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 Hobart, Tasmania. It was quite a long time ago, when you could get a whole kilo of mixed lollies for 50c at the corner shop. I spent a lot of time climbing trees, fishing, picking blackberries and wishing I was more horsey. (Truth be told I was/am scared of horses.) I lived there, quite close to several corner shops, until I was 9.
Then my Mum and Dad decided to do the whole D-change thing and we moved to the Pilbara in North Western WA. They were very ahead of their time, as not many people do the D-change. D can stand for dirt, doggone far away or desert, take your pick. I spent my formative teenage years in remote Port Hedland watching a LOT of ABC TV and reading a LOT of magazines and teen romances before heading back to the East in 1986. There was a pit stop in Canberra to attend the local college and then, finally, to Melbourne where I have been for the last 25 years. Ahh. Phew. I love Melbourne. It is my home, but not my home town. I love it here.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
Twelve :: A journalist
Eighteen: A magazine features writer
Thirty: An author
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
There are a few ::
That you can eat as much as you want without EVER getting fat
That midriff tops are always the best option
That good things come to those who wait
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?
1. Being born. No, really. I grew up in the 70s in a very DIY house. There was beer brewing under the sink, there was a mushroom farm in a polystyrene box in the laundry, there was bread rising next to the heater, there was jam bubbling on the stove. My Dad sewed, my mum crocheted, my nanna knitted. We loved to make from scratch just as much as we loved popular culture, good books and fashion. When you are raised on the make, well, you can’t help but make!
2. Having my first child. I fancy myself a bit style-y and when I tried to dress my first adorable child I could not find a thing to wear. I mean for her to wear. I started making her cute outfits and rediscovered a crafty bug (of the best kind) that had lain dormant throughout my ‘hanging out at the Underground spotting Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue’ period.
3. The GFC. Here I was, just pottering about with my crafty shop and my crafty blog and my crafty blog, minding my own business when the GFC hit. Suddenly everyone was belt tightening, stay-cationing, slow movement-ing (that sounds weird) and embracing all things frugal. Before I knew it people were looking at me funny. Then they started POINTING at me purposefully and chanting ‘Make Do and Mend!’ After they stopped pointing and chanting they starting asking me how to Nannify their lives and get crafty. Phew. That was lucky for me, because their interest has allowed me to write more and teach more about craft and other things I love too.
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?
Oh no! Books will NEVER be obsolete! No! I always dreamed of writing a book, since I was a wee girl. I was the bookish type, you see and it really seemed to be the pinnacle of interestingness to be published. Do not get me wrong, I am also a huge devotee of gleaning information digitally. I love technology. I love it SO SO MUCH, in fact, that I may indeed be addicted to the internet. Still, nothing can beat sitting in bed surrounded by pillows and piles of books and cups of tea. An iPad or computer just doesn’t cut it. Nope. There is something special about turning pages, the sound, the act, the smell, which is deeply ingrained in the kind of Pip that I am. The papery pages of a book signal all kinds of things that a mobile device or computer do not. As much as I love technology, it’s often tied up with work or stress, but a book will never give you a 504 error or a black screen of death.
A book is a companion, not a tool.
6. Please tell us about your latest book… Make Hey While the Sun Shines: 25 Crafty Projects and Recipes
Make Hey! is chock full of simple, colourful design led projects for people of all abilities. I think that everyone has a whole skeleton full of creative bones, so I tried to make sure there were projects for the most inquiring fibula, tibia, femur and more.
I wanted this book to be a bit of a springboard for nice times, so apart from crafty suggestions, there are snacks to make, a playlist and even a reading list of excellent works for the discerning book lover.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
If I can trip the ‘Maybe I AM creative!’ moment in even one person, then my work is done. Drinks all ‘round! Cheers!
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
Oh I can’t name ONE! Gosh. No! I won’t do it. I really love people who do not fit the mould, who follow their own path, who are kind, funny, committed and passionate. So that could be any number of people. Tell them to come to my house for dinner when you see them. I will teach them how to do the double treble, if they would like that. (I will also invite Thomasina Miers, Sophie Dahl, Mirka Mora, Corita Kent, Sia, Vivian Bullwinkel, Clare Bowditch, Angie Hart, Zooey Deschanel, Claudia Roden, Dolly Parton and Marieke Hardy just to name a few! It’s okay if some are dead, right? More sandwiches for us!)
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To make my family proud, look after myself and bring cheer and craft to as many people as possible. Sort of simple ambitions, really, because I don’t like the bar too high… I’m not very athletic or bendy.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Get out of your head and on to the page! Don’t censor yourself. Write in your own voice and write often.
Pip, 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, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five 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 Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.