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Episode 53: Where the Rhythm Takes You, a YA Persuasion re-telling with Author Sarah Dass


Have you ever wondered how Jane Austen's classic 'Persuasion' could be recast in a modern setting? YA author Sarah Dass, the creative mind behind 'Where the Rhythm Takes You', unravels this mystery for us. Get ready to traverse the intricate world Sarah has painted, inspired by Austen's masterpiece, filled with young love, complex relationships and the unique West Indian concept of 'tabanka'. Undoubtedly, Austen enthusiasts and aspiring writers stand to gain a treasure trove of insights.


Travel with us on a literary journey as we explore Sarah's writing process, her inspirations, and how she skillfully infuses elements of persuasion into a young adult romance. We'll delve into the secrets and complexities of the main characters, Aidan and Rayna's past, their present dilemmas, and the hopeful rekindling of their romance in a contemporary world. The suspenseful twists added to the narrative would undoubtedly keep you on the edge of your seat. We'll also discuss Sarah's second book, 'When the Vibe is Right', a refreshing spin on 'Much Ado About Nothing'.


Finally, we'll dissect the unique themes in 'Where the Rhythm Takes You', with a focus on 'tabanka', a term encapsulating unfulfilled love. We'll also delve into the influence of adaptations on Sarah's work and her dedication to promoting reading. So, buckle up for an enchanting dive into Sarah Dass' world of captivating narratives, complex characters, and insightful portrayals of love and relationships. It's an episode you wouldn't want to miss!

Where can you find Sarah Dass? Website: https://sarahdass.com/ Instagram: @sarahdasswrites

Where can you find your host (Izzy)? Website: www.whattheausten.com Podcast Instagram: @whattheausten Personal Instagram: @izzy_meakin Youtube: What the Austen? Podcast

 

Izzy:0:20

Hi J Knights and welcome back to the what the Austin podcast. I am really excited today because I am joined by YA author Sarah Das. Sarah has written two books already both out, the first being Weather of Untake, she, which was her debut book, and also her second book, which was when the Vibe is Bright, which is already out as well. The book we're going to be talking about today is Weather of Untake, she, because this is a persuasion retelling. So I thought this would be such a great episode to do to have another author on, who is inspired by Jane Austen's work, to write a contemporary piece, ya piece that is absolutely beautiful. So I really enjoyed this book and it brings in all of the incredible elements of persuasion, but also the things that make relationships more complicated in a contemporary setting, such as social media and casual relationships. So I'm really excited for this episode. If you've not yet read this book, I will give you a quick summary. 17-year-old Reina spent most of her life at the Plumieria, her family's gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, but what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel like purgatory. It's been two years since Reina's mum passed away, two years since Aiden, her childhood best friend, first kiss, first, love first, everything left to pursue his music dreams. Reina's friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try and keep up the plumi air running. And that's when Aiden comes roaring back into her life as a VIP guest at the resort. Aiden is now one third of the latest hottest music group on the scene. While Reina has stayed exactly where he left her, aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites, and he may or may not be dating one of them. Inspired by Jane Austen's persuasion, where the River Takes you is a romantic, mesmerising novel of first love and second chances. What I also love about Sarah's book is she adds to the description of the word Tobanka, which is not a word I was familiar with before this book, but absolutely encapsulates both the premise of persuasion and her book. So a West Indian term that refers to a deep yearning desire that consumes a person's mind and spirit and leaves them a lost, aching shell of their former self, an insatiable longing, a need for a particular person who does not or no longer feels the same unrequited love, the worst. So Sarah was actually born in Trinidad but has lived in Tobago since she was about two. She is a UCL graduate and now spends her time writing YA novels, which is absolutely amazing. So, like I said, she has this persuasion retelling out and then she also has a retelling of Much Due About Nothing, which is called when the Vibe is Right. So I'm very excited to get into this episode and talk to Sarah all about her persuasion retelling. Thank you so much for coming on. So, chas, about your book with me. Yes, of course.

Sarah :3:03

Thank you so much for inviting me. I'm excited to talk about it because the book's been out for like two years now, so I haven't talked about it in a bit.

Izzy:3:10

I know I feel like I've been totally late to the game when it comes to kind of Jane Austin, like young adult fanfiction or books that have been inspired by Jane Austin. So, yeah, I'm like picking them up now and I'm consuming them in full form. I'm like eating them up. So I was particularly really excited about this one because I love a second chance romance. That's why I love persuasion, but I also love reading, like you know, contemporary books with the same themes. So I was just, yeah, I was really excited for this one.

Sarah :3:38

Yeah, me too obviously.

Izzy:3:40

The question that I asked all my guests is what got you into Jane Austin originally? Yeah, so I was expecting this question.

Sarah :3:47

So I actually like sat down and thought about it and the truth is I can't remember. I know it was a movie, maybe it was a miniseries, but I know it was Pride and Prejudice. That was my first exposure to her work. I don't remember which adaptation it was Like, I literally just can't remember. But when it comes to the books, specifically that one I do remember because the first book I read from her was actually persuasion and it was because my library at my school, when I was about 13ish, 14, maybe they got like a big makeover and they got like a whole set of like gorgeous hardbound, hard copy classic books and right away at my eyes went straight to persuasion. And my first thought was, wait, she wrote other books besides Pride and Prejudice and Man's Sense and Sensibility, because at that point that was all that I knew. I didn't know she had written other books. So as soon as I saw it I was like, okay, I'm already curious. And it was the first book I borrowed from the library and obviously it stuck with me. I just remember being surprised by how accessible it was, like I expected it to be a lot harder and so on, but like it was just really funny, unexpectedly funny for me, and just very romantic. And of course I love the second chance romance and I consider it one of the best of that trope and so, yeah, obviously it stuck with me and I remember, I always remember that was the first of her books that I read.

