Six Sharp Questions
1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?
SAY YOU’RE SORRY is a dark psychological thriller about two missing teenage girls, best friends Piper Hadley and Tash McBain, who disappear on the last Saturday of their summer holidays. Piper narrates half the story, still alive and being held captive after three years. Meanwhile, after a grisly double homicide at an isolated farmhouse, psychologist Joe O’Loughlin becomes convinced that the girls might still be alive. Piper is counting on him and she’s running for her life.
2. Time passes. Things change. What are the best and worst moments you have experienced in the past year or so?
The best moment was moving into a new house – leaving my ‘pit of despair’ basement office and swapping it for a ‘cabana of cruelty’. The worst moment was struggling to sell our old house and wrestling that all-consuming monster called ‘bridging finance’. We slew the dragon eventually but I still have the scars.
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.
‘One of the strange things about friendship is that time together isn’t cancelled out by time apart. One doesn’t erase the other or balance it on some invisible scale. You can spend a few hours with someone and they will change your life, or you can spend a lifetime with a person and remain unchanged.’
This is a line that I wrote in my novel ‘THE NIGHT FERRY’
4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.
I’m a pain in the arse to live with – ask my wife and daughters. I’m moody, temperamental, opinionated, pessimistic and racked by self-doubt (and that’s on my good days). This has always been the case, but I know how lucky I am to be writing full time. I can wake in the morning without an alarm clock. Walk along the beach. Breakfast at my favourite café. I’m living my dream but the words don’t come any easier.
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!)?
Many writers argue there is no commercial imperative about what they do. They write for love. They write because there is nothing else. I have made a living out of writing since I was 17 years old and became a cadet journalist. I am very fortunate to be a full-time writer, but my books have to pay the bills or I’d be writing as a hobby and working another job. My kids won’t go barefoot because of my ego or desire to follow my dream. Writing for me is a job.
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?
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Amber Spyglass Trilogy by Philip Pullman
The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.
Why? Because they’re all brilliant and getting somebody to read is about matching the right book to the right person.
Michael, thank you for playing.
Recently Michael shared a wonderful story with readers of the Booktopia Blog – if you missed it, go here, you won’t regret it.
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.