Six Sharp Questions
1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?
Eureka Stockade: The Unfinished Revolution, details the birth of democracy in Australia. Our version of the Boston Tea Party, it was the moment when Australians insisted that they had rights, rights that they were prepared to fight for, the British bayonets notwithstanding.
2. Time passes. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?
The best moment was being at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. The worst moment? I dinkum can’t think of anything particularly bad this year – touch wood!
Yes, I love this part, where one of the diggers, is exhorting his brethren to take it further, and fight!
Typically, Thomas Kennedy goes further.
“The press,” he says, “has called us demagogues, who must be put down. But I for one will die a free man, though I drink the poison as Socrates of yore. We have come 15,000 miles, and left the enlightenment of the age and of the press, not to suffer insult, but to obtain greater liberty. We want men to rule over us, [not such as we have.] Most of all, we have to think of our children, who will grow up in this great colony, and all of us must never forget their own dearest interests.”
And yet, he asks, is this the way to proceed? Constantly signing petitions and passing resolutions, all for no result?
“Moral persuasion,” Thomas Kennedy says, with everyone leaning forward as before, to catch every word, “is all humbug. Nothing convinces like a lick in the lug!”
Love that “lick in the lug,” line! It wonderfully summed up the view of the vast body of diggers – we have had a gutful, and are now going to take arms against a sea of troubles.
4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it?
I don’t really think I am – primarily because I love what I do. Though, I must say, when I am in full writing mode, I am doing one of two things: either writing my book, or resenting the fact that I am not writing my book. I am involved in many activities and travel a lot, but wherever I am, I always have my laptop close, and write my books in planes, trains, automobiles and hotel lobbies, as well as at home, lying supine on the coach. Overall, though, I have noticed that I am at my most productive when on long-haul flights, where there are no interruptions.
5. Some writers 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!).
Writing books is hard. Of course I want my books to sell. Thus, in the range of the many subjects I want to write about, I do choose the ones that will sell well in the marketplace.
6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only three books with you. What do you take and why?
Suddenly, I turned around, and she was standing there,
With silver bracelets on her wrist, and flowers in her hair,
She walked up to me so gracefully, and took my crown of thorns,
Come in, she said, I’ll give ya, shelter from the storm.”
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.