A lifetime of working with words helped Victoria Purman slide right into fiction writing. From journalist and political advisor to editor and speechwriter, the South Australian author has written fourteen books and also happens to be the vice president of RWA and the deputy chair of Writers SA. Most of her books are set in her favourite holiday destination - South Australia’s south coast - and she happily weaves a spell of enthusiasm and possibility at author talks, book launches and writing festivals. I met Victoria at the Portland launch of The Three Miss Allens, where she impressed the audience with partially collated books in various stages of printing. It was a neat insight for those of us who are used to seeing perfectly bound books on shelves. Her passion for writing also shines through in her volunteer roles, boosting aspiring writers and spreading the word about the strong support network that underpins Romance Writers Australia.
Victoria’s latest novel ‘The Last of the Bonegilla Girls’ dips into Australia’s multi-cultural heritage, following a friendship borne in the Bonegilla Migrant Camp in the 1950s. Readers are invited into the lives of four women - three migrants and the daughter of the camp director – as they embark on their journey as new Australians. I particularly enjoyed the way their friendship keeps linking them back together, despite the different paths they take after leaving Bonegilla, and the secret romances bubbling beneath the surface. Tears flowed as the story addressed grief and inherited trauma, and the women battled between family traditions, duty, expectations and love. ‘The Last of the Bonegilla Girls’ is a work of fiction heavily rooted in fact, drawing on the experiences of Victoria’s relatives in the Bonegilla Migrant Camp. It was released by Harlequin HQ on April 23.
Current book on your bedside table: Dark Town by Thomas Mullen (I interviewed him at Adelaide Writers Week) and Bound for Sin by Tess Le Sue. I adored her first book, Bound for Eden. Where do you do most of your writing? At a desk with my nice big Mac overlooking the back garden. Behind me, my dog can usually be found sleeping or one of my three sons playing PlayStation. It’s not very private! What’s your preferred drop? Primo Estate’s La Biondina. A gorgeous summer Colombard. Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: Penelope Janu – she’s published one book, In At The Deep End, and I loved every single second of it. Established authors who inspire you? Nora Roberts. Kristan Higgans. Can I say Nora again? Best thing about being a writer? Messages from readers who’ve loved my books. Worst thing about being a writer? Struggling to find the time to write between volunteering, working, family, reading and all the other things women have to do these days. Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence? I usually write in silence but if I need a burst of words, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons works for me every time. If I listen to lyrics, I get distracted and sing instead of write! Favourite perfume: L’Occitane’s Fleurs de Cerisier (cherry blossom). Wear it every day. TV/film crush: Mark Ruffalo. Chris Hemsworth. Mark Strong. The best non-writing related prize I won was … A black and white cowhide rug. Top three tips for aspiring authors? Read, read and read widely. What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? The power, strength and courage of women – and that it’s okay to like a happy ever after. Proudest author moment? Holding my first print book in my hands. My favourite thing about writing romance is… Creating a scenario in which two people, despite all the things forcing them apart, are drawn together and find love. And the jokes. If anyone gives me flack for writing in the romance genre, I tell them… Romance publishing keeps the whole industry afloat my friend. Think about that. And then I smile knowingly. And wink.
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