Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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On tour: Michael Grant

Michael Grant’s latest book is Front Lines (HGE). He is travelling to the Sydney Writers’ Festival and Brisbane in May

What would you put on a shelf-talker for your latest book?

In this alternate history of WWII, women are subject to the draft and fight on the Front Lines. There’s a whole bunch about racist and sexist attitudes in the 40s, and then a whole bunch about killing Nazis. Surprisingly Michael Grant did not screw up the history, the characters are great and as for the frequently gruesome horrors of war, well, it’s a Michael Grant book, so strap yourselves in.

What are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading Antony Beevor’s WWII histories as research for Front Lines.

What are you planning to read next?

I am re-reading ‘Everworld’ [co-written by Grant and his wife Katherine Applegate] because the rights just reverted. So far what I’ve discovered is that I use a lot of really short sentences. Kind of my thing, I guess. Some sentences. Don’t even have a. Verb.

Which book do you always recommend? 

Lately I’ve really been pushing The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus (S&S US). Kraus is me plus 10% more weird darkness. It’s an amazing book, so intricate, so beautifully odd and unique.

What was the defining book of your childhood?

Probably the Bible. I’d been raised on it, and then I actually read it and just had to laugh. It was obvious nonsense. The plot is a mess, the pacing is unbelievably tedious, the whole premise is bizarre and the characters are either stiffs or escaped loons or wildly inconsistent.

If you were a literary character you’d be …

I suppose I’d be someone in some literary novel dealing with ennui and anomie and existential angst and all that.

What’s your favourite book adaptation (film, television or theatre)?

Peter Jackson’s incredible adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. And let’s all just pretend he stopped there and did not go on to trash The Hobbit.

Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter. I just can’t seem to care about Facebook even though I have multiple pages. On Twitter, I can shoot the breeze with actual readers. On Facebook, it’s mostly industry people.

In 50 years’ time books will be …

A selection will be uploaded into your brain at birth. You’ll be able to open and read them with a thought, and download as many as you like merely by having the thought. Then of course the computer chip in our brains will go all Genghis on us and turn us all into mindless slaves, but hey, that’s inevitable, right? I for one salute our new Brain Chip overlords.



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