'Beatle meets Destiny' quickly became one of my new favorite books, and Gabrielle Williams one of my favorite new Young Adult authors. From the iconic Melbourne setting to the wonderfully dubious title characters - this book is *AMAZING*. And even more amazing is being able to have a chat with Gabrielle Williams herself, and ask her all those questions that have been bubbling up since reading the last line of 'Beatle meets Destiny'.
Without further ado - I give you, Gabrielle Williams!
Q: Was there ever any doubt in your mind that the novel would be set in Melbourne?
If I'd gotten Government funding I might have been persuaded to set 'Beatle Meets Destiny' in Paris and lived for a year in a garret, wearing stripy t-shirts and eating baguettes. But no funding meant no Paris meant no way I was going to set it anywhere but Melbourne.
Q: You are clearly a proud Melbourne gal (after my own heart!). What’s your favourite thing about the city?
Hm. Favourite thing? I think it's precisely the lack of a favourite thing that is my favourite thing, if you know what I mean. There is no particular touristy attraction you'd take an out-of-towner to. The weather isn't as balmy as up north. People from overseas might skip Melbourne if they were only visiting Australia for a short time. But it's precisely this lack that seems to give Melbourne its soul. It's the people and the culture and the insider-knowledge that have built up over years and years that make Melbourne so loveable, not some brassy, shiny bauble.
Q: Character names are quite integral to the plot of ‘Beatle meets Destiny’. . . did your entire story idea sprout from the names of John Lennon and Destiny Mcartney, or did the plot come first followed by the names?
I always knew I wanted it to be about a guy who's very likeable, but who cheats on his girlfriend nonetheless - Roy and Amelia were early versions. However as soon as Beatle and Destiny dropped into my brain, the book just about wrote itself.
Q: Were you already a fan of the ‘Fab Four’ before you started writing the book, or did your love grow with inspiration?
Actually, I'm more of a Stones girl myself, but after coming up with idea of calling my main character John Lennon, I started noticing the Beatles more, listening to their songs, choosing their playlist on my iPod, to the point where these days I'm blown away by how fabulously talented they were.
Q: One of the things I loved about your novel was all the gray areas. Like the character of Beatle - he’s a really great guy (total crush material) but he is, technically, a ‘cheater’. Or Winsome’s romantic dalliance with a certain teacher. How hard is it to write these ‘tightrope’ characters and dubious situations?
'Tightrope' characters - I like it. It's a good phrase. I might use it next time, if you don't mind. In a funny way tightrope characters are easy to write because there's so much going on. You've got someone who's a great guy, but who's unfaithful to his girlfriend, and lying to his friends and family in order to not get caught, but also lying to the new girl because he doesn't want her to know the truth, plus trying to juggle everything and everyone without dropping the bundle - easy! There's pages and pages worth of character right there.
Q: The internet is abuzz with ‘Beatle meets Destiny’ movie adaptation news – can you give us a status-update on the film?
Abuzz? I wish. More like 'averyverytinyblip', but if we get the word out there, we might have the internet abuzz before the week's out! I was very glamorous recently and met with the director who is working on the screenplay at the moment. Actually, I wasn't glamorous, but she was. She's this really interesting German woman called Anna Justice (you can Google her if you're interested - she's won quite a few awards for her films) who worked in LA for about 15 years before returning to her native Berlin. She's finishing the script as we speak, and was bandying about all kinds of ridiculously famous actors for certain roles, but I don't want to say anything more about that because I might jinx it. Beatle isn't the only person who's extremely superstitious.
Q: Since we’re talking about the film (and if you haven’t answered this via the previous question) can you shine any light on the biggest rumour of all, that ‘Beatle meets Destiny’ might be filmed in Ireland?! (to be sure, to be sure. . .)
Your sources are good! Either Ireland or Canada are the hot spots at the moment.
Q: One more film-related question (last one, I promise!) who would be your ideal cast for the movie?
