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 in Germany, raised in Australia and semi-schooled in Melbourne.
2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?
3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?
That my hair needed to be straight.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
A Robin Boyd house in St Kilda, the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, particularly the Batllo house and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. They showed me a broader world. A world of possibilities. And excitement.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I can’t dance or sing or ski. I’ve only ever been able to write. I love putting words together and in a novel things can fall into place in the most satisfying and soothing way.
Lola Bensky is a 19-year-old rock journalist who irons her hair straight and asks a lot of questions. A high-school dropout, she’s not sure how she got the job- but she’s been sent by her Australian newspaper to the heart of the London music scene at the most exciting time in music history: 1967. Lola spends her time planning diets and interviewing rock stars.
(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb –
Lola Bensky is a nineteen-year-old rock journalist who irons her hair straight and asks a lot of questions. A high-school dropout, she’s not sure how she got the job – but she’s been sent by her Australian newspaper right to the heart of the London music scene at the most exciting time in music history: 1967.
Lola spends her days planning diets and interviewing rock stars. In London, Mick Jagger makes her a cup of tea, Jimi Hendrix (possibly) propositions her and Cher borrows her false eyelashes. At the Monterey International Pop Festival, Lola props up Brian Jones and talks to Janis Joplin about sex. In Los Angeles, she discusses being overweight with Mama Cass and tries to pluck up the courage to ask Cher to return those false eyelashes.
Lola has an irrepressible curiosity, but she begins to wonder whether the questions she asks these extraordinary young musicians are really a substitute for questions about her parents’ calamitous past that can’t be asked or answered. As Lola moves on through marriage, motherhood, psychoanalysis and a close relationship with an unexpected pair of detectives, she discovers the question of what it means to be human is the hardest one for anyone – including herself – to answer.
Drawing on her own experiences as a young journalist, the bestselling author of Too Many Men has created an unforgettable character in the unconventional and courageous Lola. Genuinely funny and deeply moving, Lola Bensky shows why Lily Brett is one of our most distinctive and internationally acclaimed authors.)
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope that people are moved. I hope they have laughed. And cried.
The poets Marina Tsvetaeva, Anna Kamienska, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda and Du Fu. Why? Because all of these poets can pierce your make-up, your lipstick, your deodorant and go straight to your heart.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To be the best I can be, not the least I can be.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Just write. And write.
Lily, 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.