Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 11, 2021

Featured author: Melissa Manning and her new book Smokehouse

Here’s another author who’s taking up my offer to spruik the books of Australian authors whose MWF events were cancelled… (an offer which is still open to any author impacted by the cancellation.)


Melissa Manning is the author of Smokehouse, an interlinked story collection set in southern Tasmania. Her writing focuses on turning points both small and cataclysmic, and has been recognised in awards and published widely, including in The Best Small Fictions (US), To Carry Her Home (UK), Award Winning Australian Writing, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Forty South, and Overland. Smokehouse is Melissa’s debut collection, and was shortlisted for the 2021 USQ Steele Rudd Award for a Short Story Collection.

Some quirky things about Melissa (you can see that mischievous steak in her eyes!)

  • She lived in Budapest for a couple of years in the late nineties where she learned enough Hungarian to get by, often worked through translators, enjoyed Sunday chill outs at the Roman baths and got to travel and work throughout Europe. In 1999 she got married there before moving back to Australia for two or three years (twenty plus years on, she’s still here).
  • She knows how to make mud bricks and build a wood fired oven.
  • Timid as a child, in her adult years she’s scuba dived, hot air ballooned, sky dived and trekked in Peru and the Himalayas.
  • She used to detest public speaking but now she kind of likes it.
  • She once ate guinea pig (on honeymoon in Peru) and it tasted a lot like KFC.
  • She was in a netball team in grade 7 (they lost every game) but was considerably better at gymnastics and trampolining.
  • She’d rather clean the toilet than go shopping.
  • She lived in a caravan for three and a half years when she was a kid.
  • Her family has a pet snake called Scales, and a pet rabbit, called Kevin.
  • When she was a kid, her dog Menace once brought the bitten off end of his tail home in his mouth after a fight with a neighbourhood dog.

You can find out more about Melissa at her website. She tweets here and you can find her at Instagram here.


A man watches a boy in a playground and pictures him in the grey wooden shed he’s turned into a home. A woman’s adopted mother dies, reawakening childhood memories and grief. A couple’s decision to move to an isolated location may just be their undoing. A young woman forms an unexpected connection at a summer school in Hungary.

Set in southern Tasmania, these interlinked stories bring into focus the inhabitants of small communities, and capture the moments when life turns and one person becomes another. With insight and empathy, Melissa Manning interrogates how the people we meet and the places we live shape the person we become.

Where did the inspiration for Smokehouse come from? 

My short story Woodsmoke was inspired by the rural property in Kettering where I lived for some time during my childhood. Woodsmoke, was where Nora and Ollie first came to me and it was only ever intended to be a short story but I was captured by the atmosphere and setting, and I developed a deep curiosity about Nora. Who was she really? Who did she want to be? How might her life be different? Without intending to I found myself elucidating the gaps in Nora’s story, uncovering the people and events that informed her life and the choices she made. This in turn got me interested in the people in her community and their backstories and before I knew it Smokehouse began to emerge as a collection of interrelated stories.

Read a review of Smokehouse at Readings where you can also, of course, buy the book.


  • Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press)
  • Length: 366 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780702263026
  • RRP $29.99


  1. How have I never heard of her. What an interesting woman.


    • A lot of authors are struggling to get their heads above the parapet because of the pandemic. That’s why I’m doing this kind of promotion:)


  2. I have a copy of ‘Smokehouse’ and I must promote it up Mt TBR. Thank you, Lisa, for reminding me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll link to your review when you do:)


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