The Booktopia Book Guru asks
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 on July 25th 1964 at 7.08am in London, with the Sun in Leo, Moon in Aquarius and Bacchus in Gemini. I’m the astrologer for The Australian Women’s Weekly, The Star Times in New Zealand and Cosmopolitan in England. I’m also a novelist, charity anthology team editor and now a travel book editor too…
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
I wanted to be a vet at twelve (and am now the patron of an animal charity called Dogstar in Sri Lanka, which it would be great if you visited – www.dogstarfoundation.com). At eighteen I wanted to be a journalist. At thirty I wanted my own business.
I thought we died. I believed that when we ‘died’ everything went black and that was the end. Big mistake!
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 had a lot of Jilly Cooper novels on my shelves on the day my astrology book publisher came for a reading. She asked me if I had ever tried fiction and I wrote a novel which changed my life. Like a lot of writers, my life as an author really began with The Puffin Club, though. It was the brainchild of British publisher Kaye Webb and I still have my membership badge and (now highly collectable) monthly magazines. I’m so grateful to have enjoyed a childhood without the internet. It was my childhood, and it was private.
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?
The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide to London, New York, Paris and Rome is an interactive book, so the journey continues on our website and Twitter feed. You won’t just read about Rome, you’ll also watch the videos. And you can print out luggage labels from our site for your trip!
6. Please tell us about your latest book…
The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide to London, New York, Paris and Rome is travel writing – but not as you know it. Over thirty (mostly) women whose career adventures include everything from Vogue to Lonely Planet, writing about everything from $20 Prada shoes in New York charity shops, to the joy of seeing French bulldogs puffing along the street in Paris. We had some amazing writers come on board – everyone from Noah Taylor, taking time out from acting, to Helen Lederer (who is in the new return series of Absolutely Fabulous).
(BBGuru: Publisher synopsis –
Like a trusted and impossibly cool girlfriend you rely on to inspire and surprise you, THE HOLIDAY GODDESS HANDBAG GUIDE reveals the secrets of what women REALLY want to know about four of the world’s most fabulous cities: Paris, London, New York and Rome.
Born in a handbag from scribbled tips shared between holiday goddesses whose work, love and life adventures scattered them all over the globe, it will take you where few women have been before.
Release your inner goddess as you follow Audrey Hepburn’s footsteps in Rome, delve into the secret diaries of shopoholics in New York, learn chiconomical secrets in Paris, where to love the nightlife in London, and how to find to-die-for shoes, lustworthy cult local brands,the best vintage markets, heavenly spas or sanctuaries to escape the hustle and bustle, the most original art, the best live music, where to eat, love, and eat some more.
Elegantly packaged in red linen, it’s as irresistibly chic as a designer handbag and ten times more useful – the must-have accessory for goddesses who love to travel or just enjoy dreaming about it. )
I’m very lucky in that the Girls’ Night In and Kids’ Night In series, which I edited as part of an amazing team, continues to make money for the children’s charity War Child, every day that it remains on sale (and every day that you buy a copy!)
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
It changes all the time. I just flew back from Rome where one of our travel writers told me a story about her grandmother, who lived near the Jewish ghetto during the last war. Her grandmother always wore a platinum wedding ring – and one day the truth came out. She had given her gold ring to the Jewish people, as they had been told if they gave all their gold, they would avoid the camps.They didn’t. But this woman continued to hide Jewish people in her house for the rest of the war. She was incredibly brave. And she never talked about it. My friend only found out about her nonna’s bravery, a few years ago…
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Proving to people there is no death. That consciousness survives. That the spirit world communicates with us. That a lot of scientists on TV are talking bollocks.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Cup of tea, sofa, notebook, pen = first draft. It’s really no big deal. The writing is in the rewriting, as an old boyfriend of mine once said!
Jessica, thank you for playing.
Thank you for asking.
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.