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?
I’m from Scotland circa 1969, back when Scotland was to an Australian still a far off place North of London. We lived in a fairly rough part of Aberdeen, Scotland’s Oil Capital; our neighbourhood was on occasion like a cold wet version of Beirut. Most of the kids I hung around with where not the academic type, nether was I, in fact by the time we had all grown up anyone who wasn’t a Heroin addict, hadn’t been charged with assault, or done serious time was considered a high achiever.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
My German grandfather was a dispatch rider during World War Two, so was my English grandfather. I never knew who to cheer for in old war films, only that I wanted to ride bikes. So at twelve I wanted to be Steve McQueen, because he was cool. At eighteen I wanted to be an offshore crew chief, because I’d started in the oil industry and knew where I wanted to be. At thirty working as a crew chief I wanted a transfer out of Columbia to Brunei, the oilfield equivalent of ‘The Betty Ford Clinic’ because I’d ground two mill off my teeth and had turned from a happy go lucky ass wrangler into your standard narcissistic coke head with post traumatic stress disorder and a hellish self destructive streak.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I believed in our system of government, I thought the future was bright in terms of the whole planet, our first real war for oil since the end of world war two was about to kick off. Now I have no faith in government, the future of our planet is like the worst parts of the bible rolled into one giant war for oil and water.
4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, object, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
The Harley Davidson XLCR, it’s not just a motorcycle it’s an unlicensed berretta under the floor boards and a fat bank guard. It helped put me in the right mindset, blocked out all the chatter and white noise that used to clutter my thinking.
Single Gun Theory‘s 1994 studio album – Flow, River of My Soul.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a book?
I didn’t. I always enjoyed painting and drawing, the publishing house came to me and asked if I would write.
6. Please tell us about your latest book.
Is That Thing Diesel? I spent 20 years in the oil exploration game, and now I’m riding Experimental motorcycles that run on “free” fuel derived from waste used cooking oil. I’m the last guy in the world who should be doing this. (BBGuru – Here’s what the publisher says: At forty years old, a successful writer, husband and father, no longer toiling on offshore drilling rigs, was Paul Carter happily nestled in the cotton wool of suburban life enjoying the fruits of his labour? Was he f**k!
With his manic life left far behind and the perfect opportunity to take it easy stretched before him what else would a middle-aged, bike obsessed, man want?
Yes, that’s right, he’d want to be the first guy to ride around Australia on an underpowered experimental motorcycle that runs on used cooking oil, wouldn’t he? Preferably without getting hit by a semi-trailer full of bridge parts. Is he out of his mind? Quite possibly. Embark on a rollickingly, downright dangerous and often unhinged quest that starts on an environmentally friendly motorcycle built on a shoestring budget by students, and ends with a plan to break the motorcycle land speed record for bio fuel.
Carter is back to his old balls-to-the-wall style of writing, prepare to laugh out loud.)
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
Let’s be frank, my books are not going to win any literary awards, they should have included a pop-up section, or perhaps scratch-n-sniff. I simply hope they entertain, if I get one smile then I’m happy.
Clive James, because he’s been at it for decades and never fails to make me laugh.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Stay Sane, and break the land speed record for alternate fuel in March 2011.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Never under any circumstances give up.
Paul, 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.