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 grew up in country Victoria then moved to Melbourne aged 17. At the time that seemed quite old. It wasn’t.
2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?
I always wanted to be a writer. It seemed a romantic idea. Even when the reality of what being a writer meant finally struck, it was still what I wanted to be. When I was young, perhaps a few years younger than 12, I was also keen on the idea of becoming a criminal.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?
Very nearly all of them.
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?
I think character is destiny, more or less, so the first key event was being born with the mental and emotional habitus that frames who I am. The next most important moment in my life was learning to read. The third key moment was meeting my partner. The single best thing you can do to ensure a better life is find the right person to spend it with.
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 have written for the internet since its first florescence in Australia the late 1990s. I’ve written for newspapers and magazines, I’ve worked in commercial television and for ABC radio. I suspect that in as little as 10 or 15 years most commercial publishing will be primarily electronic and old-style dead-tree books will be the domain of small specialist production houses. Despite all this, I will go to my grave loving traditional paper books over every other medium.
Kick it to the S#!thouse is a collection of memorable quotes from Australian sportspeople, ranging from the obscure to the obtuse (and occasionally the borderline obscene).
(BBGuru: Blurb – Whether it’s through banter, trash talking, the perfectly timed barb, a witty observation or the crude but effective sledge or counter-sledge, Aussies make taking the piss an art form, especially in the sporting arena. Here, from the MCG to the SCG, golf courses and racing tracks, comes the best witticisms, classic insults and brutal take-downs to ever cross the lips of our favourite sportspeople. And let’s not forget the downright hilarious things that come out of the mouths of our commentators and coaches. )
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
The grotesque inequality in economic and personal power that exists between people across the globe. I think it’s a fair bet that this book won’t have much impact on that, though.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To write fiction half as well as David Mitchell.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
There is no law that says publishers have to publish your work, or that readers have to read it. If it is what the market wants, it will find an audience. Just because you think your writing deserves to be read doesn’t mean it will be. That’s a tough thing to discover. Rejection is incredibly painful, and it doesn’t hurt any less as you get older. Still, writing is something you have chosen. No-one has a knife to your throat telling you that you have to write. If you think there is any chance that the world might not want or need your work, perhaps you should hedge your bets and do something else useful with some of your time. It is valuable insurance against the inevitable ‘I’ve just wasted two decades of my life’ blues!
Michael, 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.