'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 7 September 2020

Look What I'm Reading! Fiona Hardy

Hi there! My name is Fiona Hardy and I’m the author of How to Write the Soundtrack to Your Life and How to Make a Movie in 12 Days.

I’ve been working in bookshops around Melbourne for more than twenty years, and I also write book reviews for Readings Monthly and Books + Publishing Magazine.

How to Make a Movie was a CBCA Notable Book in 2020 and was shortlisted for other very thrilling awards that I have not stopped squeaking in excitement about!

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
The Secret Library of Hummingbird House by Julianne Negri, published by Affirm Press.

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
It’s a middle-grade book about Hattie, a girl who’s struggling with her parents’ recent breakup, and is devastated to find a beloved crumbling neighbourhood mansion is about to be knocked down.
When she finds she can travel back in time to before Hummingbird House was abandoned, she makes a new friend – and discovers some secrets within its walls.

How much did you enjoy/are enjoying this title?
I’m having a great time with it! I’m really struggling to read grownup books in lockdown (even though I’m supposed to be reviewing some of them for work, yikes) but I found Hummingbird House very engaging straightaway—it’s a really lively, exciting book and I want Hattie’s broken heart to heal.

What made you choose this title? Was it a review, advertising, the cover, the blurb, the author/illustrator, or the subject/genre?
I had the pleasure of meeting Julianne last year at a talk I gave for Kids Book Fest, and she was so effervescent and lovely that when she told me she was publishing a book I knew I’d love to read it.

What other titles are on your bedside table /To Read Pile?
I’ve usually got a big pile of crime books to review, and reading some nourishing kids books in between them is always such a relief. (I really need some happy endings after everybody dies in those) I’ve recently finished The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller, and after Julianne’s book I’ve got Penny Tangey’s As Fast as I Can, which I’ve been happily dipping in and out of for a while, and then Lucy Knisley’s new graphic novel, Stepping Stones.

How did you come by these titles: personal choice/request, publisher’s review copy, or other?
I probably should have annoyed Affirm Press for a copy of Julianne’s book, but I couldn’t wait that long, so I just decided to buy it for myself! I gleefully got a copy of Penny’s book from the publisher’s reading copies at my bookshop after hearing such great things about it, and one of my colleagues gave me her copy of Republic of Birds after declaring that I’d love it. I picked up Lucy Knisley’s because I’ve been a big fan of her adult graphic novels and online comics for a few years now.

My daughter, who’s in grade two, absolutely loves reading graphic novels, so it was good to find one for both of us that isn’t Raina Telgemeier’s Smile series, since she’s read them so much, they’re literally falling apart. Which, as an author, thrills me so much to see!

Do you have a favourite genre? If so, what is it, and why do you prefer it?
If left to my own devices, I’ll generally read contemporary fiction. I loved real-life stories when I was a kid, and I still love them now—especially if they’re funny! Having said that, I was a judge for the Readings Prize recently and, due to that, I read a huge variety of genres. There was so much to enjoy in all those books—I even found myself having a great time with a horse book even though I have a (completely ridiculous and unfounded) dislike of horses. (Why are they so bitey? Oh, wait—maybe not so unfounded after all.)

Do you read from printed books or some other medium? Please expand a little on the why of your choice.
Apart from books I’m reviewing that publishers send me in PDF form, I will always read a physical book—my whole life has been centred around the tactile joy of them since I was a little girl sniffing around markets with my pocket money trying to buy every book I could.

As a kid who wanted to be a writer, I always wanted to feel my own physical book in my hands, and it was such an intense joy when I was finally able to experience that. Also, since I sell them for a living, I want other people to buy and love them too! Of course, I absolutely see the joy, accessibility and convenience of e-readers, and I know there’s enough space in the industry for both of them.