Three Authors Offer Advice for Writers: Orange Prize Winner Madeline Miller, Anna Campbell and John Elder Robison

by |June 11, 2012

I interview writers every week here on the Booktopia Blog.

My Ten Terrifying Questions have been answered by over 250 published authors ranging from mega selling global stars like Jackie Collins and Lee Child to brilliant, relatively unknown debut authors such as Miles Franklin shortlisted Favel Parret and  Rebecca James.

In each of these interviews I ask the following question:

Q. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Now, for the edification of aspiring writers everywhere, I will pull together answers to this question from three very different writers and post them here once week. Some will inspire, some will confound but all will be interesting and helpful in their own way…


Winner of the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction with her debut novel The Song of Achilles

“Set your work aside.

For me the best way to find the false notes is to let the piece sit for a while, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Keep at it, and try to find people whose opinions you trust to give you feedback.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy The Song of Achilles from Booktopia
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“Stick to your guns and write a complete manuscript. Personal experience indicates you’ll hear a siren voice whispering to you about 100 pages in, insisting that what you’re writing is terrible and you should try this new wonderful idea. That siren voice is actually your fear speaking. Don’t listen to it. Personal experience also indicates that 100 pages into that wonderful new idea, the siren voice will start whispering exactly the same poison. You’ll learn things from plugging through to the end of a manuscript that nothing else will teach you.

And once you’ve finished the manuscript, put it under the bed and write something else. Once you have, go back to the first manuscript and only then start editing. You’ll be surprised how many mistakes you can see once you’ve got a bit of distance. Not only that, you’ll have learnt skills writing the next book that you can use to improve the first book. Good luck!”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Midnight’s Wild Passion from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


“Attention spans are shrinking with every generation.

The future is tight and compact information and stories, 200 characters at a time.

Figure out how to tell stories that way, and how to make millions doing it, and you will be all set.”

Read the full interview here…

Click here to buy Be Different from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

For more advice from published writers go here

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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, 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.

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