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 and raised in Sydney and I’ve never lived anywhere else, although each year when winter rolls around Far North Queensland sings a siren song to me. This year she began singing in March – just the thought of autumn makes me sad.
I went to school in the Hills District, a cosy, green nook of NSW suburbia in which hobbits could (and I believe do) dwell.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve, I was tossing up between Psychiatrist and Psychologist, having abandoned Teacher to the wolves at age 11. Why a shrink? The mind/brain – we utilise so little of its capacity; it controls absolutely everything we do; we’re often unaware of why it compels us towards one thing or the other; it can send us mad. And deep down, who doesn’t want to know more about madness?
At eighteen, I was studying psychology at Sydney uni, and by thirty I was in the trenches employed as a clinical psychologist, specialising in treating psychological trauma.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That buffets are better than à la carte.
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 Lord of the Rings: left me certain that I would write a book one day.
· Whipping Boy by Gabrielle Lord. As I studied psychology I never forgot this book, and it intensified my drive to write fiction.
· Come Out and Play by The Offspring: a cool crime novel of a song.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Well, I had to write the first one. I had a head full of psychopaths and paedophiles, lust murderers, rape victims and war veterans. I’d just finished a placement in Long Bay Gaol for my doctoral studies, studying inmates with severe personality disorders and prior to that I’d worked with people who’d survived just about every hideous thing one could ever imagine enduring. I finished my doctoral thesis and out spewed my first novel, Vodka Doesn’t Freeze.
Watch the World Burn, a chilling, white knuckle ride, which is available June 1, 2010.
Miriam Caine, aged seventy, is dining with her son when she bursts into flames in the restaurant of a five-star hotel. The restaurant’s manager, Troy Berrigan, is first to her aid, but the woman later dies of her injuries. When investigators find accelerants on the victim’s face and clothing, the incident becomes a police matter, and attention is turned to Berrigan, a fallen hero cop, who fits the arsonist profile. Berrigan knows he’s not the killer, but he also knows that at the time of the incident, he was the only person close enough to have set her on fire. When he’s connected to another death, Troy must do all he can to discover what really happened to Miriam Caine.
Her death preludes a spate of apparently unconnected acid and arson attacks around Sydney. Is it the beginning of an orchestrated campaign of terror? And is Troy Berrigan the perpetrator or an innocent bystander caught up in a terrible train of events?
While on study leave, Detective Sergeant Jill Jackson becomes caught up in the investigation. Working with Federal Agent Gabriel Delahunt, she is determined to find out what happened to Miriam Caine, because this case for her is not only about murder and maiming in Sydney: this case will change Jill Jackson’s life forever.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
There is more truth to my fiction than not.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
The inner critic is your worst enemy. Find the mute button, or you’ll always be thinking, ‘One day…’
One day is today.
Leah, thank you for playing.
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.