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The 'New Australian Booklovers Podcast' Co-Hosting Dynamic Duo

Today, I am excited to be bringing you a fabulous interview with the new co-hosting duo of one of my favourite podcasts. The lovely Laurie Bell has stepped in to fill the shoes of Darren Kasenkow, one of the founders along with the wonderful Veronica Strachan. I have been a huge fan of the podcast since its conception and have had lots of fun being a part of three episodes over the years.

Veronica Strachan

Laurie Bell

I think I have to start by asking you both about the wonderful Darren Kasenkow, co-founder of Australian Book Lovers. He will be sadly missed. What did Darren bring to the book lovers of Australia?

Veronica: When we conceived the idea of Australian Book Lovers, Darren was all in. He overflowed with enthusiasm and ideas for supporting Aussie authors. Some of the key things he brought to book lovers were his sense of humour and his showmanship, they made our whole endeavour that much more entertaining. His  authenticity and absolute ability to commit to listening to whoever he is chatting to was a strength, as was his kindness and compassion. He made every interaction an adventure for himself and whoever he was interviewing. When he had a super long interview, we would often start out saying, ‘right, just a short intro’. Before you know it, we’d both have diverted down one rabbit hole after another discussing words and stories, and a dozen other random topics—he was rarely short of words.

Laurie: Darren has a delicious joy and enthusiasm for writing and books and people. You can hear it in every interview he does and in his chats with Veronica. So many Australian authors have been interviewed by Darren over the length of the podcast, myself included, and he makes it seem so easy. He has a way of getting lost in an author’s responses and heading down fascinating and at times hilarious back alleys of thought! Every time I spoke with Darren in the various guest episodes I popped up in, we would talk for hours! His work on the website was amazing too… so much work goes into the website and just keeping everything running. I’m so glad Veronica decided to keep on with it all… but it is a heap of work. She is amazing!


This question is for you Laurie. Congratulations on being the new co-host and having the privilege of working alongside Veronica. How did this collaboration come about?

It’s so funny! I had been thinking for ages that I would love to do a podcast on writing and talking all things books. Over the years I have really enjoyed being a guest on a variety of podcasts and getting to talk about myself and my books (who doesn’t love that?) I love popping up on panels and conducting the occasional library or school writers’ workshop. As everyone in my family can attest to, and all of the listeners out there who have already heard me speak know, I can talk A LOT. And of course, I have been hanging around Veronica’s coat tails for a long time! Haha. I’ve been a big fan of Australian Books Lovers since the conception of the website and the podcast. I love the website and what the team does for Australian authors and getting the word out there about our books. I guested quite early on, so everyone has been hearing from me on and off a while now. Veronica got in touch via a DM of all things, and I said yes before she had a chance to finish typing the question! haha


This question is for you Veronica. As we all know Laurie is a ball of enthusiasm, happiness, and positivity. What do you feel she brings to the table?

I reckon you’ve said it well already, Hayley. Laurie has an incredibly infectious enthusiasm and exudes positivity. Things we all need more of in our lives. And she is such a brilliant and professional author with a bucket load of experience and skills in the writing game. She can turn her hand to anything on air, I’ve already thrown her some curve balls and she’s lobbed them right back. Other priceless things she brings is her love of words and stories, her sense of humour, her willingness to try anything and her great interview style. And I love that though she might be going at nineteen to the dozen sometimes, she is present and listening just as hard when someone else speaks. That’s hard to find sometimes. Most people can’t wait for you to stop so they can tell you about themselves and what they think.

I have really enjoyed listening to you two bounce off each other. You have great chemistry. Can you both tell me what you like about working together?

Veronica: It just felt so natural and spontaneous from the word go. I try not to take things too seriously, we’re doing it all for the love of words and stories and authors after all. If I wasn’t having fun, I wouldn’t keep going. Working in healthcare as you (Hayley) and I do in our other lives, can be energetically taxing, and I love the breath of fresh air that Laurie brings. Whatever her interaction online or in person she brings the fun. She’s excited, I’m excited and we both love cats – I’m sure that has something to do with the great chemistry. I was so grateful she agreed to jump on board.

Laurie: OMG we have so much fun. Honestly, it is like we have been chatting for ages. I think the chemistry just comes from respecting and liking each other so much! Veronica has so much enthusiasm for Australian Book Lovers and it’s infectious. You can’t help wanting to get involved. Honestly, most sessions we chat for ages before we even begin taping! Haha. We have to remind each other it’s “time to be serious now” and of course, I am still learning everything, so mistakes happen, which just sets us off laughing again.

Being serious for a moment, Veronica is such a pro, I am so excited to be co-hosting the podcast with her.


I love that there is lots of laughter when you two get together. Tell me the funniest thing that has happened during a recording?

Veronica: Some of the funniest things are the bloopers which I edit out, mostly because I stuffed something up or tripped over my words. And because I was keen to start video as well as audio, there are a lot of spots where we’re supposed to pause so I can add transitions in later and we forget or kind of look at each other and then someone will laugh and on we go. And of course, having to get up and let the cat out of the office during the recording. Ashie is older and you can’t keep an old lady waiting when she needs to pee. I should know.

Laurie: Cats… well in my case kittens. I literally had just gotten two 6-month-old kittens when we started the podcast together so every time we would chat, I would have to tell her what little monsters they are and what they have been up to! One actually guest stars in the latest episode! Oh, and the other hilarious stuff has been how we both are around technology and getting everything set up. Gosh, poor V… I have so many questions. Still, we manage to both muddle our way through.


It goes without saying that all the authors who join you on the podcast are wonderful. What has been your favourite interview so far?

Veronica: Oh unfair, that’s like asking which child is my favourite. Too hard to decide. Sometimes I love the frankness of the debut authors, or the incredibly generous wisdom of the multiply published ones. I do love a panel though, probably the facilitator in me. Connecting people with others they may never have met and drawing them out to discuss their ideas and stories in ways that a 1:1 interview can’t always achieve.

Laurie: Hahaha you have caught me with only one of my own under my belt so far for the ABL podcast, so I guess I will have to say the amazing Les Zig who you will get to hear from soon, or might have already by the time this interview comes out. Thank goodness he is so amazing. He made my first interview for the Australian Book Lovers podcast an easy one. I hope everyone else enjoys it too. I’m looking forward to getting many more interviews under my belt in the coming months. The list is so long! It is amazing that we have so many Aussie authors who want to come and chat with us!


I would like to thank you both on behalf of all the Aussie authors and book lovers you support. Having hosted my own writing podcast for three seasons, I know how much time and work goes into producing it. My last question is what do you hope to achieve together in the next 12 months.


Laurie: More laughs! Definitely more fun and games. More fabulous interviews and news and spotlighted books. Hopefully some more writers’ rooms and maybe even a writer’s workshop or two. More panels! Just in general, getting to talk about and commiserate about and enthuse over our own writing journeys and the writing journeys of all our wonderful Aussie authors. And of course, getting to talk about all the amazing books we get read. READ MORE AUSSIE BOOKS!

Veronica: I agree with all of the above 😊 Plus more book giveaways for our reader subscribers, more weird and wonderful word journeys to make us laugh and think and be curious, and more resources for writers wanting to write and publish. And a few live streams just to up the technology challenge. More audio, possibly more short stories read and we’re open to suggestions. Bring it on.

A great big heartfelt thankyou to these to wonder co-hosts for sharing with us. Keep up the amazing work ladies, If you have not tuned in to The Australian Booklovers Podcast, do yourself a favour and have a listen. If you are an Australia author or a lover of Australian books, be sure to checkout the website.

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