author of The Briny Café
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 Albury, on the NSW and Victorian border and raised until the age of ten, at nearby Bonegilla Migrant Camp. Later, I attended Clyde School, a girls’ boarding school at Woodend, that has now been amalgamated with Geelong Grammar.
I can’t remember if I had a specific ambition at the age of twelve. But at eighteen, I wanted to be a journalist and at thirty, I was quite happy as a journalist and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
At eighteen, I just wanted to have fun. Now, I want to work hard but doing what I feel passionately about.
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?
I’m not sure whether they fit into the ‘art’ category, but the writing that really rocked me when I was young was Raymond Chandler, whoever wrote the Onion Field (bit hazy on the author and title but it was a fiercely powerful book that reeked of truth) and currently, I think Kate Atkinson is a wonderful writer.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Delusions of grandeur? Seriously, I wanted to keep writing about the environment where I live but I couldn’t prevail on the kindness of my neighbours once more time in a work of non-fiction.
The Briny Café is set in a water-access-only location (no surprises there!) and it’s about the power of strong communities, friendship and finding the courage to have a go. It’s also about learning to recognise miracles when they appear and, of course, the pleasure of food.
(BBGuru: Publisher synopsis – Brimming with warmth and wit, Susan Duncan’s first novel is a delicious tale of friendship and love, and the search for a place to call home…
Ettie Brookbank is the heart and soul of Cook’s Basin, a sleepy offshore community comprising a cluster of dazzling blue bays. But for all the idyllic surroundings, Ettie can’t help wondering where her dreams have disappeared to.
When Bertie, its cantankerous septuagenarian owner, offers her ‘the Briny’ for a knockdown price, it’s an opportunity too good to miss. But it’s a mammoth task – and she’ll need a partner.
Enter Kate Jackson, the enigmatic new resident of the haunted house on Oyster Bay. Kate is also clearly at a crossroads – running from a life in the city that has left her lonely and lost.
Could a ramshackle cafe and its endearingly eccentric customers deliver the new start both women so desperately crave?)
I hope they’re entertained, get a glimpse into a radically different way of life, and that the book inspires people with a passion to get back in the kitchen to cook up a storm for family and friends.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Life comes first, so my main aim is to stay healthy. Then whatever falls into place…
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Be unafraid, never give up and read everything you can get your hands on.
Susan, thank you for playing.
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.