Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Straight Chatting from the Library: Fran Cusworth

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Fran will be awarding an eCopy of The Near Miss to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

Three strangers meet by chance. Funny, heartfelt, suburban family drama.

What are you reading right now?

Di Morrissey’s Rain Music. I am lucky enough to be doing an in-conversation with her at my local library soon, and I am really looking forward to it.

Do you have any bad book habits?

Yes! Flicking the corner of the page against my index finger. My mother did it to her books and I ‘caught’ it from her. I have seen my son doing it recently. I think it’s genetic.mBR>
Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Dog-ear – sorry Librarian Judith! I treasure books, but in the end they are for reading. Nothing lasts forever! But on the bright side if I lend out a book, I don’t mind if people fold the page, as long as I get the book back.

Favorite book you've read this year?

Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret. She is so very funny, and she captures the total drama and hilarity of suburban, child-raising, primary-school life.

When do you do most of your reading?

I’m one of the many people who read in bed last thing at night and who can’t sleep without reading first, often for an hour. If I wake and can’t get back to sleep, I love the ereader because I can read without disturbing my husband, so I always make sure I’ve got an ebook on the go.

Favorite book to recommend?

The Bone People, by Keri Hulme.

How do you keep your books organized?

Into sections; childrens, young adult, classics, other fiction, fiction by friends, self help, writing books, travel, non fiction … I have a lot of books!

Re-reader or not?

Of classic novels, yes. I have read Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Pride and Prejudice half a dozen times each.

What would make you not finish a book?

Pretentious, self conscious, show-off writing, when the author’s literary ‘presence’ makes it impossible to relax into the story and characters, and forget you’re reading.

Keep books or give them away?

Definitely keep them. I want to line my house with floor to ceiling bookshelves – I’ve done one wall so far but I’m eyeing up another.


Grace, hardworking and tired, wants another baby. But she's dealing with debt, a manic 4-year-old and a jobless husband determined to make his inventions into reality. Can they both get their way, or will competing dreams tear their marriage apart?

Eddy analyses risk for a living, but his insecurities have brought his own life to a halt. He won't let go of the flighty, unfaithful Romy, but will he ever risk believing in himself?

Melody is trying to raise her son Skip in the city while holding true to her hippie lifestyle. But will past mistakes and judgement from other parents force her to leave her beliefs behind?

This is a story about real life aspirations, and whether you can chase your dreams at the same time as raising children and paying the bills. It's about friendship, and how the people you meet in a moment can change your life forever.


He turned up the air-conditioning. He needed fresh air, the car was stuffy, but the aircon would not be optimised if he opened a window. Romy should have finished her waitressing job by now, and be heading to their modest, three-bedroom brick home in a nice street, in a desirable area. No doubt checking her phone as she did every hour, for a message from the acting agency; the message that never seemed to come. Not a failed actress, as Eddy’s surly father had once called Romy behind her back, to Eddy’s indignation. Just someone who dreamed of a bigger life.

Romy had complained less about her menial job in recent weeks, newly distracted as she was by an event which had shaken both their lives. She had cheated on Eddy and slept with her yoga instructor — just a one-night stand, but still; sex, true, penetrative sex, with another man. It had shocked them both, after five years of monogamy. Romy had confessed to him within days of the act, and then proceeded to confide in all of their friends with an endearing and handwringing honesty, which made people murmur soothing things like ‘Don’t be too hard on yourself’. Advice which Eddy privately thought was well-intentioned, but not, it appeared, desperately called for. There appeared no danger of true, heartfelt self-flagellation on his girlfriend’s part.

For himself, he reflected that, had he seriously contemplated such a possibility in riskanalysis terms, he would have dramatically underestimated the likelihood of its occurrence, but probably could have guessed its consequence — the level of his pain — at about right. He was gutted. He would rather have endured a physical beating to his body than the agony of this intimate betrayal. Almost as bad had been her need to share the titillating details with all of their friends, even if it was in a spirit of self-recrimination. But such soul-baring was typical of Romy.

She had even blogged about it.

However, he had survived the infidelity, and the subsequent broadcasting of it to half of Melbourne and general cyberspace. Things were healing. They would get through. And maybe, just maybe, moving to the next level of commitment would help.

Driving now along the main street, Eddy slowed. He was drawing near the strip of shops which clustered near the train line, and traffic here was always a stop-start affair. Cars pulled out of parallel parks; pedestrians darted into the centre of the road and quivered on the white line, waiting to dash to the other side. A bus heaved itself out from a stop like some massive, weary beast and blocked his vision. Eddy politely let the bus in, and two more cars took advantage and darted in front of him into the stream of traffic.

‘You’re welcome,’ Eddy told them dryly. He pressed down on the accelerator and set off.

Up ahead was an ice-cream shop; the busiest outlet in the street, of course, on a day like this. The sort of crowd the TAB drew on Melbourne Cup Day. People spilled from the door; others moved towards it. They held cones and tubs with spoons. A little girl emerged at the edge of the crowd and stepped onto the road. Eddy watched her, wondering what he could make for dinner. Maybe something on the barbecue outside, not the stove, so as to keep the house cool— The child darted onto the road, right in front of his moving car. Eddy saw the streak of her white dress like a torn page, and in one frozen moment he saw the child’s laughing face, all mischief and loveliness, at the lower edge of the window. He slammed hard on the brake, the ABS fluttering beneath his feet to stop the car fishtailing. The child’s dress had scalloped edges, and she held a cone topped with pink ice cream, and her face was too close.

‘Shit!’ he shouted.

But in that last second a woman in a green dress appeared; thin, with golden hair in long ropes, and long brown arms that shot out and snatched at the child. Bystanders’ ice creams fell or melted unseen down their fingers, people’s faces distorted in gothic, open-mouthed denial. No!

Every face was turned towards him. Movement everywhere. There was the plastic crunch of a second car accident somewhere in the traffic behind him. Had he hit the kid?

Eddy flung open his door. The hot air pushed in as he leapt out into the heat.


Fran is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She worked as a newspaper journalist for twenty years, and recently had a midlife career crisis and retrained as a nurse. She won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism in 2013. She is married with two children and she once lived in a commune, like Melody, and at another time she desperately wanted a second child, like Grace. Like Tom, she has pursued a few foolish dreams, and like Eddy, her courage has at times failed her. This is her fourth novel. Website: http://www.francusworth.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FranCusworth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fran.cusworth.7

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  1. What's your favorite family recipe?

  2. Hi Mai T., hmm, my favorite family recipe, let me think... my mum made a gorgeous banana nut curry which I generally make whenever I have to bring a plate to a barbecue at Christmas. My mum started as a good 1950s Anglo housewife cook who made things like coleslaw and lamb chops for years but then in her later life she discovered more interesting sorts of cooking and she went crazy with it, in a good way. Banana nut curry has bananas, coconut milk and cashews and then a complex list of spices. Yummy.