All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Inevitability Of Stars – Kathryn R Lyster

on August 16, 2013

Inevitability of StarsThe Inevitability Of Stars
Kathryn R Lyster
Harlequin MIRA
2013, 297p
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher

Rip and Sahara have been together since they were small. Their mothers were friends, they lived next door to each other and they spent day after day together, exploring their nearby surroundings. Later on they became more than just friends, high school lovers, a passionate relationship that threatened to consume the both of them.

Sahara flees their small hometown of Byron Bay and moves to Sydney to pursue her career as an artist, living in a rundown apartment, working 14 hour shifts at a bar all in the name of attending art school and getting enough paintings down on canvas to hopefully show her pieces, get noticed. Meanwhile Rip is left behind in Byron, questioning what remains in his life without her in it.

In Sydney, Sahara meets the charismatic, wealthy and influential Sean, who is drawn to her uncaring attitude. Sahara doesn’t know who Sean is and she doesn’t care either, which he finds fascinating. He immediately seeks to help her with her dream, buying her paintings, taking her to the most exclusive places and parties, splashing around all the money that anyone could possibly need to make a success in art. But Sahara finds herself drawn away from her artistic friends and into Sean’s world where he provides everything but demands everything too. Sahara starts to wonder what the price will be for selling out to Sean and as she spirals further and further down into a bad place, she is riddled with memories of Rip, who she believes lost to her forever.

Rip is trying to move on, to rebuild his life without Sahara in it and he thinks a working farm has provided him with the opportunity he needs. But nothing is what it seems and Rip finds strangeness at every turn. Just when he feels as though he may be settling in, his time is almost over and he needs to go back and fight.

The Inevitability Of Stars is the debut novel from Australian author Kathryn Lyster. It’s a story of deep friendship that turned into obsessive teenage love, suffocation and heartbreak. And it is an incredibly hard novel for me to review because there’s a large section that is impossible to talk about without spoiling anything. It’s difficult to decide what to say because that section definitely had an impact on how I felt about the book and yet I can’t say why without ruining several big reveals.

Sahara is a difficult character to identify with or like in some ways. I can understand her need to make something of herself and to explore her passion, what she considered to be her calling. However I can’t agree with the way she treated Rip in order to get it and her lackadaisical “he was supposed to find me in the future” argument, like the world revolved around Sahara and whenever she was ready, Rip would just have to jump when she snapped her fingers. She seemed like a headstrong person and I thought perhaps overindulged after her behaviour at the waterfall when she and Rip were children but her mother seemed like some quintessential Byron Bay hippie that are a dime a dozen. When she meets Sean there’s a million red flags but perhaps she’s so jaded and so strung out from living hand to mouth that she just doesn’t care. She can’t resist the idea of selling out even as she loathes herself for it. She has to change herself, change her art but the payoff is a huge studio with everything she could ever want stocked inside it, the chance to show her work at the MCA and all the parties, champagne, drugs and designer clothes she could dream of. After living in a hovel and working killer shifts in a room filled with cigarette smoke, pokies and despair, it seems as though it’s the chance to dream big. Sahara is also experiencing crippling grief and the belief that what she would always get is lost to her, so she tends to lose a lot of rationality in her decision making and her actions.

Rip is utterly devastated by Sahara’s rejection and disappearing to Sydney. He lost his mother when he was young and it seems as though he is distant from his father. His friends and even Sahara’s mother rally around him as Rip hits rock bottom and attempts to escape it all. Without Sahara, Rip seems lost and he needs to find himself and his direction again, gain strength. I felt a bit sorry for Rip but at the same time, I can’t imagine wrapping up everything in another person and being with them. Rip was clearly dominated by the more dominant personality of Sahara, who had the courage (or carelessness) to walk away from their passionate relationship and so something for herself. Obviously Rip didn’t get the memo that Sahara expected him to find her later on when the timing was right for her.

Although I found myself interested in the core relationship between Rip and Sahara, a lot of this novel incorporated things that my cynical brain had difficulty wrapping itself around. I’m not a mystic, or a believer in alternate worlds – I am not a Byron Bay “New Age” type person. I believe in what I can see, touch and hear and I think that because of that, I couldn’t really experience this book in all of its glory. What was probably eloquent and moving for other people was somewhat difficult for me to read. I appreciated Rip and Sahara and their difficult journeys and their story. It’s a well written novel, a deep exploration of two characters but there was too much of the book that I just couldn’t relate to.

