This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Genevieve will be awarding an eCopy of Chasing Chris Campbell to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Genevieve, thanks for stopping by The Library to talk about books! What is the favorite book you remember as a child?
I loved The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allen Ahlberg. It follows a postie as he delivers mail to nursery rhyme and fairytale characters. Every second page was an envelope with the letter inside. The Ahlberg’s also wrote the classic Australian picture book, Peepo, about a family’s day through the eyes of their baby. In both books the detail in the illustrations was incredible. I’d study the pages over and over and always find something new.
What is your favorite book today?
For about a decade my answer to this question has been Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, but I recently read We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and that’s currently my favourite book. That being said, I’ve read Middlesex many times. I’m not sure how often I’d want to revisit Kevin Khatcharouian. I think Shriver is a genius of the highest order.
Tell us about your current book in 10 words.
It is a travel book disguised as a romantic comedy.
What are you reading right now?
I’m splitting my reading time between We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler and The Bit In Between by Claire Varley. Very different, but both very enjoyable for different reasons.
What books do you have on hold at the library?
None at the moment but I next plan to read Purity by Jonathan Franzen.
Do you have any bad book habits? Folding down page corners to mark my place! Actually, I’ve stopped doing that. Now I just use whatever is lying around as a bookmark. My shelves are full of books stuffed with bills and grocery receipts that show where I finished reading.
E-Reader or print? and why?
I like both. Ebooks are so convenient, and I love the way you can get free samples of everything. When I hear about a book that interests me I download the sample immediately and read the first few pages. If I like it I’ll buy it and read more. But it’s not the same as having a book in your hands. I use on public transport, but generally I prefer print books. I’m always thinking about how I can improve my writing, so I love being able to underline passages or revisit scenes I like.
One book at a time or multiples?
Multiples. Unless I’m completely absorbed by a particular book I read depending on my mood.
Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)
I gave up the dog ears.
Least favorite book you've read this year?
I hate nominating books I disliked. But, given my novels are classified as “romance” I have delved into that genre and little bit and I’ve found some novels are a little … one dimensional.
Favorite book you've read this year?
Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith. Clever, touching, vivid and original.
When do you do most of your reading?
The train, or bed. Sometimes the back of a court room. I work in the courts and there are days where there’s a lot of waiting around. Don’t tell my boss!
Favorite place to read?
Spread out on some grass in the sunshine. With a plate of blue cheese.
My favourite books tend to be sprawling Franzen-esque sagas. Not a genre exactly, but I definitely go for a certain type.
Do you loan your books?
I do, but I get a bit precious about them because I like re-reading the ones I loved. A friend lost my copy of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao after I loaned it to him. That was 2011, and I’m still talking about it. So I guess I should probably stop loaning books. It seems to create separation anxiety.
Favorite book to recommend?
Actually I recommend Oscar Wao often. I also like to steer people towards a Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and anything by Caitlin Moran. Oh, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon – another gorgeous rollicking saga that sprawls over many years.
How do you keep your books organized?
I’ve just moved, so they’re currently in boxes but I have big plans for an alphabetized bookshelf that takes up one entire wall of my lounge room. (If I EVER finish painting it.)
Re-reader or not?
Yes, over and over again.
What would make you not finish a book?
Usually I like to persist with a book, but sometimes I get distracted by a more engaging story.
Keep books or give them away?
A chance encounter with Chris Campbell (first love, boy-next-door, The One That Got Away) spurs her into travelling to exotic locations she never dreamed she'd explore - Hong Kong, Vietnam, Varanasi - on a quest to catch up with Chris and lead a life of adventure. Armed with hand sanitiser and the encouraging texts of her twin sister Cassandra, will Violet find true love before it's too late? Or will the nerve-wracking experience of travelling send her back to Melbourne in search of safety and stability? Can she work out what she really wants before she is left with nothing?
