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  • Writer's pictureMaya Linnell

Victoria Brookman on kilts, bushwalking and activism

As an author myself, I was immediately drawn into the plight of Calida Lyons in the debut novel Burnt Out by Victoria Brookman. Calida is crippled by writers block, and a pressing deadline, when a bushfire razes her Blue Mountains home. At first, she's certain the incident is a death-knock for life as she knows it, but in a funny twist of fate, it has the opposite effect.

Suddenly Calida is a national media darling, with a rich benefactor, fresh inspiration and a serious case of the guilts. Brookman delivers a fresh tale with lashings of humour and wry observations, entwining a strong message on climate change within an entertaining and enjoyable story. There’s also a romance thread running through the novel, and plenty of characters to make you laugh. Burnt Out is out now with Harper Collins Australia.

Author spotlight

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

My noise cancelling headphones, although they sit on my ears. They’re the only way I can get any work done with kids in the house!

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

Bushwalking! There’s nothing quite like getting down a bush track and bathing in nature. It’s a total brain reset. Everything feels better in the middle of the bush.

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

A singer! I love a good jam sesh singalong. I can’t wait till COVID’s over so we can all get partying and singing again. Maybe I’ll even rejoin a choir.

Chocolate, potato chips or cheese?

This is a hard question! I love to punish a block of dark chocolate while writing. But chips, who can go past chips?! Okay, I think I choose chips. But don’t tell chocolate I said so. Wait, no, chocolate. Argh. I think chocolate.

Have you done anything special with any of your advances?

Yes! My advance for ‘Burnt Out’ was relatively small, but I spent it on getting solar panels at home.

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

The shower! I love a good shower thought. I’ve also had some good moments of inspiration while chopping potatoes.

Agent or no agent?

Agent. It has been a tough couple of years in this industry, but my agent made sure the book got in front of the right people. I am in awe of the authors who lock in a publishing deal without an agent, it is no mean feat!

Do you have a writing ‘uniform’?

I always opt for comfort! I’ll pair a t-shirt (most likely politically-themed, often an election campaign shirt) with either shorts, a skirt, or a kilt. In the cold months, I’ll opt for trackies, and add in a hoodie and uggies.

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

It’s hard to play favourites, but I’m particularly looking forward to Mary-Anne O’Connor’s Dressed by Iris (out in February), Tori Haschka’s new novel, Rachael Johns’s The Work Wives, and your Paperbark Hill.

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

“Victoria Brookman engages with some big subjects in Burnt Out – climate change, celebrity culture, green washing – but her zippy dialogue, diverting subplots and pitch-perfect pacing mean we never feel weighed down.” – Apple Books

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

Once, on live TV, I presented David Koch with a collage of women breastfeeding. All the pictures were donated by women who were cranky with Kochie for his backwards comments about breastfeeding in public.

Where can people find you online?

You can find me as @VictoriaBrookmn on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, or at

Burnt Out

Meet the Author

Victoria Brookman is an author, activist and academic. She lives with her family in the Blue Mountains, on Darug and Gundungurra country. Victoria worked for a number of years as a political staffer and was the Labor candidate for the seat of Bradfield in the Kevin 07 Federal Election. Victoria was one of the early founding members of Destroy the Joint, the founder and spokesperson of Lactivists Australia, and from 2012-15 she organised and emceed the Sydney International Women’s Day March. She studied English and creative writing at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Western Sydney University. She enjoys writing, bushwalking, and watching the footy.


Head to the WIN page for your chance to win a copy of Burnt Out, thanks to Harper Collins books. Contest closes February 13.


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