Bookseller spotlight: Liz Francis from Squishy Minnie Bookstore
What’s the first book that you remember having an impact on you?
Poring over the details of Jan and Allen Ahlberg’s The Jolly Postman was probably very formative, I remember keeping all the letters safely packed in their envelopes and still have it. The storytelling of Bob Graham and Bill Peet was also a huge part of my childhood, I still love their wonderful characters.
Who were some of your favourite authors as a child?
Highlights were definitely finding Emily Rodda novels in the school library. Lots of Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, then Ruth Park’s Playing Beatie Bow and Sally Morgan’s My Place.
How long have you been working at your bookstore? Can you tell us about the store and the community it serves?
I joined the little team at Squishy Minnie about three years ago, six months into its life. From the beginning Squishy has been much loved by young folk and grown ups, becoming a hub of ideas, creativity and connection. Our Macedon Ranges community has made it the delight it is!
What drew to you becoming a bookseller?
Apart from the heart skipping non-fiction wall at Squishy Minnie? I suspect a deep love of reading, creativity and curiosity.
What did an average day look like for you pre-COVID? And post-COVID?
Chatting with the throng of busy book lovers and curious visitors from all over, poring over books together, and gathering around the big table for book clubs after school. We missed all our local faces while we’ve been online only, but thanks to incredible community support we kept going and transformed into digital ninjas to stay connected – matching books and humans via email (not nearly as fun), running online events with authors and sending parcels off near and far. That said, gently opening our doors again has been such a joy!
What’s the best part about being a bookseller?
Being able to encourage younger folk to pursue their ideas and interests. Stories give us a chance to feel out new perspectives, hear diverse voices and deepen our understanding of our own and others’ experiences. There’s a lot to love.
Any memorable customer interactions?
Every time a young person finds something that excites them, when they clearly weren’t expecting to.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in bookselling?
Get behind your local independent bookstore.
Who are some of your favourite Australian authors?
Impossible question but for younger readers I’d start with Anna Walker, Trace Balla, Aunty Fay Muir, Bren MacDibble, Nova Weetman, and everyone writing ace Australian non-fiction books.
Do you have any favourite UQP titles?
Absolutely! As Fast As I Can by Penny Tangey and Sick Bay by Nova Weetman. I can’t wait to dive into This One Is Ours by Kate O'Donnell and Mammoth by Chris Flynn. Melissa Lukashenko’s Too Much Lip is a firm favourite in my grown-up pile.
How can we follow your bookstore online?