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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Ugg boots, rom-coms and pilates with Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

This sweet and funny read was exactly what I needed in early December when the Christmas craziness set in and my children began writing extensive Santa wish lists, planning extravagant gingerbread houses and talking about elaborate teacher gifts!

I’d heard great things about Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus’s first two books, plus their impressive ‘Books on the Rail’ initiative, and had great fun between the pages of Fancy Meeting You Here. I really enjoyed the television and movie references, the time travel aspect, the bookish sub-plot, plus the wildly different main male characters Ben and Hugo. The perfect summer beach read!

Five fast minutes with... Ali and Michelle

Do you have a good luck charm or a special token that sits on your desk/in your office?

Ali: I have all our books, including the international translations, sitting behind me, which is great for when imposter syndrome kicks in!

Michelle: I don’t have any special tokens (we moved houses earlier in the year, and I’m embarrassingly still unpacking), but I do love writing at the desk that overlooks our front garden and watching people pass by.

Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?

Ali: Carrying around my 10kg one-year-old is my favourite form of exercise at the moment!

Michelle: I’m a bit mad for pilates. Since starting a few years ago, I’m not nearly as stiff and sore after long stretches at my laptop!

What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?

Ali: UberEats (don’t judge me!)

Michelle: At the moment, I’m all about the UberEats too.

Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?

Ali: Good question! Probably a pilot.

Michelle: I had once dreamed of being a vet, if only I had more of a scientific bone in my body.

Chocolate, potato chips or cheese?

Ali: Chocolate (Cadbury Marvellous Creations)

Michelle: Tough one!! Possibly chips.

Have you done anything special with any of your advances?

Ali: I put all my advances towards my first house!

Michelle: Nothing exciting, I’m a saver.

Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of inspiration?

Ali: Shower

Michelle: At about 4:00am when I’m trying to sleep.

Agent or no agent?

Ali & Michelle: No agent for the first 2 books, agent for the third. Benython Oldfield for Zeitgest Agency - he is brilliant in every way!

Do you have a writing ‘uniform’ (mine’s big earrings, cardigan and jeans)?

Ali: LOVE yours! I wish mine was as fancy, but it’s trackies, ugg boots and a big jumper (usually with a few stains from my baby’s breakfast on it).

Michelle: Sometimes leggings and a tank, sometimes my teacher attire from the day.

Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2022?

Ali: Liane Moriarty’s new novel.

Michelle: Trent Dalton’s ‘Love Stories’

Best one-line sentence from one of your book reviews?

Ali: “Fucking funny.”

Michelle: “Like a bubble bath for your brain”

Share a quirky habit or something readers might be surprised to discover about you.

Ali: I have a big fear of bananas. This inspired a big part of The Book Ninja!

Michelle: My guilty pleasure is the US Bachelor franchise.

Where can people find you online?

@aliandmichelle or @booksontherail on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Fancy Meeting You Here

Sometimes the man of your dreams is standing right in front of you... only ten years in the past. A charming and unconventional love story about trying to rewrite history.

Evie Berry is a thirty-year-old wannabe screenwriter who spends her days managing a London cinema bar and making the podcast Pasta La Vista with her best friend Ben. She's also obsessed with Hugo Hearst. Have you heard of him? Of course you have. He's only one of the most influential and not to mention swoon-worthy bestselling writers of his generation.

When Evie's not hooking up with her on-again, off-again booty call 'Ever-Ready Freddy' (and sometimes even when she is), she fantasises about what might have been if she'd met Hugo years ago, when he was just a struggling writer.

After Evie interviews a psychic to the stars on her podcast, her life is catapulted ten years into the past. But the grass isn't quite as green as she remembers . . .

Fancy Meeting You Here is a hilarious and heartwarming new book from the bestselling authors of the global hits The Book Ninja and While You Were Reading - a love story about reliving your early twenties and testing out that old saying: be careful what you wish for.

Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

Fancy Meeting You Here is Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus' third novel. Their previous works The Book Ninja and While You Were Reading are published in more than ten territories. When they're not writing books, Ali is a copywriter and Michelle is a primary school teacher. Ali and Michelle have been best friends for life. As ten year olds, they could be found ditching play time for writing club. They are the co-founders of Australian social initiative Books on the Rail, where they leave books on public transport for people to find. They both live in Melbourne with their respective families and colour-coordinated bookshelves.

Fancy Meeting You Here was released by Allen & Unwin in November.

Win! Win! Win!

For your chance to win a copy of Fancy Meeting You Here by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus, and Jacquie Byron's novel Happy Hour, read this interview, and the interview with Jacquie HERE and then enter the contest on my WIN page. Entries only open to Aussie addresses and newsletter subscribers, please. Closes 5pm January 9. Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review and giveaway copies.


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