Izzy:5:26

Yeah, yeah, actually, I think that's so true. It always amazes me how many people don't know about persuasion, because I genuinely think it's her best written work. But I know that, like, yeah, I know that Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, because of the adaptations being so popular, they're just so much more well known and people don't even know that she has other books out there. Obviously, I was kind of hoping with the Netflix persuasion that it would maybe become more popular, but I don't know if it quite did that. But I think it quite captured what we were after. But that's okay, that's fine. You know there is a place for all adaptations, but I love that. That was your first read. You that stuff very common like on the podcast and people come on that persuasion was the first book that they picked up. Yeah, strangely, enough.

Sarah :6:14

It was actually persuasion. Northern Gravity and Mansfield Park were the three first ones that I read because I hadn't been familiar with them, so I, like, went opposite way.

Izzy:6:26

I love that. That's so funny. And you got to Mansfield Park and still carry you like it's fine.

Sarah :6:31

now I can definitely do Sense, Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice yeah, I'm not going to lie that one wasn't easy, but yeah, I pushed through and yeah, it actually shouldn't be so me. But like no, that one was a bit of a struggle, yeah.

Izzy:6:46

Yeah, I agree, it's a struggle for me as well, don't worry.

Sarah :6:50

But I think I love persuasion. I love that. I really love that one as well enough that I just sort of kept going.

Izzy:6:56

Yeah, northern Gravity is so fun. I think that's such a great novel. I actually say to a lot of people to pick that up after Pride and Prejudice, like if they want to read more, just because I think it's. It's really fun. It's one of the shorter ones Out of all of the romances. I feel like it's so easy going because they don't have as much angst, right?

Sarah :7:14

Yeah, I think also for me personally it's well, obviously I like why and I feel like it's a little feels kind of most like why of a world for books that come in a beige I don't know, I can't explain it, but that as well really like appeal to me. Also, I like the all the Gothic literatures that are revolutions or something like that. I think that also gives an interesting edge that might hold years new readers as well.

Izzy:7:43

Yeah, yeah, yes, yeah, it's definitely accessible. I love that actually. I've never actually thought about that, but it does feel like a YA book, doesn't it? I think because she's like so much younger, and also the the impact of friendships on the text as well, because I mean, gosh, when you're younger and you're trying to navigate friendships, let alone like love, it's, it's a whirlwind.

Sarah :8:05

Yeah, yeah, I'm like I have a soft spot for it. I also just really enjoyed the process of reading it, you know. So it's definitely. It's my favorite after persuasion. So I read it in in good order.

Izzy:8:20

Well, that's actually good. It's good to know that persuasion is your favorite, because I was actually going to ask you that, because I was just really interested of you know how that came to inspire this book. I did hear you on another podcast and you were kind of saying that the journey to writing the book wasn't that straightforward. It wasn't just like I'm going to write a persuasion, like an inspired persuasion book and this is what it's going to look like. That. Actually, it was a journey to get to that point and it kind of became this, this persuasion adaptation in a sense.

Sarah :8:50

Yeah, so this is my debut novel. So what happened was I had written a book before it and it was a book that went through multiple revisions, foreign agents and so on, all that process of you know, trying to get to publication. It also went through something called pitch wars, which isn't around anymore, but it was like a competition pitch competition with authors and with mentors and to publish up the book. And then you know, you have like a showcase for agents and they would request the book they wanted or not, and it got. I got into pitch wars with that book and I revised it and I sent it out and I got interest from who is now my literary agent, Wendy Goon, and we were actually talking about it on the phone. I knew it had to be revised and it wasn't up to ready for publication yet. So we were just chatting about it and she mentioned like a throwaway sort of line about you know, this kind of reminds me of persuasion. You know, have you ever considered writing a retelling? And the thing was well, first of all, I love persuasion. So right away I was like, oh, me and her have similar tastes, that's great. But also I was like I had thought about writing a retelling, Actually had thought about writing what you do about nothing, which ended up being my second book, but I hadn't considered persuasion and like, literally after, right after she hung up the phone, immediately the ideas were coming and you exactly what I wanted to do. And so the next time we talked about month later, I think I had it all laid out and you exactly what I wanted to write. I wanted I wanted it to be set in a hotel and I wanted the guy to be a musician and his famous and like he has friends to come. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I pitched it to her and she's like yes, perfect, like that. And that became what is weather within pigs do?

Izzy:10:57

I love that. Like what a journey to go on, though, with it. And it's so funny, isn't it, sometimes how the books and the literature that you love can like pop its head up without you even expecting it. Just you know, it's just enrooted in you, isn't it? That's the thing, and it comes out even when you least expect it and you're like, oh gosh, I guess it is similar to that, because that's a book I love, so it's not surprising.

Sarah :11:18

Yeah of course, and I just I love the she, she, she mentioned it. That was like light bulb moment. I could see it perfectly and yeah, and I'm so grateful, obviously, because it's just my debut yeah, and it's a fabulous book as well.

