Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 2, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation: From Stephen King’s It, to…..

I’ve skipped a couple of #6Degrees, but inspiration for this one comes quite easily. The starter book is Stephen King’s It, which is (as you can tell from the cover) a book of horror.  I haven’t read it … but I do have a book by Stephen King on my shelves.

The one I have is On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft.  It was given to me as a Christmas gift by a dear friend who knew I was interested in writing.  I still recall him saying somewhat anxiously that he knew I wasn’t a fan of King, but that this book was a how-to manual about how to create characters and so on.

It’s not the only book that I have about the craft of writing.  I have twelve of them, including Kate Grenville’s widely praised The Writing Book, a workbook for fiction writers.  This is because, having had a few things published here and there, I thought I might write a novel (as you do) and then when I actually undertook a writing course it included units on writing history so I have a couple of books about that too.  The upshot of all this industry is a collection of short stories mostly unpublished, drafts of three histories long untouched, and draft chapters of the novel lurking on my hard drive.  I persisted with the course until they tried to make me learn how to write for tabloids, and then I abandoned it.

The writing manuals are, like some other books on my shelves, a testament to good intentions.  In this same category is The Other End of the Leash, why we do what we do around dogs by Patricia B. McDonnell.  Somewhat like the exercise books and the -how-to-do-your-own-upolstery books, this one was intended to be an exercise in self-improvement, in this case a futile attempt to outwit a Silky Terrier. I should have known better.

I was reminded, when I was hunting at Goodreads for the correct name of the dog training book, of a much more well-thumbed book about dogs.  Steven Miller’s Dogs in Australian Art is one of my favourite art books of all time.  See my review about this one, and if you haven’t bought a copy of this for a dog-lovin’ friend yet, well Christmas is coming, eh?

Talking of Christmas, I’ve recently received a review copy of a beaut coffee table book which would make a lovely Christmas gift.  I’ve only browsed it so far, but Acland Street, the Grand Old Lady of St Kilda by award-winning historian Judith Buckrich and published by the Australian Teachers of Media is a lovely book for any devoted Melbournite.  You can buy it at Readings.

Another book about my home town is Melbourne by Sophie Cunningham.  It’s one of the New South City Series (see others in the series that I’ve reviewed) and as you can guess from the sombre cover it’s not a tourist guide but more of a meditation on its history, with a focus on the river at its heart.

I could go on because the allusion to Melbourne’s river reminds me of Yarra, A Diverting History of Melbourne’s Murky River, by Kristin Otto – but that would make seven degrees, which would be a departure from the #6Degrees meme!

Thanks to Kate at Books are my Favourite and Best for hosting, and to Sue at Whispering Gums for the reminder!






  1. Oh, a fun response to this month’s challenge Lisa. I have On writing too, and nearly linked to it. I bought it for my son when he was late teens – early twenties, loved King and was interested in writing. I don’t think he ever read it, but I thought it looked interesting and have since co-opted it to my shelves. I’ve looked at bits of it, and it looks more general than focusing on writing genre, but as, unlike you, I have never had creative writing aspirations (post childhood I mean), it has remained in place along with other craft of writing books I have, just because I’m interested!

    • That’s interesting, eh? Maybe On Writing was a bestseller in its day?

      • I think it was Lisa – at least it was well-reviewed and I recollect seeing it having pride of place on shelves in bookshops.

  2. I take it ‘writing for tabloids’ was a creative fiction unit.

    • No, it was teaching us how to write for newspapers like the Herald Sun. We had to analyse articles from it and write our own versions. It meant that we were expected to read the damn thing, something I had resolutely refused to do ever since that paper’s incredibly sexist treatment of Joan Kirner. I was just not prepared to spend six months learning how to do something I despised.

    • Haha, very funny, Bill!

  3. I almost linked to On Writing, too, and I snuck it anyway, but I had already linked to Patricia Cornwell’s edge-of-your-seat reads, so ended up down a different path. I’m quite interested in the books about Melbourne and the Yarra. I’m not from there, but my ancestors lived there in the late 1800s and early 1900s and I’d love to know more about their world.

    • Hello Melinda, thanks for your comment:)
      If your family was in Melbourne back then, then the book for you is called Bearbrass by Robyn Kinnear. I haven’t reviewed it on the blog because I read it too long ago, but it’s a wonderful evocation of the period, full of interesting anecdotes and not at all stuffy like some histories are. You may have to hunt it out from a library or a secondhand shop because it was published back in 1995.

      • I would suggest also the works of Ada Cambridge (eg The Three Miss Kings) or Tasma’s Uncle Piper of Pipers Hill or even The Mystery of the Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume, all written in Melbourne at the end of the C19th.

        • Thanks for sharing those suggestions, Bill, they’re all on my TBR too (except The Hansom Cab which I’ve already read).

          • I was going to say an author I forgot whom we both like, Martin Boyd, The Cardboard Crown series for instance. Then I remembered Henry Handel Richardson, The Getting of Wisdom or The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney. We could go on forever (but I’ll stop now, ok)

            • Oh yes, I love Martin Boyd, and The Fortunes is one of my all-time favourites.

  4. I like the range in themes of your links. Great chain!

    • Thanks, I like yours too – but I can’t comment on your blog because I don’t like to have to log in with Google, Disqus etc. (I like to keep my social media lives separate from each other).

      • I read Maria Helena’s too – love the links to books you didn’t like Maria Helena – but like Lisa, I only comment on blogs that accept my wordpress sign-on OR that let me enter my NAME and URL. This is partly because one of the by-products of commenting is discovering new bloggers – as I have discovered you here – but if we can’t comment on a blog with our blog names no-one knows how to find us.

  5. I love the direction your chain went, Lisa. And thank you because your chain has allowed me to cross two gifts off the Christmas list (Dogs in Aus Art and Melbourne).

    • Oh that’s lovely, your lucky recipients will love you for it:)

  6. […] It. Not surprisingly, a couple of bloggers – Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest) and Lisa (anzlitlovers) – made their first link Stephen King’s On writing. Lisa then went on to link to an […]

  7. I chuckled at your links to books in the land of good intentions. I have plenty of those too. Take your pick from mosaics and Roman architecture or making preserves. I do have On Writing also and found it immensely helpful when I did my writing course.

    • Good grief, he must have made a fortune out of it! All these copies lurking on our bookshelves around the world!

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