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Ahead of the Wheeler Centre’s special date night at Meet Cute, writers Sarah Ayoub, Alison Evans and Melissa Keil tell us about the dreamiest characters they’ve come across.

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Who is the most romantic character in literature or art that you’ve come across, and why? How has this character influenced your writing?

Sarah Ayoub: Not a character per se, but the prophet Almustafa in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is incredibly romantic, not necessarily in that Hollywood, swoon-worthy and escapist way, but in a way that is practical and sustainable, which I think I appreciate more the older I get. This is a person who speaks to the people of his city about family and friendship, prayer and pleasure, giving and receiving and more. In his verses on love, the prophet reminds us that real love is about enduring suffering as well as joy, about sacrifice and vulnerability, about giving of our whole selves in order to properly receive another. It’s about love as a transformation of self, a transcendent experience that is spiritual as well as physical. It has inspired me to look at love more critically and realistically, to write characters who love in a way that is not self-serving, but in a capacity that is holistic and enduring.




Alison Evans: I’ve always found romance in media to be something I struggled to relate to but I really enjoy relationships that are romance-adjacent. The strongest example that springs to mind is San and Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke. The way you’re not sure how much they care about each other, the way they both have such passion for helping the forest and the people around them. And how, in the end, it’s unclear if they will see each other again. I adore stuff like that, there’s just so much room for interpretation.




Melissa Keil: I have to choose the most romantic character? Just one?! It’s an all but impossible task, but if we’re talking personally influential, then I would have to pick Lloyd Dobbler from Say Anything. I was not quite a teenager when the movie came out, but I loved it from the first time I saw it at a sleepover party. It gave me a life-long fondness for sweet, hapless, somewhat lost underdogs in fiction, and I think it still holds up pretty well today (unlike many 80s teen romances!) In hindsight, the main character in my first novel, Life in Outer Space, inadvertently took on a few Lloyd-Dobbler-esque tendencies – the characters actually reference Say Anything at one point (including the immortal quote, ‘I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen’.)




Sarah Ayoub, Alison Evans and Melissa Keil will appear in Meet Cute, an evening of Young Adult rom-com storytelling, at Spring Fling on Friday 4 November 2022.


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.