Ten Books That Changed Me with Maria Lewis
Matilda – Roald Dahl
The first book I ever fell in love with and the one responsible for planting the seed in my mind that the coolest ladies were ones with a clear sense of justice and/or superpowers. I’m a big believer in the magic of girls and I love how much it’s openly celebrated in Matilda, whether that’s through the title character or Miss Honey.
When She Woke – Hillary Jordan
Whenever people ask me to recommend a book, this is usually the default title I put forward because a) I think it’s incredible and b) I want as many people as possible to have read it. A dystopian retelling of The Scarlet Letter and set in America where there’s no separation between Church and State, it follows the story of a woman who is charged with murder for having an abortion and her skin is consequently dyed red. I remember being blown away by it in 2011 when I first read it and now in 2016 it feels more relevant than ever.
The Bang Bang Club – Joao Silva, Greg Marinovich
I’m not a huge reader of non-fiction, largely because I deal with it so much at work having been a journalist for the past 12 years. I tend to seek escapism but The Bang Bang Club is one of those extraordinary stories that draws you in and you can’t put down. It’s based on the true account of four journos working in South Africa during the final days of apartheid and I found it simultaneously horrific and fascinating. Perhaps along with A Mighty Heart, it’s one of the most compelling and realistic accounts of journalism in the face of dreadful circumstances that I’ve read.
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
If you look up the phrase ‘bad ass bitch’ a picture of Mary Shelley should probably be under it – and rightly so. One of those classics that truly deserves the title, getting to read a story of such complex and relentless horror – written by a woman – changed my perspective on what could be done as a creative and the limits you could push. An exploration of the monstrous nature of man, there’s a reason people are still trying to retell this story nearly 200 years on.
Covers Ups & Cop Outs – Tom Lewis
My obsession with true crime is largely the fault of my grandfather who, coincidentally, wrote this book. A homicide detective and undercover cop in New Zealand for 25 years, getting to read the real-life accounts of his work, cases and ultimately the police corruption that cost him his job was eye-opening in that it gave me a whole new perspective into someone I thought I knew and understood very well.
Birds Of Prey: Vol 5 – Perfect Pitch – Gail Simone
Obsessing over comics as a kid-through-to-teen wasn’t always the easiest hobby, especially because the representation of women in comics was pretty shit. Enter Gail Simone’s run on Birds Of Prey as the single most important moment of my pop cultural teen years. Bad-ass, complicated, damaged and intelligent ladies with agency from all different backgrounds, races, abilities and walks of life united in their fight to seek justice (albeit through very different means). There’s a reason Gail Simone is the bar setter, let alone that the spin-off effect of this series gave us a world where, one decade later, gems like Rat Queens, Lumberjanes, Bitch Planet, Paper Girls, Jem and the Holograms, Hellcat and Marta Acosta’s She Hulk Diaries would just become standard fare, rather than the exception.
Silence Of The Lambs – Thomas Harris
In a sneaky way I’d consider this a one-two punch of both Red Dragon and Silence Of The Lambs, the two most perfect crime fiction books in the history of murder. These are like Biblical tomes for murderinos and it’s a testament to not only the legacy of Harris’ writing but the carefully constructed characters and stories that even now – more than 30 years after these books dropped – they’re just as thrilling, interesting and terrifying as they were in the eighties.
The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera
Growing up as a strong-headed kid from a mixed race background, I was always looking to see a version of myself in the pop culture I consumed and usually ended coming up short. Witi Ihimaera – probably the most prominent Maori writer – fulfilled that search with his 1987 novel The Whale Rider. I didn’t find it until I was a tween, but Kahu in particular was a girl I could champion and cheer for in a world that felt both familiar and foreign.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K Rowling
This entry so very nearly ended up being Steig Larsson’s Girl Who Played With Fire but I went with this longtime love instead: Harry Potter. Specifically the third book, where it went from entertaining fantasy series to work of sheer brilliance thanks to some ace character development and huge revelations. I’m a big believer in there needing to be actual stakes in your fantasy worlds and Prisoner Of Azkaban was one of the first books that taught me about costs and loss within the stories you love.
Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris
Sookie Stackhouse rolled into my life when I was in my early twenties and desperate for a heroine that didn’t fit the urban fantasy mould of being a teen girl with specific character quirks. Dead Until Dark started a love affair with Charlaine Harris and the world she created to tell an ageless parable about race and persecution. It was also entertaining as hell and made me strive to be the kind of writer women like Charlaine Harris, Ker Arthur and Richelle Mead are: jumping from genre-to-genre, series-to-series and strength-to-strength.
About the author
Maria Lewis has worked as a journalist for the past 10 years. She started her career as a police reporter but made the switch to film and entertainment reporting because it is much more, well, entertaining. A former reporter at The Daily Telegraph, she also written for the New York Post, Empire magazine, Huffington Post, The Sunday Mail, Junkee and BuzzFeed, to name but a few. She currently works for The Feed (SBS).
Tommi Grayson: all bark, all bite . . . and now she’s BACK!
Tommi Grayson’s never exactly been a normal girl. Bright blue hair, a mysterious past and barely controlled rage issues have a way of making a woman stand out. She really wanted to find out about her father’s side of the family, but now, after the sh*t show that was her family reunion, Tommi needs to get gone. She’s spent the last few weeks trying to understand her heritage – the one that comes with a side order of fur as well as her Maori history and how she can connect to it.
But she can only escape for so long – when an unspeakable evil, thought long destroyed, returns, Tommi needs every bit of the skills she’s learned. With the help of allies both old and new (including the immortal and incredibly attractive Lorcan), she’s going to take the fight to the enemy …
From Scotland to New Zealand and on to Berlin, Germany – wherever Tommi goes the fur is sure to fly.
Mixing elements of urban fantasy and paranormal romance with an adrenalin-infused shot of adventure, Who’s Afraid, Too will delight fans of Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur and Darynda Jones.