The Booktopia Book Guru Asks
Lovesong, The Ancestor Game, Journey to the Stone Country
and many more,
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
At 12 I wanted to be a cowboy in the wild west; at 18 an Australian stockman in the Gulf Country of Australia; at 30, a novelist.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
At eighteen I believed in the moral progress of our species.
4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
The book was Frank Dalby Davison’s Man-Shy, which I read in Somerset at sixteen. Davison’s story kindled my dream of becoming an Australian stockman. The painting was one of Sidney Nolan’s photograph’s, in fact, of the outback. It confirmed my desire to come to Australia – to find Nolan’s outback and become a stockman. Bill Hailey and Comets release of Rock Around the Clock. Was it 1953 or 54? I still feel the release of it.
To write a novel seemed to me the most difficult thing. I wondered if I could do it. I’m still wondering.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel . . .
I wrote LOVESONG for my own pleasure. It was to be a simple love story. My daughter Kate warned me to beware. “You should know,” she said, “love is not simple.” So, she was right, and it became a complicated love story. It was a pleasure to write.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
A sense of the pleasure of reading.
I reserve my greatest admiration for Vladimir Nabokov. Everything he wrote, and he wrote a great deal, is interesting. An unparalleled achievement.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
The most difficult thing, to write interesting stories.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
I give encouragement. Advice is useless.
Alex, thank you for playing.
Last year, Toni Whitmont, Editor in Chief of Booktopia BUZZ, and regular blogger, was lucky enough to meet Alex Miller. (BBGuru: Jealous much?)
Here is a video clip of the interview.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.