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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Toni Jordan on tray bakes, busted discs and punctuation

From the colourful cover and suggestive title, I knew I was for a fun ride with Toni Jordan’s new release, Dinner with the Schnabels. This warm and entertaining tale is my favourite of Jordan’s novels to date, with laughs on nearly every page, a crew of carefully drawn characters and a tight, week-long timeframe.

Right off the bat, Jordan evokes sympathy for the slightly hapless but immensely lovable male lead, Simon Larsen. Unbeknownst to Simon, his marriage seems set to implode, which only makes us cheer harder as he bumbles his way through an especially trying week. The characters were distinctly unique, their predicaments were familiar but funny and as well as resonating with parents, the jokes are sure to hit a note with readers who occasionally feel like out-laws, rather than in-laws.

I was lucky to meet Toni at a launch for The Fragments several years ago, and as well as penning fantastic books, she teaches writing and advocates for aspiring and emerging authors, working on the principle that authors who have entered the publishing world have a responsibility to keep the door propped open for newcomers. This ethos, and enthusiasm to share her skills and knowledge with others, has made her a much-loved member of the Australian fiction scene.

Dinner with the Schnabels is out in all good book stores in paperback, audiobook and ebook this week with Hachette.

Five fast minutes with Toni Jordan

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

I have a Nicola Tesla doll that a friend gave me!

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

So many—I have two busted discs in my neck so I usually spend 45 minutes with a stretch band in the morning.

What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?

Tray bakes: chicken and broccolini, or sausages and Brussels sprouts, or halloumi and pumpkin, or chick peas and cauliflower. Spread them out, top with something—lemon, soy sauce, thyme, crispy chilli—if you’re feeling fancy, then bung in medium oven for 40 minutes-ish. Voilà! Pro-tip: line tray with baking paper for minimal washing up.

Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option? This one. I’m the luckiest person in the world.

Chocolate, potato chips or cheese? Chips. If it were legal, I’d marry a potato.

Have you done anything special with any of your advances? I wish I had—but I always seem to have too many bills!

Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of inspiration? It varies—but always when I’m not focused on the problem at hand.

Agent or no agent? I have an agent now, but my first four books were unagented.

Do you have a writing ‘uniform’ ? I’m always at the desk on time, so sometimes that means I’m up, showered and dressed—but other days I’m in my jammies.

Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2022? Caroline Petit’s The Natural History of Love

Best one-line sentence from one of your book reviews? ‘Sounded like a good idea but too many sex scenes and not enough punctuation.’

Share a quirky habit or something readers might be surprised to discover about you. I sold my car so I can catch public transport everywhere and read more novels.

Where can people find you online?

Dinner with the Schnabels

Things haven't gone well for Simon Larsen lately. He adores his wife, Tansy, and his children, but since his business failed and he lost the family home, he can't seem to get off the couch.

His larger-than-life in-laws, the Schnabels - Tansy's mother, sister and brother - won't get off his case. To keep everyone happy, Simon needs to do one little job: he has a week to landscape a friend's backyard for an important Schnabel family event.

But as the week progresses, Simon is derailed by the arrival of an unexpected house guest. Then he discovers Tansy is harbouring a secret. As his world spins out of control, who can Simon really count on when the chips are down?

Life with the Schnabels is messy, chaotic and joyful, and Dinner with the Schnabels is as heartwarming as it is outrageously funny.

About the author

Toni Jordan has worked as a molecular biologist, quality control chemist, TAB operator and door-to-door aluminium siding salesperson. She is the author of six novels including the international bestseller Addition, which was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, Nine Days, which was awarded Best Fiction at the 2012 Indie Awards and was named in Kirkus Review's top 10 Historical Novels of 2013, and Our Tiny, Useless Hearts, which was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Toni has been published widely in newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physiology and a PhD in Creative Arts. Toni lives in Melbourne.


Head to the WIN page for your chance to win a copy of Dinner with the Schnabels, thanks to Hachette. Contest closes April 10. Aussie addresses and newsletter subscribers only, please.


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