Books and Ideas at Montalto
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Small-town secrets, police politics and catastrophic loss – all loomed large in Chloe Hooper’s groundbreaking 2008 narrative non-fiction book, The Tall Man, about tragedy on Palm Island in Queensland. Her new book treads similar thematic ground – but in the drastically different landscape of Gippsland, Victoria, at the time of the February 2009 Black Saturday fires.
With The Arsonist, Hooper takes readers inside the hunt for the man whose actions caused devastation throughout the Latrobe Valley during the deadliest bushfire disaster in Australia’s history. It’s a gripping and insightful investigation from one of Australia’s brightest talents.
What motivates a person to start a fire? How does fear of bushfire play out in our national psyche? At Montalto, Hooper discusses disaster and deadly mischief with host Elizabeth McCarthy.
Books and Ideas at Montalto series sound design and music: Jon Tjhia.
Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island (2008) won the Victorian, New South Wales, West Australian and Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the John Button Prize for Political Writing, and a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing. Her latest book is The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire (2018). She is also the author of two novels, A Child’s Book of True Crime and The Engagement.
Elizabeth McCarthy has worked as a producer and presenter in radio for 20 years. She produces the breakfast show at Australia’s biggest independent broadcaster, 3RRR, and reviews books on 3RRR and ABC Radio Melbourne. In 2019 she was the convenor of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, and from 2013–2017 she anchored Triple R’s flagship books and writing show, Multi-Storied.
She regularly interviews writers at live events and public conversations for the Wheeler Centre, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival, and more. She has previously worked as a music reviewer, and from 2002 – 2006 she was the drummer and co-lyricist for Melbourne swamp-rock grrrl band, The Muddy Spurs.