J C Bourke

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Born in Sydney in 1965.

My parents were journalists so there were always 'colourful characters' dropping in for dinner. As a kid I loved to impersonate these people. Even then I must've enjoyed observing the human condition.

Life took a downturn when I was in 5th class and my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She battled cancer for 10 years and died just after my 19th birthday. I think spending so much time in hospitals and around the sick must've been the reason I decided to become a nurse. No one else in my family had followed a medical path.

I trained at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in the days of 'hospital training' and later specialized in Oncology which is the care of cancer patients. The area I really liked was Bone Marrow Transplantation. I was head chemotherapy sister at the University College Hospital in London. They had the biggest transplant unit in Europe.

I loved nursing. The people I met and cared for were an endless source of inspiration enabling me to develop an empathy with the human condition, its frailties and spirit. Nursing probably made me a better writer.

I didn't write a word till I was 35 years old!!! Yes, almost one foot in the grave! In 2000 I did a Creative Writing Course via correspondence whilst recovering from Glandular Fever. I loved it, so straight after I did another course, at Sydney University with Libby Gleeson. It was with Libby that I found out about the Australian Society of Authors Mentorship program.

My application to the ASA's program was successful and Garry Crew was my mentor. The day I opened the letter to say I'd been successful was such an exciting one. I remember how much I screamed – my kids remember too!

My first novel 'White Lies' was written during the mentorship and Lothian published it in 2002. It was made a CBCA notable book for 2003.

I was on my way to really becoming a writer and since then I haven't stopped.

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