Izzy:11:32

So all worked out in the end. But, yeah, something else that you mentioned there that would be great to talk about too is obviously you spent most of your life my writing to Bego. That's why you live since you were two and you spent a lot of your childhood in a hotel, which obviously you can see the influence of that on the text as well, because a lot of the book is set in a hotel, because Raina, who is the protagonist, who is kind of an Elliot an Elliot, I don't even know what to say like her.

Sarah :12:01

An Elliot.

Izzy:12:03

Like standing. Yeah, yeah, he's the An Elliot standing. She works in her family's hotel and so, yeah, I would love to hear how, like your childhoods and just like living in Bego and also growing up with this like seaside hotel, did you, did you work there? Did your family own a hotel? I just love to know about how that influence we did not own that.

Sarah :12:26

I didn't work there but my father worked there. He was the manager. So I lived there from the age of like two to about 16-ish. And you know, it's one of the situations where you don't realize how great you have it until it's gone. And like I look back at that time like so much love and so much appreciation that I got to have a childhood where basically I could like I cattle the space to run in like a pool, tennis courts and like right by the sea, like minutes walk from the sea. So you know, it was like a really I'm really grateful I've had that experience and it obviously make a big impact on me and so I just love the chance to go back there sort of in the book which is the hotel in the book is actually a mashup of that hotel and another hotel. I don't want to give specifics, but it's not a real place. I get that question. I do get that question Like, is it a real thing? It's not a real place. But yeah, I really enjoy the process of just sort of reminiscing a bit and going back there through the book and I think it's just it's a different setting for persuasion but I think it really lends well to the young adult romance sort of feel that I was going for. Yeah.

Izzy:13:54

Yeah, definitely. And yet you know it still has the elements of persuasion as well. Obviously it's close to water, it's close to the sea, the seaside, these are all things that are just like important to the text, bit in like a nuance kind of way. You know I always love persuasion. I don't know if you found this, but the conditions of the weather and everything just really mimics what's going on between Anne and Wentworth. So I kind of love that as well, and I feel like you could see it in your book as well. You know, there was moments where things would happen when it was late at night and they would be kind of the more intimate moments that people were able to kind of talk more openly. And then there was like funny scenes in the day. You know where they go, horseback riding and Rainer's just like living a worse life out there like trying to show them around the islands and everything. But yeah, I don't know if you found that with the text as well, that you wanted to kind of include those aspects. I honestly did not notice.

Sarah :14:50

People are always finding things in the book that I didn't even notice. Maybe I was subconsciously, but I will say I do remember that trip to the line. I feel like it's like a turning point in the book and I think that I always remember that point in my book. I use it as a trip to a different part of the island to take place. So it has that differentiation and it kind of follows the story a bit more. But I noticed that part of you know the weather there and Anne's changed her transformation in the beginning. You know need to show. But yeah, I didn't notice that. Thank you for saying that.

Izzy:15:32

No, it's absolutely fine and that's interesting that you said that, though that obviously that was something that you were thinking about. Was there anything else when you were writing the book that maybe you found? Found kind of like a more restraining, like a bit of a constraint, because you were looking at this kind of persuasion retelling with their things that you were like, oh, I kind of want to include that, but it doesn't really fit with what I'm after. It begins to know about like that process of writing it with having persuasion in mind.

Sarah :15:57

Yeah, so the thing is, I didn't realize how difficult it was going to be to adapt persuasion to a young adult, contemporary audience until, like I was like made a way through and I realized, oh no wait, because there are two things I think really like. One is that it's I feel like it's Austin's most mature book, not just in terms of like it's her last completed work, but like the characters, and obviously part of the plot is that they've had this long stressful time during which they were apart and they could, you know, grow and reminisce about their past mistakes, and then you know the different people by the time they reunite. But in a young adult book we don't have that time because the characters are young adults, so they don't have that time to really be apart. So that was one thing that I had to do and I sort of compensated for that by having them go through really dramatic life experiences. It feels like a lot has happened in that time that they were apart, which is only two years in the book. But it feels like they're different people. You know when they're coming together at the end, but in terms and also and I say this with love because obviously I love the book it doesn't have a lot of plot to it. So that as well was like oh no, what are we going to do? And for that I used flashbacks, which I thought helped with the pace but also helped readers get invested in the romance. So that as well was, I think, helpful. Yeah, there was. There were certain scenes that I from the book that I was like I want to see if I can integrate this more. But at the end of the day I sort of had to decide, like what was best for where the rhythm takes you. Like I wanted it to feel like a complete book, that it could stand on its own, that even if you haven't read Persuasion, you'd be able to understand what was going on. So yeah, I think at the end I just had to decide what fit in, what didn't, and some things didn't make it in, but I'm happy with how it turned out.

