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Celebrating 21 years of Jack Reacher, with Lee Child

Lee Child. Internationally best-selling author. Creator of Jack Reacher. One of the most iconic characters in modern literature. Legend has it, a Reacher novel is sold, somewhere around the world, every nine seconds!

And now, 21 years after the character first appeared on the page, Lee Child brings us a whole new Reacher adventure: Past Tense. And, just as Reacher would breeze in, and breeze out of town, the British-born author made the whirlwind trek from America to Australia, to promote his new novel - spending all of 96 hours in the country.

A Very Special Invitation

On Sunday, 18th November, QBD was lucky enough to be invited to a very special event. A celebration of 21 years of Jack Reacher, hosted by Penguin Random House.The evening was held at The Rook, an intimate, little rooftop bar, nestled amidst the upper skyline of Sydney’s CBD.

A Night Fit For Jack Reacher

In a most Reacher-like fashion, the night began with a bang! Most of the guests met at the Penguin Random house office, to be transported to the Rook by coach. Upon arriving at the bar,
however, we found ourselves thrust into adventure when the coach pulled up to the curb and immediately smashed itself into a tree! (Granted, it was only the side-mirror which hit the tree, but this did result in the coach becoming an involuntary side-mirror-amputee). As we all piled off the coach, we couldn’t help but joke that excitement just seemed to follow Lee Child wherever he went!

Having all made it to the bar in one piece (unlike the coach), the guests milled around, sharing their love of Reacher over drinks, as Lee Child mingled, taking photos and signing books
for anyone who asked. As well as many, lucky readers, the room was full of exciting, literary figures, including many representatives from Penguin Random House, and Australian authors,
Candice Fox, and John Purcell.

All of the guests were absolutely spoiled by Penguin Random House’s generosity. Upon arrival, each guest was gifted a goodie-bag, containing an exclusive, Jack Reacher mug, a copy of Past Tense and The Killing Floor, and the one item Jack Reacher always travels with: a solitary toothbrush. Another exciting little addition in each bag was one, unique, individual key.

So what was so special about this key? In the corner of the room, lay three, military boxes. Each of them locked shut. Inside one of these boxes was a set of ten Reacher novels. Inside another, a complete set of Reacher novels. And inside the last, a $2100, cash prize. Three unique locks, for three unique keys. Somewhere in the room, three lucky winners!

The room buzzed with excitement as, one by one, each of the guests tried their keys in the three locks. And, building up the tension perfectly, the prizes were claimed in order of least, to highest value. The ten novels. The complete novels. And the money!

Before long, though, it was time to hear from the man of the hour, Lee Child himself.

Lee Child in Conversation with Australia’s Jack Reacher

As well as celebrating 21 years since the release of The Killing Floor (Jack Reacher’s first adventure), Lee Child was in Sydney to promote his latest book, Past Tense– the twenty-third Jack Reacher novel!

Living up to its title, Past Tense is a tension-filled thriller, that will keep readers hooked in its pages from start to finish! With influences from Stephen King, Past Tense takes Reacher on a journey of discovery, into the secrets of his father’s past.

There to talk to Lee about the new book was Random House Australia’s, 2010, Jack Reacher Look-a-Like Competition Winner, Duncan Munro. In conversation with Munro, Lee spoke about the process of creating Reacher’s family background. And, much like Reacher would do, Child picked the hometown of Reacher’s father almost at random, from a map.

“I looked at a map and picked Laconia, because it sounds like ‘laconic’, which could be the Reacher family motto, basically, since none of them really say anything.”

So what lead to Reacher discovering just how little he knew about his father in Past Tense? According to Child, he lost his own father shortly before writing the novel. The experience of loss lead him to think about how, although he knew his father his whole life, there was no doubt a great deal that he didn’t know about his own father’s life.

“The more you think about it, you never know another person. However close the relative is. You never really know all about them… So I just thought, Reacher is going to find something out. He thinks he knows everything. But there will be something he doesn’t know.”

But this is not the first glimpse we’ve had into Reacher’s family history. Child also spoke about developing the character of Reacher’s mother in The Enemy.

“In the Enemy, I wanted to explain ‘how come Reacher is such a tough guy?’ And most writers would say, ‘because he has a tough dad.’ And I thought, ‘No, that’s boring. Let’s have it because he had a tough mum.’”

Jack Reacher in Australia

Australian fans of Jack Reacher will be extra eager to get their hands on Past Tense, as the Australian/New Zealand copies of the novel contain an exclusive look at Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher Short Story, The Fourth Man.

