Author Spotlight: Todd Alexander

In partnership with COAST Publishing, we asked some of your favorite Words on the Waves authors burning questions about their writing process, inspirations, what they’re most looking forward to at the festival and more…

This instalment, we’re excited to introduce you to Todd Alexander, author of Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and A Pig Called Helga, a memoir about his journey of starting a new life in the Hunter Valley wine region. Here are some insights into Todd’s world:

What is your favourite childhood book and why? The 27th Annual African Hippopotamus Race by Morris Lurie.  I think I read it about 20 times – it’s probably what sparked my love of animals and Africa.

What is a book you recently read, what did you think? Did I Ever Tell You This? By Sam Neill. What a wonderful man. Humble, insightful and funny. Like most people who’ve read it, we all want Sam Neill to be our best friend.

What books are currently on your nightstand? I’ve fallen behind on my Maggie O’Farrells! Both The Marriage Portrait and Hamnet are waiting impatiently to be read.

Who is your favourite Australian author? Nope – that’s an impossible question.  There is so much rich talent out there especially at the moment.  Australian books I love: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, Volcano by Venero Armanno, Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos, Invisible Boys by Holden Shepard and my friend Inessa Jackson’s very clever manuscript which I hope gets published soon. 

Did you have to research much for your latest book? Do you enjoy that part of the writing process? For Over The Hill and Up the Wall, I would say more observation than research… I was constantly watching my mum and dad and making notes.  I love writing about real life and have hundreds of notes on the go at any one time.

Do you have a favourite all time book and what makes it your favourite? That’s like choosing a favourite child.  I will say four books had a particularly profound effect on me when I read them: Sacred Country by Rose Tremain, The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell and Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood.

What is the best thing about being a writer? Tapping into that strange, unknowable part of your brain that when you put your fingers on a keyboard, it just takes over and an hour or so later you realise you’ve written a thousand words or so and you have no real idea how you did it.

Who are you looking forward to checking out at the festival and why? I’m on a panel with Pip Williams and I want to know how she feels about that level of success; I’ve followed Inga Simpson’s career for a while (we shared the same publisher for some time) so I’m always keen to see what she’s up to next and I love a good Australian memoir so Heather Mitchell (who I think is brilliant in Love Me) .

Catch Todd Alexander as part of the ‘The Good Life’ panel alongside Pip Williams and Rachael Mogan McIntosh on Saturday June 3, and as part of ‘Reimagining Ageing’ alongside Melissa Levi on Sunday June 4. Book tickets here.