal Show (or even thought about it), now’s your time to get some tips and inspiration. Come chat with Liz and get your copies of her books signed. Aspiring journalists, this event is for you as well.

RSVP below, and on the Facebook page.

Indie Awards 2014 Shortlist

It has been the loveliest kind of torture knowing the shortlisted titles for this year’s Indie Awards but not being able to tell you. Now, at last, we are at liberty to announce the 2014 nominees for our favourite annual literary award.

Judged by independent booksellers Australia-wide, the Indie Award recognises the best book written by an Australian author during the previous publication year in each of four categories: fiction, non-fiction, debut fiction and children’s fiction.

Fiction

Barracuda Coal Creek Eyrie Narrow Road

This shortlist was fairly predictable – so much so that Charmaine was able to call it before it even hit our inbox. The four Aussie lit-fic heavyweights of last Christmas are head to head in the Best Fiction category. Much to Kate’s displeasure, they are all men. A notable absence is Thomas Keneally, whose Shame and the Captives appears to have been upstaged by the other big POW novel of 2013 – Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, already being hailed as a masterpiece. Eyrie should provide strong competition – Winton’s prizewinning record is unmatched, and he’s a perennial favourite of Australian independent booksellers. Then again, so is Christos Tsiolkas, whose Barracuda, though rougher around the edges (in my opinion) than The Slap, has made waves with readers and attracted consistently favourable reviews. For all that, we can’t entirely discount Alex Miller, who, if Charmaine’s to be believed, is incapable of writing a bad novel. Coal Creek is no exception. It’s going to be close.

Non-Fiction

Murder in Mississippi Stalking of Julia Gillard Good Life Girt

We’re extremely pleased to see The Stalking of Julia Gillard on this list. (Because this bookshop doesn’t have a feminist bias at all.) The Gillard era was being picked apart by countless writers almost before it came to a close, and we’d be happy to direct you towards whole shelves of Gillard-related reading, but if we had to pick one title, this’d be it. David Hunt’s Girt was a customer favourite at Christmastime (because why on earth did no one think of doing an irreverent Australian history book before?), and The Good Life has been one of Hugh Mackay’s most requested titles yet – which is saying a lot. For us, the out-of-nowhere nominee is John Safran’s Murder in Mississippi. We sold a few copies, but none of us have read it, and there have been no first hand reports so far. Can anyone enlighten us?

Debut Fiction

Burial Rites Rosie Project Mr Wigg Night Guest

Nobody should be at all surprised to see our two favourite books of 2013 on this list: Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. Without playing favourites, I think we can safely predict that the award will go to one of these two. And, even though The Rosie Project was the charmingest, feelgoodest book that has ever embarrassed me at a bus stop by making me laugh too loudly, we’re all secretly hoping it’ll be Hannah. Her overnight rise to fame has been the envy of Creative Writing students across the state (including myself) and her Burial Rites holds a special place in the hearts of a number of our staff members. 2014 should see Hannah rewarded with a string of literary honours and she deserves every one of them. All this, however, is not to overlook The Night Guest, about which critics – and some of our most critical customers – have raved. McFarlane is the underrated nominee on this year’s list, and a discerning panel might favour her. As for Mr Wigg – well, Charmaine just can’t work out what anyone sees in that book. To each their own?

Children’s Fiction

39-Storey Treehouse Alphabetical Sydney Weirdo Kissed by the Moon

The Children’s Fiction category is too often a case of apples versus oranges. How do you compare a picture book like Alison Lester’s Kissed by the Moon, lovingly illustrated and perfect for reading to babies and toddlers, to Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s The 39-Storey Treehouse, which has taken the Middle and Upper Primary semi-graphic-novel to hilarious new heights? In fairness to the rest of the book industry, Griffiths and Denton really shouldn’t win another award or sell another Treehouse book – they’ve already been the smash-hit of the pre-Christmas period three years running. But then again, neither should Anh Do, who won the Indie Award outright in 2012 for The Happiest Refugee. If Weirdo does win, we might just forgive Anh on the grounds that he’s the most emphatically friendly and genuine person you’re ever likely to meet. Not to mention he writes great books. The surprise nominee for us this year is Alphabetical Sydney, which never registered on our 2013 bookselling radar. It may well be a beautiful book – but we suspect its presence on this shortlist is an indication of the high concentration of independent bookshops in New South Wales.

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We’ll know the category winners by the end of February. From there, bookstores across Australia will vote to choose their favourite of the four, to be honoured as ‘Book of the Year’. Their decision will be announced on Wednesday March 26, leaving our First Thursday Book Club just eight days to read the winner before their meeting on Thursday April 3. (Because book club on the edge. That’s how we roll.) We will attempt to help you by giving you some indication of who we think it’ll be, but we accept no responsibility for getting it wrong.

Meet Susanne Hampton

Susanne HamptonWe’d like to introduce Adelaide’s newest romance writer, Susanne Hampton, whose debut novel will be launched at Mostly Books in March.

Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart will be published simultaneously in Australia, the US and the UK – not bad at all for first novel. Susanne has landed a four-book contract with Harlequin Mills & Boon as a writer for their Medical Romance series. Her second book, Back in Her Husband’s Arms, is slated for release in June, so if you like the first one, you won’t have long to wait.

Unlocking the Doctor's Heart Australian

You’re invited to join us at 6:30 pm on Friday March 7 to meet Susanne and help celebrate the launch of Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart. Entry is free but bookings are essential. Please RSVP using the form below, and let us know you’re coming on the Facebook page. Should be a great night – and, of course, a perfect way to top off six days spent lazing in the sun at Writers’ Week. See you there!