The story takes Reacher on a journey from the Australian embassy in New York, all the way to the Sydney Opera House, for what is perhaps the shortest international trip ever made. Talking to Munro, Child joked about Reacher’s short-lived, Aussie adventure.

“He was here even shorter than I’m going to be here. I think he gets off the plane, kills a guy, and gets back on the plane. Which I’m slightly more extended, and just certainly hoping I don’t kill anybody while I’m here!”

To read Lee Child’s exclusive Australian short story, make sure you head into QBD and pick up your copy of Past Tense.

Reacher, from the Big Screen to the Small Screen

But there’s still one other big news item that has Lee Child fans all around the world buzzing with excitement. Jack Reacher is getting his very own TV series.

Child discussed his decision to abandon the current film format in favour of a “long-form”, binge-worthy series, with a new, yet-to-be-announced actor. According to Child, he has received endless criticism over the casting of five-foot-seven actor, Tom Cruise, for the role of six-foot-five character, Jack Reacher. Child was adamant that he had no personal issue with Cruise, whom he considers to be “a great guy, and a good friend”. However, he understood that fans felt as though a very important aspect of the character was not being represented. And Child’s first loyalty lies with his readers. So, when it comes to casting the new actor for Reacher, Lee Child is on a mission.

“So, …please excuse my language, We’re going to find the biggest motherf**ker you’ve ever seen!”

This statement was met with applause, and Child reassured the audience that he is open to suggestions for the next Reacher. So if you think you can pick the next Jack Reacher, be sure to drop a comment on Lee Child’s social media pages.

A Final Thanks

Lee Child was clearly very thankful to be here in Sydney, and we at QBD would also like to extend our thanks to our host for the evening, Penguin Random House. The entire event was a
huge success, and Child made sure to extend his thanks, not only to our hosts, but also to all of his readers. He also gave a very special thanks to his Australian fans, especially those who have sent him books of their own. In speaking about the books fans had sent to him, Child praised Australian crime and thriller writers, and urged his Aussie fans to remember to support their Australian authors.

“I’m definitely not saying ‘stop buying my books’, but for every one of mine you buy, buy also one of theirs. You know, buy two books instead of one.”

And we here at QBD cannot think of a better note to end on than that!

~ Alyssa, Penrith QBD.

The Wundersmith is here!

Return to the magical world of Nevermoor! Morrigan Crow's perilous adventures continue in the most anticipated sequel of the year, Wundersmith, a treat for all fans of magic and Wunder. 

Wunder is gathering in Nevermoor ...

Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And she is fast learning that not all magic is used for good.

Morrigan has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She's hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery - but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan's unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor?

Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion...

____

QBD Readers our raving about our Children's Book of the Year, Nevermoor!

"If you’re a fan of Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland you will love this book. Adults and children alike will love the story of eleven year old Morrigan Crow, cursed to die on her eleventh birthday but instead was saved by a man named Jupiter North and taken to the wonderous world of Nevermoor where she has to prove that she is worthy to stay and not go back into a world that she cannot live in." - Jordanna, Chadstone QBD

"A rollicking read, that will leave you wondering when the next one is out. Morrigan's cursed existence fades into memory with a family of her choice as she learns more about herself and the world around her than she ever expected. A great read for kids and big kids alike. Nevermoor and its fabulously strange characters will enchant you like nothing else. "- Caitlyn, Canberra QBD

"Nevermoor is the first in a new series destined to have you desperate for the next book! Like Alice in Wonderland with the quirkiness of Roald Dahl, I was hooked on Nevermoor from the first page. Magical!" - Coreena, Morayfield QBD

QBD Recommends: The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh 

 

Most booklovers who have spent any time in an Australian bookstore are probably familiar with the name Fiona McIntosh. One of Australia’s most prolific writers, Fiona has written over thirty books across a wide range of genres, including crime, fantasy, and children’s literature. Arguably though, it is her historical fiction for which she is most well known, and keeps her place as one of Australia’s best-selling authors.

And it is her historical fiction that recently brought the Sussex-born author all the way from her home in South Australia, to Penrith, NSW – to discuss her new novel, QBD’s current Book of the Month, The Pearl Thief.

Having just finished reading The Pearl Thief myself, I can personally tell you: This book is extraordinary! The Pearl Thief is the type of book that will keep you up at night, reading into the early hours of the morning, because you just can’t put the book down! (An experience I haven’t had with a book in years, but with The Pearl Thief, sleep was not an option!)

