Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Do we need an Australian Women Writers Challenge?

It's been said many times that writing is a solitary profession and I have to say I find that to be true. There are some days when I don't speak to anyone - except my dog - from 8am in the morning to 6pm at night. Most of the time I don't mind too much, but it can mean I have a lot of pent up talking to do.

And I'm not the only one. This year's inaugural National Book Bloggers Forum, hosted by publishers Random House, was full of booky bloggers just bursting with things to say about the books they'd read, the books they were going to read and, in some cases, the books they were going to write.

It was great to meet Shelleyrae Cusbert of Book'd Out who is surely one of the most prolific readers on the planet. Shelleyrae has four kids, but still makes time to read a book a day and blogs about most of them. I can only imagine she's mastered the art of reading while she sleeps.

Reader, writer and film reviewer Susan May of An Adventure in Words shared plenty of ideas too - including her cure for writers suffering from that common disease - 'life-gets-in-the-way-itis.' (In case you're a sufferer, the remedy is to: "write a page a day no matter what.")

Chatting to blogger Elizabeth Lhuede, I learned about the Australian Women Writers Challenge, an initiative that 'encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, Australian and non-Australian, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year.'

It's a challenge I find quite appealing, not least because it will help reduce the number of books on my 'to read' shelf for this year. Although I've never chosen a book because of the gender of its author, on balance I'd say that I prefer female writing. I generally don't find thrillers very thrilling and am drawn to books publishers categorise as quality commercial fiction - and they're often written by women.

Towards the end of the day, Random House previewed some of the books readers could look forward to for the second half of 2014. The list was long and included quite a few clearly destined to be bestsellers (more on this later). But when I was thinking about what to read next, I remembered my chat with Elizabeth.

Cute, funny and beautifully written: Zoe Foster's The Wrong Girl

I'm now reading Zoe Foster's The Wrong Girl (I'm not sure where Zoe was born, but understand she lives and is published here, so hope that counts) and on my 'to read' pile there's Sisters of Mercy and Matilda is Missing both by Caroline Overington, Elianne by Judy Nunn and Hades by Alexandra Adornetto. Have you read any of these and what did you think of them? Do you think we need an Australian Women Writers Challenge and who are your favourite Australian women writers? I'd love to hear what you think.