AWW Feature & Giveaway: Q&A with Kate Belle, author of The Yearning

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Welcome Kate Belle!

I am so pleased to welcome Kate Belle to Book’d Out today. Kate Belle lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, but is a country girl at heart, being born and bred in northern Victoria.  Kate describes herself as a passionate author, adequate wife and devoted mum/step-mum. She holds a tertiary qualification in applied chemistry, half a diploma in naturpathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Her employment history includes a video library, a travel agent, cleaning campervans for hire, the Victorian public service, a disability organisation and a university sports centre. She has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Kate 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 and has had two erotic romance novella’s, Breaking The Rules and Bloom, published by Random Romance.

Kate’s debut full length novel,  The Yearning, was published in May by Simon and Schuster Australia. This evocative, sensual novel explores the yearning for love, sex, and connection. You can read my y review of this remarkable novel  HERE

“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 erotic love notes begin to arrive in his letterbox.
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. Each must make a choice, the consequences of which will haunt them until they meet again twenty years later.”

I had the opportunity to ask Kate some questions and I am thrilled to share our conversation with you today. Read on…

Q & A with Kate Belle

Q: What are the main themes of The Yearning?

Kate: Love, desire, obsession, intimacy, lust and sexual power. To name a few. The Yearning is an intense story of unrequited and unconditional love. It explores how deep longing for connection with someone we believe we love can push us across social and moral boundaries. Sometimes we just want what we want, no matter what, but in love (and lust) there are always consequences and The Yearning doesn’t shy away from those.

It examines the sexual power balance in what appears at first to be an unequal relationship. But there is always more to these relationships than meets the eye. In a way it’s a cautionary tale for young women growing into their sexuality about the damage that mature sexual relationships can cause if we enter into them too early. The main protagonist is anonymous throughout the novel as a way of expressing her sense of invisibility.

Q: Where did the inspiration for The Yearning come from?

Kate: That’s a tricky one because the story sort of evolved out of a deep place within, as many of my stories do. I can’t pin it to one specific thing. The bones of it began as a collection of unsent love letters I’d written to various unattainable lovers throughout my own life, and a couple of short stories that were going nowhere. When I put them together I saw some common themes and the story took root. It rolled out of me as I wrote. I remember finishing a chapter, taking a deep breath and wondering where the story would take me next.

Q: What about a small Australian town in the late 1970’s made it the ideal setting for The Yearning?

Kate: I grew up in a small country town in 1970’s, so that setting holds a lot of ambience for me. The 1970’s was a time when Australia was coming to terms with the massive social changes sweeping across the Western world. Women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, the civil and equal rights movements. Big changes that challenged people’s moral boundaries and social norms.

Combine this sense of boundaries crumbling with a lack of public scrutiny and the relentless boredom that comes with being a teenager in a small town that offers nothing – no bookstore, no cinema, no culture – and you have fertile ground for a relationship like the one in The Yearning to evolve.

Q: The relationship in the novel  defies social and moral conventions, what can readers learn from this?

Kate: When we are young, it’s so easy to give ourselves away in the name of love. Yet entering a mature sexual relationship too early can be damaging in so many ways, ways we can’t comprehend until we hit full adulthood. I hope people will understand how a relationship like this can evolve, and that Solomon isn’t a monster. He struggles with his attraction, but is a bit helpless in the face of his own psyche and a young girl’s powerful desire for him.

There is a lot of hysteria and blame around student-teacher relationships. Certainly there is a power imbalance, but too often the teenagers are painted as hapless victims without any power at all. The truth is young people hold enormous sexual power and this is part of the reason these relationships happen in the first place. Through popular culture our young people learn early the value of sexual allure and how to ruffle their sexual feathers. If they are to protect themselves from potential exploitation it’s important they also understand the emotional ramifications that come with being involved with an older person.

Q: What scene in the novel was the most challenging to write?

Kate: The challenging bit wasn’t so much a scene as a character. Solomon. True confession: I went through so many redrafts trying to get behind his eyes to get his point of view. In the end my gorgeous critique partner, Margareta Osborn, very gently pointed out that perhaps I was so in love with Solomon that maybe I couldn’t see straight and if I wanted to write him properly I had to stop being so sympathetic toward him. It was a bit of a shock, but she was right. I had a very complicated relationship with Solomon throughout the novel, and it wasn’t until I talked it through with Margareta that I realised it was compromising my ability to write him. Weird, I know, but there it is.

