The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of Bligh: Master Mariner, Fatal Storm and Hell on High Seas
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 in Sydney, brought up and schooled on the northern beaches, and eight years ago moved to Main Beach on the Gold Coast.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve, I wanted to be a yacht designer; at 18, I wanted to be a journalist, and at 30 I just wanted to be happy.
That marriages last forever….
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
The things that influenced my life most were becoming the first cadet journalist in the Sydney office of The Australian newspaper when it was launched; doing the live international TV call of Australia’s victory in the America’s Cup in 1983; and learning from my wonderful grandfather that the only three words that matter in life are ‘happiness is everything’.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
Books, as such, aren’t obsolete – yet. However I believe the opportunity will present itself for my latest book, Bligh, to venture into the world of electronic media at some stage.
6. Please tell us about your latest book…
Bligh: Master Mariner, you discover how much more there is to Captain Bligh than his infamous bad temper. Meet a 24-year-old Master Bligh as he witnesses the demise of his Captain and mentor Cook; a 34-year-old Lieutenant Bligh at the helm of the famous Bounty then cast adrift by Fletcher Christian on an epic 47 day open-boat voyage from Tonga to Timor; and a 36-year-old Captain Bligh as he takes HMS Providence, in the company of a young Matthew Flinders, on a grand scientific voyage around the world. And all this before he was forty. Bligh puts you at the heart of a great nautical life – it’s a story that embraces the romance of the sea, bravery in battle, the adventure of exploration under sail and the cost of having the courage of your convictions.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
Encourage people to seek adventure and enjoy the world they live in.
Bob Oatley: a man who started life filling ink-wells and delivering mail across Sydney by hand. Through hard work and a steadfast belief in good friends and teamwork, he built an empire which today, as a philanthropist and genuine ‘good guy’, he shares with fellow Australians.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
My one ambition in life is to enjoy everything I do.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Believe in your talent and never give up. Every day is a new day full of opportunity.
Rob, 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.