Gabe and Pippa’s home is just beside a popular suicide spot. Night after night Gabe comes to their rescue, literally talking them off the ledge. Until he doesn’t. When Pippa discovers Gabe knew the victim, the questions spiral about her supposed soulmate. We are honoured to chat with Sally Hepworth about The Soulmate.
First of all, do you think Pippa and Gabe should have moved away when they found out their house is so close to a suicide spot?
I think I might have! With two little children, a house at the edge of a cliff isn’t the safest choice for them. And yet, people do live in such places. In fact, this story was inspired by the true story of a man who lived opposite a suicide spot in Sydney. Like Gave, this man made it his life’s mission to talk people off the ledge. He was very successful at it, and over his lifetime, it was estimated that he saved over 500 lives.
As for Pippa and Gabe, there are many reasons they chose to stay. The house was affordable, it had a great view of the ocean, and most importantly, it offered Gabe a chance at redemption.
The Soulmate alternates between Pippa and Amanda’s POV, in different timelines. What was the writing process like? Did you write one person’s POV first or write in one timeline first? How did you keep track of everything?
I always write in a linear fashion because it helps me get a feel for pacing, and to know when to reveal things to the characters and to the reader. Even if the characters are on completely different journeys, they should be intersecting – if only thematically – along the way. A fun challenge for this book was writing from the point of view of a character who was dead, but it also helped to keep the characters distinct in my mind. As for how I keep track, most of the book remains in my head while I’m writing it but I do keep notes if something pops into my head that I don’t want to forget.
Pippa believes she is a helper while Gabe is a hero. Do you think everyone can be categorised into ‘heroes’ and ‘helpers’? Are there any other types? Which type do you think you are and why?
I think there are other types – like the people who freeze in dramatic situations, unable or unwilling to do anything. And those who use drama to their own advantage! As for me, it may be a stretch to call myself a hero, but I am actually quite good in a crisis, and tend to think clearly under pressure. Unfortunately, in everyday life I’m much less skilled and probably fall into the “unwilling to do anything category!” LOL.
Finally, The Soulmate highlights that women like to good-naturedly slander their husbands. This is such an interesting observation! Why do you think that is the case and how does this impact Pippa and Gabe as individuals and as a couple?
I think women good-naturedly slander their husbands because men can be extremely difficult to live with! Also, rightly or wrongly, people tend to bond most strongly over mutual dislike of something or someone. In The Soulmate, Pippa is so delighted by Gabe that she finds it difficult to connect with other women. After all, no one enjoys hearing about someone else’s perfect marriage. The irony of this, is that Pippa’s wonderful marriage leaves her feeling disconnected with those outside it.