COVER Art of Magic KJArt of Magic, an Australian contemporary romance novel, is sprinkled with humorous banter, and levity, that balances the weighty themes of trust, and knowing when to leap into the deep end of the relationship pool.

There’s even a touch of actual magical realism which adds spice to the story.

We caught up with Art of Magic author KJ to talk about her novel, about romance, and why metaphors are often the best literary semiotics to signpost the human psyche.

How do you describe the plot of Art of Magic?

The novel is told through the eyes of Cath Monroe, who is an English high school teacher at a private girls’ school in Melbourne. She is a very sassy, proudly bisexual woman, who remains emotionally distant to the idea of a forever love. Then Rica Diamandis, a rather secretive, and thoroughly sexy Brit, is employed as the new Art teacher, and Cath needs to decide if she has enough faith in herself to believe in the magic of love; for Rica, for her parents, and ultimately for herself.

You’ve described the book as one giant metaphor. What do you mean by that?

Ha! Well, this answer will have a couple of spoilers in it, so be warned. I wondered if love could be so powerful that it could be ‘seen’? I initially researched synesthesia, which is the phenomenon where someone can taste sounds, or hear colours, but then I pushed the idea further. What if two people who fall in love realise that they’ve found their person because they can see their love as a stream of colours? What if the only way to activate that phenomenon is through trust? When I finished the novel, I realised that Art of Magic had become a fabulous metaphor to explain the interconnection between love and belief.

Is the novel particularly Australian?

Only in the setting and perhaps the language structure. We do have a tendency to drop words at the beginning of sentences in dialogue, so that we end up speaking in phrases. My character’s external and internal discourses follow that pattern. It confused the heck out of my editor. Beyond that, I do have a unique author’s voice. It’s probably more to do with the lyrical aspect of my writing. I use long sentences that paint pictures. I’m very fond of imagery and metaphorical analogies, and I intersperse these with short, snappy dialogue. It makes for an interesting contrast.

Why romance? Isn’t the market flooded with this genre?

It distresses me greatly that society views romance novels as low-brow, less intelligent, and something to be hidden. I’ve lost count of the number of times a romance novel is labelled a ‘guilty pleasure’. But that warm fuzzy a reader has when the characters overcome their life hurdles and fall in love? That needs to be celebrated.

So, why romance? Because it’s enjoyable. It’s fun. It’s escapism. And because it’s valid.