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 Melbourne, Australia. I’m an only child and went to a convent school. I moved permanently to the USA and I now live in Oxford, Mississippi and I’m studying at Ole Miss.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to be a famous writer, actor or singer! I started writing my first book The Shadow Thief at thirteen. When it was picked up by Harper Collins I made writing fiction my first priority and have been doing it ever since. I’m nineteen now and the second book of my YA trilogy Halo has just come out. I’m currently working on the final instalment around my college commitments.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I’m only nineteen so eighteen wasn’t that long ago so I think I’m the same person! At thirteen I thought it was possible to do everything all at once. I’ve since learned that you sometimes have to make choices. I’ve learned that it’s really important to develop long lasting friendships and be part of a community.
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 love listening to country music and Johnny Cash is an artist that has really inspired me over the years. Songs like “Tear Stained Letter” and “Jackson” are some of my favourites. As a young reader my favourite book was Peter Pan. I didn’t want to grow up and I thought I could preserve my thirteen-year-old self through my novels. When I was writing Halo I was inspired by Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” – that was the inspiration for Ivy.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I choose to write a novel because it was what felt the most natural for me at the time. I’d been writing stories since I was very young so I decided to take up the challenge and try extending those ideas into a full-blown novel. Once I started I couldn’t stop until it was finished and couldn’t think about other artistic avenues. I think I’m more interested now in exploring other avenues.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
My latest novel is called Hades and it’s the second book of a trilogy for young adults. It’s just come out in both Australia and the US and it made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list, which is very exciting. Hades follows on from my first book Halo and in it the female protagonist Bethany, who is an angel, is abducted and taken into hell by a demon that has fallen in love with her. She witnesses a lot during her time underground and struggles to get back to the people she loves.
(BBGuru: The publisher’s synopsis –
What will happen to an angel in Hell?
Jake Thorn and his demons have been banished and Xavier and Bethany settle down to resume a normal life. But on the night of Halloween, a childish prank goes terribly wrong and Jake is summoned back to the sleepy town of Venus Cove. Bethany is deceived and like the mythical Persephone she finds herself dragged into the nightmarish underworld of Hades.
While the angels call on higher powers to help rescue Bethany, Jake decides to play dirty and goes after the one thing she loves more than anything. But to spare Xavier′s life, Bethany must make the ultimate sacrifice. Will she make a deal with the Devil? And what will happen to an angel in Hell? ) Click here to order your copy of Hades
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
Firstly, I hope they are entertained by the stories and captivated by the struggles the characters face. I hope they take away a belief in the power of love and redemption as a way of dealing with adversity. I hope my books give out a positive message about the importance of developing strong relationships in our lives as well as fighting for what’s important to you like Bethany and Xavier do.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
I have great admiration for writers of the great classics because of their command of the English language. I love the novels of the Brontes because they are such powerful works of the imagination. I am also inspired by people who have written only one novel that’s had a huge impact on the literary world like Harper Lee with To Kill a Mockingbird and J.D Salinger with Catcher in the Rye.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I have so many projects I don’t know which to to start next! I think my goal right now is to finish off this series before embarking on another in a similar paranormal romance genre. As well as that I’d love to broaden my creative experiences. I have close friend who’s a singer/songwriter and I’d love to collaborate with him and record some songs together.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
The best advice I can give them is to believe in their work. I think that’s the key as well as being receptive to criticism and feedback. That’s the only way to really develop your skills as a writer.
Alexandra, 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.