16 July, 2014

#Interview with E.B. Purtill, #Author of The Lamb

E.B. Purtill is a writer and lover of fiction. ‘The Lamb’ is her first novel. She recently published a short story, ‘A Japanese Man in Yangshuo’. She studied law and arts at the University of Western Australia. She is now married and has an adorable baby daughter. 

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How did your life as a writer begin?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve kept journals and done bits and pieces of writing here and there my whole life. But in 2011 I decided to become more serious about my writing. I took a class on novel writing with Stanford Continuing Studies and the novel I began then developed into ‘The Lamb’. At the same time as writing ‘The Lamb’ and taking other writing classes at Stanford, I worked on a short story which I most recently published called ‘A Japanese Man in Yangshuo’.

What makes you feel inspired to write?
Typically a thought will pop into my head or I’ll read something and it will spark an idea that I want to explore further. I like to ponder on an idea for a story for a long time and then let the narrative grow from there. Sometimes I find the inspiration to write from an idea comes quickly, but this is not always the case.

How did you come with the idea for your current story?
For ‘A Japanese Man in Yangshuo’, I encountered a man aboard a tourist ferry while I was travelling in China that inspired the idea for that story. I didn’t speak to him at all—he was Japanese and spoke no English, and I speak no Japanese—but his demeanor so intrigued me that I dreamed up the plot for this short story around him.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
I do use an outline, but I find myself writing by the seat of my pants (aka ‘pantsing’) regularly as well. Usually I start with an outline and then as I’m writing my way through it I get sidetracked by the characters, or backstory, or a flashback, or a new idea for a plotline will jump into my head. The next thing I’m off on a tangent and the outline has been abandoned. When ‘pantsing’ I generally role with it, because sometimes valuable pieces of writing can come out of the exercise, often things that wouldn’t have occurred to me at the outlining stage.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Since I’ve answered the other questions about ‘A Japanese Man in Yangshuo’, I’ll answer this one as well from this piece of writing, although technically it is a short story. It’s not a book. My favorite scene in this story is one about Takeo’s, the protagonist’s, childhood. It describes the first time Takeo held a camera. This scene is based firmly from my own experience of first handling a camera. It was fun to remember what it was like to feel the winding and clunking of the old film cameras. A very different experience to the miraculous digital cameras most of us have now.

What is your usual writing routine?
I try to write for two to three hours every day, although my toddler often disagrees with this plan.

Who is the one author that you would love to meet someday and why?
I would love to meet Alice Munro. I love her writing so much and she seems like such a wise, insightful person. Thank goodness she’s so prolific and there are plenty of her short stories to be read. In my fantasy meeting, I imagine she’d make me afternoon tea and we would have a delightful conversation about writing and creativity. I would lavish her in praise. At the end she’d tell me how much she enjoyed my novel and I would pretty much die from happiness.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Just to keep at it and to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I would love to rent a house in Tuscany for the summer and have a summer writing retreat—in between consuming glorious meals of Italian food and wine, of course. I’d also like to travel around India, especially in the north. It would be amazing to see the Himalayas and I love the idea of travelling across India by train. Oh and I would definitely have to stop in Darjeeling to sample some tea!

What do you have in store next for your readers?
At the moment I’m working on a novella set in Bali. And I’m also throwing around some ideas for a sequel to my novel, ‘The Lamb’. Nothing is firm on that front yet though; I’m just considering ideas for it. Stay tuned…

Beth Urtz and her husband, Hamar, work for Worldwide Strategic Outcomes, Inc., a private military service provider, in an undisclosed location known as S.P. 4. When their orderly lives are upturned after an encounter between Beth and the CEO of their company, Beth struggles through a crisis of conscience while Hamar may have to pay the ultimate price for her sins. A modern-day retelling of the King David and Bathsheba story, The Lamb explores the themes of power, control, isolation, and the East-West divide. It’s a penetrating story of truth and lies, of psychological surprises and unexpected developments, of unlikely and difficult love

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