6/10

Book #189 of 2013

AWW2013

The Inevitability of Stars is the 75th novel read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

Thanks to the publisher and Morey Media, I was given the chance to ask Kathryn a few questions about writing, her novel and life.

Questions For Kathryn Lyster

Q1. Hi Kathryn and welcome to my blog. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. To get started, how long did it take you to write The Inevitability of Stars from first draft to finished copy and how did you come to be published?

Hi Bree, thanks so much for reading The Inevitability of Stars. I worked on my book for about six years, before entering a competition at the Byron Writers Festival last year where I pitched it to publishers. I found my amazing publishers, Harlequin, through that.

Q2. Share a little of your writing routine: Do you write full time? Do you have a favourite place that you like to write, such as a study or café? And is there anything you consider to be essential to the creative process like music or coffee?

I really need to in my own little bubble to write – so cafes are usually a bit noisy for me. I like to write at home at my desk, or in a sunny spot somewhere. Tea, coffee and candles are always present, and music for when I need a break. At the moment I work part-time in a book store, my ideal is to write full time. Soon I hope!

Q3. Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow and see where the story takes you?

I wish I was a plotter, might try that next time; my book took a long time to write because I really just go with the flow. I never have a plan of what’s next, I just sit down and let the story find its own way. So the story is often a surprise, even to me.

Q4. In the novel, both Rip and Sahara hit rock bottom. What led you to want to explore deeply what happens when a person is at their lowest?

I drew inspiration from times in my life when I had struggled. I think low points are often hugely transformative, we grow and learn about ourselves and some of the hardest times in my life have ended up changing me in such positive ways. There’s a raw honesty and vulnerability that I wanted to capture.

Q5. What made you choose Byron Bay? Was it more than just the town’s alternative reputation?

Byron Bay is magical! It definitely has the reputation of being alternative, but I was influenced after living there. The amazing nature you don’t always see as a tourist and the way the community really supports creativity and local spirit. It all just slipped into the story very naturally. I’m very inspired by my environment, and once I moved to Byron, I couldn’t not write about it.

Q6. What do you feel is the most difficult part of the writing process?

For me, it’s separating myself from the story. Writing comes easily, but then reflecting on what I’ve written and thinking whether it’s good just because I like it or if other’s will relate too. I saw a quote by Toni Morrison: ‘I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it’, and it rings very true. Writers always draw from personal experience but I guess it’s a fine line.

Q7. Share five favourite authors and /or novels

Aah, I have so many! I read everything, all sorts of books and genres. Barbara Kingsolver, Alan Hollinghurst and Natasha Illumberg are brilliant authors. I loved Eat Pray Love, and just read Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. It is the sweetest, most enchanting, unusual story about love and grief and coming together. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.

Q8. What do you do to relax away from the keyboard?

I walk, do yoga, make raw cakes, laugh with friends and dream of owning my own horse

Q9. And lastly…what’s next for you? Anything you can share?

I am itching to start writing again – but a good holiday first. This has all been such an exciting whirlwind, I’d like to lie on a beach with no phone or computer for a while, and then come back fresh, and see what comes.

Thanks for your time Kathryn, I hope you enjoy your holiday and good luck with book #2 and beyond.

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3 responses to “The Inevitability Of Stars – Kathryn R Lyster

  1. Great review and great interview. I have been watching out for this one. 🙂

  2. Belle says:

    I want to know what the big twists are 😉

  3. Unicorn says:

    I liked reading your review as I have read this book recently, and I enjoyed reading your perspective. I agree that Sahara can be selfish sometimes in the novel, but I could kinda relate to that (especially at her age). The excuse I make for her (and myself ha ha) is she can’t help fully immersing herself in her feelings, so sometimes the intensity of the moment may not allow for catering to others. Although I have never gone to the levels she reached in the novel in Sydney, having never sustained a “loss” like hers. I found Sahara likeable, despite her thoughtlessness – because she is strong, adventurous adaptable and changeable… and complex. I find sometimes characters are too ‘goody goody’ as if they are begging the reader to like them, to find their actions rational and always kind. Sahara really just is what she is, and in her depiction I found something that helped me accept myself “warts and all” 🙂 I think that was one of the most interesting aspects of the book.

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