The Booktopia Book Guru asks
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Sydney. Sydney. Schooled in a convent.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At 12 I wanted to be a performer and musician – at 18 I was exactly that. At 30 I was a writer, not entirely by choice: it had just gotten hold of me.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I don’t know if I ever believed in anything intractably.
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?
Marina Abramovic retrospective at MCA (affected the performer in me more).
The Stooges eponymous first album. Iggy Pop said his rule was to never use more than 25 words in each song: I wish I could achieve such economy
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I don’t know: Indelible Ink was supposed to be a novella!
But actually, it’s a terrific form, the novel. You can create a whole world, philosophise, dramatise, question, describe … it’s one of the most fulsome responses art can give to life.
It’s set in contemporary Sydney, on the lower North Shore and the inner-city. It’s high life meets low life; it’s a family in crisis; it’s spirit of place and its skewed dark doppelgänger real estate. It’s nature and un-nature; the body and transfiguration and tattoos and death. At the centre is Marie King, a 59 year-old divorcée, and her three adult children Clark, Blanche and Leon. My novel is the story of how these people negotiate change and loss.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
Questions about our times and how we live. Insights, laughter, recognition, challenges. A sense of having lived somewhere, with certain people, for a time, and of having been changed through that, even if only subtly.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To take the next novel to the wall. To have my series of performances about water produced in Sydney.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Read, think, walk, write, watch, read, think, walk, write, watch, read …
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.