Victoria Purman is an accomplished South Australian author who writes stories that captivate, I have always loved her work but I have to say that her historical tales focussing on women have been that little bit extra captivating. I have recently read The Nurses’ War and can’t wait to share my thoughts, when I find the right words for them.
In the meantime, sit back and learn a little bit more about Victoria and her work.
Hi Victoria, welcome back to Mic Loves Books and thanks for talking to us.
Thanks for having me!
The Nurses’ War is your latest release, can you tell us a little about it?
This World War One novel is the story of an Australian hospital established in an old manor house in Middlesex in England which was set up to treat injured Australian troops – and of some of the nurses who lived and worked there.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I was fascinated at the backstory behind the establishment of the hospital and the story grew from the there. The manor house – Harefield House – was owned by a South Australian heiress and her husband and they handed it over to the Australian Army for the duration of the war for the treatment of injured soldiers. All the doctors and nurses who worked there were Australian and by the end of the war, they’d treated more than 50,000 injured soldiers.
Are any of the characters based on real people?
This novel is based on the true history and real-life experiences of some of those nurses – and although I’ve fictionalised my main characters, real people do make cameos in the book. For instance, Matron Ethel Gray is the real Matron who helped establish the hospital in 1915. And Letitia and Charles Billyard-Leake and their daughters appear in the book too. I didn’t want to ignore their tremendous generosity.
How did you research for all of the little details that add authenticity?
I love the research that comes with writing historical fiction and part of that includes visiting the real-life locations portrayed in my books. Sadly, COVID meant I had to cancel my planned 2020 trip to England so I googled and bought books and read accounts of the time and scoured documents from the National Library and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
As you know, I’ve followed your work from the beginning, and it seems that your HERstory novels are going further and further back in time. How far back can you see yourself writing?
I could never limit myself to writing about a specific time – I simply go where an interesting kernel of an idea takes me.
Are you working on something new you can tell us about?
I’m in the middle of my 2023 book which is set in Australia in the 1950s and I won’t jinx it by revealing any more details! But for those who know what I write, it’ll focus on the lives of women.
From following you on Facebook I can see that you were recently at Adelaide Writers Week, can you tell us about what you did there?
For many years, I’ve been lucky enough to interview authors on stage during Writers’ Week. It’s been a real privilege to share the stage with international and best-selling authors like Hannah Kent, Chris Hammer, Lisa Genova (Still Alive), Anita Heiss and so many others.
In very exciting news, you can actually tour for the release of The Nurses’ War. Where will you be and what can readers expect at the events?
It’s going to be so great to be out on the road and see people again and I can’t wait to tell them about the events that shaped this book and the research I did to bring my characters to life. I have events in SA and Victoria during April and May. For details, follow me on my Facebook page: Victoria Purman Author.
We’ve focused a lot on your writing, and the new book, but what do you love to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I read and read and read. Then I hang out with my family and our Golden Retriever Maisie, friends and I’ve taken to sewing again after a break of many years. I’m absolutely loving it – and if readers come to see me on tour, they’ll get to see first-hand some of my creations!
And lastly, but never leastly, what do you love to read, and what are you reading at the moment?
My reading tastes are eclectic. I love a good story well told and that includes contemporary fiction, romance, crime, some literary novels and non-fiction. I’ve just done a heap of reading for Writers’ Week and have bought way too many books in the book shop there. Some of the books on my pile include ‘The Truth About Faking It’ by Cassie Hamer and ‘Dancing With The Enemy’ by Diane Armstrong, both of which are out in May. And I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of ‘The Secret World of Connie Starr’ (out in June) by Robbi Neal, which I thought was absolutely wonderful.
Thanks so much for being with us Victoria, it’s always a pleasure to learn a little more about you and your work. Good luck with your events and I hope to catch you at one, but not the closest one because I’ll be at work.
The Nurses’ War is available now through HQ Fiction and where all good books are sold.