Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She has completed a PhD in cultural theory and loves nature, Jane Austen and puns. Sasha is a farming wannabe, with a passion for animals and the land. Although she’s in her forties now, she still wants a pony. Her debut novel, a young adult paranormal, was published in 2014. Today, she lives and writes in the Perth hills region with her partner and two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens. Sasha writes mystery, paranormal and young adult novels as S.D. Wasley.
Love Song is a heart-warming rural romance novel. Can you tell us a bit more about your book?
In Love Song, the eldest Paterson sister, Beth, gets an unwelcome blast from the past when her first love, Charlie Campbell, comes back to town. Things go from bad to worse when she starts having vivid flashback dreams about their short-lived high school romance. Why can’t she just get over him?
They are forced to work together to save the tiny remote community where Charlie comes from and where Beth works as a FIFO doctor. It becomes apparent during their stay in the rugged, magical little place in the middle of the east Kimberley that Charlie is just as angry at her as she is at him. Beth takes the opportunity to finally confront Charlie about why he left without even saying goodbye all those years ago – and the answer is not what she expects.
What inspired the idea behind this story?
During the writing of books 1 and 2, Beth emerged as the practical, ambitious but sometimes bossy big sister, fiercely protective of Willow and Free. Especially while I was writing True Blue, Beth showed how suspicious she was of men, constantly questioning Free’s choice of boyfriend, and I started to think about why Beth would act like that. She would have had to have been seriously screwed over by a man! I already knew I wanted her romantic lead to be a musician and to have a connection with the remote community where Beth worked every month – and thus Charlie Campbell was born!
You were born and raised in Perth. How has your experience of living in Australia influenced the way you write about the landscape in your novel?
I have always been fascinated by our landscape in Australia. I’m also a noticer: I see rocks and vegetation and insects and animals everywhere I go. While we didn’t have much money to go holidaying as a child, I was lucky to have a friend whose family invited me along on their camping vacations. I got to experience the southwest and greater southern regions, as well as the glorious north (although only as far as Kalbarri). I was already a writer as a child, and a big fan of Anne of Green Gables, in which descriptions of setting abound. As a result, a lot of my childhood writing featured descriptions of Australian landscapes. When I got the opportunity to travel into the Kimberley about ten years ago, I immediately fell in love with the drama and beauty of that environment. One day, I will do a long, lazy trip all the way around Australia and see as many of its marvels as possible.
Your story takes place in a rural community, and we are seeing a greater interest in rural fiction amongst Australian readers. Why do you think people enjoy reading rural stories? What is their appeal?
I think it is because we long for that sense of community that exists in small towns and regional areas. We are all packed together in cities and suburbia – and yet we are isolated. We live in silos. But many of us remember that feeling of community from our childhoods: the cricket game on the street after school, playing in our neighbour’s backyard, a natter at the local shop. It’s much harder for urban dwellers to find the time and spaces to connect these days, and rural towns still have that sense of community intact, so perhaps us city folk seek that connection via fiction. We also have a national identity as people of the land, even if most of us now live on small blocks in master-planned residential estates!
What was your favourite book of 2018, and which book are you most looking forward to reading this year?
Tough question! I have too many and can’t choose just one. My three favourite reads from last year were: The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish, In at the Deep End by Penelope Janu and the Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell. I also loved the final instalment of Marcus Damanda’s The Salvation State series. I’m not always very aware of upcoming releases to be honest, but I’m really looking forward to Tess Woods’ Love and Other Battles, and Sister Towns by Jennie Jones, and my daughter has told me about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time so that’s been added to the list!