This might get a bit confusing, so bear with me. My mother was born in Yugoslavia and my father is Australian. They met in Australia and, after getting married, they moved to Bombay (India), where my sister was born. You see, my father was an engineer and installed lifts in developing countries as they started building skyscrapers. From India, they moved to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), where I was born. We went on to live in Quito (Ecuador), Bogotá (Colombia), São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), before moving to Sydney (Australia) when I was 15. When I finished high school, I worked in the court system for 10 years, where I met Malcolm, who was a police prosecutor. We got married when I was 22 and we now have two daughters (13 and 15 years old). Ten years ago we moved to Strathmerton, a small country town in Victoria, where we bought a caravan park. It's a pretty quiet lifestyle and, now that the girls are older, I find myself with a lot of time on my hands. Since moving here, I have become a Girl Guide leader (the equivalent of Girl Scouts) and my daughters are both Girl Guides. I also discovered the internet. But reading has always been my passion.
2. Do you write as well as sell books?
I would love to write a book. When I was a girl I used to write all the time. As a teenager I did the usual angst-ridden love poem thing and wrote short stories. (I still have these). I have a couple of ideas for books and have been to a few creative writing courses, but I think I'm too scared to start writing in case I find out I'm no good. I think my strength actually lies in editing, and I would like to take this up. My daughters both love writing and I have edited a lot of their work through the years. They're becoming a bit more private now and won't let me read anything. But they both aspire to become published authors, so I might be able to help them again soon. I've also recently done some editing for a couple of writers I've met online.
3. When did you identify your love of books?
I've had a great love of books my whole life. As a child living in South America, it was dangerous to play outside. I spent most of my childhood reading, except when I was playing with my Barbies! So books have always been my best friends. I especially loved fairytales, my favorites being Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales and The Arabian Nights. As a young teenager, my favorite book was Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. From there I went on to read Gone With the Wind, The Thorn Birds, James Michener, and Stephen King, as there wasn't a dedicated young adult genre in those days. As an adult, my favorite writers include Maeve Binchy, Amy Tan, Jodi Picoult, and Bryce Courtney. My current favorite books are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
4. If you could meet any author dead or alive who would it be?
I would like to meet Stephen King one day. I'm sure he would have a lot of experiences and wisdom to share. I love the way he writes in such a conversational tone. I also admire the way he draws his characters and is able to make their dialogue so realistic. Having read Stephen King's On Writing, I feel like I kind of know him already.
5. If you could meet any fictional character who would it be?
If I could meet any fictional character I would pick Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife. I was totally captivated by that book and by the strength of Henry's love for Clare. Anyone who could live such a tortured life yet remain so committed to his soul mate is a person well worth meeting.
6. How many books do you read in an average month?
This varies on the time of year and how busy the caravan park is. These days I usually only have time to read before bed, so it takes me about 2 weeks to finish a book. When I am forced to be away from my computer, I can read for hours at a time and finish a book every 2-3 days. I own so many books (over 1000) that I don't think I'll ever be able to read them all. And now that I have an eReader, things are even worse. I am now an eBook hoarder as well (I have over 25,000)!
7. Are you keen on a particular genre?
My favorite kinds of books are family dramas involving long-hidden secrets. However, I went through a phase last year where I only read young adult fiction. My 13-year-old is an avid reader and I found myself reading all the books she borrowed from the library. John Green would have to be a favorite in this genre.
At the moment, I only seem to be reading books sent to me for review, so the genres are quite varied. I'll read practically anything, but have difficulty reading fantasy and science fiction, especially when unusual names are used for people and places. I find it very difficult to remember who's who or where's where, unless I keep notes. I remember writing up a family tree when I read the Clan of the Cave Bear books years ago. And I never was able to finish The Lord of the Rings (sorry!).
8. How did Books Direct get started?
OK, this is embarrassing, but 1 ½ years ago, I got caught up in one of those get-rich-quick schemes, where they sell you a website and tell you you'll make millions overnight ... You know the ones. Anyway, I didn't know anything about creating a website or social media or anything else of the sort, so I signed up. My website is the result of this. From there, I realized I wasn't going to make any money unless I got my name out there, so I started marketing myself. I started with my Tumblr blog (3000 followers), which drove tons of traffic to my website but made no sales as my followers are mostly teenagers. From there, I went on to Facebook (1800 likes) and Twitter (5500 followers). I'm also dabbling in merchandise through my made-to-order Bookish Look range. So as you can see, I got my name out there ... but I still haven't made any money! What I have done is meet a lot of really nice people, mostly Indie authors. That's when I decided to start my blog to help them market their books. My blog has just reached over 50,000 page views after only 10 months!
9. How do Indie authors approach you?
I love to hear from Indie authors. All the information is on the List Your Book page on my blog. So if you're interested in being featured on my blog just click on the link and email the specified information to me.