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, Australia, and I went to a hippy school, a public school and a private school.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to become a spy.
At eighteen I wanted my life to be a Hollywood musical.
And when I’m thirty I hope to be dancing tango in the streets of Buenos Aires.
When I was eighteen I believed that it was my moral obligation to be a size six forever. But after five years living in Spain I’ve learnt that size is just a number. 14, 16, 24, fabulous is as fabulous does.
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?
The day I took my first flamenco class. One strum of that guitar and I was in love. Then the day I decided to runaway with the gypsies and dance flamenco in Spain. And I’m about ready for that third one…
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?
Because I’m old school. I use a fountain pen. Can someone please explain Twitter to me?
6. Please tell us about your book… Only in Spain: In Search of My Heart’s Desire
It’s the story of how I fell in love with flamenco one hot summer day in a Sydney dance studio, and travelled to Spain to learn to dance. In Spain I discovered a crazy wonderful world where everything is upside-down: wine is cheaper than water, the garbage collectors look like Enrique Iglesias, and people live to the rhythms of flamenco.
(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb > A sparky, witty and thoroughly enjoyable memoir of a girl who fell in love with flamenco dance and with Spain.
A foot-stamping, full-on firecracker of a travel memoir, crackling with energy, dance, gypsies, love, food and the occasional donkey.
Nellie Bennett fell in love with flamenco one hot summer day in a Sydney dance studio. Longing to get closer to the authentic experience, she packed her suede dance shoes and a set of castanets and travelled to the other side of the world, to Seville, to learn flamenco.
What she didn’t realise is that flamenco is not a dance, it’s a way of life.
In Spain, she fell in love three times – the first time with a smokey-eyed flamenco dance teacher, the second time, with a wild and tempestuous gypsy; and the third with a tall, dark handsome Basque chef – not realising that, all along, it’s really Spain she’s fallen in love with.
A witty, passionate story of romance and discovery. Read an extract)
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
I’d like to see more people dance. What I love about Spain is that everyone dances, young and old. They dance because they have so much joy – and they have so much joy because they dance!
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
Diana Vreeland. Because when everyone was saying, ‘Why should I?’ she asked, ‘Why don’t you?’
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To live without goals.
But if I have to have one… a Kelly bag.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Nellie, 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.