But what did Fiona McIntosh have to say about her latest novel?

The evening was hosted by Penrith City Library on Thursday, 15th November. Readers of all ages had come out to fill the Library’s Lower Lounge. Around the room, copies of The Pearl Thief were tucked under arms, or kept open on laps, as readers continued to flip through the pages with an insatiable need.

Fiona McIntosh took to the podium, decked out in tribute to the titular pearls. Pearl necklace, pearl bracelet, pearl earrings. Her entire discussion was presented with her unmistakeable, vivacious energy and passion for storytelling.

But let’s start with the most important question. Why should readers read The Pearl Thief?

Fiona McIntosh described this book as “a book of firsts”, admitting that usually, when she writes, she is never aware if her writing is good or not. But when it came to The Pearl Thief, things were different.

“Usually, I just write, and I’ve got no sense of ‘Is this good? Is this bad? Is this ordinary? Is this fabulous?’

“But as I was writing this one, I knew… it was fabulous!”

For the first time, Fiona knew, what she was writing was not only tremendously special, but she was hitting all the right notes. Her storytelling, her setting, her characters, her words – all combining to create magic!

So where did this magic begin? What was the origin of the idea for The Pearl Thief?

When it comes to writing her stories, Fiona attests, she always starts with place. Where is the story set? So when she set out to write what would become The Pearl Thief, she asked herself, “Where would my readers like me to take them next?” The answer: Prague.

This choice of setting then provided the catalyst for the story to follow. Once Fiona had decided on Prague, she began to think about the city’s history, and how the German occupation of Czechoslovakia became a trigger for World War Two.

So, Fiona had her setting, and her timeline. Prague, 1930’s/1940’s. Now she needed a character. She knew immediately that she wanted this character to be a survivor. Enter, Severine Kassel.

“She arrived, and tapped me on the shoulder, and she was complete. It was the first time… that a character had arrived into my life and said ‘Here I am! I’m ready to go!’”

Who is Severine Kassel?

When Severine Kassel arrived as a character in Fiona’s mind, she knew she was a survivor. But what was her story? From her podium at Penrith Library, Fiona described how she knew she wanted this character to be running from something, until something came along in her life, and forced her to turn around.

“And that’s why on the front cover of the book, she’s turning. Because I wanted her to turn around and face all the darkness, and all the pain.”

But what was it that was going to set Severine’s story in motion? Fiona came up with the idea of a glorious, family heirloom of Byzantine pearls. These pearls would then be stolen from Severine, only for her to stumble across them again, twenty years later.

“And when she sees them, having reinvented her life over those twenty years, and glued herself together, all of her pain, and all of her anger is going to be unleased, when she sees these pearls again and decides the only way she can go forward, the only way she can live her life properly, is to go and hunt down the man she holds responsible for all of her pain.”

“That’s what the story became. This is her turning around to say “I’m no longer running from you, I’m coming for you.”

The writing process behind The Pearl Thief

Now Fiona had told us all about the story, and the origins of The Pearl Thief, it was time for her to share some inside tips on the writing process. When it comes to her historical fiction, Fiona lists research and travel as two of the most important ways to create a “bubble of believability around the reader”. When writing a novel like The Pearl Thief, Fiona always travels to the place where her story is set, to walk where her characters will walk.

“I go and find all these places… and then I can weave them into the story with great authenticity… Every place you read about in the story, I’ve been to, and I’ve put my feet there.”

To make sure her travels are well informed, Fiona hires a personal tour guide, and allows them to teach her all about the history, and people of the place she has chosen to set her story. But she never takes notes for her research.

“Everything I do is based on feeling... When I’m researching, I’m never taking notes, I’m just looking, and absorbing, and a bit like osmosis, whatever gets through, sticks, and stays with me. And then the writing is done all on pure emotion.”

Here, Fiona shared her most poignant moment in researching the Prague setting of The Pearl Thief. The moment came when she asked her guide to show her the forests that lay beyond Prague. At this point, Fiona knew, something bad was going to happen to her character here, but she needed to see it for herself. To find this place, and walk in her character’s shoes. To feel what her character would feel. So her guide drove her out, and around the forests, until Fiona asked her to stop. Then, she hopped out of the car, and walked down the wooded lane alone, listening to the sounds of the few birds, and the falling autumn leaves.

