As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best things about ‘becoming an author’ is that I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many great people along the way. Especially some fantastic Aussie writers. We have such a wonderful support network in this country for authors at all stages of their journey. This week I get the chance to introduce another Aussie to my blog. Kate and I met through Facebook in an erotic authors group. While I hate to admit I’ve yet to read The Yearning it is now high on my list of must reads. How great is that cover!
Kate Belle is On the Bench
Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets. She holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.
It’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.
Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.
Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.
Local independent bookshops: (http://www.truelocal.com.au/find/book-shop/)
Author Interview Questions.
What was the first book you had published?
I wonder what defines a book these days? Does a novella (short book) count? Is an ebook equivalent to a print book? If you have a short story included in a published anthology does that count as a book, even though there are a bunch of other writers? Hmmm. The Yearning is my first print book and I’m SO VERY EXCITED about its release. Breaking the Rules and Bloom were my first e-pubbed novellas. And before that there was a story in URL Love anthology. I took baby steps to achieve my first print publication. It was worth it.
What was your initial reaction when offered that first contract?
A MASSIVE SURGE OF EXCITEMENT and the BIGGEST DAMNED SMILE you’ve ever seen. I was at work when I got the call from my agent, so my leaping about had to be confined to the lift wells. It was hard to concentrate on work afterwards. I just wanted to tell everyone ‘Hey – you’ll never guess what – I’ve got a real publishing contract!’ They all smiled politely, said, ‘That’s great, Kate. Well done,’ then went back to work. To everyone around me it was so ordinary. To me it was the beginning of a new life.
Of the books you have written is there one that holds a special place in your heart and why?
The Yearning is very special to me. It took four years to pummel into a publishable standard. I learnt a lot from it. It taught me all about point of view, dialogue, and how to pour my soul into my writing. It taught me to let go of the precious sentences I loved so much to make room for the story. The Yearning came from my guts. I didn’t plan it. It evolved. I laid out its bones and as I wrote it grew flesh until it became a fully formed story.
Are you a disciplined writer or do you have to wait for the muse to arrive? Do you have a ritual that gets you in the mood?
I write every day. It’s my full time job this year so I have to. There are days when the words just blunder out of me, all twisted and stupid looking, and I know that I’ll have to throw most of what I’ve done out. But I think it’s important to push through those days and keep writing, even if the muse hasn’t arrived. As Tim Winton once said, you have to show up at the bus stop if you want to catch the bus. If the muse strikes and I’m not sitting at my desk because I didn’t feel like writing, he might move on. If my muse knows he can find me at my desk, then I reckon he’s more likely to pop in.
I need the right music to write. Each work seems to gravitate toward a particular CD I have. I’m in the midst of writing my second novel and am frustrated because I can’t find my main character, Banjo’s, music. Nothing quite fits for him. And it’s making the writing process harder as a result. I also drink loads of tea and coffee and eat complete rubbish while I’m writing. Cuppa soup and instant noodles is standard for lunch.
What was the last book you read?
Nikki Stern’s Not Your Ordinary Housewife. I’ve reviewed it on my blog. It’s a gruelling and difficult memoir that I couldn’t put down. Now onto The Burial by Courtney Collins and still reading Beautiful Bastard. Being smothered by my ‘to-read’ list. I’ll never read all the books I want to before I die.
What are you working on now?
My second novel, working title Saint. Like The Yearning, it examines a relationship that society would judge poorly. It’s another dark, sensual love story about a man who is desperately in love with his damaged and consistently unfaithful wife and his efforts to discover if she loves him in return. I like to examine moral boundaries in relationships in my writing. The synopsis goes something like this:
Solid, reliable Banjo, is killed in a hit and run accident after walking out on a furious argument with Jade, his wild wife of twenty years. As the police search for the driver responsible, Jade falls into deep depression and Banjo’s spirit watches, tormented by one question: Did Jade love him above all others?
Their daughter, Lissy, is desperate to revive her mother. When she discovers a secret, artistic journal chronicling Jade’s extra-marital relationships, she contacts some of the men with whom Jade shared her body and heart in the hope that one might rouse her from her wilful stupor. Banjo’s in spirit and Lissy in life watch as a long line of ex-lovers show up to urge Jade to live, each shedding some light on the mystery that was Jade and Banjo’s lasting marriage. Saint is a story of unconditional love, sacrifice and a woman born with the absolute courage to be herself.
What genre would you like to try and write that is different from your own?
Ha! You’ll laugh. Children’s books. C’mon – it’s a short leap from erotic fiction. I’d love to write chapter books for primary aged kids. I just love the way kids imaginations work. They are so free in their minds, they come up with stuff we would never entertain as adults. They are smart too, and discerning readers. If you can win a child fan you’ve won a fan for life.
When you receive edits are you Teary and Disillusioned or Feisty and Focussed?
I did all the Teary and Disillusioned bit while in writers groups and workshops. I learned to grow a thick skin. Like all writers, I take criticism to heart. I’ve learned to love constructive criticism because it helps me improve my work and I’ve seen the results in being able to achieve publishing contracts. Now that I have professional editors to work with I KNOW that when they make a suggestion they’re not being picky and they’re not picking on me. They are experts at what they do. They want my work to be the best it can be because it reflects as much on them as it does on me. So I swallow my vast, Leo pride and open my ears and listen. Then I take on board 90+% of what they suggest. Because usually they are right!
What is one thing in your books you’d like to try?
Oh My God, Donna – really???? You want me to answer that honestly???
Okay. (Take a deep breath)
Ramon. I’d like to try Ramon Mendez – from my Master of Love series (Breaking the rules and Bloom). Before I’m too old for him. Who wouldn’t want their perfect lover materialised? Sigh. If only he was real…
Now for some hard hitters with an Aussie flavour!
A sport /sportsperson that you watch? (C’mon there must be one) OR An embarrassing sporting memory.
I’m not a sports person (I know, I’m terribly ashamed and unAustralian!) However, I do appreciate the grace and agility of our Aussie rules players (can’t name names, sorry). The sheer muscle those guys have, and the elegance when they rise up for a mark or make a graceful kick. Talk about man candy! The only football I watch is the Grand Final every year. I know the other games are often better, but I like the pomp and ceremony and the emotional high the game generates.
Favourite Aussie Author/Actor /Musician?
Choose one? Not possible. I hate choosing. My daughter is always asking me these kinds of impossible questions. ‘Mum, if you had to get rid of one of our dogs, would it be Belle or Bear?’ ‘Mum, if you had to cut off your arm or your leg, which would it be?’ ‘Mum, who would you choose, me or Daddy?’ (Well, that one’s easy!)
Let’s just say I love human beings who are intelligent, informed, gracious and creative. A whole lot of our Aussie talent falls into that category!
Your view on Vegemite?
Quintessentially Australian. It’s black!
Formal dinner party or backyard barbeque?
I’m not a meat eater so it has to be the dinner party. Besides, I like dressing up.
Adventure holiday or relaxing by the pool?
There we go with these impossible choices again! Both, I tell you, both both both. Except I’d rather relax by the ocean. Not a big fan of pools. Too many people pee in them.
Favourite Aussie holiday place or one you’ve always wanted to visit?
I LOVE the northern NSW coast, especially the surrounds of Byron Bay. Until Byron became so touristy I thought it was heaven on earth. There is something about the landscape and weather and energy up there that warms the cockles of my cold Melbournian heart.
The usual links for more information about the amazing Kate Belle.
Master of Love series featuring the charismatic lover, Ramon Mendez: Breaking the Rules and Bloom