Me Quoted in the Chicago Tribune

I know it’s not the New York Times, but I’m pretty stoked. Especially as Pat Reardon has written a smart and interesting article about author photos and I’m quoted alongside the likes of Jane Smiley. Woo hoo! Here are my pearls of wisdom:

“When you’re really sucked into a book, it’s an incredibly intimate experience,” says Justine Larbalestier, an Australian science fiction young adult writer and historian. “You’re really in that person’s brain.”

As an author, Larbalestier is ambivalent about dust-jacket photos. She’s even tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade her publishers to go without her photo. But, as a reader, there are times she finds herself gazing at the writer’s image for answers. She did so recently while reading The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics by Marcus du Sautoy.

“It’s about maths, but the writing is passionate and beautiful,” Larbalestier says, “and I kept trying to reconcile the smug picture of the author with the elegance of the text.”

Mate, I hope Mr du Sautoy doesn’t come across it. I didn’t really mean smug exactly, the photo’s more, sort of, pompous. No! That’s worse isn’t it? How about self-satisfied? Or, um, I know, English. The photo looks very English. And, Mr du Sautoy, I really, really love your book.

Don’t mind me, I’ll get back to finishing my own book now.


  1. veejane on #

    Congratulations! Fame is a heady thing. And they arranged to call you up and ask you questions, indicating it was actually you they wanted to talk to, not just any random person on the street (which was how my brother got into the Wall Street Journal once, buying MS Windows at midnight the day it published). That is double-plus fame. Next up: catfights with J. Lo and freebie junkets to Vegas.

    To date, my own sole claim to fame is having twitted William Safire of the Times (via email) for bad usage, and finding he admitted the mistake in one of his quarterly Sunday “Gotcha Gang” language columns.

    Okay, the cousins were impressed. Sadly, I’ve never gotten David Brooks to admit he’s a blithering idiot in print, no matter how many emails I send.

  2. Justine on #

    The journalist interviewed me cause he came across my musing on author photos. So it’s really being opinionated online and having it come up reasonably high on google that gets you interviewed!

    Hey, and twitting Safire is quite the achievement. Yay you!

  3. jason erik lundberg on #

    I saw that earlier today, and I was all, yay Justine!

  4. sara z on #

    oh, timely. i’m having my author photo done in a couple of weeks. fortunately I have a friend who is, like, a world-class photographer and specializes in portraits. after reading this, i just need to make sure we don’t overdo it!

    yay for getting quoted!

  5. John H on #

    Man – I saw that article in the Trib this morning but didn’t have time to read it. Guess I’ll have to read it online.

    I’m kinda’ ticked off at Amazon – the other day I was ordering Magic or Madness, of which they said they had a copy in stock. The only reason I went to them is because a) I’d received a $25 gift certificate for Christmas, and b) none of the local bookstores had it in stock. I ordered a couple other books while I was at it to deplete the gift certificate and get the free shipping, but when they emailed that my order had shipped it was only the other two books – yours was mysteriously backordered!

    Oh well… Congrats on the quote!

  6. Lauren McLaughlin on #

    I think I’ve seen your author photo. It’s pretty. I like author photos. More often than not they conflict wildly with the voice of the book (because most people are wildly unnatural in front of a camera). But I still find myself looking at them.

  7. Justine on #

    Sara: hope it goes well! I really hate having mine done.

    John H: Stupid amazon! Hope you do get it eventually. Sometimes you can be cursed trying to get a particular book. I’ve got a never-getting-to-read-Jonathan-Strange curse.

    Lauren: It should be pretty! Pro make up, hair and photographer! I love other people’s author photos! Especially the really funny ones where they’re trying way too hard.

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