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Pillow Talk with Jenna Guillaume

Love. It stirs our creative spirits, brings us to our knees, inspires songs and sonnets and paintings and volumes.

In the spirit of this year’s Festival theme, When We Talk About Love, we’re asking authors and artists to share the passions that underpin their work. This week, we spoke with Australian author of What I Like About Me, a funny and heartfelt YA rom-com, Jenna Guillaume, about self love, cheesy love lines and fictitious infatuations.


Q. Love is a complex, multi-layered thing. What kinds of love do you explore through your writing or art?

I write YA rom-coms, so I’m very much interested in exploring first love and all the intense highs and lows that come along with it. I also enjoy writing about the complicated but powerful love you feel for your friends as a teen. But perhaps most importantly, for me, is the idea of self-love – something which becomes the primary goal for my main character, Maisie, in my YA debut What I Like About Me.

Q. What is the most beloved book in your bookshelf, and how did you fall for it?

The most beloved book on my shelf is probably Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. People would buy it for me all the time when I was a teen, for Christmas and birthdays, but it was okay because I ended up reading it so much I wore through multiple copies. It was like a best friend I could always count on. It’s shaped me in so many ways – not least of which is that I now write YA myself!

Q. If love were an object, what would it be?

It would be a magical object that changes shape depending on who was holding it, because love is different for every single person. (That’s so cheesy, I’m sorry.)

Q. If love were a song, what would it be?

Oh come on, this is unfair! There are too many love songs to choose from… Okay, if I have to pick one I’m going to be super cheesy again and say Pachelbel’s Canon in D. I mean, there’s a reason it’s used in every wedding ceremony (including my own cough).

Q. Snog/Marry/Avoid, literary edition. Which three book characters would you choose, and why?

I’ll fall back on a classic – Jane Austen heroes. I’d snog Captain Wentworth, because that man is passion personified. I’d marry Darcy because have you seen Pemberley?! That and he’s basically THE bar for a dreamy literary hero. I’d avoid Edmund Bertram because he’s a condescending, cousin-kissing pain in the butt.

Find Jenna at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.