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 grew up in Manchester, England and went to a local girls grammar school. When I was fourteen my mum took me to hear Barbara Taylor Bradford give a talk at a city book-store – she made being an author sound like the most exciting and glamorous thing in the world so I guess that’s where my writing ambitions started!
At twelve I wanted be a brain surgeon or a TV presenter! By eighteen I’d decided to be a lawyer after watching too many episodes of LA Law. At thirty I was a journalist, desperate to be a glossy magazine editor but with one eye on writing novels full-time.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
Back then I believed that if you worked really, really hard at something, you could achieve anything you wanted to achieve. Now I have the more realistic view that there’s an awful lot of luck and good timing involved in that.
I won a competition in a women’s magazine when I was twenty-four and as a result made the career switch from law to journalism which gave me so many fabulous experiences I can subsequently write about in my books. Reaching my mid-thirties and having a baby gave me the nudge to sit down and write a novel. Working in glossy women’s magazines is quite a young person’s career – I’d look around and wonder where all the women were over forty-five so I knew I needed an exit strategy! And when I got pregnant I knew I wanted a career that would give me the flexibility to spend more time with my child.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
I do write for lots of different mediums, but there’s something special about writing a novel. It’s pure story-telling where you can be at your most creative and there’s no greater thrill than seeing someone on a train or on their sun-lounger reading your book.
It’s called Private Lives and is set in a media law firm that specialises in getting court orders to cover up the infidelities and mistakes of a starry client base. When our heroine prevents a damaging story about a movie star client getting out she uncovers a much bigger scandal that puts her life in danger.
At the heart of the novel is the idea that what we read in the newspapers is not always the truth but a version of events that someone, somewhere wants us to know.
(BBGuru: Publisher synopsis – Escape with Tasmina through the streets of Soho to the sun-soaked island of Capri and enter an intoxicating world where games are played to hide the truth, where there is no one to trust and where being too good at your job could put your life in danger…
Anna Kennedy loves her career. A young associate with a top media law firm, she’s the lawyer to the stars, hiding their sins from the hungry media. When Anna fails to prevent a damaging story being printed about heart-throb movie star Sam Charles she finds herself fighting to save not only his reputation, but also her own. But Anna is about to uncover a scandal more explosive than even Sam’s infidelities. A party girl is already dead and those responsible are prepared to silence anyone who stands in their way. Not least a pretty young lawyer who knows too much… )
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
The sort of books I write aren’t meant to change the world but if someone takes it on a hard-earned holiday and enjoys it, or if someone reads it on the commute home from work and it relaxes them, then I consider it a job well-done!
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Professionally – I want to keep writing novels and maybe have a go at screen-writing. There’s been some interest from LA in Private Lives so it would be great to be involved in some way if anything happens.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Just sit down and get started! I remember when I first said I wanted to write a novel all the naysayers came out of the wood-work to tell me how difficult it was to get published. But in the magazine office where I worked, there were three of us working on fledgling novels and we all got good book deals – so it does happen! Blogs and short stories are a great way to practice and find your authorial voice. And your novel should be the story you are bursting to tell.
Tasmina, 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.