READ AN EXPERT
My heart was galloping as I drove from Mum and Dad’s home in Essendon to the place Michael and I rented. We shared a little terrace in Coburg in Melbourne’s inner north-west with another couple. It had fireplaces and ceiling roses, bad plumbing and dodgy wiring. It was as old as Federation, and every time we got more than a few millilitres of rain the kitchen flooded. The house wasn’t really big enough for four people, but it was nice and cheap. Michael and I saved ten dollars a week each by opting for the smaller of the two bedrooms. Our room didn’t have any windows and shared a wall with the bathroom and its ageing pipes that moaned like a dying donkey every time someone took a shower. But Michael had insisted, because ten dollars a week was more than a grand over two years.
‘There you are,’ he said when I walked in the front door. ‘Did you go all the way to Azerbaijan for those sprats?’
‘I’ve been at Mum’s,’ I said dully.
He kissed my cheek and took the shopping. ‘Dinner’s nearly done.’
We didn’t have a dining table, there was no room. Each night we ate on the couch, balancing our plates on large coffee-table books covered in tea towels.
This is how Michael and I sat on that eve of Christmas Eve – eating bowls of lentils off The History of the World’s Killer Diseases (mine) and Erotic Art through the Ages (our housemate Lydia’s).
‘It’s quite economical, this no-meat thing of yours,’ Michael enthused, scooping some lentils into his mouth.
I murmured in agreement. Even my own sister couldn’t bring herself to eat my vegetarian cooking. It was a weekly custom for her to try and tempt me with some of Mum’s Sunday roast.
‘Are you sure?’ Cass would say, holding a cube of pink, tender meat on the end of her fork out to me.
I’d have to turn my nose away and remind myself of the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Britain that had been one of the reasons I’d taken up vegetarianism. The accounts of the victims of the human strain had been enough to put me off cow for life. Pain. Depression. Certain death. No burger was worth that.
‘You don’t have to worry about organising anything for tomorrow night,’ Michael continued. ‘I thought I’d cook dinner.’ As he spoke he used his knife to divide his lentils and rice into half, then half again and again until he had a series of small, bite-sized spoonfuls.
‘Sure. It’s our anniversary,’ he said through a mouthful. ‘And I feel bad. I know you hate that job. I know you only took it because you wanted to earn more for the house.’
‘That’s not true, I wanted a change.’ I put my lentils and the disease book onto the couch next to me. If I ate one more lentil, one more grain of rice, I would scream.
Michael leaned over and kissed my forehead. ‘I know you hate it,’ he said.
Until recently I had been a research assistant at Victoria University, caring for mice used in the testing of treatments for multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease. Each day I’d had to remind myself of the lifesaving therapy my boss had already helped develop. Professor Sach’s office wall was a collage of gold plaques, certificates, and smiling children who’d benefited from her work. But I still felt sorry for the test subjects who had to die so we could study them. I always made sure their beds were filled with dry, soft sawdust and that they had fresh water and carrots and lettuce leaves, as well as the pellets. It tore at me when the time came to euthanise them. But I told myself that if I didn’t do it, someone else would, and they may not have been as gentle. It was my job to make their short lives as happy as possible.
My new job involved allergy testing for a cosmetics company called Lustre Labs. I was working on their chemist label, CityPrity; a cut-price brand that tried to market its metallic eye shadows and glittery body creams as the height of metropolitan sophistication. The money was almost double what I was being paid at the university and the hours were steady. Plus they didn’t test on animals. But Michael was right. I hated it.
‘It was my choice,’ I said.
As an insurance salesman, his salary was almost double mine. He picked up my bowl and took it into the kitchen. I could hear him putting my leftovers in Tupperware so I could eat them for lunch the next day. I sighed, wishing I’d bought the éclair and crammed the whole thing into my mouth in the shopping centre car park.
‘Besides,’ he said, standing at the door. ‘I have a surprise for you.’
I looked up sharply. ‘You do?’ The éclair was forgotten.
‘Yeah,’ he smiled at me. ‘It’s a big surprise. I think you’re going to really like it.’
‘What is it?’
‘Uh-uh.’ He waggled a finger at me. ‘All will be revealed tomorrow night.’
In 2011 she joined the national news wire, Australian Associated Press, where she covered crime, politics and entertainment. Her work has appeared in most major Australian newspapers including The Age, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.
She currently lives in Melbourne where she is a court reporter. At night she writes romantic comedies
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