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 grew up with my two younger brothers on Sydney’s North Shore; I went to Abbotsleigh Ladies College and later graduated from the University of Sydney in 1973 with an MA (Hons) in English Literature.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to be writer because I loved reading and writing so much. By the time I was eighteen I decided there were so many great writers in the world that it was foolish of me to aspire to be a writer, but at that time I was studying English literature, and that reinforced my lack of belief. So I decided that book publishing was to be my chosen career, to keep me close to books. When I was thirty, managing editor at a publishing company and had a young child, I was starting to miss the writing that had meant so much to me as a child.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I am far more confident now than I was at eighteen … enough said.
Mike Oldfield’s Incantation is a magical piece of music and I do think it has seeped into my consciousness. The Lord of the Rings was an obvious pick because of my love of fantasy. I think I should also say that the many, many books of Enid Blyton turned my whole generation into readers and made me think a writer would be a great thing to be.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I never thought of writing anything else, I love reading novels, so I wanted to write them. Lately I have been thinking about plays …
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
The Golden Door is the first book in a trilogy called The Three Doors. The themes of the trilogy are about choice, moving from safety into danger, contrast and family relationships. Three brothers all very different in their strengths. The main character in the books is Rye, who is willing to risk everything to save his brothers, lost in the terrifying land beyond the towering Wall of Weld. Sonia is determined to find and destroy the Enemy who is sending the ferocious flying beasts called skimmers to ravage the city.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
Pleasure, satisfaction and a sense of optimism.
Margaret Atwood, who is such a brilliant writer in every way and is willing to tackle any subject or genre. A.S. Byatt, just because she wrote Possession, which is just a brilliant book, and Tim Winton, for the wonderful Cloudstreet.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To write until I drop!
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Keep reading. Keep writing. Don’t be discouraged and always write the sort of things you like to read.
Emily, 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.