What authors/books did you read as a child? When did you first discover your love of books?
I've been reading for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of a book of children's poetry by Mary Gilmore (kind of strange--it wasn't a poetry-reading home) and the Faraway series by the awesome Enid Blyton.
When did you first realise you were a writer? What do you hope your readers will take away with them from reading your books?
When my first book, Addition, was picked up by publishers overseas, I thought to myself: 'Perhaps I do know what I'm doing.' I'd love it if readers enjoyed themselves, but found plenty to think about as well. I think readers can laugh and think at the same time.
Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure? Does everything you read come under your ‘writer’ microscope?
These days it's a very special book that enables me to lose myself. When I love something, I can't help thinking: 'How did she/he do that?'
Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing your own? Does what you read while writing have an effect on what you write? In what way?
I couldn't possibly stop reading while I was writing. It takes me around 18 months to write a book. If I stopped reading fiction during that time, I'd go bonkers. I've never understood this 'polluting my voice' theory of reading.
Name five authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way.
Sorry, must have six. The six people who make me want to give up: Peter Carey, Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, Peter Temple, Richard Ford, AS Byatt. Freaks, every one.
If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?
At the moment, it would be Freedom by Jonathon Franzen. I've been looking forward to it but haven't started yet. It’s a biggun.
What makes a book ‘too good to put down’?
I think this is what every writer would give their left kidney to know, but there's no easy answer. It's a magical thing, often unrelated to technical skill.
What makes you put down a book without finishing it?
I'm such an optimist that I firmly believe in giving a writer every chance. Who knows? Even if the book's a stinker, they might pull something out in the last ten pages that is so fantastic that the rest of the book falls into place. I've only given up half way once in living memory. Embarrassingly for me, it was Patrick White's The Living and the Dead. I really hated it and it made me incredibly angry, because I'd never read White before and I was so looking forward to it.
Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?
There's too many to mention. Apart from the six aliens I've listed earlier, I love Michelle de Kretser, Chris Womersley, Brian Castro...the list goes on. So many writers make me go weak at the knees.
If you had to list them, what would be your ‘top ten’ reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?
Yikes. This changes on a daily basis. Excluding the classics, the books I try to read at least once a year are:
The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
Possession - AS Byatt
Oscar and Lucinda - Peter Carey
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Independence Day - Richard Ford
The Gathering - Anne Enright
The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje
The Acolyte - Thea Astley
Carpentaria - Alexis Wright
Flaubert's Parrot - Julian Barnes
What was your 2010 ‘best read’? What was it that made it number one?
AAARGH! Lisa you ask all the tough questions. I can't pick one because it was a tie: Peter Temple's Truth and Chris Womersley's Bereft. Wonderful, wonderful books. I don't write anything like this type of thing, but you can see the genius in them. They are both exquisite in every way.
What do you think of the non-traditional publishing methods – eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage more people to read? Do you think there’s a future for print books?
They'll be prying my pbooks out of my cold dead hands.
Find out more about Toni here.