Zoë Von Foster
Five Facetious Questions
1. Every writer spends at least one afternoon going from bookshop to bookshop making sure his or her latest book is facing out and neatly arranged. How far have you gone to draw attention to your own books in a shop?
One afternoon? Clearly the authors you’re speaking are not only crafty bookshop re-arrangers, but they are liars too. I do some stealth interior decorating every time I walk past any book shop, always. My preferred move is the Stack and Sign, which involves me taking up a stack of my books to the counter, smiling like a loon, and asking the cute person serving
“Would you like me to sign these?” before awkwardly explaining I’m not just a weird woman with a penchant for vandalism and megolomania, but the author. Once signed, those babies are front and centre, and sometimes even get a sticker saying “signed copy” which is terrifically enticing for potential buyers.
2. So you’re a published author, almost a minor celebrity and for some reason you’ve been let into a party full of ‘A-listers’ – what do you do?
Drink the champagne, try not to get people’s names or current/exciting/noteworthy projects incorrect, drink the champagne, check my teeth for canape residue, drink the champagne, talk someone’s ears off about the merits of Tumblr, drink the champagne, wonder why everyone has left, go to drink the champagne but find there is none left, reluctantly go outside to find a taxi, arrive home and ravenously eat toast.
3. Some write because they feel compelled to, some are Artists and do it for the Muse, some do it for the cash (one buck twenty a book) and some do it because they think it makes them more attractive to the opposite sex – why do you do write? (NB: don’t say -‘cause I can’t sing, tap or paint!)
I write because I love to write. I find it easy, and enjoyable, and exciting and lots of other ’e’ words. To not write would surely cause me distress.
4. Have you ever come to the end of writing a particularly fine paragraph, paused momentarily, chuffed with your own genius, only to find you’ve been sitting at the computer nude or with your dress half-way over your head or shaving cream on your face or toilet paper sticking out the back of your undies or paused to find that you’re singing We are the Champions at the top of your voice, having exchanged the words ‘we are’ for ‘I am’ and dropping an ‘s’? No? Well, what’s your most embarrassing writing moment?
I have plenty of moments akin to the one you reference, but what is genuinely embarrassing for me is that I am a complete fraud. I don’t know what’s going on in the book world, I don’t know the hot new books or authors, (“Judy Blume. Now there’s an author!”) I never look cool and in-the-know when interviewed and it’s something I need to address, because it’s arrogant and lazy not to.
5. Rodin placed his thinker on the loo – where and/or when do you seem to get your best ideas?
In the shower, or on walks or runs. I was struggling to find an ending to Playing The Field and went for a run to clear my frustrated, exhausted brain. The idea hit me twenty minutes in and I bolted home and wrote furiously for hours. Mum’s always saying the brain needs breaks and new stimulation to function optimally, and I suppose that episode proved it for me.
Zoë, 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, was published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.