Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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On tour: Kate Summerscale

UK author Kate Summerscale’s latest book The Wicked Boy (Bloomsbury) is the true story of a Victorian-era juvenile murder case that echoes the ‘outrageous plots’ of a penny dreadful novel. She is touring Australia in February.

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

A true murder story with an astonishing twist

What are you reading right now?

After reading Helen Garner’s brilliant This House of Grief (Text) last year, I am now delving into her back catalogue: I’ve just finished The First Stone and have started Joe Cinque’s Consolation (both Picador), another brave, unsettling study of crime and its consequences.

What are you planning to read next?

I’m looking forward to two novels about American teenagers: Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me (Picador), a thriller that centres on an ambitious young gymnast, and Emma Cline’s The Girls (Chatto & Windus), a debut inspired by the Charles Manson murders.

Which book do you always recommend?

Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier. It’s such a passionate, deranged story, obliquely and exquisitely told.

What was the defining book of your childhood?

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (HarperCollins), which charts the struggles of the Ingalls family in South Dakota during the terrible winter of 1880-81. I was enthralled by these pioneer tales of the American Midwest—I was living in 1970s Chile when I read them—and I wished that I could be as resourceful as Laura and as kind as her sister Mary.

If you were a literary character you’d be …

I’d like to be Penelope in Alison Uttley’s children’s book A Traveller in Time (Puffin), because she can slip between the present and the past just by walking through a door.

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

I’ve seen some wonderful adaptations of Dickens’ novels—David Lean’s Great Expectations, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Nicholas Nickleby, the BBC’s Bleak House—but I especially love Carol Reed’s film of the musical Oliver!

What’s your favourite books website or blog?

Literary Hub is good, as is the New Yorker’s Page Turner books blog.

Hardback, paperback or digital?

All of these, but paperback is best. I like a book to be scuffable (and scuffed).

Facebook or Twitter?

Neither—I find plenty to distract me on the internet already.

In 50 years’ time books will be …

As thrilling and involving as they are now (the best of them, anyway).



Category: Features Reviews newsletter On tour