author of A Youth Not Wasted
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.
Educated at Hale School.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At 12: a sheep station manager
At 18: still a sheep station manager
Because that was our family background.
At 30: owning and running the best advertising agency in Perth.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That the wool industry in Australia would go from strength to strength.
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?
Firstly, discovering great literature, like Dostoevsky.
Secondly, being hospitalised for three months at age 21.
Thirdly, being given a job as a copywriter at radio station 6IX, which turned out to be the first step in a successful 35 year career in advertising.
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 will never be obsolete. The numbers sold may decline but no electronic medium can replace the tactile intimacy and personal interaction between reader and book.
It was written to capture the colour and detail of a way of life that is now gone. Sheep stations no longer dominate large areas of the outback landscape. It describes not just what happened, but how it happened. And it is about my inner life as a young man growing into manhood, so that my children can know how I thought and felt.
(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb – ‘People who truly live in the outback listen to it. What they hear, I do not know … What the country says is beyond words.’
In the early 1950s, Australia was riding on the sheep’s back and no-one doubted the wisdom of making a life in the wool industry, certainly not sixteen-year-old Ian Parkes.
Having grown up with his grandfather’s stories about the bush, he was eager to earn his way on sheep stations in the Australian outback. But he had no idea that the country would creep inside him and take root.
Tough yet tender, funny one moment, poignant the next, this is the story of a life lived on the land and for the land. It was a time when a young lad starting out might work side-by-side with Aboriginal stockmen, when a big social event was a day at the races, followed by a game of two-up. And a time when a young man might discover a love of books, camped out under the stars. )
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
Encourage people to appreciate the beauty of Australia’s outback landscape.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
My friend of 52 years, Sydney Douglas Corser – for his achievements, his compassion, his tolerance and his wisdom.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To give pleasure and some enlightenment through my writing.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Read good writing. Then read it again. Then be yourself.
Ian, 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.