Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
For a second there I thought that read ‘Why were you born?’ and I was thinking that was a little deep for an author questionnaire, but given this is the ‘ten terrifying questions’ I wasn’t surprised. Then I realised I had my non-prescription hipster glasses on instead of my actual reading glasses. I’ve swapped them now so I can read properly. It’s suddenly a much less intrusive and less philosophical experience. I grew up in a little town on the NSW South Coast called Tomerong. I moved around a bit. Now I live in Brisbane.
At age 12 I remember riding my BMX up our long gravel driveway and deciding it would be far better, and faster, if I had a motorbike instead, but that to afford a motorbike I would need money, and to get money I would need a high paying job. So I pretended to be on a motorbike. When I put my knee out to take the corner I came off and grazed my knee. I passed out from seeing blood and when I came to, I figured I would never be a doctor because I’d fainted at the sight of blood, so I would be a lawyer instead. And that was the final decision. Even if I got to 18 and wanted to go do something else, I had to be a lawyer because I needed a motorbike and that was final.
At 18 I wanted to be a rock star.
At 30 I still wanted to be a rock star.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
At 18 I just presumed that at some stage I would become a rock star, and that if I believed it enough, it would happen. There was no doubt, that was my fate and it was just a matter of time. I still believe in fate, but in reality, there isn’t just one fate, there are multiple fates. You get to make a certain number of choices and flick a middle finger at serendipity along your way, but in the end, exactly which fate comes to pass is a matter of luck. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself for a bunch of potential fates, and realise that wherever you end up, if you’ve given it 100% (110% if you’re footballer), where you are, is where you’re meant to be. If you’re happy with that, sweet. If you’re not happy with where you are, change something.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
I’m fascinated by 20th century history actually, and I love the writers who brought it to life. I was transfixed by pretty much everything Roald Dahl ever wrote but his second autobiography about being a fighter pilot in WWII, Going Solo, is my favourite book in the world. I’ve read it dozens of times and I still can’t put it down. I’ll even find myself reading it at traffic lights if I’m not careful – his storytelling is so captivating.
I’m mad for Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell too. Their experiences in the Spanish Civil War during the late 1930s gave rise to some of the best prose I think the world has ever seen. Along with Pablo Picasso, they also helped shed light on a period of history usually overshadowed by the war which came immediately after. That being said, my head swirls much more when I read John Steinbeck and F.Scott Fitzgerald – I can’t imagine anyone will every write a more beautiful book than The Grapes of Wrath or The Great Gatsby.
It’s a hipster cliché to be in love with the Beat Generation, but to be honest, I find their ramblings too hard to read. Sure, they broke down barriers and On The Road is great, but it just goes on and on. Howl is important, but you need to really love poetry to get properly out of it. I don’t really love poetry. I’d rather read Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes
Philip Adams once mused that if Shakespeare was alive today he wouldn’t be writing plays, he’d be writing The West Wing. He’s right. I also think some of the best literary minds of our generation all work in advertising. That aside, I blog and I write for online newspapers, they have their place. They all make up the story record of the 21st century. But sometimes a story needs more breathing space than a few html pages and a couple of ‘next’ buttons allow, sometimes actors get in the way of your imagination, for that reason books will never be obsolete.
6. Please tell us about your latest book…
I had a really bad breakup with a girl a while back. It made me question who I was. To help me get over the break up and find some answers, I set out to become the Ultimate Hipster. I thought it would just be a bit of a laugh but it ended up being quite a sweet, illuminating journey into the psyche of trying, and failing to be cool. It actually turned out to be an amazing adventure .
(BBGuru: Publisher’s synopsis –
“I’M SORRY, IT’S OVER. YOU JUST DON’T SEEM TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE. I CAN’T BE WITH SOMEBODY WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHO THEY ARE . . .”
Broken-hearted, alone and sobbing so hard there was enough snot coming out his nose to give an elephant a phlegm transplant, Matt Granfield decided the best way to find himself-to truly know who he was- was to become someone else.
Already a bit of a hipster, and with his ex’s words ringing in his ears, Matt embarked on a journey to try to become the hippest person on the planet-the world’s Ultimate Hipster.
The quest began innocuously enough-visiting trendy caf’s, selling homemade jewellery at a market stall and writing poetry-but it quickly spiralled out of control. Soon there were National Bike Polo Championships to attend, tattoo parlours to visit, bands to start and organic vegetables to grow! But would all these hipster adventures help Matt find himself? To truly know who he is? Would they help him become the Ultimate Hipster?
HipsterMattic is the hilarious and endearing tale of one man’s heartache and his subsequent quest to find himself. A must-read for anyone who’s ever tried (and perhaps failed) to be cool.)
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
Art is not meant to change the world. The purpose of art is to hold a mirror to the world so we can see what we need to change.
BBGuru: Reminds me of a quote –
A book is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out. Georg C. Lichtenberg
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
George Orwell. He had the shiniest mirrors.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Peace in the Middle East used to be a goal of mine, but my struggles all seem to occur the inner west, so instead of working towards a free Palestine, or a free Tibet, I’ve decided to focus on achieving free wheatgrass shots with every fruit-based smoothie purchased between Surry Hills and Strathfield. By 2015, no Australian hipster will be living unorganically.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
If you want to make a good living from writing, get a law degree. If you want to point to a page on your deathbed and be proud, and say “I wrote that”, write. Read a lot too, but mostly, write.
Matt, thank you for playing.
Matt talking to ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program this week about HipsterMattic:
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.