Belinda Murrell Answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |May 22, 2010

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Belinda Murrell

author of


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 grew up in quite an unusual family in a huge house full of books and animals, in the heart of Sydney’s North Shore. My dad was a vet, always bringing home injured animals – everything from dogs, cats and horses to snakes, possums and a baby wallaby who slept in a sack hung on the kitchen door.

My mum was a compulsive storyteller who encouraged us to read and write avidly from a very young age.Hence my sister Kate Forsyth and my brother Nick Humphrey are also authors. I went to school at the local primary at Gordon, then to Abbotsleigh before heading to Macquarie University to study Literature and Communications.

Now I’m married with three beautiful children and lots of animals of my own.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At 12, I wanted to be a vet and a famous author and an adventurer.

At 18, I wanted to be a journalist so I could write and travel and understand the world.

At 30, I wanted to be a mother and an author and still find time to travel and have adventures.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I can change the world.

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?

For me, it was the books I read as a child which influenced my life and my writing. One of my favourites was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis, full of wonder and adventure. I loved the four sisters in Little Women – particularly Jo, who is one of my favourite heroines – stubborn, impulsive and quick tempered. The romance, mystery and tragedy of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte was also very powerful.

Like these authors, I want to write books that will make children’s hearts beat faster or sing with joy, to make them weep or laugh out loud, to dream, to learn and even change their lives.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I can’t draw, I can’t sing, I can’t dance or play an instrument – although I do love doing many of these things. However I can write! Writing is a passion and a joy!

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Ruby Talisman is a time slip adventure about a modern day girl, Tilly, who wakes up to find herself in France on the morning of July 14, 1789, the day the peasants attacked La Bastille, starting the violence and bloodshed of the French Revolution. It is an exciting adventure story with magic gems, sword fights, murderous peasants, fascinating history and a feisty heroine who is determined to make everything right.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

A sense of joy and fun. A sense of adventure and excitement. A sense that an individual can change their life for the better.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I admire the many wonderful Australian children’s authors – Anna Fienberg, Garth Nix, Emily Rodda, John Flanagan, Alison Lester, Deborah Abela and my sister Kate Forsyth – the list goes on and on… Australian authors are writing some wonderful books that are inspiring children all over the world.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To write books which kids adore. To grow as a writer. To write books which change children’s lives.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write. Write. Write. Write what you love. And read lots because great writers are always great readers first!

Belinda, thank you for playing.

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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, 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.

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