“The leaves were falling by the hundred, on top of me. It was like confetti. And I could just hear this flutter. And it was the most beautiful sound, but the most chilling sound. And I began to cry, and I knew I’d found the spot. I thought, ‘this is where it’s going to happen. This is where Severine is going to walk.”

When you read The Pearl Thief, it’s easy to see why this setting brought Fiona to tears. The forests became the scene of Severine’s most traumatic moment. A moment that turns her life upside-down, robbing her of far more than her family pearls. A moment that McIntosh has written to absolute, horrific perfection. This is the moment that will stick with you, long after you’ve read it. This is Fiona McIntosh at her best, and absolutely why you should be reading this incredibly powerful story.

So make sure you head to your nearest QBD store, and pick up a copy of The Pearl Thief today!

~Alyssa, QBD Penrith.

Classic novels for the reader who’s been scared of them since High School

Did you cringe in fear every time your English teacher said "This semester we'll be reading....", and then proceeded to trot out some classic novel that sounded like a lot of work?
Take it from us, you are not alone!  Reading is rarely fun when it’s being forced upon you. That’s why so many of us are so resistant and resentful about some of the actually great books we've been assigned to read.

However now we're older, and wiser, it might just be time to take a second look at some of those books again... you just might enjoy them!
Payton has put together a list of common classroom classics that are definitely worth a second glance.

1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger:

I approached this book with trepidation, believing that it would be full of dense sentences I would hardly be able to understand , but with less than two-hundred pages, I felt like I had no excuse to not dip my toe into the classic genre with this book. All of my worries turned out to be irrelevant as this quickly became one of my favourite stories of all time; the stream-of-consciousness writing style Salinger adopts sucked me into Holden's psyche. If you're interested in stories that don't sensationalise mental illness, and elaborate on the issues young adults go through, this book is timeless, relatable, and easy to read.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde:

The language of this novel is slightly less modern than that of The Catcher in the Rye, but the story is so twisted and gothic that I found it to be just as encapsulating. Plus – it's another short one with less than three-hundred pages!

 

 

3. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut:

I just read this for my university literature class , and even researching and writing a series of mini-essays and a major two-thousand word essay hasn't negated from my love for this book. It is very easy to read, fast-paced, and the story itself is thought-provoking and sadly relevant in today 's political climate, where people all around the world become casualties in conflicts they cannot escape.

4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams:

Yes, yes, this is a play – I'm still new to the classic genre, too, okay? And I want to keep the running theme of books that are easy to read – we're still just dipping in our toes! This story is charming, sad, and incredibly aggravating as we see Blanche DuBois struggle with internal and external conflicts and pray that she finds self esteem, inner strength, and happiness.

5. A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen:

This is another play, and like “A Streetcar Named Desire” it deals with a female protagonist who struggles to be independent and respected in a male-dominated world. Both of these stories highlight how far our Western society has progressed in the past century, while also reminding us of what our fore-mothers had to live through and encouraging us to continue fighting for our rights and freedom.

I hope you enjoy these stories. Classic books don't have to be scary – or boring! ~ Payton

10 books that will make your skin crawl

 

Whether you're a fan of Halloween or just love spine-tingling reads,
the great reads in this list are guaranteed to chill your bones!

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson:

Now a series on Netflix, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Salem's Lot by Steven King:

Thousands of miles away from the small township of 'Salem's Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to 'Salem's Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris:

There's a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who's trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he's willing to put a brave face on — if it will help him escape.

World War Z by Max Brooks:

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman:

There is something strange about Coraline's new home. It's not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It's the other house - the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever.

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow and other tales by Washington Irving:

The Headless Horseman faces off with Ichabod Crane in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," a ghost story of enduring popularity that takes place at the time of the American Revolution. "Rip Van Winkle," another traditional favorite from the same historic period, tells the tale of man who fell asleep for 20 years and found his small town in the Catskill Mountains much changed by the time he awakened. Both are included — along with many other tales — in this classic collection by Washington Irving.

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice:

In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life - the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood.

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey:

Liz Kendall wouldn't hurt a fly. She's a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get.
But there's another side to Liz---one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent.
And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating.

The Passage by Justin Cronin:

An epic, awe-inspiring novel of good and evil.
Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world.
She is.
Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row.
He's wrong.
FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming.
It is.
THE PASSAGE.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill:

A spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, centred around a woman trying to save her son from a vicious, supernatural killer who has set his sights on him.

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Do you have a favourite creepy thriller?
Let us know in the comments!