"Laugh-out-loud funny and genuinely touching. A magical journey. Julian Corkle is a big fat masterpiece." EOIN COLFER
"A tour de farce which goes straight for the jocular vein! Welcome to the whacky, wickedly funny world of tear-away Tasmanian, Julian Corkle. This book proves that optimism is not an eye disease." KATHY LETTE
“One of the funniest rites of passage novels in a long time…a great summer read.” TIME OUT
“A genuinely funny book with a great big heart. I fell in love with Julian Corkle.” JENNY ECLAIR
“Warm, funny and deeply engaging. You’ll love this one.” WBQ
“Julian Corkle is utterly wonderful! I love him and I love the book. It's funny, fabulous and heartwarming.” STEVEN APPLEBY
“D.J. Connell has unleashed a set of characters bigger than Tasmania. Julian may be a filthy liar, but he is also a corker.” AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY
“There’s no doubt Connell has a hit in the coming-of-age story with a sparkly difference.” SUNDAY TASMANIAN
“Take Running With Scissors, transplant it into suburban Australia and youve got this funny, lightweight tale of Jimmy Corkle.” GAY TIMES
“A coming-of-age story with extra laughs, lashings of quirkiness and a very memorable hero.” NZ HERALD ON SUNDAY
“A rollicking, highly-readable story.” CANBERRA TIMES
From the Author
Julian Corkle is an incredibly likeable, very sympathetic character. What inspired his personality?
I’ve always been fascinated by people who talk themselves up. We’ve all met them. They’re the individuals who look you in the eye and tell you that they can sing like Kiri Te Kanawa, they’ve got a dog that can balance a boiled egg on its nose and they’re making five figures at the local fish and chip shop (it’s a bistro, not a chip shop, thank you very much). I could listen to this kind of thing for hours. Julian thinks he’s a player and is convinced he’s bound for fame and glory on the small screen. He’s a deluded fool but he’s also adorable, according to reader feedback. He refuses to give up his dreams of stardom despite an unfortunate habit of encountering tragedy and failure on a regular basis. Personally, I find it a lot easier to spend time with filthy liars like Julian than to be with people who find fault with everything and blame others for their failures. Julian might be his own worst enemy but he’s no victim and perhaps it is this that makes him appealing as a character. You have lived all over the world: what prompted the decision to set the novel in Australia? To what extent do you see the setting as integral to the book?
I’ve lived in Australia on two occasions and I love the country. It’s laid back and the people are open and funny. Add to this, the Australian passion for sports and lager and you’ve got the perfect setting for a book about the struggle of a young man who prefers interior décor and the French Way to cricket and football. The Tasmania I created in the book is not a real Tasmania. I exploded the island state’s ‘end-of-the-worldness’ to create an insular society where Julian’s difference is unacceptable, where he learns how to tell whoppers to survive. The trick was to present all this in a humorous way without resorting to stereotypes or losing reader sympathy for the filthy liar himself. Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar has been praised as an absolutely hilarious read. It seems often that the humorous novel is a much maligned genre. Did you ever feel pressure to write a more ‘serious’ book?
Oh, but I am very serious about writing humour and I think it is terribly underrated as a genre. Humour is a brilliant way to get across contentious issues or even tragedy. Writing humour is quite complex because to do it well, you have to be daring and original. It involves surprising the reader over and over again with unexpected dialogue or action. Julian often doesn’t behave in a rational way. He and the other characters come out with the most absurd things. In one scene, Julian has just finished washing an elderly woman’s hair in a salon. She gets up after his scalp massage and says, ‘I feel like the Aga Khan.’ But Julian Corkle’s story does have a serious subtext. He’s different and often under threat. His father is ashamed of him. His teachers and employers don’t appreciate him. He risks ridicule, isolation or even violence if he shows people who he really is. Hopefully, the humour of the writing carries readers through Julian’s trials and triumphs. I like to think of readers absorbing the more serious issues behind their backs. There was a time when the humour of writers such as Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis was taken seriously. Something sinister has happened to the comic novel in the last couple of decades. It’s lost its mojo. It’s not cool to read funny stuff anymore. Indeed, it’s almost as if people are afraid that they won’t be taken seriously themselves. It’s time the comic novel made a comeback. Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar is packed with memorable characters . Do you have a particular favourite? Who was the most enjoyable to write?
I adore Julian but it’s probably his sister Carmel who really pops my cork. She’s tough and foul-mouthed but she’s always true. She saves Julian’s backside on numerous occasions with her courage and integrity. It was difficult to get Carmel right because she doesn’t say a lot. I had to convey the power of her character with an economy of words and timely action. She’s never openly ‘friendly’ and is even hostile to Julian at times but she’s always a solid ally, even if she does like to punch him occasionally. Carmel has some great lines. When an adolescent Julian asks her about the function of public hair, she replies: ‘It’s like Velcro. It helps keep your underpants up.’
Is there a specific moment in the novel that you are most proud of?
I know I’m not supposed to say this but there are many moments which still make me laugh despite having written them and read them hundreds of times. Perhaps I particularly like the scene where Julian has lost his job at a hotel. His awful aunt and former classmate visit just as his treasured colour television is being repossessed. The aunt is clearly thrilled at Julian’s humiliation. She points the serviceman towards the room with the television, saying: ‘It’s in there for the taking.’ It’s cruel but there’s something convincingly petty about the aunt’s character which I find hilarious. It is very exciting that the novel has been optioned by a film company.
How do you feel about seeing your characters translated on screen?
Sarah Radclyffe Productions and Macgowan Films have made some brilliant films and I’m confident that they will do something absolutely marvellous with Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar
. They are independent filmmakers who between them have made such remarkable films as The Edge of Love
, Death Defying Acts
, My Beautiful Laundrette
and Two Hands
. They’re sharp, creative women and I couldn’t ask for better people to adapt my book into a film. They hope to start filming next year on location in Tasmania. Hold on to your Akubra hats! What can we expect from your next novel, Sherry Cracker Gets Normal?
It’s quite different to Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar
but it does share the same quirky humour. Sherry Cracker Gets Normal
is set in present-day England. The action begins on a Friday when Sherry Cracker is told she is abnormal by her boss who gives her one hundred pounds to sort herself out by Monday. Sherry takes these instructions seriously and sets out to find experts to help her ‘crack the normality nut’ by the end of the weekend. But something is going on in the small town. An election is going to be held. People are restless and disgruntled. Sherry keeps finding signs and messages. Sherry is bewildered by the world and recounts her adventures and razor-sharp observations through the eyes of an innocent. ‘My problem is that I feel isolated, as though I were suspended over human society in a Perspex pod,’ she says. This may be an excellent vantage point for observation purposes but observing is not the same as engaging, as well she knows.
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