Izzy:18:13

I love quite a few things that you said there. One of the things that I want to pick up on is that persuasion doesn't have much plot, and I actually think this is one of the reasons that people struggle to adapt it so much, because it's so much like about these moments that you can't really capture very well, but you just know that they're there. It's feelings that aren't spoken but are just felt, which is incredible, obviously, when you're writing a book, if you can bring out that. But it is so difficult to them actually place the story and be like this is how I take it to the screen or this is how I convert it into a young adult book, and we're not. I also love your thought. Yeah, I mean, honestly, some of the like her writing stuff. I'm like how's she even come off with it Honestly, like mine buckles me, but it's fine. That's why she has her place right and, yeah, we love her for it and she inspires us. But, yeah, and I also love what you're saying about the fact that with their age yes, there's not that much time and when I first picked it up, I thought that I was thinking, oh gosh, like how are you, how is there going to be that that separation, which is so important to the book, because it's that time apart that plays such a massive like, has such a massive impact on the two characters, but also that's where their love is like so special as well, because it's like, wow, they spent eight years apart and yet they still want to reunite. Like that. That love is still as strong then. But I love that you included flashbacks and I think that'd be really good to talk about it, because that's something that we miss from persuasion. We don't get flashbacks, we don't see what happened in the past. And for Aiden and Rainer as well, they spent their childhood together. They're kind of early teenagers and then obviously they moved on, which I think for a lot of young adults like I knew this one when I was younger there comes a point where everybody starts to move away. You know whether that's you go to uni or you just move away for work, and so, yeah, it was really good to see that. But it'd be good to talk about the process of writing the flashbacks, because I guess you kind of had more freedom there, because that wasn't something that was in the original text.

Sarah :20:22

Yeah, it, yeah, and I just want to be clear that I love the original text and I do love the fact that we don't see what happens between them and the original text, because then we can put our imaginations to use. And also I feel like it makes the longing so much more potent because you see them now and you're like, oh, that must have been a great love for them to still be holding on to it. But for contemporary audiences, I think that we need a little bit more plot and so, yeah, I did enjoy the freedom of sort of filling it in, because I think that's where I got to be a little bit more creative in terms of, like trying to imagine what it might have been like. Also, because they are again teenagers. They were a bit younger and they started more like friendship and then it started to change and blossom into something more as they got older. I wanted it also to be plot-wise. It was part of the mystery to sort of hook people into it, because I wanted them to want to know why they broke up. So, plot-wise, I thought it would be interesting to sort of lay it out so that you don't know it first, and then, as it goes on to the end. You listen to the end, you figure out oh, that's what happened. So plot-wise plot-wise as well that I thought that was helpful. Yes.

Izzy:21:48

And I was actually so shocked I will just warn everybody now Like there may be a few spoilers in this, so just tune out for sections if you don't want to hear and you want to read the book first. I was so shocked when there was like that phone call and it came so early in the book because I was like he's reaching out to her now, like what's going to happen? I can't believe this. But then obviously it's not as clean-cut as that. It was just, yeah, it was such a journey because the more you read, the more that you learn about them and you like he said, eventually you figure out kind of why it didn't work out between them, but also not just about their relationship either, but the journeys that they went on their own. Obviously Aidan becomes this really successful musician and he moves away to do that and like obviously live his best life as a famous musician. And obviously Raina stays at home and she does that in the process of trying to uphold the hotel which was so important to her mom, who's passed away. She's let go of some of the things that brought her joy, like her passions, like art and everything, and yeah, I love that. And what I love as well is that when Aidan comes back, he knows about those past passions and that she's let them go, and he's one of those people that can be like why have you not done it? I love to see him when he's kind of a bit angry about it. He's like why did you give up art? And she's like why is this any of your business?

Sarah :23:09

Yeah, just quickly. I just want to go back to the part where you mentioned like the phone call like comes pretty early on because in the book, like they don't really talk for a good chunk of it. But the thing was and I think it was my agent, it might have been my editor, but I think it was my agent who was like Sarah, it makes sense they didn't talk in that time because you know they were more strained, you know, like in terms of how they in the society they lived in. But for teenagers living in Tobago, do you really think they would never mention it at all? Well, I was like okay, fine, and then I went to the night. I added it later and I think now that I've removed from the book I see it makes sense. Obviously they would at least like touch base and you know, I think it's helpful because then you get to see them. Sort of, the whole situation of them never bringing up that they were together in the past makes a little bit more sense.

Izzy:24:10

Yeah, yes, but also gives you more like suspense, because I was also like, oh my gosh, like he's broken the ice already and he's been like obviously this happened in the past. Like wish you all well, but I'm having like a good time here with my friends now and it's just kind of like a bit of a. I was like, oh my gosh, that makes it so much. It actually makes it more awkward, like I get that. He was like you know, like trying to be chill and everything, but yeah, it kind of makes it more awkward to break the ice, I suppose. But yeah, it is so true because it's so easy to communicate nowadays, isn't it Exactly?

Sarah :24:45

And she was like telling me, like why wouldn't they like you have to explain why they're like not telling the others what's going on, and so that's why you know, I sort of paste it like that. But yeah, I think, looking back on it, I think that it's. It makes the romance a little bit more, adds a little more tension to it, because they know no one else knows, and like, yeah, I think that is, yeah, part of the romance. Yeah.

Izzy:25:12

And that's something that I think is is well captured in your book, which is, I think, again it's. Another thing that's really hard to capture from persuasion is that it's confusing because nobody else knows. This is like a private romance that nobody else in like Anne's family knows about, or in the community. And so you know, they're kind of getting on with their life and it's like they have this secret between them and they're spending all this time together and nobody else knows what's going on. Nobody else knows the past between them, and I think that's what makes it so powerful. But yes, it adds to the tension when you kind of you break and go like a sprinkle of it, like we both know what's going on here, but then it's like then they've got to get on with like normal life still and nobody else knows what's between them. And, yeah, I enjoyed that.

Sarah :25:55

Yeah, and also like it adds I think it adds to like the intimacy between Anne and the reader, because like you get into her head a little bit more, like because you know what she knows, nobody else is lovely other characters, and else it helps you, you know, identify with her a little bit more as well.

