Struggling writers all over the world take down your pictures of J.K. Rowling – we have a new poster girl for you – Rebecca James… Who?
Good question. The very same question people asked in 1997 when the name J.K. Rowling was mentioned. Who?
In November 2009 The Sydney Morning Herald published an article about a woman in Armidale, NSW whose novel Beautiful Malice, had started “a worldwide bidding war which has pushed advances on her manuscript past $1 million and led the The Wall Street Journal to wonder if she is the next J.K. Rowling.”
That woman was Rebecca James and Beautiful Malice “has been sold in more than 20 countries and is scheduled to be translated into at least 13 languages. Not bad for a book that was initially rejected by every literary agency in Australia.”
I love that bit.
The article continues… “The Wall Street Journal described how the book sparked a frenzy among publishers at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair and called it ”a sexy psychological thriller”, a ”brilliantly plotted page-turner” and ”Stephenie Meyer … without the vampires”.
What is Beautiful Malice about?
“Set in Sydney, James’s novel depicts the relationship between Katherine, a solitary girl whose sister was brutally murdered, and gorgeous fun-loving Alice, who befriends her. Alice’s influence is transformative, but as Katherine emerges from her grief, she discovers her new best friend can be chilling as well as charming.” (Click here for the full SMH article)
BEAUTIFUL MALICE will be available from 1st May 2010 (pre-order here) $19.95 SAVE 20%
The story of Rebecca James is wonderful – it is a rags-to-riches story which will warm the hearts of struggling writers. It proves that the impossible is misnamed. It is the kind of story which inspires people who have never thought of writing to give it a go. It is the kind of story which makes one want to know more about extraordinary person at its heart.
So, without further ado…
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Sydney in 1970 and was raised all over the place – Bourke, Wellington (NSW) the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Bathurst and Orange. In my twenties I taught English in Indonesia and Japan and had adventures in England, Egypt and Greece. In my thirties I had four sons in four years and started writing as a way to create a little mental space for myself.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve I just wanted to be older. At eighteen I was studying nursing at university and wanted to be anything but a nurse. At thirty I had a small baby and was pregnant with twins and mostly just wanted to be asleep.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I had strongly held beliefs about almost everything. I am much more ambivalent and uncertain about things now and change my mind constantly. The plus side of that, I think, is that I’m also more forgiving and compassionate. Something I do believe (and will always believe) is that you should always be polite to waitstaff. Oh, and try not to envy others, it’s destructive and ugly and useless.
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?
Alas, I cannot say! Do not know! Am not certain! Very sorry!
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Because when I tried out for the Sydney Philharmonic they laughed?
I won’t rewrite the back cover blurb because you can find that anywhere so I’ll just say what I think Beautiful Malice is about. It’s about friendship – and how sometimes you can have a friend who isn’t good for you. It’s about family and love and loyalty and betrayal and the aftermath of murder and how you have to keep on hoping even when you are afraid to. And that probably sounds very ambitious and like TOO MUCH ALREADY but I hope that it successfully combines all the above with a compelling plot.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I certainly hope they’re entertained enough to read to the end! It would be a terrific bonus if they are also keen for my next book.
Lionel Shriver because I think she combines intelligent, intense and complex writing with great plots. Helen Garner because her work always seems brutally honest. Liane Moriarty because she is kind to her characters.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
At this stage it’s just to finish the second book by deadline!
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Read. Write. Persevere. Don’t despair. Read. Write.
Becky, thank you for playing.
And don’t forget to check out Rebecca’s Blog – Click here
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.