author of Past the Shallows
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 the outer suburbs of Melbourne, raised in Hobart, went to too many schools to mention.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to be an archaeologist and discover lost cities in South America. When I was eighteen I wanted to turn my zine NUMB into some kind of career. At thirty I wanted to become a writer.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That surfing was something I would never do – not in a million years. Now I surf most days and I can’t imagine my life without it.
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?
My favourite band Fugazi
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Writing is not easy, but it is the creative path that means the most to me.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Set on the wild south coast of Tasmania, Past the Shallows is a book about love, loss and the bond between brothers. It is also a story about how secrets can destroy a person, and ultimately a family.
(BBGuru: from the publisher: Hauntingly beautiful and told with an elegant simplicity, this is the story of two brothers growing up in a fractured family on the wild Tasmanian coast. The consequences of their parents’ choices shape their lives and ultimately bring tragedy to them all.
Harry and Miles live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania. With their mum dead, they are left to look after themselves. When Miles isn’t helping out on the boat they explore the coast and Miles and his older brother, Joe, love to surf. Harry is afraid of the water.
Everyday their dad battles the unpredictable ocean to make a living. He is a hard man, a bitter drinker who harbours a devastating secret that is destroying him. Unlike Joe, Harry and Miles are too young to leave home and so are forced to live under the dark cloud of their father’s mood, trying to stay as invisible as possible whenever he is home. Harry, the youngest, is the most vulnerable and it seems he bears the brunt of his father’s anger.)
I hope that people will find meaning and feeling in the writing. That it will mean something to them.
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 another novel. To write with and open heart.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
You have to back yourself and believe in your writing. It has to mean something to you. It is a long and often lonely road. Keep going.
Favel, 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.