Izzy:26:12

Yeah, and I guess that's that's what you're saying as well, with persuasion being a mature book, which, again, you know, is harder than to take it as a young adult book, which you know, I didn't. I didn't really appreciate that till you said it, but it's so true. So just before we move on to the next topic, then I just want to say a little bit about our sponsor, house of Bennett. If, like me, you love taking a break from your modern life to escape into Jane Austen's world of handwritten letters, romantic rendezvous and long walks in the countryside, you will love the House of Bennett shop. House of Bennett offers stickers, pins, jewelry, totes, shirts and so much more All themes around your favorite classic literature and period dramas, including Jane Eyre, anne of Green Gables, little Women and, of course, the works of Jane Austen. Head over to HouseofBennettcom that's H-A-U-S-O-F-B-E-N-N-E-T dot C-O-M and use my code WhatTheDiscount for 15% off at the checkout. So, once again, that's HouseofBennettcom and use my code WhatTheDiscount for 15% off. And I guess as well. Turning this into a contemporary book. There was two things that really stood out to me with your book, which I think adds to the dynamic between the protagonists, especially in terms of like how complicated things become, and one of those was social media and the other is casual relationships, because these are two things. Obviously they didn't we don't get in Jane Austen's book because it was written so long ago, but that you can explore in your book because it's contemporary and also makes it more relatable to like a modern day reader. So it'd be good to add a little bit like the social media aspect of it. First, because that plays such a big part in the book. So did you have a lot of fun like writing those sections out and just like thinking how that could move the plot forward, but also like cause more tension?

Sarah :28:00

Yeah, so the social media aspect is mostly because one of the characters are a social media influencer and obviously she you know she yeah, I had a lot of fun, especially the parts where she's like vlogging what they're doing and so on and like putting them on the spot and stuff. I thought it was just a lot of fun situations that could come from, like her doing all that while, you know, rena and Aiden are pining, you know, and so I thought that was interesting, and also in terms of the fallout that comes with that character, eliza, because I didn't want anyone to fall and hurt themselves. So you know what I went to hit that head. I think in an early draft I did do that, and then I was like that's a little too dramatic. I don't think that fits the rest of the tone of the book. So I thought it was also an interesting way in terms of she doesn't physically fall but like in terms of like her reputation, it takes a bit of a hit. And so, yeah, plot wise, it was like a twist on the story that I thought was interesting. And yeah, they are teenagers and it is contemporary. So I thought, like teenagers, this is social media, the age of social media. That's what they do, and so that as well, I thought, was why I added it into the book.

Izzy:29:25

Yeah, so important because it plays such a massive part in people's lives now, like it's not something that can be escaped, even if you go on holiday, like even more so then, like people film everything and obviously there's so many influencers nowadays, and I just think that was such a fitting role for her as well, because also, it's like these are so young people, so like what, what careers would they have? that they could be really successful and they could be, you know, borderline famous, but you know, still young and everything. So I think that the influence and position that she has is makes so much sense and also I love the fallout with that as well. But obviously there's moments caught on camera. This is another aspect that I think is really important that you were able to bring in, because it was contemporary and the fact that there's like more casual relationships because the dynamic between Wentworth and Louisa is that awkward in persuasion and I don't think that he's like caught in her, but I found it was like obviously in a modern sense, is even more awkward because of social media. You can see photos of people kissing or like sat dead close and you can spiral in your own thoughts like what does this mean? Oh, my goodness, is he with this person or not? And obviously there's there's like a kiss called on camera in your book, which then plays a significant role later on, and I just thought that was really interesting. There's less privacy in a modern day than there is, obviously, than we have in persuasion, but also that creates a lot more chaos and a lot more tension and there's a lot more that has to be unraveled between Rainer and Aiden because of that, because on social media your whole life can seem one way and actually it's something entirely different. And we see that with Aiden, you know. I mean like there's something that's all built up like this is what his life with everybody thinks he's with Eliza and everything, but actually it's more of a facade than people realize.

Sarah :31:09

Yeah, definitely, and I think it also adds to the contrast between Rainer and Eliza in terms like Rainer is more of a very internal person, like, and she doesn't really want to be on social media and so on, whereas Eliza is very much on social media. So I think that also helped create like a contrast between their characters and like. Also, like in terms of Aiden, I think Eliza sort of helped represent that change in his life a bit, and also Rainer, on the other hand, was sort of like part of his arc is sort of getting back to his roots to rediscover his creativity, and I think that his sort of shift back to Rainer is sort of represents that in a way. I don't want to make it sound really clinical and stuff, but like this in terms of like themes and something I think that was also interesting as well.

Izzy:32:08

Yeah, no, I love that. There's actually like there was a bit that I highlighted. When his friends are talking about the fact that he'd been working on that one song since they'd met him, there's something he'd been like playing with and it never came to fruition and it thought. Then one of the friends fish, he says I thought he'd finally given up on it, but now it's back. This damn song never goes anywhere, he never finishes it. But I thought it was just like such a good representation of actually his feelings for Rainer and the fact that he was never able to finish this song but obviously kind of embodies her and the fact that when he sees her again he's able to start writing it. I also love that you keep the music elements in there, because I think music actually plays quite a significant role in persuasion. So I love that you brought that over to your book as well.

