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 London, U.K., and educated privately, but my interest in history stems from independent study, although it was my specialist subject at teacher training college.
At twelve, a ballet dancer, because I was in love with the romance of it.
At eighteen, a teacher – I’ve always loved working with children.
At thirty, I wanted to be a mother and a published author, in that order.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
Too many to mention! I was a very opinionated teenager.
The painting was the portrait of Anne Boleyn in London’s National Portrait Gallery – it intrigued me, much as Anne always has.
The music was the Pavane la Bataille by David Munrow and the Early Music Consort of London, which instantly transported me back to the magnificence of sixteenth-century courts. Annihilating!
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I was already a published historian. I’d written lots of novels when I was young, and wanted to see if I could still write one. I wrote it just as a leisure project, but quite liked it, so I showed it to my agent. That’s how I became a published novelist.
In her short life, Lady Katherine Grey has already suffered more than her fair share of tragedy. Eight years before, her older sister, Lady Jane Grey, was beheaded for unlawfully accepting a crown that was not hers. And Katherine suffered too, as a result of Jane’s fall… Now she has defied her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, by marrying a man who is forbidden her.
Intertwined with Katherine’s story is that of her distant kinswoman, Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of King Richard III. In 1483, Kate is brought to London for the coronation of her cousin, King Edward V, and her world changes dramatically.
Kate loves her father, but all is not well at court, and soon after her arrival, she senses sinister undercurrents and hears terrible rumours that deeply disturb her. Soon, she embarks on what will prove to be a dangerous quest, covertly seeking information that can throw light on what would become one of history’s most enduring mysteries. But time is not on Kate`s side – or Katherine’s either.
Katherine and Kate find out that incurring the wrath of princes is a dangerous game, and that being near in blood to the throne is a curse rather than a blessing. Both young women will risk much to for love, and to uncover the truth – and both will court a tragic fate.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
A sense that they have read about authentic history in an authentic setting– and also that they will have enjoyed the experience and gained new perspectives.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
I admire many writers for many different talents.
Norah LoftsMy favourite novelist is the late, whose work I admire for the integrity of her writing, her characters, her insights, and the sinister undercurrents in her books. I own all 63 of her books, and it’s always a joy to re-read them.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To publish all the research I’ve done over the years. I’m near to achieving that goal.
10.What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Never give up!
Alison, 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.