Kate Gordon is another one of the awesome Aussie authors who are gracing our book shelves at the moment. But Kate is a slightly different author, to who I would usually read. She writes YA – Young Adult fiction.
Kate has always been creative – although sometimes, as with most of us, during the times we were supposed to be ‘cool’, we hid what we loved the most, almost positive that we would never be accepted if our real selves were shown.
Three Things about Daisy Blue is book number 20 in ‘The Girlfriend’ Fiction line and is available now! You can read all about here.
When I was at primary school, I used to walk around the school grounds reciting poems I had made up. A memorable one was titled, “The day is grey; it matches my mood”. This may or may not have been why I had no friends in primary school. Well, that is, until I met Julia. We became friends because I found her in the primary school playground, talking to her feet. “They were lonely,” she said, as explanation. Of course, I loved her immediately.
Julia wanted to be a woman fern when she grew up, to keep the man ferns company. She was obsessed with The Beatles, The X Files and various action movies so gore-filled my Mum would never have let me watch them. She and her brother, Luke, were the kookiest, most creative people I had ever met. They spent their lives making up plays and songs and – in Luke’s case – monologues that made me cry laughing. It was in their house that I first felt like my creativity was a good thing; an accepted thing. Being at the Rafferty house gave me the confidence to be proud of my quirkiness, and to channel that quirkiness into stories. I had always felt completely supported in my creativity at home – Mum and Dad are both English teachers – but outside of the home I always thought if I was “strange” I would not be liked.
In high school, I found another friend – Chloe. Chloe was fiercely proud of her individuality. She was incredibly smart and feisty, and she LOVED reading; mainly fantasy novels. Chloe introduced me to Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, JRR Tolkien and, later, JK Rowling. Chloe gave me the confidence to sit up the front of the bus and read whatever huge book (usually with dragons on it), was my current obsession and not care that the kids up the back of the bus threw apples at us. And, before you ask, the bus driver was completely ineffectual at stopping them doing this. His method of “crowd control” was yelling “Oi! You up the back in the green jumper”.
We all wore green jumpers. It was our uniform.
In Grade Nine, I went away for three months with my Mum and my brother, Richard, on a magical trip to Indonesia. While I was away, Chloe got cool.
When I got back, suddenly I was thrust into the cool group. They liked The Spice Girls and Take That. They had slumber parties and had crushes on footballers. They were all beautiful and stylish. They were also super nice people but that didn’t stop me feeling like a fish out of water most of the time.
My creativity went underground.
This was a strange, beautiful, confusing, painful and wonderful time in my life. I learned so much from those girls and had a lot of fun. They were – and are – really wonderful people. But it didn’t stop me feeling like a bit of a fraud for most of my adolescence. I was the geek in the cool crowd.
It wasn’t really until I met my husband, Leigh, that I felt like it was okay again to be strange. Leigh – like Chloe – is a proud individual. He walks confidently to the beat of his own (progressive symphonic folk metal) drum. He taught me I shouldn’t care what people thought. I should just go for it and hang the consequences.
My creativity was set free again.
With Leigh’s encouragement, I wrote my first novel the year after we got married. It was called Dear Sally Sunshine and it was a celebration of individuality and quirkiness. The main character was called Canteloupe Rafferty, as a tribute to Julia (The Rafferty bit, not the Canteloupe bit). Dear Sally Sunshine won me a Varuna consultation, and the attention of my superwoman agent, Nan Halliday. It also got me a meeting with Allen and Unwin, who liked the voice of Canteloupe but didn’t think it fit their list. They asked me, instead, to write a book for their Girlfriend Fiction series.
And so, Three Things About Daisy Blue was born. Three Things About Daisy Blue is the story of a geek and a cool girl who find themselves thrown together on a trip to Bali. Paulina – the geek – was a combination of me and Chloe (she’s much smarter than I ever was), and Daisy is a combination of all of my “cool girl” friends, mixed with a dash of Julia’s loopy quirkiness. It was when I was writing Three Things About Daisy Blue that I finally realised what a gift my time as a faux-cool-person had been. It meant I knew what it was like to be a geek, but I also knew what it was like to be one of the popular kids. I was the quiet outsider, so I was able to observe the group dynamics of the cool crowd from the fringes. I also knew that not all cool kids were nasty and not all geeks were boring stick-in-the-muds. Hopefully this has made Daisy and Paulina more realistic, rounded characters.
Publishing my first book with the awesome Allen and Unwin “Onions” (Jeepers, they published Harry Potter!!!) is something I never would have dreamed of when I was a nerdy kid walking around my primary school, talking to myself. If it wasn’t for Julia and Chloe; my Mum and Dad; my cool girlfriends and, later, Nan Halliday and Jodie and Eva at Allen and Unwin – all these marvellous people who taught me that being different was something to be admired – I’d never be an author. I’d never be about to see my first ever book in print and on the shelves at the book shop where I work. I’m still best mates with Chloe, Jules and all the “cool” girls from school, even though they know now what an oddball I am. I guess that just goes to show you can be strange and people will still like you!