Guest blogger: Kate Belle
Romance can be a risky business. In life it can turn on you when you least expect it. Secrets turn up, deception, illusion, pretence, conflicting desires. We fall in love with the wrong people. Or just when you think everything is going beautifully, your beloved drops the F-bomb—Farewell!
And if romance is risky in life, it’s even riskier in fiction. Unlike in real life, where we muddle around agonising over the right thing to do, romantic fiction characters are expected to find answers to their problems. Readers are discerning, they read with a critical eye sensitive to the slightest hint of cliché or cynicism. They expect their romantic couples to do what most of us struggle with, find the strength, sense, resources to overcome incredible odds and prove that love can prevail. And if someone decides the best solution is to drop the F-bomb, there better be a damned good reason for it or God help you surviving the reviews!
Given the real-life difficulties romance poses, I think those who fictionalise it are among the bravest and most innovative people in the world. They take characters we relate to (they could be us at sometime in our lives) into situations most of us would prefer to avoid and push them through the metaphorical mincer. We watch, wide-eyed, as the character we’ve learned to love is cruelly tortured. Love is kept from them, they face boundary after hurdle after difficulty followed by humiliation, until finally they learn to get out of their own way and earn the love we all want them to have.
The love we all want to have.
I’m a pretty sensible sort of person. I don’t take a lot of risks, which is probably why I love to take so many risks in my books. It’s my way of exploring the difficulties love poses. What sane writer chooses to write about unsavoury things like an illicit teacher/student relationship, or the emotive issue of infidelity and monogamy, or creates a dead protagonist for their main character? This one. Because messing with dangerous ideas, taking risks, is something I can do on the page, but struggle with in real life.
This need to write risky love stories comes from my need to understand love and the crazy things people will do to have it and keep it. I heard a story of a teacher being caught out with a teenage student after she’d been sexting him and turned up on his doorstep with a bottle of wine. What made her do that? Why did he fall for it? And I’ve met people who simply aren’t monogamous. What does love look like for them, for their partners? How do they manage the hurt and expectations? If they have a partner, why does the partner stay? What do they sacrifice along the way?
Why does love, or the passion and desire, cause us to willingly cross over boundaries we know we probably shouldn’t?
While this eternal question burns a hole in my brain, and unusual real-life love stories keep showing up, I’ll keep writing risky stories, hoping to understand that all-consuming driver of destinies, love.
First love. Forbidden love. A young girl’s desire. A teacher’s seduction.
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.
A tragic death. A family divided. Only truth can set them free.
Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally walks away from his wife, Jade, after twenty five years of her adultery. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, and in despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.
Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mystery surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? And why won’t Jade speak about what happened? Despite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.
Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers. And watching from afar, Banjo aches, discovering the truth had never believed while he was alive. And then one day, Lissy’s quest with Jade’s long line of lovers leads her to an explosive truth…one that will finally set her family free.
Kate Belle is a multi-published author of dark, sensual love stories that will mess with your head. Her interests include talking to strangers, collecting unread books, and ranting about the world’s many injustices. She writes regularly about women, relationships, sexuality and books on her blog, The Ecstasy Files. She is also the creator of the Eros in Action writing sex workshop.
Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne with her small family and very annoying pets. The Yearning was released in 2013 to rave reviews. Being Jade is her second novel.