“Love’s fingers tear up, root and stem, every house where sunbeams fall from love” – Rumi.
When I first started writing my latest fiction novel, “Where Sunbeams Fall“, I wanted to write about love that was poetic, sensual, and intellectual. Love is not always predictable, nor is it reliable. Love is sometimes disappointing and often it lacks the romance you desire.
As the two main characters in the story come from different cultures, I thought a shared love of Sufi poetry would be an excuse for them to connect. I have always loved reading the poems of Rumi, and I wanted the characters to share this joy.
But as the story progresses, the protagonists move on from their interest in divine love and start to explore the words of romantic poets such as E E Cummings and Pablo Neruda. I think you can probably guess where their relationship might be heading.
I set “Where Sunbeams Fall” in Brunei which shares a similar rich Islamic history with that of Rumi’s birthplace. When the first sultan came to the throne in the early fifteenth century, Brunei emerged as the most powerful Islamic state on the island of Borneo.
When I lived in Brunei in the 1970s, it was a quiet backwater, an exotic Shangri-La but a place where an illicit affair between lovers of different cultures would be forbidden. In the 70’s there were many changes taking place in the world. It was an era of great technological and scientific advances. It was a time of living dangerously, especially for women.
While huge social and political reforms were taking place in Australia, in Brunei such things occurred at a much slower pace. In the 70’s, Australian women gained access to higher education, fault-free divorce, the contraceptive pill, and professional opportunities they had only previously dreamed of. This was not the situation I found in Brunei when I first arrived there in the 70’s.
Remember the 70’s
Set in the 70’s, “Where Sunbeams Fall” will take you back to psychedelic kaftans and afro hairstyles. An era of fashion that had never revealed such color and vibrancy. Do you remember the women’s liberation movement, protests again the Vietnam War, free love, hippies wearing flowers in their hair?
“Where Sunbeams Fall” will help you remember how hard women fought for their rights in challenging times of war, peace, and love. In the 70’s there were no mobile phones, no emails so how would two lovers communicate discreetly? How would they express their longing and burning desire? They wrote love letters of course and hid them in a secret repository.
I wanted to share the expat lifestyle. Offering colorful characters and exotic locations, the expat lifestyle provided a source of inspiration for writers such as George Orwell and Somerset Maugham. Readers who have never lived as expats may be intrigued by how the characters in “Where Sunbeams Fall” adjusted to their strange, new culture. If you have ever left behind friends and family to live in a foreign country, this story will resonate with you.
Any good book should make the reader laugh, cry and laugh again. I hope this story will touch you and leave you feeling amused, uplifted, inspired and empowered.
Where Dragonflies Dream
If you enjoy reading “Where Sunbeams Fall”, I have written a sequel to the story which will be released in the New Year. “Where Dragonflies Dream” is set twenty years later when the same characters return to Brunei for a reunion seeking what they have previously lost.