Feature Week 24: International Best Sellers
In week 24 of the National Year of Reading we focus on two Australian authors who have been successful in the international arena: Sean Williams and Katherine Scholes.
Katherine Scholes was born in Tanzania, East Africa, the daughter of a missionary doctor and an artist. She spent her early childhood in Africa before moving with her family to England and then Australia where they settled in Tasmania.
As an adult, Katherine moved to Melbourne with Roger, her film-maker husband. Katherine and Roger established a film production company, and Katherine produced a number of documentaries. After working in Melbourne for many years, writing books and making films, she once again lives in Tasmania with her family.
Katherine is the author of several international bestsellers and her books are especially well received in Germany and France where she has sold over two million books. As well as works for adults, Katherine has written books for children and young adults.
If you would like to know more about Katherine, take a look at a recent 'Awesome Aussie Author' interview on the blog of National Year of Reading friend Mandy Magro:
Katherine Scholes is the author of international bestsellers including 'Make me an idol', 'The rain queen' and 'The stone angel'. She has also written several children's books, including 'Peacetimes' and 'The boy and the whale'. Her young adult novel, 'The blue chameleon', won a NSW State Literary Award.
More recently, Katherine released 'The hunter's wife', a complicated love story set in a magical safari world in Tanzania in the 1960's. Tanzania has proven to be a great source of inspiration for Katherine's stories. In the following clip, Katherine talks about 'The hunter's wife'.
Katherine's latest work, 'Lioness', is also set in Tanzania and tells the story of the search for a missing child. Watch out for Katherine's next novel, to be released in 2013, that is once again set in Tanzania, just after WWII.
Katherine's thoughts on reading
I like the way books can get people talking on a deep level. It's not uncommon for me to hear that several women in a family have read one of my novels. Sometimes it's led to things being discussed that have been kept secret for way too long. It's quite scary - the power of a book.
Out and about for the National Year of Reading
I travelled to the Tasman Peninsula to take part in the National Simultaneous Storytime and read 'The very cranky bear' to a roomful of kids and their teddies! Afterwards I talked to high school students and other interested people about my approach to writing.
Children enjoying National Simultaenous Storytime at Tasman Community Library with Tasmanian writer and ambassador for National Year of Reading, Katherine Scholes.
Katherine's reading habits
- When do you read? I read in short snatches - breakfast, lunch and bedtime - during the week. When I'm on holidays, reading is one of my favourite pastimes. I get very selective about what I read while I'm in the process of writing - I choose books that are nothing at all like what I'm trying to do. Otherwise it makes me feel anxious!
- Which book is by your bedside right now?
'March' by Geraldine Brooks. I loved 'Little women' as a child so I'm sure I'll find it interesting.
- What's your perfect holiday read? If I'm travelling I read something light because I tend to get distracted. I also choose a setting that's very different to where I am. If I'm holidaying at home I like a story set in another place - I'm a fan of armchair travel!
- What was the last book you received as a gift? My husband bought me 'Women travellers, a century of trailblazing adventures 1850-1950' to help inspire my writing. It's got a wonderful photo on the front cover of Osa Johnson, a 1930s filmmaker, riding a zebra in Kenya.
- Do your ever cheat and read the end of the book first? I never cheat with books - I don't skim and I never look ahead. I'm only just learning to give up on a book I'm not enjoying.
- Did you like to read as a child? Growing up in Africa we had no TV and no library. My mother ordered lots of Puffin books from England. We had a pretty adventurous life, but I loved reading about English children going to boarding school and learning ballet!
- Do you have a favourite book from your childhood?
I've hung on to my old copies of 'Secret laughter', poems by Walter de la Mare; and 'The bridesmaids' by Pamela Brown (she was one of the first authors I discovered when I started using the library in Australia.)
- Do you use your local public library?
I still like using real books for research. When I wrote 'The hunter's wife' I found some wonderful books on the history of the East African safari in the State Library of Tasmania.
Katherine's favourite reads
- 'The sheltering sky' by Paul Bowles. I was deeply inspired by his portrayal of people being confronted by a foreign culture and landscape. I loved the way his main character just walked out of her own life. I've read all his books and own copies of most of them.
- 'Bits of paradise' by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. I discovered their work when I was still a teenager - I was completely tantalised by the glamorous world of the stories they wrote, and their real lives as well. I read everything they published. I also read as many biographies about the couple as I could find. Years later, I became similarly fascinated with the real lives of Paul Bowles and his wife and fellow author Jane Bowles. The crossover between peoples' fiction and their own life stories really intrigues me.
- Old books.
I love to forage in second hand bookshops and see what fate will throw my way. I find the different sizes, textures, and ages of the books so interesting. I check the 'Africa' shelf first, and pick out travel memoirs and autobiographies. Then I just wander around and see what catches my eye.
Rare Book Week
If you also have a penchant for old books, and are in Melbourne in the coming week, you might like to take a look at what is on offer at the Melbourne Rare Book Week and Rare Book Fair hosted by the Australian & New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers.
The Book Fair is held in Association with the University of Melbourne Cultural Treasures Festival. For more details about the events, select the following link:
Want to know more?
- To read more about Katherine, take a look at her website:
- Select the following link to read about Sean Williams, our other featured ambassador for week 24:
- If you want to see the other National Year of Reading ambassadors, go to our ambassadors page.
- Other featured ambassadors can be found on the ambassador feature week listing.