This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Mel A Rowe and she has a special giveaway for readers (keep reading to find out more!).

Australian Bestselling Author, Mel A ROWE is a Writer and Weekend Wanderer, trying not to get too lost outback of Northern Australia. Besides random road trips, fumbling with her camera, and annoying her family with her bad singing—it’s her novels she enjoys creating the most. Suffering from an allergy to all things corporately serious, Mel’s novels are dished up with a dash of drama, witty humour, and quirky family units. Known for reinventing romantic versions of home, Mel takes her common characters on an uncommon journey that leads from boardrooms to billabongs as they try to find their own HAPPILY EVER AFTER.


Books Spark Joy. Mel A Rowe, @PamelaCookAuthor


Over to Mel …


The NT’s (Northern Territory) outback destroys books, and that’s where I live—in a freaking book desert!

Until Pamela Cook posed the question, I’d never realised my eclectic book collection had spread throughout my house.

Cookbooks are in the kitchen—shocker, right!  But they’re vintage CWA (Country Women’s Assoc.) cookbooks I’d inherited from my grandmother. My mother annually mailed me her local fundraising editions to wherever I was working at the time. Yep, the CWA recipes made it to Papua New Guinea’s hinterlands and many beaches on deserted tropical islands in the Torres Straits. I’m surprised they lasted…maybe because those ladies stapled or tied their editions together with ribbon.

Continuing on our book tour of the humble abode, you’ll find an old-school atlas, tropical gardening manuals, and Australiana reference books. They stand next to the ancient dynamite box I found in an abandoned mine in Tasmania.

Books also live in the trusty 4WD, I kid you not. For road trips, my tablet gets loaded with e-books, along with podcasts and playlists (my other addiction). There is the odd floating children’s book and some YA PNR. We have HEMA’s Australia 4wd atlas, it’s a bulky beast that preserves all my more detailed maps of the North Australia’s outback regions. There’s a well-worn bird watcher’s guidebook held together by a rubber band, and a battered camp-oven cookbook, stained by many differing charcoal fingerprints of various cooks thumbing their way through its pages.

So, I bet you’re assuming we abuse our books?

Before you call the book-police to book me (ha) we’ve never burned any books, if that’s what you’re thinking.

We just use them.

A lot.

Moving right along on this tiny book discovery tour, you’ll find poetry and assorted anthologies stashed in the bathroom/toilet–don’t judge, we could be on Twitter like so many admit to when on the throne.

I’m also like everyone else with a bedside table of library books and the TBR pile on the floor beside the bed. I also keep various styles of notebooks and reference books beside my desk. Hello, I am a bit of a word-nerd.

So, how is this a book desert?

I only have one, small, keeper’s bookcase.

I used to have a huge collection. Unfortunately, the weather affected them. It broke my heart.


In the Top End of the NT we suffer some extreme temperatures. But it’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity that ruins books too. Our weather conditions make book covers curl, it yellows the pages giving them that baked look, and the glue that binds them together melts and they fall apart. Then, if they survive that, there are the Wet season monsoons, (like the cyclones that caned us last summer) those beautiful books became nothing more than soaking sponges for mould. Oh, and we have things called wood-borers and termites that fly. No wonder the Territory’s traditional aboriginals prefer to tell their stories, passing them down through the generations in song, they’re rarely written except by their rock art.

Funnily enough, the ugliest most tattered book that has survived its place on my keeper shelf is my favourite. I’ve dragged it around in my backpack for decades. I’ve read it by the roadside, at campsites, mine sites, and many bus stops, train stations, on ships and fishing boats, and even on the tiniest of outback airstrips. Then it sat in the glove box of my ute that then went on a road trip around Australia–twice. And I still re-read it every few years, but every time I look at it, it reminds me of our journey together.

If you can guess the title, which may surprise you, I’ll give the first person to guess (or come closest) an E-book copy of, The ART of DUST. Here’s a hint: after three decades, the director of Outlander and The Handmaid’s Tale is turning this epic story into a movie. I can’t wait.

As for those damaged books they got recycled into book art…


Book ART I is a huge painting made of book pages saved to create a collage, and the rain kiss painted in simple Indian calligraphy printers ink. Ironic huh, considering the books were ruined by rain. But hey, who doesn’t love a rain kiss. Its why I enjoy that HEA in romance.


Books Spark Joy. Mel A Rowe, @PamelaCookAuthor

Book ART II is the made from a group of hardcovers and their spines that I painted over.
o I also made a knife block tying old dictionaries together to take a stab at the English language. Ha. (I’m sick, I know) And I used more pages to cover some old kitchen chairs, but the heat’s turned them some weird antique brown.


Don’t forget to reply in the comments with your guess at the title of Mel’s much loved book to be in the running for an ebook copy of The Art Of Dust.


Books Spark Joy, The Art Of Dust, Mel A Rowe, @PamelaCookAuthor


Feel free to connect with Mel as her word journey continues at:


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