Q: The Yearning is promoted by your publisher as erotic fiction – what does that term mean within the context of this novel?

Whenever a novel like this hits the bookshelves it needs to be categorised in some way so that people understand its genre. While The Yearning contains strong erotic themes and explicit sexual scenes, all of which are absolutely necessary to the story, I hope it’s not defined by that content alone. It’s a love story (as opposed to a romance). The ending isn’t a traditional HEA, but it is perfect for the story. I think the common themes of expectations and disappointments in love and negotiating challenging relationships give it a much broader appeal than erotic fiction.

Q: I understand you need music to write – what was on your playlist during the writing of The Yearning?

Kate: The majority of The Yearning was written to a gorgeous CD of sensual classical music. My hubby received Seduction by Luminesca, an Australian cello/guitar duo, for his birthday. I fell in love with the music and it perfectly captured the intense emotional journey the characters undertake in The Yearning. It inspired me while writing the intense love scenes and scenes of longing in the book. If I could embed the music into the book for readers to enjoy I would.

Q: What’s next for you?

Kate: I’ve just signed a contract with Simon & Schuster for my second novel, working title Saint. It’s another intense and challenging story about a marriage between Jade, a wild artist who flouts social conventions, and her ever patient husband, Banjo. For the first time in twenty years Banjo walks out  after a fight with Jade and is killed in a hit and run accident. Banjo is left with an unanswered question: did his wife, Jade, love him above all the others? He can’t be at peace until he discovers the answer. Only when their daughter, Lissy, discovers Jade’s book of lovers, an artistic journal chronicling her extra-marital affairs, does he discover the truth.

Q.    Can you please share three of your favourite novels by Australian women writers?

My One Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson – I just fell in love with the prose in this book. It’s a wonderful exploration of eroticism in all its forms.

Tremble by Tobsha Learner – The way she weaves myth and mysticism into this collection of erotic short stories is awe-inspiring.

Anything by Margareta Osborn – Not just because she’s my critique partner. She is a master at character. I can hear them breathing when I read her work.

Q. What is your preference?

·           Coffee/Tea or other? I’m a brewed coffee addict.

·           Beach/Pool or River? River or beach. Pools are fake.

·           Slacks/Jeans or Leggings? Jeans. Even when I’m too old to get away with them. (Do people still wear slacks?)

·           Butterfly/Tiger or Giraffe? Some days are tigers, some days are butterflys, but they’re rarely giraffes.

·           Swing/Slide or Roundabout? Since I did my knee on the trampoline I don’t do play equipment.

The Yearning is available to purchase

@ Simon & Schuster AU I @Boomerang Books I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle I @iTunes

Via Booko I @ your local independent bookshop

You can find Kate Belle @

Website I Facebook I Twitter

ENTER TO WIN

 Kate Belle is offering you the chance to win

 1  signed print edition of

The Yearning

 Open to Australia Residents only

 To Enter

CLICK HERE

Entries close May 19th. Drawn via Random.org

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer Lynne
    May 07, 2013 @ 10:21:11

    Lovely interview – and the book sounds fascinating, as does Saint, I must say. Looking forward to reading them both.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Jenn J McLeod | Come home to the country...
    May 07, 2013 @ 10:39:40

    Thank you. Explaining this novel will, I hope, mean more women might consider reading it, even though, like me, erotic fiction is not the preferred genre. Kate Belle’s writing is amazing. Such a way with words. I’m very glad I found this book.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Michael @ Literary Exploration
    May 07, 2013 @ 13:14:40

    This book looks great, I still need to get a copy of it. It kind of reminds me of Me and Mr Booker and for that fact alone I plan to read it 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  4. Mary Preston
    May 08, 2013 @ 12:49:59

    I don’t need a “traditional HEA” to enjoy a story. THE YEARNING does look like such a great read.

    Like

    Reply

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  7. Trackback: Review & Giveaway: The Yearning by Kate Belle | book'd out

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