Caroline Overington, author of Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye and now, Matilda Is Missing, answers Six Sharp Questions:

by |September 5, 2011

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Caroline Overington

author of  Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye and now, Matilda Is Missing

Six Sharp Questions:


1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

It is a novel, called Matilda Is Missing, and it is about a bitter custody battle in the age of shared care.

(BBGuru: publisher synopsis – Matilda Is Missing:

In the struggle between warring parents, who will protect the child?

Garry Hartshorn and Softie Monaghan were never love’s young dream. Not even on their wedding day.

Softie was sophisticated, a career woman, who owned a nice apartment overlooking St Kilda Beach. Garry had a few rough edges, plus one failed marriage and an assortment of jobs under his belt.

But Softie’s body clock was ticking, and Garry wanted children …

So they got married, and produced the only thing they ever had in common.


Now, two years later, their golden-haired child is at the centre of a bitter custody battle. Both parents insist that her well-being is the only thing they care about.

Yet, in truth, Matilda was always the one most likely to become lost.)

2. Time passes. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

I saw whales – five of them, playing together – from the balcony at Bondi.

My son is learning to play guitar, which is something I cannot do, and therefore did not teach him. And he is good.

My daughter has become an avid reader, including under the covers at night, with a torch.

All these things made me happy.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

I have three, all by Bob Dylan:

“Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be.” –  Bob Dylan

“Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean. Sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.”  – Bob Dylan

“Be Kind. Everyone you’ll ever meet is going through some kind of hell.’’ – Bob Dylan.

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

That’s probably a question for my husband and children, John! I can get …. distracted 🙂 Meaning, I daydream away, and the children know that when I get a faraway look in my eye, it’s a good time to ask me for something, because I’ll probably nod, dreamily, and agree. And then I’ll find myself in Kmart, having agreed to buy a Nerf gun or something. (BBGuru: Have you got that faraway look now? I’d like an iPad, please.)

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!)

I am conscious of the fact that many people have paid hard-earned money for a book that I’ve written. And they don’t have to do that. They could buy somebody else’s book. I’d be so dismayed if they thought they’d wasted that money, so when I think about “the market’’ I think: have you given this your all, Caroline? Will people think you’ve thought about this, and put your heart and soul into it? Have you go something to say, and have you said it? Because if you haven’t, you’re ripping people off.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?

King James Bible – I once heard a man read the opening lines from Braille. I listened with my eyes closed. It was an experience I will never forget.

Collected Works of Shakespeare

Combined Lyrics of Bob Dylan (“Look out, kid. They keep it all hid.’’)

Cormac McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy

Oh, the Places You’ll Go – Dr Seuss

(“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.

And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”)

Caroline, thank you for playing.

No, thank you (again, and again.)

No, no, thank you. (and as I am posting this I get the last word.)

You can follow Caroline on Twitter here

And visit Booktopia’s Caroline Overington author page here.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

Follow John: Twitter Website


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