author of The Boy who Fell to Earth, Puberty Blues, How to Kill Your Husband (and Other Household Handy Hints) and many more…
Five Facetious Questions
1. Every writer spends at least one afternoon going from bookshop to bookshop making sure his or her latest book is facing out and neatly arranged. How far have you gone to draw attention to your own books in a shop?
A book signed, is a book sold, so I always insist on signing every copy.
(Book shop assistants see me coming and feign catatonic fits or bomb scares.) I also always hide the book of my enemy behind Hemorrhoids, a Story in Pictures.
Don’t get A-Listeria and gush sycophantically. They’ll think your invitation is a case of Mistaken Nonentity. Many famous people have love bites on their mirrors. Just listen to their self-deluded dialogue, pretend to have a tummy bug and keep rushing to the loo to write it all down, and then later, impale them on the end of your pen.
3. Some write because they feel compelled to, some are Artists and do it for the Muse, some do it for the cash (one buck twenty a book) and some do it because they think it makes them more attractive to the opposite sex – why do you do write? (NB: don’t say -‘cause I can’t sing, tap or paint!)
I only write because it’s cheaper than therapy. Otherwise, I’d be a resident of Couch Canyon, where all the shrinks dwell. But I do think all working mothers – now there’s a tautology – who finish a novel should get the Booker Prize just for finishing , as it’s so much harder for us. Basically we juggle so much we could be in the Moscow State Circus. (I’m regretting not calling my first born Pulitzer, so that I can say that I have one.)
4. Have you ever come to the end of writing a particularly fine paragraph, paused momentarily, chuffed with your own genius, only to find you’ve been sitting at the computer nude or with your dress half-way over your head or shaving cream on your face or toilet paper sticking out the back of your undies or paused to find that you’re singing We are the Champions at the top of your voice, having exchanged the words ‘we are’ for ‘I am’ and dropping an ‘s’? No? Well, what’s your most embarrassing writing moment?
All aspects of a writers’ life are embarrassing.
For any budding authors it would be easier if you could be strapped into a publishing simulator to experience the terrors, to see if you have what it takes. Because the list of requirements is grueling. The honing of cheerfulness to chat show perfection. The haemorrhaging of charisma at book signings. The psychotic episodes which accompany concluding your comic masterpiece after you have stopped finding it funny. (Satires are like sausages you really don’t want to know what goes into making them. But creating one can sometimes prove as much fun as removing your own IUD with barbecue tongs.)
Then there’s the loneliness. I occasionally get so sick of my own company that even my imaginary friend gets bored and runs off to play with someone more interesting.
Worst of all is the dreaded book tour which involves flying hundreds of miles from Dipstick, Ohio, to Buffalo Fart, Wyoming, for a one minute appearance on breakfast radio with a member of the Illiterati whose reading material is limited to his bank balance and tarot cards.
Those of us who had a perfectly happy childhood should be able to sue our parents for deprivation of literary royalties. I’m reduced to doing all my research in a very scientific, in-depth fashion over cappuccinos with girlfriends. That’s all I do really, write down the way women talk when there’s no men around.
Kathy, thank you for playing.
Told with Kathy Lette’s razor-sharp wit, this is a funny, quirky and tender story of a mother’s love for her son – and of a love affair that has no chance of running smoothly.
Meet Merlin. He’s Julia’s bright, beautiful son – who just happens to be autistic. Since Merlin’s father, the reserved, cerebral workaholic Jeremy, left them in the lurch shortly after Merlin’s diagnosis, Julia has made Merlin the centre of her world. Struggling with the joys and tribulations of raising her adorable yet challenging son, Julia doesn’t have room for any other man in her life… so why bother trying to find one?
When Julia realises she’s becoming increasingly cynical about life in general, she finally resolves to dip a toe back into the world of dating. Things don’t go quite to plan, yet just as Julia is resolved to a life of singledom once more, the most imperfectly perfect man for her and her son lands on her doorstep. But then, so does Jeremy, begging for forgiveness and a second chance…
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.