Ten Terrifying Question
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born, raised and schooled in Mosman on the lower north shore of Sydney. After completing the HSC at Mosman High School, I left Sydney and spent the next three years travelling and working in Europe. On my return, I went to Sydney University but I had been well and truly bitten by the travel bug and was soon off again.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve I wanted to be eighteen, and at eighteen I wanted to be thirty. I have always been in a hurry. I couldn’t wait for life to just happen. I had to help it along. Now, at thirty-two I just want things to slow down a bit. I still want to keep enjoying myself and trying new things, but I want to make each moment last.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That one day I would find the perfect man. Since then I’ve met many perfect men. And hope to meet many more.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
One story above all others influenced my development as a writer of erotic fiction, The Woman on the Dunes by Anais Nin. It isn’t the best erotic story I’ve read, or the most effective, but it was my first – I was then an impressionable sixteen year old and it made me want to read more erotica. I read all of Nin’s Little Birds and then Delta of Venus andtried to read her diaries, but didn’t get far. I watched the movie, Henry and June instead. Which lead me to Henry Miller. I loved that these writers were brilliant and highly sexed. Their intellectual activities turned them on just as much as their physical. They mixed great conversation, great sex, great writing, great food and great wine in one big pot and called it the good life. I wanted the good life, too.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I didn’t at first. I wanted to write a memoir, an erotic memoir. I had grand plans. I wrote many pages all at once. Two, three, four weeks of non-stop writing. It was crazy and exciting. When I felt I had captured something of the spirit of my early twenties I tidied up the scenes I’d written and showed them to my partner. He almost dropped dead. He could barely speak to me. And wouldn’t look me in the eye. He was supportive, though, once he recovered from his initial shock and said I should keep writing. I knew then that for his sake, my parent’s sake and for the sake of those who shared in my adventures, I should probably fictionalise my past. And so I turned to the novel.
I wanted to write an erotic novel which placed a woman firmly in the driver’s seat. Emma is confident, intelligent, fiercely independent and self-aware. She has lead a life pursuing knowledge, love, sex and the unexpected. For Emma, the most dangerous, the most exciting, the most erotic places are the most familiar – the spaces where she lives, where she works, amongst people she knows, under watchful eyes of her friends, her neighbours. It is here she finds herself bound and gagged by convention, fearing exposure, ridicule and condemnation. Everywhere she looks there are things she wants but mustn’t have. Breaking the rules is harder than it would seem. But, for Emma, the bird in the hand is not enough; she wants the two in the woods as well.
(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb – The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings is the first in a series of erotic novels that tap into our deepest, sexiest fantasies, from the publishers of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Thirty-something Emma Benson is a free spirit. For her a good life means a life of sensuality. So it’s a surprise to everyone when she marries David, a successful businessman, and settles down in the suburbs. One year on, and she’s trying so hard to be loyal to her man. Not easy to do when you’re passionate and uninhibited. But then, while sunbathing in her garden, her neighbour’s eighteen-year-old son appears. And Emma has found her new project…
She will be his perfect teacher…) Read an Extract
Of course, I want the reader to be turned on! I’d love for them to see that if they are ready and willing to face the consequences and accept personal responsibility for their actions they can have sex with any consenting adult they want to have sex with. We are no longer children, we should be allowed to take risks.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
I admire so many writers. I love strong female voices. Intelligent women. To the Lighthouse is a favourite of mine. As is The Song of the Lark. Oh, and I recently enjoyed Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I would like one day to write that memoir. Sometimes you just have to get things said regardless of the consequences.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
What advice can I give? I write erotica.
Natasha, thank you for playing.
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The Secret Lives of Emma: DISTRACTIONS
On the outside Emma Benson is a nice, respectable wife in the suburbs.
But on the inside she’s brimming with uninhibited desires – ones she occasionally can’t help acting upon…
Now, while on a relaxing break at a friend’s beach house, the seed of an exciting new fantasy has planted itself in her mind.
She loves her handsome husband, David.
She loves her beautiful best friend, Sally.
She will invite them both to come play in her secret, sensual world…
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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.