author of Beyond the Horizon, the Papua Trilogy, the Frontier Series and more…
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Born Sydney, grew up in the 1950’s on a soldier settler farm and attended boarding schools, first in Leeton St Francis College and my final 2 years to 1968 at Chevalier College, Bowral, NSW. Enlisted in the army 1969 for a period of 3 years. Then came a life of numerous jobs, wives and careers.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At 12 I dreamed of becoming a soldier as I lived my early life amongst veterans from the Boer war to Korea. At 18 the same ambition- but also a writer in the tradition of Hemingway et al. At 30 the desire to write grew stronger but put it aside to become a NSW cop for 10 years. Policing was living on the edge and experiencing the worst and best in humanity.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
A life of financial security. But I chose to become a full time writer at 50 and live from year to year wondering where my next pay check will come from.
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?
As an author of mass market novels I was influenced by the works of Wilbur Smith, John Steinbeck and James A Mitchener. Since then I can add Bernard Cornwell.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I think that writers are born- or cursed- with a gene that compels them to use language as a means of relating to the world. Maybe one day a scientist will discover that gene, and help humanity by removing it, saving a lot of people aspiring to publication from a life of disappointment if they do not struggle to succeed.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Beyond the Horizon is written as an action, adventure, historical romance novel. It is part of an ongoing family saga but designed to be read as a one off book. It is the 7th in the Frontier series and takes the reader to the years 1918 -1919.
(BBGuru – here’s the publisher’s blurb:
It is 1918, a year when the War will end, but an even greater killer will arise.
On the bloody fields of the Western Front and the battle-scarred desert plains of the Middle East, Tom and Matthew Duffy are facing the enemy. Even as they are trapped on the front lines, they must also find the courage to fight for the women they love when all hope is lost.
Back in Australia, George Macintosh is outraged by the stipulations of his father’s will that provide for his despised nephew, and is determined to eliminate any threats to his power. And in a sacred cave in the far Outback, old Wallarie foresees a tide of unspeakable death sweeping through his homeland.
As all nations come to terms with the devastating consequences of the Great War, a new world will be born. But not everyone will live to see it.
Beyond the Horizon continues the much-loved saga of the Duffys and Macintoshes, told with Peter Watt’s trademark mastery of grand scope, family drama and enthralling adventure.)
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
After reading Beyond the Horizon I hope that they will say, “I couldn’t put it down, and learned a lot about our history.”
That question would require more than one author as I admire so many mass market authors and a few who write literature.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
My goals are simple: to be able to scrape a living out of writing until the day I die slumped over my keyboard.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
As a young soldier I was fortunate to be accepted to a special forces unit for training. It was the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam whose motto was simple, Persevere!
Peter, 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.