Your favourite Beatles song?
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
How did this story start percolating in your brain? What was the first a-ha moment?
I’ve been asked a lot where the idea came from, and I’m not exactly sure - it just kind of slowly wrote itself. The book I started off writing isn’t the book that became “Beatle Meets Destiny”. If I had to pinpoint an a-ha moment, it was probably when I was idly thinking – apropos of nothing – that it would be quite funny if you named your daughter Destiny. And then if she met a superstitious guy in unusual circumstances, would he think she was “the one”? And then it all kind of span out of control from that.
How difficult is it to write from a male teen's perspective authentically?
I’m not sure. I tried to write from an authentic character’s point of view, whether it was male or female. I have this theory that, while of course boys and girls have differences, there are a lot of essentials that are the same. What it really comes down to is the personality of the individual.
Beatle suffers a stroke previous to the events of the book, how did this become a part of his story?
A boy at my daughter’s school had a bad surfing accident in about year 10, and was in hospital for a long time, then walked with a limp ever after. He was very cute looking and artistic and all the girls were kind of in love with him, and I’m pretty sure one of the things they liked about him was his vulnerability – his limp. And there was this other guy who lived a few streets up from us, a young guy about 22, who’d had a stroke, and limped. I kind of merged the two. Also, my mother-in-law had a severe stroke a couple of years ago, so I saw first-hand the full-on rehabilitation that was required.
There's a sense of whimsicality to this book which is ably assisted by the multitude of amazing character names. Where did the inspiration for Destiny's siblings and that of Beatle and Winsome come from?
I’ve always been kind of fascinated by people’s names – they seem so important and integral to a person’s character, you know what I mean? You meet someone who is just a complete and utter Harry, and you couldn’t imagine them being called anything else. And if you don’t like someone, you would never call your child that name because of the association with the person you don’t like. And you can give your child a lifetime’s worth of torment if you give them a terrible name. I just feel like names have got so much depth and are a great short-cut to personality.
Stalking, inappropriate teacher dalliances, monogamy and fate are all issues included in Beatle Meets Destiny yet there is a charming, fun feel to the book. Was this deliberate and how were you able to tread the line between seriousness and farce?
Hm. That’s a toughie - can I have an easier question?
This is your debut novel, how does it feel to see your work on the bookstore shelves?
Seeing my work out in bookshops is a huge thrill. My husband went into Borders recently and photographed the display they had of “Beatle Meets Destiny” then sent it through to my email with the subject heading “You’ve got a nice rack”. Which I do. In Borders, anyway.
What are some of your favourite YA titles?
I haven’t actually read that much YA, but of the ones I’ve read I really liked
“Saving Francesca” by Melina Marchetta. I liked that it had a serious side – with the mum suffering from depression – but also that it showed the buoyancy and optimism of youth. I also really enjoyed reading “I Capture the Castle” which is quaint and old-fashioned. And “The Lovely Bones” was incredible; completely and utterly original.
Thank you so much to Gabrielle and Rose (Penguin) for making this interview a possibility!