Sarah :33:00

Yeah, definitely. I think music also is like a big part of our culture here. Like our Soko music is like it's part of who we are and it's something that we created and we're very proud of it, and so I definitely wanted to keep those elements in there. Also, in terms of, like you mentioned, the song itself, I think that was sort of like a way I could you could have a look into what Aiden's thinking, because obviously we're in Rainer's perspective for the whole book, so we don't really know what he's thinking. In that way, the song sort of represented his feelings coming back and blooming again, so it gives you a little peek into what he's thinking.

Izzy:33:44

Yeah, which I love, because actually as a character he is quite reserved, like he doesn't actually come, he's not very forward about his feelings and you don't really know what's going on. And sometimes he is a bit angsty around Rainer, I think, because he's trying to keep a bottle on his actual feelings for us. So he can be a bit funny sometimes around her and also, oh my gosh, so rude when he's talking to Eliza about when Eliza says like that she's a bit stuffy and she's, like you know, a type A, and then he turns around and he's like exactly, and Rainer over here's, I'm like Aiden friend, what are you doing? Like, don't do it Honestly. Word of warning if you have feelings for someone, don't be talking bad behind their back. They will know, they will find out and you're going to look like a numpty.

Sarah :34:34

Yeah, definitely. And the thing is, I think he likes it. She's type A. He's just like, at the point in time, he's just like in denial and trying to, you know, rationalize a way that he isn't in love with her, you know, and, yeah, and I think it's how it came out, and obviously it's a reflection of the actual scene in the book where something similar happens, like, yeah, I just I loved how angsty he is as well. Yeah, all of that is just the little things that he does, like, you know, wanting to talk to her but they're not saying anything, you know, and like wanting to be around her and, you know, not being angry at the same time, but like trying to keep it in. Yeah, all of that, I think, was just a way to get a look into what he's feeling, because, yeah, it is a one-fee-wee book and I really I wanted it to feel like a romance. Yeah, yeah, a full romance, yes.

Izzy:35:30

Yeah, but also it's such a good reflection of how Wentworth is as well, because I think this is something actually that I found with the Netflix persuasion. I think it lost the elements of Wentworth that actually can be really angsty and a little bit arrogant and, like you know, just not so great through a lot of the book. Let's be clear, because at the end of the day he's like openly, you know, caught in another woman and Aidan's literally there, like he's leading a life the wrong, really, like he's willing to be in these videos with her and obviously they have a casual relationship. How does Aidan put it? Friends who occasionally hooked up you know what I mean. He's not innocent in that situation either. So I think it's also good to show the more human side of these people sometimes, because I think Jane Austen's heroes they're always really human. You know they have flaws and we're all flawed, right. So I think it's good to show as well that sometimes you do get kind of caught up in the peer pressure, especially when you're younger.

Sarah :36:30

Yeah, and I do appreciate you having some sympathy for Eliza, because that was one of the feedback I got after the book was published, like, apparently she's a divisive character, some people like her, some people hate her, and I was like, okay, but I mean, I get it. You know, different people respond to characters differently. But I hope that she's at least a little sympathetic because, you know, even though she is aware that it is a casual relationship, you know, you can still see that she kind of has a little bit of hope that he will start to look at her as something a little more serious. But yeah, so that was something that I found out after the book was published.

Izzy:37:09

And, to be fair to her, he's going around saying all this stuff about Reyna Like he's not interested in her all at the same time. How are you even supposed to know that he's got these deep burning feelings for Reyna? Still, she doesn't tell anyone.

Sarah :37:21

He doesn't give her a heads up. Nobody knows these dates. Yeah, so it comes out of left field when she discovers them. You know, I don't know how deep we're going in spoilers, but when she finds them it's like what is going on? So, yeah, so that as well is. Yeah, I hope she's a little sympathetic to people.

Izzy:37:42

Yeah, yeah, I think so. Like not that she was like my favorite character or anything, but I do feel for her as well. I actually feel for Louise, or Impersuasion sometimes, because I'm like you know what, like even though Wentworth's on this whole journey and in his head he's like, oh, I still have feelings for her and like, for whatever reason, none of this, this thing that I'm doing here, is going to make a difference. It does, you know, and nobody else knows what's going on in his head. But he thinks it's all okay and it's all going to work out for him. For Louise, she's, you know, totally in a different world and you know, even her family think they went with Skiner, maria and stuff.

Sarah :38:16

So, yes, I think, although to be fair to Wentworth and Aiden, characters like and in Reyna's give them nothing. Like she doesn't give them anything, anything to hope. You know to hang his phone. So, to be fair, he doesn't know what she's thinking. That's true. So yeah, that's true.

Izzy:38:38

It's so true, but it's so hard because he's the first one to break the ice. That's the thing, I suppose, and when you've got all this history that nobody else knows about, I think as well, something that I really really love that you kind of keep is that the friendship between, like Aiden and his friends that he's got and that's something that I love and persuasion that I think kind of overlooked a lot of the time is that Wentworth has these other male friends that he's really close with and they they have a sense of you know this past person. He's really important to him and I think that plays a massive part as well in the like the male protagonist, him, him kind of rediscovering his feelings or actually being open to accepting his feelings. So I love that you kept those characters in.

Sarah :39:21

Yeah, I thought that friendships, I think is one of the most fun parts about writing books and I had a lot of fun with these characters in particular, a fish and Leo. I thought, yeah, it just I loved their friendship and I love that. You know, even if they have like their little problems going on, like they're supportive, like you know they're ready as soon as they figure out what's going on, you know they're ready to support it, even though there is kind of like a hint of a love triangle between fish and Reena and Aimee. Yeah, as soon as they realized what's going on, they're all on the same page and I had a lot of fun with their dynamics and just writing their banter and, yeah, their little antics that they got up to.

