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 Melbourne to Greek immigrant parents who met in Carlton. Went to Tooronga Road Primary, then Caulfield North Central School, and then to Melbourne High. Economics degree from the University of Melbourne
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I had naïve political leanings at eighteen, but lost them before I got into journalism.
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?
First, my parents insisted I get a tertiary education. Second, I was appointed by my first media employer, the Melbourne Sun Newspic, to the Canberra press gallery just in time to cover the reform era of the 1980s and 1990s. Third, getting out of Canberra before opinion polls infected the body politic. I got the book-writing bug after I left Canberra
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?
I do most forms of media, but only the book has a life beyond the publication date. Even the small print runs can start big conversations. Interestingly, the leaders who are the daily subject matter for political journalism are most expansive when being interviewed for a book. They know what the author knows, that the book still has cultural power.
It’s a 35-year character analysis of the Australian people. It looks at what made us the last rich nation after the global financial crisis and asks the question whether we are in danger of becoming a great country.
(BBGuru: Here is the publisher’s blurb –
There’s no better place to be during economic turbulence than Australia. Brilliant in a bust, we’ve learnt to use our brains in a boom. Although the Great Recession continues to rumble around the globe, we successfully negotiated the Asian financial crisis, the dotcom tech wreck and the GFC. Despite a lingering inability to acknowledge our achievements at home, the rest of the world now asks: How did we get it right?
This is the page-turning story of our nation’s remarkable transformation since the ’70s. One of our most respected journalists, George Megalogenis, traces the key economic reforms and brilliant moments of collective instinct that opened our society to the immigration of capital, ideas and people to just the right degree. He pinpoints the events that shaped our good fortune and national character, and corrects our selective memory where history has been misunderstood or misdirected by self-interested political leadership.
No one writing today is better at reading the numbers and telling the story around them than Megalogenis, and no one else has been able to coax our former prime ministers to candidly re-assess each other’s contribution to the Australian Moment. Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard and Rudd, as well as Whitlam’s confidant Graham Freudenberg, go on record for the first time about many aspects of the internal politicking, decision-making and bids for the legacy of our astonishing period of significant reform.
The Australian Moment demands we reconsider what we have achieved and our place in the global economy, and how we might purposefully approach the future. A groundbreaking work in the tradition of The Lucky Country and The End of Certainty.
‘Megalogenis is Australia’s best explainer – a historical bowerbird who has woven a sparkling narrative answering the big contemporary questions of how the hell we got here, and how we go about not buggering it up. A brilliant read.’ Annabel Crabb
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
That the answer to the question posed at the end of the book is ‘yes’.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
People who find time to do community work, and don’t brag about it. Our age is, unfortunately, a self-referential one so anyone who pushes against that trend has my respect.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To keep learning.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Give yourself time to play around with an idea before hitting the keyboard. Then don’t be afraid to keep writing, and rewriting until that big thought comes alive on the page.
George, 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.