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The more flaws, the more fascination

As Shakespeare said, if it’s a romance it ends in tragedy and if it’s a comedy it ends with a wedding.

Which set the scene nicely for Melanie Joosten and Cate Kennedy’s session with Susan Marnie about obsession, desire and possession.

According to Joosten, characters must desire something but there must also be a chance that a character won’t achieve their desire. The character also has to be convincing so that the reader can believe what you’re putting the character through, she said.

In her novel Berlin Syndrome, Joosten questions if it is enough for one person to love the other and the other just to be happy with being loved.

She plays with the power imbalance of the relationship and says that there is always a leader in every relationship and the leader might change every hour or every week for some but that isn’t the case in her book.

Joosten describes the book as a story about an Australian woman and a German man who meets on the streets of East Germany and have a one-night stand. They serendipitously meet again and the woman ends up being held hostage by him. He is in love with her, so does that make it ok?

She got the idea after being locked in a friend’s apartment while they went to breakfast.

“It was the first time I had ever been trapped and couldn’t get out,” she said.

Her interest in the history of East Germany and Stockholm syndrome were also inspirations for the book.

Kennedy also plays with what she calls the “power hot potato” in her short story about a farmer who is run over by a tractor and must depend on his wife to survive. She said that the power imbalance is fertile ground for authors.

However, she said that in the process of writing the story, she wanted to make the wife leave the farmer but “once the characters have dimension they pull on you”.

This story was based on a real life situation Kennedy was aware of, which made it hard to make the characters do what she wanted.

The session then turned to sex and whether it was hard for Kennedy and Joosten to write about it. The women both blushed and looked at each other.

Joosten said that she likes to stick to the characters’ personalities and that her book has two types of sex scenes; some are assaults and others aren’t.

Kennedy just said, “I’m terrified of writing a bad sex scene and getting an award for it.”

Kelly Wintour is a Southern Cross University media student.


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