That's a tricky one - any suggestions?
Q: Astrology, destiny and fate all play a pivotal (if sceptical) role in the lives of all your characters. But did you know that people’s star signs have changed because of the Earth’s realignment with the sun? It’s true: I'm not telling you this just to be geeky and impressive. . . I'm wondering if this *SHOCKING* and *AMAZING* news will prompt you to write a sequel to ‘Beatle meets Destiny’? Pretty please?
That is SHOCKING and AMAZING news, and in a way I think it would be really quite fun to revisit Beatle and Destiny - in fact, you've just given me a brilliant idea for my next book …
Q: ‘Beatle meets Destiny’ is an iconic Aussie YA read. The minute my eyes read the last line, I knew the book was a keeper and one I would be passing around to my friends. What are some of your favourite Australian books, and what Aussie authors have been big influences for you?
I'm rapt that you would call it an iconic Aussie YA read - I'll slip you that cheque later. Some of my favourite Aussie books are: 'The Book Thief' by Marcus Zusak; 'Liar' by Justine Larbalestier; 'Eucalyptus' by Murray Bail; pretty much anything by Sonya Hartnett; 'Raw Blue' by Kirsty Eager; 'Addition' by Toni Jordan; and the list goes on and on and on.
Q: You started your career as an advertising copywriter (a pretty darn cool job!). What prompted you to write a novel, and is it something you’re now devoting yourself to, full-time?
Working in advertising as a copywriter was fantastic fun when I was young and single, but once I had kids it started being a bit more difficult. Once I chose to switch to part-time I seemed to get the crappy briefs and the less interesting clients which in turn made the work less satisfying creatively. So I decided to start writing my own stuff because I was sick of clients and account service bossing me around and telling me what to write (take that! bossy clients and account service people).
Q: You have two teenage children. Did they offer you insights and suggestions while writing ‘Beatle meets Destiny’? And were they pleased that you weren’t writing about underage sex, drugs and all that typical angsty teen stuff?
Oops. Three kids. Don't worry, it's a common mistake. Somehow our youngest boy got overlooked in my bio, and he's been overlooked ever since. Poor kid. I usually even forget to cook him dinner, it's gotten so bad. My oldest girl (who's now 21) was fantastic giving critical feedback. She read an early draft and told me in no uncertain terms where it sounded fake or try-hard or preachy, so I took all those bits out, added some other stuff, showed it to her again, took out more fake/try-hard/preachy stuff (repeat indefinitely) until finally I refused to show it to her anymore, and sent it off to Penguin instead for their feedback!
Q: Do your kids think it’s really cool that you are writing for their demographic?
Funny you should ask that - I think they find it embarrassing, but in a kind of proud way. For example, our middle boy only invited one of his buddies to my book launch, even though I told him to invite all of them, because he wasn't sure what I was going to do or say. But then, when he was overseas recently, he asked me to send a copy of his book to his American girlfriend. So … embarrassed, but proud.
Q: I loved ‘Beatle meets Destiny’ so much! (seriously, if this book were a Trampoline Ice-cream flavour it would be ‘Divine Passion Sorbet’ - it’s that amazingly delicious). What other books are you working on and when can we get our hot little hands on them?
I've got a book with Penguin at the moment, and I'm just waiting to hear from them about whether or not they want to take it on. It's about five teenagers who take a roadtrip from Melbourne to Sydney (two sisters, one guy from their school, and two homeless guys) who have to deliver something very important to Lavender Bay in Sydney. I can't say much more than that, because otherwise I'd have to kill you. Oh, and a sequel to 'Beatle Meets Destiny' which you gave me the idea for a few questions back (I'm not kidding).
Q: Last question, and it has to be asked (but I’ll see if I can make it quirky). If you were trapped in an elevator, which ‘Beatles’ song would you like to be on replay while you await the rescue firemen?
You ask the best questions! Seriously. Okay, let me think. It would have to be 'Help!' wouldn't it?