Welcome to 2019, and the first Kiss and Tell in our genre diversification series. I’ve loved bringing you interviews with our fabulous romance authors over the last twelve months. Like many of my fellow RWA members, I delight in reading both inside and outside of the romance genre, so I’m excited to shake things up in 2019 and speak with a wide variety of Australian writers.
First cab off the rank is John Purcell, author of the witty and fast-paced novel The Girl on the Page. Published by HarperCollins, The Girl on the Page is John’s fourth release, but the first under his own name. His erotic fiction trilogy – The Secret Lives of Emma – reached bestseller status under the pseudonym Natasha Walker in 2012. John’s passion for literature evolved during a decade selling second-hand books and continues as the book guru at Australia’s fastest growing online bookstore Booktopia.com.au. As their official head of books, John spends his days immersed in the written word, including reviewing books and interviewing hundreds of authors.
I was immediately roped into The Girl on the Page by the central character Amy, with her wealth, beauty, self-destructive streak and high sex-drive. A talented editor and ghost writer, Amy is on a downward spiral when she is tasked to work with a revered literary author. The unusual pairing forces Amy to reconsider her beliefs and direction, and also sparks a major shift for the older author Helen and her husband Malcolm. I loved the changing point of view between the very distinct protagonists, and the way the novel forced me to consider my own beliefs about fiction genres, how popular opinion and personal ambition colour our views, and the many manifestations of loneliness. The inside insights into the publishing world kept me entertained throughout, as did the mix of novel and author references, and the recommended reading list in the final pages, where each main character outlines their favourite books.
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: Edith Wharton’s Hudson River Bracketed
Where do you do most of your writing? At home in my little library
Favourite Australian holiday destination: Home
What’s your preferred drop? Beer
Guilty pleasure? Gummy Bears
Pet peeve: I am tall and menswear shops are often misnamed, seeming only to cater to little boys.
Favourite fictional couple and why? Anne Elliot from Janes Austen’s Persuasion and George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda. I know they aren’t in the same book, but they should be. Why? Isn’t that obvious? They are goodness and intelligence personified and deserve each other.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? Essential being food, water and sunblock? Other essentials would therefore include Clarissa by Samuel Richardson and Middlemarch by George Eliot. Non-essential items, hmmm, juggling balls.
Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: Laura Elizabeth Woollett
Established authors who inspire you? Julian Barnes, Michelle de Kretser, Charlotte Wood and all the long dead writers in my library.
Best thing about being a writer? Writing. I love it.
Worst thing about being a writer? The book going out in the world all on its own without me there to protect it.
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? Music.
What song/channel/podcast do you have on high rotation? I have become a Nick Cave fan over the last ten years, to the point of mania. I will play his last five or six albums over and over and over again while writing. To lighten the mood I play some Leonard Cohen, late Bob Dylan and the most maudlin albums of P.J. Harvey and Radiohead.
Favourite cologne: Appropriately named, Egoiste from Chanel
TV/film crush: TV – Kevin McCloud. Film – Daniel Day Lewis
The best non-writing related prize I won was … I won the game of life when I met my wife.
Top three tips for aspiring authors? Choose early why you’re doing this. If it’s for fame and fortune, do anything you can to make it happen, even if it means selling your soul. If it’s for art, give no ground, not even an inch, keep your head down and focus on your own work and achieve what you want to achieve regardless of the cost. If you’re unsure which to choose, then you’re going to get hurt.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? That personal integrity matters.
Proudest author moment? Standing before friends and family at the launch. They all knew how long I had been working towards publication of book I could put my name on proudly. It was a wonderful night.
Three fun facts about John: I like to spend at least two hours a day in Sydney traffic; I will often spend my weekend sweeping up leaves; and when required, and once prompted, I will offer to drive my step-daughter to work and pick her up after some evening out.
Follow John on the links below:
Rural fiction writer Maya Linnell honed her journalism skills at a country newspaper before moving to PR and now fiction. Her debut rural romance novel – Wildflower Ridge – will be published by Allen and Unwin in June 2019 and she is hard at work on the sequel. A voracious reader, Maya also loves baking, gardening, preserving home-grown fruit and veggies, and raising three little bookworms. She lives on a small country coastal property in regional Victoria with her family and a growing menagerie of animals, gathering inspiration from her rural surrounds and the close-knit communities within.
Follow Maya online