Beatle Meets Destiny is the first young adult novel from former advertising copy writer and author of Two Canadian Clubs and Dry at the Martini Den, Gabrielle Williams (pictured). Set in Melbourne, the book has just been optioned to be made into a major feature film.
When your name is John Lennon but everyone calls you ‘Beatle’, your twin sister is born six weeks after you in the following year, and your kooky mum has raised you on a diet of horoscopes, superstitions and signs from the universe, the word ‘coincidence’ isn’t in your vocabulary. So when 18 year old Beatle meets 18 year old Destiny McCartney, he knows it must be fate. However, there is one complication, Beatle already has a girlfriend and the way he sees it, breaking up with Cilla just isn’t an option. For one thing, Cilla is Winsome’s best friend.
It’s not that Beatle is a bad guy (although by his own admission he is ‘a two-timing bastard’), it’s just that sometimes you have to do the wrong thing to know what is right. And isn’t that what being a teenager is all about – messing up and learning from the experience?
In another suburb of Melbourne, Destiny McCartney has accidentally defaced a piece of irreplaceable antique furniture for a year 12 art project. But how was she to know the chair’s tapestry lining was sewn by Wallis Simpson? It’s too late to fess up to the woman next door and besides, Destiny and her friends Mathilde and Netta, have their hands full after deciding it would be fun to answer a personal ad from a stalker looking for work. Oh, and did I mention her sister’s cat is missing?
Hmm…Beatle’s evil twin did ‘find’ a cat recently. Beatle thinks his crazy sister isn’t above a little catnapping, especially if it meant getting her own back on Mr McCartney (Destiny’s brother), the high school teacher who dumped her after they were caught snogging in his car.
Funny, clever and very entertaining, Beatle Meets Destiny is a story of chance, change and everybody doing the wrong thing. And I guarantee you’ll really enjoy it! To borrow a phrase from the author’s agent: ‘this is a book for teenagers and the teenager in all of us’.
Only one thing puzzles me about this novel: How does a woman in her forties manage to write so convincingly about suburban teenagers and the world they inhabit? For the answer, I went directly to the source, author of Beatle Meets Destiny, Gabrielle Williams.
Gabrielle Williams is the first to admit that she’s mined her own children’s experiences, language and general teen-angst for this novel.
From her home in suburban Melbourne, Gabrielle told Australian Women Online, “I spent a lot of time eavesdropping on my children’s conversations with their friends – not that they know that, of course.”
“I also got my teenagers to read an earlier draft. It’s really important to get the voice right and teenagers, as you know, can just spot bullshit. I wrote a party scene in an earlier manuscript which isn’t in the book. I took the scene out after my daughter said to me: That is so not what happens at parties. You just don’t understand what happens at teenage parties. It was then that I realised that things had changed since I was teenager.”
Gabrielle says she is grateful for the feedback given to her by her teenage son and daughter, which has helped her to avoid one of the most common errors adults make when writing for children, the assumption that nothing has changed since they were kids. Of course things have changed and so too, has the business of writing for teens.
Remember when teen fiction was often dark and depressing? Well, thank heavens that has changed. Although no-one could deny that some teenagers have it rough, most teens are pretty happy overall and so why shouldn’t this be reflected in the books they read?
“I think there are a lot of books out there for young adults which have a grim storyline – bad things happen to kids in books,” said Gabrielle Williams. “But I wanted to write a book about kids that are pretty happy – they’re not self-mutilating, they’re not Emos, they’re not totally depressed, and they don’t hate the world.”
But what impressed me most about this novel is that unlike so much adult fiction, the main characters choose to do the wrong thing and personally, I think it makes for a much more interesting read than most of the adult titles that come across my desk. Nothing frustrates me more than reading a book where the characters always do what is right – seriously, who does that in real life?
“Beatle is the sort of boy you’d like to have as a friend. I wanted him to be a character that people liked but I also wanted him to do the wrong thing – and I wanted there to be no doubt that he’d done the wrong thing,” said Gabrielle Williams.
“I really think teenagers are gorgeous and I know they can give you grief. But generally they are lovely and they are experiencing the world – and it’s so exciting and interesting.”