Today, I’m talking with Birdie Song about her Somerville series. Let’s get started…
Hi, thank you for visiting. Tell us a bit about yourself and the books you write.
Hey there 👋 I go by Birdie Song and right now I’m working on my Somerville books, a collection of sweet contemporary romances all about twenty-somethings on the verge of their “next chapter”. Each in their own way have been through hurt and heartbreak, and have to confront their own insecurities before going on to find happiness and love.
Sounds interesting! What kind of research did you do for them? Did you travel, use the Internet, speak with experts on a topic, etc?
I feel the need to be upfront here, because it’s often the first thing people ask — no, none of these books are based on my life. But they do borrow feelings and imaginings and elements of certain experiences, both from my life and from the people around me.
The Guy from the Internet, for example, was kind of a love letter to growing up as a first-generation immigrant in Perth, Western Australia, though I never had a cute one-bedroom apartment or a mysterious online boyfriend in France! I do however have a friends who host online streams, even one who does it for a living, and you can learn a lot from just observing and asking questions (respectfully, of course).
What process did you go through when you picked your characters’ names for your books?
There aren’t many sweet romances featuring Asian characters set in my part of the world, so using names inspired by my background is part of how I’m contributing to diverse representation. Su-Li in The Guy from the Flower Shop is an obviously East Asian name, and was actually the name of a character from one of my favourite shows when I was a kid.
With the exception of The Guy from the Internet, my culture isn’t in the foreground of my stories because it’s not often in the foreground of my life — or in the lives of anyone I know. Generally, there’s a normality in how people engage with their culture day-to-day. It’s not some exotic fetish or a thing constantly in focus, even if sometimes news media and shock jocks make it seem that way.
It’s important to represent this too, and names feel like an excellent way to do that.
That’s great! Are your characters based on anyone you know?
You know, when I hear authors talk about their detailed character creation processes, I wonder if I’m taking the piss. I’ve never created a character from scratch, I have no idea if they’re coffee or tea drinkers or what their favourite colours are. Almost all of the time, my characters just materialise and drip-feed their personalities to me while I’m writing, often embodying traits from people I know or have observed in real life.
Jackson from The Guy from the Library, for example, was a mish-mash of a few different people. His confidence and friendliness came from an ex-colleague; his proper politeness came from a friend I used to watch football with; and his bookish intelligence came from a highschool classmate I haven’t spoken to in years but still think about every now and then.
This works in the negative too, by the way. Richard the office creeper in The Guy from the Internet was also inspired by several people I’d come across.
We all need a little inspiration in our lives. What’s your favorite quote and why?
A quote that inspired The Guy from the Park comes to mind often. I think it’s by an American thriller writer:
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
At the time of this interview, we’re in this weird position of having stuff spoonfed to us by algorithms. So much is ‘tailored to our preferences’ and delivered to us in a way that means we don’t have to reach very far to get it (even the things we don’t really want). Over time, it starts looking like we’re the main character in some show.
But in reality, we’re all main characters and supporting characters to each other. Everyone’s on their own hero’s journey, so let’s all be compassionate where we can.
Agreed. Any advice for the aspiring authors out there? Particularly those who are feeling a little discouraged?
Sometimes discouragement comes from not knowing WHY we want to achieve certain goals. Without the why, we end up setting vague and arbitrary goals, making buckshot efforts towards them and are left wondering how we managed to miss them all.
So, start with your why. Why do you want to be an author? Why do you want to write and publish this book? From there, think about your ideal scenario, then set achievable targets between that scenario and where you are now. Make that target as close to you as possible. If you’ve never written a book before, start by aiming to finish one. If you’ve never published before, learn what it takes to either self-publish or get published. Each time you hit a target, look to the next achievable target and take aim.
Over time, you’ll build up all these successes that get you closer to where you want to be. It’s hard to stay discouraged when you can look back upon all the goals you hit along a coherent journey.
That’s wonderful advice. Thank you again for visiting and letting my readers get to know you.
The Guy from the Library by Birdie Song
She’s ready for a new chapter.
Andrea trusts books more than boys. After all, they don’t embarrass you or make mean jokes, and they’re certainly clear about their intentions. But Jackson from the library seems genuinely friendly amidst this sudden puppy situation. Is it possible he could be her next chapter?
Sample the world of Somerville Downs with this sweet ‘sudden puppy’ short story. Available for free with Birdie Song’s Newsletter. Get it today.
About Birdie Song
Birdie Song is an Asian-Australian writer. She pens sweet stories featuring hopeful characters and optimistic endings (spoiler alert!). She believes love is more important than labels, integrity is a person’s most attractive quality, and that no one should be judged for putting pineapple on a pizza.
Find her at birdiesongauthor.com.