Six Sharp Questions
1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?
Thank you! Cold Grave was a labour of love, and something I was passionate about writing. Like so many other Australians, I was stunned by the death of Australian mother, Dianne Brimble, on a cruise ship. With up to 20 million people a year going on cruises, and cruises being the biggest growth tourist industry, I decided to do some research on crimes that have taken place on ships and within the industry. Talk about the tip of the iceberg; Cold Grave had to be written.
Anya Crichton goes on holiday with her son and ex-husband. First morning on a cruise ship, they find the body of a teenage girl on deck. There is a suggestion she was sexually assaulted. Anya becomes involved in the investigation and quickly discovers that it isn’t in the best interest of the cruise line to discover the truth, and with a foreign owned ship in international waters, the laws are exceedingly murky. She risks her life to find justice for the dead girl’s family.
Best moment. Christmas Day in Disneyworld, Florida with my family.
Worst moment. Father diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.
3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.
I’ve never been one to act like everyone else, and usually forge my own pathway. It’s liberating each day to only have to work at being the best ‘Me’ possible. These two quotes explain why.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
which loosely translates, to:
Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
My family and friends suspect I sit home watching Days of Our Lives all week! After getting everyone out the door in the morning, I head straight to a local, quiet café and am usually writing by 8.30. Mornings are my most efficient writing time and without internet, phone or other distractions, three hours can be as productive as six hours spent in my office. Women writers rarely have time to wait for a muse!
After that I head home to check emails, write any blogs and newspaper articles I’ve committed to, and attend to the business side of writing. A couple of days a week I’ll do a Pilates class because it really helps with back and posture issues – the bane of writers.
Afternoon is spent editing, then early evening is time with the family. Most nights I go back to work when they are in bed.
I have to laugh because they tell me I must procrastinate and leave every book until the last six months before deadline. Naturally, that’s when they see me writing on weekends, in between washing, cleaning and all the glamorous jobs they presume aren’t done during the week either. I just smile and get on with it, so I guess I’m not your stereotypical tortured artist!
5. Some writer’s claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).
You do have to be aware of the market place and the business of writing. That’s not to sound mercenary, but it’s a reality when that’s how I earn my living. It would pay to know what markets are saturated and what are not selling if you decide to pen a vampire tale, or dystopian novel, for example. Readers are your market and your publishers are astutely aware of that. I’d love to write a thriller without Anya Crichton in the lead, but readers just seem to want more of her! To write in another genre, I’d probably have to change my name, but that’s not out of the question in the future.
6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?
This is an incredible question! It could make a fantastic story! Are you sure you didn’t mean five book shops??? The books I think would most benefit ill-educated adolescents would be those that engage on a number of levels through great storytelling:
3. Dear Me – letters from successful adults to their 16 yr old selves.
5. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. (Seriously? All that drama and death over a 3 day infatuation and a breakdown in communication? Hope angst ridden teenagers learn an enormous amount from that.)
Kathryn, 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.