Friday, June 18, 2021

What I would have liked to write for Jedda

Writing The Guy from the Internet was an odd personal experience. It's the first time I've ever drawn so much from real life for my fiction work. And one side-effect of trying to cram so much in was that I didn't get to dig into all the elements I would have liked.

Jedda in particular comes to mind. She is Holly's thoughtful, cheeky, confident best friend and colleague. I mentioned last month that I won't be writing Jedda's story, but I often look back on what I would have liked to explore. If not write, then at least research and learn about so I can understand the world a bit better.

Here's my top three:

1. Her life between separated parents and households

"Internet" gives us a couple of passing references to Jedda living between Perth and Bunbury. Sharp-eyed readers may already have guessed that between the lines, this means she lives between her white family in Perth and her Aboriginal family in Bunbury. Which entails a whole host of interesting challenges and circumstances she would have grown up with — racial, social, economic, regional, linguistic, dialectic, familectic, and more.

From hearing the experiences of my friends who grew up between households, it seems so different from my own single-household upbringing, and yet so similar to living as a transplant in a culture I wasn't born into. This may explain how Holly and Jedda became such good friends to the point where they're sending biscuits to each other's families.

2. Her unique life experiences

What were the factors in Jedda's life that made her so outgoing, take-charge and confident, and so proactively supportive of Holly's endeavours?

Though I'm fascinated by all the talk of birth order versus personality, I picture Jedda as a second-born whose early childhood experiences in the shadow of an older sibling (a brother, perhaps?) combined with a more independent stretch of teenage years, resulting in the strong, level-headed, witty woman we get to see in the book.

I would have liked to see what the dynamic would be between her and [SPOILER REDACTED] when Holly takes them both out to brunch. Those three personalities together are sure to spark a ton of fun and banter.

3. Her Noongar heritage

Like many Noongar women today, Jedda's relatives and ancestors would have been subject to the horrifying effects of colonialism. The more I learn about this, and how much still carries on today, the more I realise that what we do get told just barely scratches the surface of what really went on.

For example, one popular holiday destination an hour out of town is only a few minutes from an old interment camp. One that only closed down less than 50 years ago. How many tourists visit and make merry these days, and never know the truth about that place? And how many of them would really understand or think about what it means if you were to let them know?

There are so many stories to be told, and none of them belong to me. This is the number one reason I had to leave Jedda's character in peace, because as an Asian immigrant in Aboriginal country, I'm still just listening and trying to learn.

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Out Now: The Guy from the Internet

A sweet romance with a touch of family drama.

Holly Chee does not have her life together. She's flip-flopped on uni courses and career choices, and somehow scared off her long-term fiancée-to-be, much to the chagrin of her immigrant parents.

But she does have her streaming channel, where she broadcasts her art from her one-bedroom Mount Lawley apartment. And she has that guy from France... assuming he's even who he says he is.

The Guy From The Internet is a sweet #OwnVoices Asian-Australian romance novella, set in the world of Somerville Downs.

Now available on Amazon in digital and paperback.


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