There’s nothing quite as nostalgia-inducing as first love. Get any random group of female friends and throw in a few bottles of wine and chances are first love will come up. Chances are this discussion will lead to the discussion of other firsts – the first time you had sex, the first time you moved out, first car.
Kate Belle’s The Yearning explores, in a way that is both raw and poetic, a first love that is also a forbidden love, so Booktopia’s Head of Romance Haylee Nash thought she’d quiz Kate on some of her ‘firsts’.
Prince Charming. There’s a scene in The Yearning where the little girl begs her grandmother to read Snow White to her again so she can gaze in awe at the “…figure drawn tall and manly, riding a powerful white stallion. He wore a tight red vest over his broad chest and his brown boots reached up to thick thighs barely hidden by a royal blue cape. Square-jawed and raven-haired, his image gave her goosebumps…”. The scene is taken from my own childhood. I still remember the picture very clearly and I used to spend my holidays with my grandparents pretending Prince Charming was my boyfriend.
2. Describe the first place you lived when you moved out of home?
When I was 18 I moved from Geelong into Medley Hall, a Melbourne University student residence. I had the dungeon room, a dark little corner on the ground floor facing out onto the lane. The Drummond Street, Carlton building was very old and gothic, and was reputed to have once been a well-known gaming house and brothel. It was noisy. And fun. And I learnt to eat swede, which was bloody awful.
3. What was your first embarrassing memory?
Ha! Farting while I was learning gymnastics in my country home town, Benalla. I was probably only 8 at the time and the instructor was teaching us rolls and every time I tried I let off a ripper. I was so humiliated I refused to go back.
Honestly I can’t recall. I suspect it might have been my first serious boyfriend at the end of high school. Can’t imagine I meant it.
Oh wait, I remember now, it was my best girlfriend in high school. We were inseparable. We had the traditional teenage sleepovers, eating potato chips and watching lame Godzilla movies. I think we exchanged ‘I love you’s one night after we’d talked at length about how hopeless boys were and decided that one of us should be a boy so we could get married. Days of innocence.
5. Describe your first kiss.
Like a threshing machine in my mouth. Muck like the swede, it was also bloody awful. Can’t even remember his name now – go figure.
6. What was the first lie you ever told?
Lie? A lie wouldn’t ever besmirch these lips (smirks).
7. When did you first get drunk?
My 19th birthday. My university friends bought me a bottle of Bailey’s. We drank a couple of mug full’s (yes, student life was pretty classy in those days) in my dorm room over lunch break and came back to our prac lesson (I was doing a chemistry degree) silly as wheels. It was fairly pleasant really. Don’t even recall a hangover.
Are you ready? Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I discovered it on my grandmother’s bookshelf when I was ten-ish (I think). There was something in the story that really resonated with me. I remember reading it again and again every time I went there for holidays, until she relented and let me take it home. I still have it. It’s in happy company with a number of other Richard Bach books on my shelf.
9. What was the first thing you bought with your first paycheque?
Do you have any idea how long ago that was? Probably something frivolous. Like a Stevie Nicks LP from JB’s Second Hand record shop. Yes. I am old.
10. Who was your first friend?
This Easter I attended my first friend’s wedding on St Kilda beach. We met at St Joseph’s Primary School in Benalla and have stayed friends our entire lives, in spite of the two of us moving to different places and in very different circles. Other than my family, she’s the person I’ve known the longest. I love the shared history we have. It’s unique.
Kate Belle lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets. She holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.
You can follow Kate on Twitter @ecstasyfiles
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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