Meet the Author with Sally Seltmann
In three words, describe to us your novel:
Romantic, funny, passionate
Lovesome follows the story of Joni Johnson who leads a rather bohemian lifestyle, working in a romantic French restaurant by day and setting up an easel in her backyard bungalow in the evenings. But her perfect existence is shaken when her best friend Annabelle appears out of the blue ecstatic in love and with a life that leaves Joni feeling as though hers is lacklustre by comparison. As women, many of us have a tendency to comparing ourselves to others. What was the inspiration for this aspect of Lovesome?
I think most close female friends can’t help but compare themselves to each other, especially if there’s a weak spot. Joni’s weakness is the fact that she’s still single. It’s something she feels embarrassed about, and ashamed of.
I’m fascinated by complex friendships and relationships, and although Joni and Annabelle absolutely love each other, we learn that deep down they both harbour feelings of a competitive nature towards one another. This combination makes for an intense and flawed friendship, and I’m often drawn to characters like this in films and books.
Lovesome is touted as “a beguiling story of finding your own happiness”. What would be your best advice for women who are seeking to find their own happiness?
Well if you’re creative like Joni, then my advice would be to make room in your life so you can practise your art, or writing, or music, or whatever it may be. Find somewhere to work that makes you feel wonderful and alive – like Harland – where Joni works. Stand up for yourself when people are not treating you well. Allow time for relaxing, being silly and having fun. Do what feels true to you. Be there for the people who love you.
What makes Australian romance fiction unique?
Australian romance fiction is unique because of our beautiful landscape, whether it be the Sydney Harbour, or the Pilbara in WA, or a quiet beach with fine sand and crystal blue waters. There are so many special Aussie locations for setting a romance novel.
I intentionally set my book Lovesome in Balmain in Sydney which means the backdrop for my characters includes sand stone cottages, the harbour at night twinkling with reflected night-lights, large gum trees, and old corner pubs.
Another way in which Australian fiction is unique, is our use of Aussie slang. I used the word ‘pash’ a few times in Lovesome because I think it’s such a fantastic and hilarious word. (For those who don’t know, it means to tongue kiss.)
What led you on the path of storytelling?
I’m a singer-songwriter, and I’ve recorded four solo albums and have toured around the world, so I’ve been telling stories through my music for many years now. I think it was about ten years ago that I found myself telling random people that I really wanted to write a book.
And then I wrote a song called ‘Book Song’. It’s basically a poem, declaring that I’d rather write a book, than play music in a stinky old pub. And then two years ago I felt like it was time for me to act on those lyrics, so I wrote Lovesome.
Is there an author who you particularly admire and what aspect of their work/life/personality has inspired that admiration?
I love Elena Ferrante, and my favourite books of hers are The Neapolitan Quartet – My Brilliant Friend, The Story Of A New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story Of The Lost Child. I was completely blown away when I read them, and I know they are books I will go back to time and time again. I love the intense and complicated friendship between the main female characters. When you read these books, within seconds you’re immersed in the dark and passionate world that Elena Ferrante so skilfully created. She’s an incredibly gifted writer.
An offbeat and beguiling story of finding your own happiness.
My warm breath makes a beautiful fog in front of me. It’s times like this when I feel most alive. I feel free, and at one with the world and everything around me. It’s an invigorating version of euphoria. But I don’t want to arrive home to no one; I want someone to come home to.
It’s 1995 and 21-year-old Joni Johnson is fresh out of art school and loving her life. Working at Harland, a French restaurant, makes her happy – it’s as romantic as she is herself. Harland’s owner, Lucy, and chef, Dave, make her evenings both entertaining and complicated. By day, Joni sets up her easel in her backyard bungalow, turns on her music, and paints.
But when Joni’s best friend, Annabelle, arrives on the doorstep one night ecstatic in love, everything changes. The life Joni has built for herself seems lacklustre in comparison to Annabelle’s rising star. And when Annabelle makes a beeline for the one man who seems interested in Joni, it looks unlikely that their friendship will survive.
Tender, funny and romantic, Lovesome is a triumph.
Sally Seltmann is an Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She has released four solo albums, and has toured internationally. Sally is the co-writer of the song ‘1234’, performed by Feist, which became a Top 10 hit on the United States Hot 100. Sally previously released her music as New Buffalo and is a member of Seeker Lover Keeper with fellow Australians Sarah Blasko and Holly Throsby.