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The Aussie author on his life in London, his inspiration for his first novel and the perils of the British media

Where did the idea for London-set satire Page Three come from?

From my own early experiences in London. I arrived from Sydney in late 2004 and like [the book’s character] Paul Fletcher, I had
a plan to change careers. I’d given up law to be a freelance writer, but didn’t have the contacts to make it happen. Also like Paul and Sarah, my wife and I had unrealistic ideas. We’d spent all our money travelling, so the first few months we were broke. Most of my London friends were lawyers or bankers, which gave me this sense of downward mobility. There was always this tension about finding a solution – going back to law or going home. It gave rise to the book.

Where does Paul stop and Ralph begin?

Our backgrounds are similar. Like Paul, I became a corporate lawyer as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was expected to work 70-hour weeks in a job I hated. Not a recipe for happiness. I found myself asking ‘is this all there is to life?’.

What appealed to you about the law?

I drifted into it because I was unsure what I wanted to pursue. I enjoyed language, liked the sound of my own voice and had a huge bias towards the humanities at school. Everyone said I should be a lawyer, so I believed them. Studying it was fun because it was all about philosophy and history and the things I enjoyed.
 
Do you ever regret you chose a lower-paid career?

I’d like to say no, but the truth is sometimes it’s hard not to feel a little jealous when your best friends have stayed the course and have so much more money than you and can enjoy a different quality of life. Still, I have my happiness … wow, that sounds pretty vomitus.

You say of Paul Fletcher’s experience that “beneath the partying lies a divided culture where reality is dictated not just by the company you keep but also the media you consume”...

I think what we like counts for so much. Because the British media is so diverse, it’s easy to only read or watch things that agree with what we already think, so we never really end up challenging ourselves. It also means the competition is cut-throat, and that leads to the temptation to make things up. Page Three is intended to be satirical and tongue-in-cheek.


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'I thought London was the worst place on earth': Aussie author Ralph Grayden on London living and new book Page Three
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