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 Derby, England. My family emigrated to Adelaide when I was 12. I went to Woodville High School in suburban Adelaide. Though I had more of an interest in Arts, I somehow ended up studying Maths, Chemistry and Physics.
When I was twelve I had a vague idea I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. I have no idea why.
When I was eighteen I wanted to travel, so I just wanted any job to earn money so I could save up.
At 30, after 12 years as a laboratory technician, I decided it wasn’t the career for me. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be. It was almost another ten years before I worked out that I wanted to be a writer.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I believed in reincarnation.
Many books. The Lord of the Rings took me to a place I had never been before.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
My artistic avenues were far from numerous. I can’t paint, sculpt or play a musical instrument. I can’t act or sing. My photography is less than average. I was quite good at macramé, but I couldn’t see me making a living from that. Writing is the only thing I have any talent for. I did try other forms of writing: scriptwriting, journalism, short story, but I prefer novel writing because of the length. I like having the space to braid a story together with themes and links and images.
Blood Brothers will be out in May. It is the fourth book in the Dragonkeeper series. This one is set several centuries after the last book. The dragon Kai is 400-odd years old — a teenager in dragon terms. He is sick of his boring life with the other dragons and has gone off in search of adventure and human companionship. He thinks he’s found the right person in novice monk Tao, but Tao doesn’t agree.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
The feeling that they have read an interesting book with a page-turning story. I hope that they might also be thinking about the importance of values such as equality, freedom and loyalty.
There isn’t one single person that I admire above all others. There are many authors including A S Byatt, Margaret Atwood and Tim Winton. They are writers whose prose takes my breath away. Margo Lanagan never ceases to amaze me with the originality of her stories.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Not so ambitious, just to keep writing and to improve.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Write, write and write some more. Take every opportunity to practice your writing skills. Practice makes perfect. Try different types of writing, different genres. Your talent might lie somewhere unexpected.
Carole, 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.