It's 1978 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 window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive. Solomon knows he must resist, but he has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, she turns up unannounced and they must make a decision where the consequences will haunt them until they meet again twenty years later.
A new voice in Australian writing captures perfectly the tumult of being young and in love with the wrong man, at a time when the whole world was changing.
Kate Belle lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, but is a country girl at heart, being born and bred in northern Victoria. She has had some publishing success with nonfiction articles and four short stories highly commended in Australian competitions. She recently won the Southern Cross short story competition for Cool Change. Kate juggles her pens with the rest of her life. She is a woman of many passions, including Aboriginal affairs, social justice issues, astrology and all things creative. Kate is a science graduate who works as a policy advisor with the Victorian State government. She shares her life with a high-maintenance husband, a too-bright six year old daughter and a menagerie of neurotic animals. Writing was her first love and The Yearning is her first novel.
Simon and Schuster
Author: Kate Belle
Interview with Kate Belle
Question: What inspired the idea of The Yearning?
Kate Belle: That's a tricky question because the story evolved out of me, I couldn't pin it to one specific thing. I had a collection of short stories and unsent love letters that I'd written to various unattainable lovers throughout my own life and within the prose is a collection of things I had in a file. When I pulled out the file I realised there was a theme and I started writing. Initially the book started with the letters being at the beginning of each chapter but as the story evolved the letters became embedded inside the story and I realised the letters were being sent from this young girl to an older man who she was completely obsessed by.
Question: Why did you decide to write a book set in 1978?
Kate Belle: I have a great fondness of 1978, I grew up in the country in Benalla, a small town in North Eastern Victoria, and we moved in 1979. 1978 was the first year I started high school and it was around that time that I discovered music such as -Countdown' and I became aware of Politics as there was a lot of change going on in the world and Australia was being culturally affected by women's liberation, the sexual revolution and the equal rights movement that were happening in the States. 1978 had an ambience for me.
Question: How did you go about creating the character of Solomon Andrews?
Kate Belle: Solomon Andrews is an interesting character; he appeared in my head almost fully formed. I had a lot of difficulty writing about Solomon Andrews because I was a bit hot for him, myself (laughs). I think it's because he was the perfect lover or my ideal lover and as I started writing him my very good friend and critique partner, Margherita Osbourne, kept saying 'You haven't got Solomon right, Kate; you're too sympathetic, you're not behind his eyes and it comes out in your writing how much you love this man. His not very nice, Kate, this man is very selfish, remember that." I had to take a step back from Solomon and analyse my relationship with him.
I have relationships with all my characters, I feel them, I see them, I hear them and I talk to them whilst I'm writing which looks weird but lucky I am shut away in a study because otherwise people would think I was crazy!
I had to work hard on Solomon Andrews to get enough distance from him to be able to write from his point of view, I've always had a thing for dark men (laughs).
Question: Have you always wanted to be an author?
Kate Belle: Yes, ever since I was a kid. I used to spend my spare time on weekends making my own magazines and writing stories. I won a local short story competition when I was 13 to celebrate Book Week and in my category my short story won and I was so excited to see my story in print, in the local newspaper and there was something about that experience that made me want to repeat it, it fuelled the fire to write. I have written a diary since I was 8, I've done nothing but write, writing is like breathing for me, I can't not do it.
Question: Are you currently working on another book?
Kate Belle: I am and I have just signed a contract with Simon and Schuster for it. It's another complicated and controversial novel which explores two characters, Banjo and Jade who have been married for over twenty years. Jade is a wild woman who is an artist who flouts social convention, she lives very authentically and is very brave. Together they have two daughters and their relationship has always been quite feisty and Jade has had many, many lovers throughout her life which her daughter discovers after Banjo and Jade have a huge fight and Banjo walks out on Jade, for the first time, ever. Banjo is hit and killed in a hit and run accident; in the after mass Jade falls apart and her daughters are left to pick up the pieces and they discover a sketch book which chronicles all her extramarital affairs and the lovers that she's had. The daughters start to unravel what their parents' marriage was actually about; Banjo has never known if he would be the one that Jade would choose, in the end above all the other men and his hanging around, from death, to try and understand what he met to Jade. It is a pretty powerful storyline.
Interview by Brooke Hunter