Today I am very happy to welcome South Australian author Victoria Purman to the blog. The author of over 10 books, Victoria was kind enough to answer a few of my questions on writing and life to celebrate the publishing of her most recent book, The Three Miss Allens.
Q1. Hi Victoria, welcome to my blog. Thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions for me. To kick off – when did you first start writing and what was the road to publication like for you?
I always harboured a dream to be a novelist and began writing terrible World War Two romances with a high school friend when we were fifteen. Fortunately, they never saw the light of day! Life got in the way (husband, work, three sons) but I finally realised about five years ago that I should go back to that dream. So I went to a writing workshop at the SA Writers’ Centre, joined Romance Writers of Australia, wrote my first book and have never looked back!
Q2. Let’s talk writing routines! For starters, do you have one? Or do you write whenever you can find the time?
I have to be very disciplined because I have deadlines to meet. For instance, I have three this year already. So I do try to write every day. I’m writing single titles books of about 130,000 words, I simply can’t fall behind. So I do words every day. I work part-time so that gives me two whole days a week to write – unless the dog needs to go to the vet!
Q3. Do you write full time or balance it with other work? Is there anywhere in particular where you prefer to get your writing done?
As I mentioned, I do balance my writing with other work. It’s actually good for the soul to go into an office and talk to people. One, it gives me the excuse to get out of my thongs (summer) or ugg boots (winter) and put on make-up! And two, writing can be very solitary, so talking with a wide range of people actually inspires me. One of my work colleagues was actually very inspirational when writing “The Three Miss Allens”.
Q4. Always an important question…..are you a meticulous plotter or do you sit back, type and see where the story takes you?
Oh god, no. I’m not a plotter at all! I so envy those people who can plot. I find that it makes me bored with the story and then I get distracted. I like to have a general idea about what will happen in the final pages, but there were some plot twists in “The Three Miss Allens” that literally came to me as I was typing. And I think they are some of the strongest parts of the book.
Q5. I’ve never been to South Australia but your books make me want to! Can you share a little about the setting of The Three Miss Allens?
You definitely should come! The Three Miss Allens is set in a fictional town – Remarkable Bay – on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. The peninsula is real, but I decided to create a town for the book. It’s always easier that way, I think, because I can take some artistic licence with businesses and landmarks. Having said that, Remarkable Bay was totally inspired by the lovely seaside town of Port Elliot. It sits right on Horseshoe Bay, which is totally gorgeous.
Q6. How much research did you have to do for the historical component of the story?
I did lots of research for the 1934 and wartime sections of “The Three Miss Allens”. Everything from the clothes women wore, beach etiquette (it was frowned upon for men to swim “topless” in South Australia back then and there were police patrolling the metropolitan beaches!), to food and the dairy industry! The beauty of the internet means that I can type in absolutely anything and be taken to reputable sources of material from which to learn and take inspiration. And I did do numerous visits to Port Elliot for inspiration, too.
Q7. In the modern-day portion of the book, Roma has bought an old house that needs restoring to its former glory. I’m a bit of a tragic for TV shows featuring renovations/restorations and it’s something I’d love to do one day. Have you ever done anything like that or would you, if given the opportunity?
My husband and I have renovated two houses and we’ve now sworn never to do it again! I do love makeover shows – most especially “Selling Houses Australia” – it’s amazing what a decent paint job and a couple of throw cushions can do! I’m pretty handy with a paintbrush and filling in small cracks, but I’m a firm believer in getting in good tradespeople to get the job done properly! We’re planning a major bathroom reno to get rid of a 1980s spa bath and I’m dreading it! All that red brick dust…
Q8. Would you prefer to be a modern-day heroine or a belle of the ball from historical times?
Definitely a modern day heroine. I do think that for the majority of people, the good old days weren’t such good old days. In “The Three Miss Allens”, I made a particular point not to romanticise the past. I don’t think it was a great place to be if you were poor, living with a disability, or were different in any way. And if you were a young woman pregnant out of wedlock, it could be hellish.
Q9. What’s on your summer reading list?
I’m interviewing authors at Adelaide Writers Week again this year so I have a box of books to read for that. I’ve just finished “His Bloody Project” by Graeme Macrae Burnet and I’m about to start “The Good People” by Hannah Kent and “Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms” by Anita Heiss. As well as a deadline on my next book, they’ll keep me busy!
Q10. And to finish off, what can your readers expect to see from you next?
I’m in the final stages of my next book, a family saga which begins in the post-war years in Australia and follows four families through to the present day. It’s loosely based on my own mother’s story of migration to Australia and her time with her family at the Bonegilla Migrant Camp near Albury. More than 300,000 Australians went through Bonegilla, and I thought there were some fantastic stories to explore about that era in Australia’s history.
Thanks for having me, Bree!
Thank you Victoria, for your wonderful answers and I am looking forward to seeing that family saga (hopefully) soon!
My review of The Three Miss Allens will be up later today.