The Story Behind…
OF BEACHES AND BROTHERS, AND FRIENDS TO LOVERS
Friends to lovers stories are a very popular romance trope and one I adore myself. I guess because it’s such a credible fantasy. It’s easy to understand how people who’ve been friends forever might suddenly realise that more is possible. After all, they’re already past the getting-to-know-you and liking bit of a relationship, so the next step is acting on this new desire and making the relationship physical. Which sounds easy but is usually far from such, and when you throw in the best friend’s brother/sister worry, it makes it harder again.
The heroine of Wayward Heart is Jasmine Thomas, who we first met in Rocking Horse Hill. It was always my intention to give each of the three best friends in Rocking Horse Hill their own story. Emily Wallace-Jones’s is told in Rocking Horse Hill, where she’s up to her neck in family drama, while in The Falls, we learn how Teagan Bliss is knocked sideways when she loses the dream she’s worked for all her life. Now, in Wayward Heart we learn of Jasmine’s struggle with a toxic love affair and how she takes back control of her life.
When I first thought of the concept I had no intention of matching Jasmine with Digby. Firstly, I’d decided that Digby’s story was interesting enough to warrant his own book in addition to the girls’ three. Secondly, I’d pictured Jasmine with a different hero, someone decent and loving and compassionate, the kind of man this big-hearted girl truly deserves. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that Digby is all those things and more. And they match. They’re both heartbroken, although in different ways—Digby with the death of his fiancée and Jas after breaking up with the man she’d wasted four years of her life on—and desperate to find hope and happiness again. Why not let them find that together?
Besides the rightness of it, there was also much fun to be had with Digby being Em’s brother. After all he’s suffered, Em is bound to feel protective and wary of Digby’s relationships, and as her best friend Em knows every skeleton in Jasmine’s closet. Throw in wedding stress and Em’s marvellously meddling and regal grandmother and there’s even more capacity for drama.
As for the setting, it was wonderful to return to an area I’ve written about three times now (in Rocking Horse Hill, Summer and the Groomsman and Santa and the Saddler), and plan to continue to write about. It feels like home to me, probably because it’s strongly based on the region where I grew up, in South Australia’s lush and beautiful south-east.
If you’re wondering where Admella Beach (the beach behind which Jasmine’s house is situated) earned its name, I borrowed it from a famous and tragic shipwreck that occurred off the coast of Carpenter Rocks on August 6th 1859. The wreck of the steamship Admella claimed eighty-nine lives, including 14 children—one of Australia’s worst maritime disasters. Only 24 survived and their story is incredible, as is the ride to Mount Gambier that Peter Black took to raise the alarm. You can find more about the SS Admella at admella.org.au or, if you’re ever visiting the Limestone Coast, why not take a trip to Port MacDonnell and visit the Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum. It’s fascinating. And while you’re there, why not make like Jasmine and Em from Wayward Heart and Danny and Beth from Santa and the Saddler and indulge in a feed of fish and chips on the foreshore. Beautiful.