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 and raised in Sydney but spent a good portion of my early working life in the United Kingdom. I’ve recently traded city life with a move to regional Australia which has provided me with the opportunity to explore more creative things – like writing.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve: I wanted to be a private detective (I loved Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and The Famous Five) My best friend and I even wrote our own mystery series – I guess I had the desire to write, even back then!
At eighteen: I visited Wall Street when I was fifteen years old old and after that my whole world became finance & economics. I was eighteen when I started my bachelor of business.
At thirty: Having just completed my MBA and achieving all of my personal goals, I wanted to expand my career internationally, which I did the next year.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That financial and material success would help determine love and happiness. When I was younger I also thought that if you loved someone enough everything would be perfect…now I understand relationships need work and there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’!
I hope this doesn’t sound too clichéd but I’m predominately mainstream in my tastes. So:
MONA – not a specific work of art but the whole concept of what David Walsh has achieved with this outstanding museum has inspired me to push the boundaries in my own writing
Nine and a Half Weeks and the difference between the book and the movie. I was obsessed with the movie all those years ago, and twenty years later read the book. I read it just before I started writing my own, actually. Dominance and submission between consenting partners intrigues me…
And of course Bryan Ferry and Roxy music – Avalon! This song gave me the title for my series. He has a very sexy voice.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I have never considered myself at all artistic and given all of this happened so fast, I’m still coming to terms with it! I started the novel about 20 months ago, when I had no strength due to a bout of glandular fever, so in some ways I believe it chose me rather than the other way around. I have always kept journals and always loved losing myself in a good story.
I wanted to write a book I’d love to read if I was travelling for work or when everyone else was sound asleep. One that pushed all perceivable boundaries but still had a good storyline. I have never really had time in my life for a true hobby before (given work, study, travel and kids etc) but found that once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. It was like living two lives simultaneously. I could finally understand how people became so passionate about their hobbies.
6. Please tell us about your novel Destined to Play…
I was looking for more than virginal heroines – my protagonist is a mother of two and has a successful career. But she’s in a passionless marriage and so when her ex-lover, Jeremy Quinn, presents her with an intriguing proposition, she finds him hard to resist. I wanted to explore how we experience sensation, and so I decided to remove one of Alexandra’s senses to heighten all the rest. Plus it was so much fun to let my imagination run wild, although once I started researching some of the elements of the novel, I discovered I was closer to the mark than I’d realised.
(BBGuru: from the publisher – A 36-year-old psychologist specialising in visual perception comes to Sydney to give a series of lectures and meets up with Dr Jeremy Quinn, an ex-lover whom she hasn’t seen for years. After a few glasses of champagne in his luxurious hotel penthouse, he presents her with an intriguing offer: stay with him for the next 48 hours and accept two extraordinary conditions.
She knows he will challenge her every inhibition, but she soon finds herself seduced into a level of surrender – and danger – she could never have imagined .
Destined to Play is the first book in the Avalon trilogy exploring the intricate relationships between trust and betrayal, desire and love, risk …and reward.)
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
That there was more to it than sex! Hopefully it provokes some frank and fascinating discussion, as it has with my family and friends. My mother was one of my earliest readers! I wanted to look at more than mere lust, but to examine our perceptions of the world around us.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
I love any book that I can lose myself in completely. I love the feeling of disappearing into another world. A great book stays with me long after I’ve put it down. Any author who makes me ignore my ‘to do’ list works for me.
I was a late adopter of the Twilight phenomenon, and really loved it, although personally I was hoping for it to explore things a little further sexually, for adults. If Fifty Shades of Greyhad been around at the time, I may never have written my book. When I started writing, it was primarily because I couldn’t find a book that specifically met my needs. Frustrated at searching for something that didn’t seem to exist, I figured I’d just give it a go myself.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I have always set ambitious goals for myself, so the joy of writing for me stemmed from the fact that, for the first time ever my only goal was that if I started, I would finish. I had never even thought about trying to get published.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
I consider myself an aspiring writer! I suppose my advice, for what it’s worth, is to write what you would love to read – that way your passion will shine through naturally. Write for yourself, not what you think others want to read, and give yourself time and space to see what evolves before your eyes. I never in a million years thought this would happen to me!
Indigo, 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.