What inspired the idea behind this book?
Although I’m ashamed to say I don’t play any musical instruments, music is – and always has been – a huge part of my life. When I was a kid, my father didn’t really talk about how he felt (still doesn’t …), but he lived out his emotions through the stereo. I could always tell how he was feeling by the vinyl record he slid onto to the turntable. I learned as a child that music can soothe us, rouse us, give us a chance to cry, and allow us to vent our anger. I suspect it can even make us fall in love. Someone once said, ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’, meaning that it’s either an impossible thing to do, or at the very least that it’s an absurd thing to try. But, I didn’t let that deter me. Since I’m always up for a challenge, I decided to write a book about music anyway!
Like my first book, Star-crossed, The Lost Love Song is a book about fate. In Star-crossed, it’s the stars that are (or might be?) the mysterious force that make love happen. In The Lost Love Song, it’s a song. The song is written by a woman, for her lover. For … reasons … she never plays it for him. But the song has a life of its own, in a way, and it begins a journey across the world, travelling from ear to ear, and heart to heart, influencing all kinds of love stories on the way. When I started this book, I wanted to see if the song could make its way back to the person it was always meant for, and also to find out what it could achieve on its travels.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Just as a lot of good love songs have two parts, The Lost Love Song tells a story with two parts. In order to tell the first part, I had to put the characters – and, hopefully, readers – through some very big emotions. But I then had to find the best way to help readers transition into the second part. When I was trying to meet this challenge, I took heart from the 1998-2000 Australian television series Seachange. In the first series, I fell deeply in character-love with the character of Diver Dan (David Wenham), so much so that when the actor left the show, I didn’t believe Laura (Sigrid Thornton) could ever love again. Or that I could ever love again on her behalf! But, then came Max (William McInnes), and somehow he found his way into my heart after all. So, I knew that it could be done, if only I was equal to the task…
What is something that has influenced you as a writer?
Like a lot of people, I’ve been doing a bit of Marie Kondo-esque decluttering in recent years, which has brought me face-to-face with things I’ve forgotten, and objects that hold certain meanings from my past. I found a box of the Sweet Dreams romance books that I read when I was a very young teenager in the early 1980s. Just looking at the pictures on the covers of books like PS I Love You and Love Match brought back memories of being twelve and thirteen, curled up on my bunkbed at our family’s summer house, consuming volume after volume. I remembered both how much pleasure these books had brought me, and the vague sense I’d felt: that I was doing something that was somehow a bit naughty, or clandestine. During that same time in my life, I was also reading books like Z for Zachariah, To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984 (which I read for the first time in 1984). Those books took on huge issues and really made me think, but now I can see that those simple, sweet, innocent love ‘Sweet Dreams’ books actually influenced me quite strongly as a writer as well. There was room inside me for all kinds of stories, and there still is. Love stories provide a very particular kind of emotional journey, and it’s one that I really enjoy taking – over and over again.
What’s some great advice you’ve received that has helped you as a writer?
It’s not so much advice, as role-modelling. One of my dear friends is the award-winning author Heather Rose; we also write children’s books together as ‘Angelica Banks’. Heather is a little older than me, so she was ahead of me on the path of trying to combine a writing life with the business mothering and having a demanding job. Watching her determination to keep all the parts of her life going taught me that it could be done, if I was strong enough. I picture her walking ahead of me through a jungle, with a machete, and I am incredibly grateful for her leadership and her strength.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a full library of ideas in my head and I’m waiting to see which one of those ideas takes hold of my heart most strongly. I have a feeling that the box of ‘Sweet Dreams’ romances could play a part, and I have a suspicion that my next book will explore the complicated territory of the relationship between a mother and a teenage daughter.