Last year a home grown erotic book for women hit the shelves and became a massive bestseller. The author, the very private Natasha Walker kept an extremely low profile despite her trilogy steadily climbing the bestseller charts. Then in the last week, something happened….  Who would have guessed that John Purcell of Booktopia (Australia’s leading on-line bookstore) was the author of The Secret Lives of Emma or that he would be prepared to literally step out of the literary closet and talk about his foray into women’s fiction. A big welcome to John ….

1. How does a mild-mannered north shore gentleman end up writing red hot erotic fiction for women?

If the truth be known, it was to impress a girl. Yes, yes, that old chestnut. Boy meets girl. Girl reads rival boy’s erotic story. Boy writes girl better erotic story than rival boy. Boy gets girl. I’m sure it’s a tale everyone is familiar with.

And as every woman should know, if you want a man to continue doing what he is doing or to grow, you never praise anything he does unconditionally. There always has to be a ‘but’. As in, I think the story is great, really erotic, but… it could be longer. Or, but… you need to listen more to what women are saying. Or, but… you need to meet a woman willing to show you what women really want.

So, I was never able to rest on my laurels. I wrote more, was critiqued and then wrote more. These stories were passed around. I received more feedback. The result of all this is the long scene in The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings in the backyard at midnight. The perfect scene for a nice, long warm bath.

2. As Natasha Walker did you find it difficult stepping into Emma’s stiletto’s?

It is always going to be difficult to write from the point of view of the opposite sex. But what I soon learnt from all the feedback I got was something I had known all along but had forgotten when I picked up my pen. No two women are the same. Trying to write a female character all women relate to is impossible, but for some reason that idea was blocking me. Once Emma entered my life, I knew she was going to alienate many women but I also knew that she was representative of women I knew who don’t often get leading roles in fiction. As I gradually came to know Emma I suddenly had only one woman to please. Emma herself. After that, there was no difficulty.


3. Has ‘coming out of the literary closet’ been a touch confronting for friends and colleagues?

Yes. Let’s face it, friends and colleagues don’t want to know what their friends and colleagues get up to in the bedroom. It is a necessary black spot in any relationship of this type. They are happy for me, they have been supportive and a few of them kept my secret admirably for months but few if any will read the trilogy. And I get that.

4. And I have to ask, was there a lot of research involved?

Did Tolkien walk the roads of Middle-earth? Did Audrey Niffenegger ever travel in time? Did Helen Fielding ever have sex with Colin Firth?

I write fiction, Nicole. Fiction. I’ve never even had sex.


5. What’s next on the writing front?

I have more to write about Emma Benson. I might write stand-alone books, or they might follow on, or they might be about her younger years. I haven’t decided yet. But now I know there are readers out there who ‘get’ her and so I want to take Emma even further into the forbidden for them.

But first up I would like to get my historical novel published. It’s called A Gentleman of Sorts and is set in England just after the fall of Napoleon. It’s an adventure/romance in the old style of storytelling. Big, bold, with lots of characters, classics themes – love, revenge, betrayal, theft and murder. I can’t wait for readers to meet the hero, Mr Hanson.

Click to read more about John and watch a video

Or Check out the Booktopia website

You can follow John on twitter @bookeboy or get up close and personal with Natasha Walker