Izzy:40:07

Yeah, Also, fish is so funny. Oh my gosh, like I cracked me up so much yeah.

Sarah :40:15

Originally he wasn't like a part of the love triangle but like it just it just started happening. And also, of course, in the original book there is Mr Eliot, but like it wasn't a big part of my retelling until like after a while it just started to be like oh, I can see them like connecting a bit and also okay. So let me just jump to a little bit of a triangle.

Izzy:40:41

And also, good you know, give Aiden a little kick up the bum. You know he's not the only one. He can go off and, like you know, be flirting with other people. Reena's got options, let's be clear.

Sarah :40:53

Yeah, I think, yeah, I think. A little bit of jealousy definitely kicked him into, you know, expressing what he's been feeling. Yeah, yeah.

Izzy:41:01

Yeah, yeah, I love that Absolutely. I also something else that I just want to chat about is but Reena's father in your book obviously is really nice in comparison to, so, walter Eliot. So that was an interesting change, which I actually really appreciated, because I don't know, I think sometimes you you yourself can be your own worst critic and put so much pressure on yourself, and I love that you kind of showcase that with Reena, that actually when you're younger you put so much pressure on yourself to like have everything figured out, especially if you're around people who you think have already done that. So I kind of loved that her father was like this kind person. He was like Reena's not putting so much pressure on yourself and she's like no, I have to, I have to put pressure on myself in comparison to you in persuasion, where Anne gets a lot of grief from her family.

Sarah :41:47

Yeah, yeah, he's like the bad in this one. I think he's a cool dad. That's what I call. I enjoy writing like fun parents or dynamics with the kids. You know I've supported parents. But yeah, because he's like the entire time is like Reena, go out there and have some fun please, like you know we'll be okay, just to go and you know, live your life. And yeah, because I think for Reena just you know, the trauma of losing her mom at such a young age is it's actually something that I had to deal with and so I ended up putting it in the book and I feel like it's also a way for you to see what her character, who her character is like. At her core, she is someone who wants to take care of people, wants to be loyal and so on, but like to her mother's memory, I mean, can you hear me? It's really loud right now.

Izzy:42:51

Sarah is in a storm right now. Well, it's actually just normal in Sarah's head, but it's heavy.

Sarah :42:56

Can you hear me? I'm like really worried.

Izzy:42:59

I can still hear you. Can you hear yourself, is the question.

Sarah :43:03

Yeah, for Reena, you know, there's a tragedy of like losing her mom and sort of you know feeling guilty as well about the way their relationship played out and all the regrets that she has and that sort of tangled up with her grief and it sort of made her like sort of stuck exactly where she was, at the point where her mom passed and she didn't really, she didn't really do what she wants anymore. It's all about, you know, maintaining that legacy. It's all about making sure her father is okay, the care of the hotel is taken care of and that everything is running as if her mom is still alive, yeah, and so I think that it's just a part of the reason that she is like not doing her art, you know, just really, I think it's because she doesn't totally accept the fact that her mom is gone just yet and that she can move forward and it's okay that she knows.

Izzy:44:06

Yeah, yeah, I love that and again, I think that shows like there's there's very much two different stories. There is that coming of age story where you know you're figuring things out as you're growing up, and then there's also obviously the aspect of first love and second chance love as well. So I think it's good to see those two things side by side, because you know life isn't just as easy as that. You can she horn everything. Everything's just about love, it's fine, you know. There's other things that go on and I think it's interesting as well that a lot about her mother's memory, because her and Aiden have grown up together, because they've been children together and teenagers and everything A lot of that was entangled as well. So I think it's interesting to see how you know losing a parent or you know the dynamic that you have with your parent can be entangled with, like you're in love story, if they know, if you they know and they see what's happened and everything. So I thought, yeah, that was an interesting thing to to read about as well. Yeah, yeah.

Sarah :45:05

I think in terms of like the mother character, like in the original she's not present but you know, you can sort of feel a little bit that you know where, where her presence in the book. But I think the mother character in my book I think she was a malformation of, like Lady Russell and the mom, so you know she also wasn't like the biggest fan of Aiden sometimes or the biggest fan of what Aiden like sort of took Reina away from her home and her responsibilities and so on. I think that is part of the guilt as well, that tangled up with it, because Reina, like you know, she, she loves her, she loved her mom and like her mom wasn't perfect. That's something else I tried to explore in my books. Like nobody's perfect, even the parents, you know they weren't perfect. Part of the guilt is that you know she knows her mom wouldn't agree with her choices now, but she, she has to do what she loves, you know, and so, yeah, so that's part of the story as well.

Izzy:46:12

Yes, I love that. Yeah, absolutely, I can, definitely, I can definitely see that and I also looked at the start of the book. You pop those like oh, the word Tabanka, which is a word I've never heard before. Do you want to explain a little bit for the listeners what this word means and how it kind of encapsulates the whole book though, the whole story. Yes, yes.

