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 was born in Canberra and moved to China when I was twelve days old. I went to Morningside State School in Brisbane and then Girls’ Grammar. My house colours were always ugly—yellow and maroon.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to be a mediator because I felt smart for knowing what it meant. When I was eighteen I liked writing but thought I was pretty average at it so I enrolled in law school. I’m not thirty yet.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That I would be the last of my school friends to marry. I think I was the first.
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?
Winnie-the-Pooh is my favourite character. As a reader, I know him as well as I know my best friend. I’d kill to write dialogue like A.A. Milne. Eric Satie is my favourite composer to write to and Miles Davis is the soulful sound I turn to after dark.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I’m a storyteller and a perfectionist. The written word is more controllable than the spoken. It’s like the perfect dinner party—you can script it. If your jokes fall flat you just delete them and start again.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Don’t mind if I do. Ruby Blues, the sequel to Campaign Ruby, is about Ruby morphing into a political cynic. Her relationship is disintegrating, her boss (the PM) is bombing in the polls, she has no balance and her life is devoid of colour. In the book Ruby rediscovers herself—her sense of purpose—with a little help from a glittery, peppy, idealistic intern, Bettina Chu.
(BBGuru: From the publisher:
Ruby Blues by Jessica Rudd
In Campaign Ruby, Ruby managed to get:
2. the leader of the Opposition elected
Now that the balloons from the election night party have sagged, as well as the electorate’s enthusiasm for the new PM, Ruby is battling political and personal spot fires.
She has a whole new To Do list scrunched up at the bottom of her Prada handbag.
1. Screw things up with Luke
2. Turn 30
3. Deal with hormonal pregnant lesbian aunt
4. And an imploding government
5. Avoid killing peppy intern
6. Attend party after waxing accident
7. Cosy up to Pretty Boy
7a. Complicate things with Luke
8. Save the government from itself
9. Figure out who the hell she is
10. And who she wants.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope that my readers have as much fun reading Ruby as I do writing her. I want them to laugh with and at Ruby’s foibles, befriend her, and also to learn something more about politics.
There are loads of authors I admire, but the people often overlooked in the book world are editors. My editor lives and breathes Ruby as much as I do. She strives to get the best out of me and tells me when I’m letting my characters down. She’s patient, kind, diligent and completely behind the scenes. That job requires tremendous personal strength.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Because the cost of living in Beijing is lower than it is in Oz, I have the luxury of being able to write fulltime. My promise to myself is that I produce a book a year while I have that luxury–I don’t want to waste it.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Listen to your character’s voice. Don’t get hung up on the idea that it’s writing—it’s just like any other form of communication. Finally, have fun with it.
Jessica, 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.