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 the southern suburbs of Sydney. ‘The Shire’ was my stamping ground and I went to the local primary school. In high school, however, my schooling moved west, to a Catholic Girls’ boarding school. An interesting experience, and great fodder for Getting Even with Fran.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve, I wanted to be George Harrison’s wife and play percussion on stage with The Beatles (there was room on stage next to Ringo and I played a mean triangle and tambourine). By eighteen I’d given up on George and decided to be an interpreter. By thirty I was a mother of two and working full time, and all I wanted was to be somewhere quiet for an hour or two so I could hear myself think.
At eighteen, I believed that my generation would be the one to stamp out all wars…
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
The ‘Little Women’ books had a huge effect on me when I was young, particularly the character of Josephine March. She had such a wonderful, indomitable spirit, and her fingers were permanently ink-stained from writing. I still love those books, still cheer when Jo sells her first short story, still cry every time Beth dies… (BBGuru: Beth dies…!?)
Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite taught me how beautifully different tempos and themes could come together when they were linked by a compelling narrative, and I always cry buckets whenever I hear ‘The Death of Ase’.
Rodin’s The Thinker, (first sighted during episodes of ‘Dobie Gillis’) seemed such an odd thing to me at first. Why would Rodin devote all that time and effort, not to mention a huge slab of marble, to making a statue of someone who was just sitting there, thinking? Upon reflection, however, I eventually realised the inestimable value of deep thought.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I don’t remember making the choice, I’ve been a scribbler for as long as I can remember. Besides, I can’t sing or dance and The Beatles didn’t want me.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Getting Even with Fran looks at the lives of seven women during the countdown to their thirty year high school reunion. Cecilia’s life has just imploded so the upcoming reunion is the perfect opportunity to go back to where all her troubles stared – with Fran. Kerry wants to find out what happened to her old friend Nellie, Sharon and Barb are determined to keep their secrets at all costs, and Anne is doing her best to arrange a reunion all her old classmates will remember forever.
It was great fun exploring how time doesn’t necessarily heal old wounds, how perspectives of what happened thirty years ago can be so different, and how much those experiences shape lives. ‘Getting Even with Fran’ is for anyone who’s ever had a friend. Or an enemy…
I hope people spend a few enjoyable hours with Cecilia, Fran and co. I hope they laugh and cry (you can’t beat a good cry) and decide to recommend it to all their friends.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To write a book a year and keep on being published.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Never give up, never say die. And find a great critique group.
Christine, 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.