Will love ever lose its literary currency? Absolutely NOT according to the panel in the SCU tent on the first afternoon of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival. The three self-confessed love enthusiasts opened up about all things love-related: the good, the bad and the messy.
According to award winning novelist Graeme Simsion, the desire for love and intimacy are fundamental human characteristics. In his novel, The Rosie Project, he explores this need for intimacy through the protagonist Don Tilman, a man with Aspergers.
“Everyone wants intimacy in their lives, even if they struggle socially,” Simsion explained.
“Don’s problem is universal, he’s trying to connect.”
The complicated side of relationships is a theme that comes out in Susanna Freymark’s debut novel, Losing February.
The Byron Bay writer’s gripping tale unabashedly delves into a world of cyber sex addiction, adultery, unrestrained passions and lost love.
Freymark admits the events in this novel closely parallel her own experiences during a challenging time in her life.
“I’d hit rock bottom, and to get through it and write about it has made me a better person,” she said.
“Love stories are always messy, but wonderful as well. Romance tends to take us away from real love.”
Another local writer Lisa Walker also shared some insights into the ups and downs of romance. Her latest novel Sex, Lies and Bonsai is a quirky love tale about Edie: a shy women who decides to take up erotic writing.
It also explores lost love and the chemistry between lovers.
“There’s a lot of sexual build up in the novel, ” Walker said.
Walker discussed how her novel was inspired by Freudian analysis, which is displayed through the character of Sally, Edie’s best friend, who tries to psychoanalyse Edie’s behaviour.
“Freud said work and love is all there is,” Walker told the audience.
Indeed, the panel agreed that love is about as vital as water. But do we sacrifice our liberty for intimacy? This was the question that chairperson Mary-Lou Stephens posed late in the session.
Walker and Simsion agreed that often we do make sacrifices for love.
“We have a drive for intimacy when we are young because we need to reproduce and then after that’s done with we can focus on other things,” Simsion wryly explained.
However, Freymark disagreed, saying she feels more liberated when in an intimate relationship.
“I’m more myself when I’m with my partner,” she said.
The audience was treated to a juicy discussion, with each guest writer revealing a personal, metaphoric and literary slants on love—with warts and all.
While not everyone agreed on the finer details, there was general consensus that love ultimately drives human beings and is fundamental to our life experience.
And just like every good love story, the session reinvigorated our belief that love conquers all, both on and off the page—a refreshing reminder that the love story is still alive and well.
Madeleine Brown is a Creative Writing student at Southern Cross University.