Sarah :46:36

I do the same thing in this book as well, just for anybody who's interested in that as well. But I thought it was really cute. This was my editor's idea, because I had it sort of defined somewhere else in the book and she was like let's put it in front because it's exactly, it's exactly what represents the book. Actually, it was my agent, I think yeah, it was my agent whose idea that was but Tabanka is sort of unrequited love sort of feeling. It's a feeling of like unfulfilled love, perhaps I should say, because it could be that it's a past relationship that you know is broken up but you still have feelings, or it could be like you never had a relationship with slasher things is that feeling of like it's? You feel like it's not being met and throughout the book that's what Reina sort of feeling. She doesn't, obviously, she doesn't realize it's not really unrequited, but like that, that sort of longing which I think is so important to persuasion as a whole. Yeah, I think that is what it's supposed to represent. Yeah.

Izzy:47:35

Yes, definitely. When I read it I was like, oh my gosh. Yes, that literally just well encapsulates persuasion. But also, obviously, with your book, is always been inspired by persuasion. But, yeah, I thought it was. It was really enjoyable to read and I really recommend picking this one up, guys, especially if you love a second chance romance, if you love persuasion, you will definitely love this book. I honestly I wish I had this when I was like younger as well. Like, even though it's very enjoyable no matter what your age, I would have totally eaten this off. I probably would have read it like every single night when I was like a teenager. We love it. You know, give me some like intense heartache and a little sprinkle of hope, and I'm there. I'm there for it. But yeah, I loved it. Is there anything else that you want to share I'd love to hear about? Like your new book as well, because that's now out, right? Yeah, it's out now.

Sarah :48:26

It's when the vibe is right and it is a much to do about nothing retelling and this one it is enemies to lovers. Of course, much to do about nothing. But it sort of takes place behind the scenes of the preparation for our Carnival Festival, which is like a big festival we have here with, like, masqueraders and music, and it takes place over like two days, although, like it's actually like Christmas, it kind of stretches out a bit. But, like you know, it's supposed to be two days and it's about, and love story sort of takes place around the preparations for that. And yeah, it's out now. So if anyone's interested, yes, absolutely.

Izzy:49:10

I will link both below so that you can definitely go and check them out. Do you think you'll do any more Austin retelling? Is that something that you can talk about At the moment?

Sarah :49:19

I'm currently working on a third book, which is going out next year, but it's actually a bit of a change. This one is going to be a supernatural thriller. Oh, my goodness it's with Rick Ryden presents. It's called it Waits in the Forest and yeah, it's so. It's about a teenage girl who, like is tends to be psychic and you know, and she like she trips tourists and some locals into like, believing that she can help them with viturals and spells and fake, fake stuff. But then one day a tourist comes in and he is bit weird and the session is a little creepier, and later on they find out he was involved in a string of strange murders happening on the island and the main character gets wrapped up in it and she has to help solve it, and so that'll be out next year. It's called it Waits in the Forest.

Izzy:50:22

It sounds so good. Oh my God, I'm so excited.

Sarah :50:26

I'm doing a bit of something different right now, but I'm definitely open to going back to, you know, contemporaries and retellings, but I think that will be a couple of books down this point, yeah, but yeah, definitely I am. I have an idea for one of the books. I'm not going to say, but we'll see, maybe one day down the line.

Izzy:50:47

I'm so excited. You'll have to come back on when it's all and it happens. Are you going to stick with using like Tobago and the Caribbean as your backdrop for your book? Then Is that something that's super important to you?

Sarah :51:00

This is a book that I've created like a whole new island so I can have a little bit more fun with the layout and stuff, but with my contemporaries definitely, just because obviously it's like where I grew up so I'm more familiar with it, but also because growing up there weren't a lot of books that I read were set here. So it's really important to me to write books where people who are from here or from the Caribbean get to see themselves in fiction now and Tobago especially, like no books are set here. So yeah, that's important to me. So for contemporary books, I definitely would like to continue setting them here.

Izzy:51:48

Yes, I love it Pioneering for Tobago writing all these books. I love that, though, because that inspires other people to write, and I think it's good taking some of these older texts and bringing them and putting them in new locations with, like, new cultural dynamics and things, because I just think these stories are timeless, but it's like the way that you keep them timeless is then you place them into these like new settings where people can relate to them, so I love that.

Sarah :52:14

Exactly, and you know if for anyone who has a red persuasion maybe they'll remember can be like curious and go back and, you know, read it yeah.

Izzy:52:23

Yeah, it'll be like doing everybody what she's clueless, and then they find out that Clueless is based on a book and then they go back to it and it's Emma. I love that. Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a great way to bring people into Jane Austen but also encourage the reading elements as well, because I think a lot of the time in what I'm finding is a lot of people who I have on the podcast or I'm friends with, they've come into Austen through an adaptation like a film or what have you, and obviously sometimes then they go to the book. Sometimes people don't whatever takes their fancy, but what's great about this is obviously you're reading to then find out more things you can read. It's, like you know, building on your reading list, which I love.

Sarah :53:02

Yeah, definitely, and yeah, and then maybe when people go back they'll discover, like me, how delightful the older books are.

Izzy:53:10

Yeah, yes, yes, I love that so much. This has been such a pleasure, though. Thank you so much for coming on. I've had such a blast with you, of course, and thank you again for inviting me.

Sarah :53:20

I had something about this book which is so close to my heart there.

Izzy:53:25

Yes, absolutely. Do you want to let people know where they can find you on Instagram so they can keep up to date with your latest book, Sure of?

Sarah :53:32

course, on Instagram, I'm Sarah, das writes yeah, and also you can find more information at sarah dascom.

Izzy:53:43

That's amazing, and I will tag all of that below as usual. Guys, that is everything from us today, and I will see you in another episode.




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