Two of Us with author Kylie Scott, and moral philosophy researcher Hugh Breakey

I read widely and enjoy reading outside my romance genre. When Hugh went back to uni, I’d read over his work. But when every other sentence started with five-syllable words that meant nothing to me, I had to admit that he’d outpaced me.

Hugh’s a deep thinker who likes to mull things over, whereas I’m more spontaneous. Four years ago, when he was overseas on a trip, I added his name to the collection of tattoos I have on my arm. But it’s the balance between our differences and commonalities that gives us plenty to talk about and lots to teach each other. I hope that never stops. Might be awkward getting rid of that tattoo if it does!

Hugh and Kylie on their wedding day.

Hugh: The first time we met, at a party, I remember Kylie being really pretty with an aura of cool about her. I was a 1990s grungy-black-T-shirt-with-ripped-jeans kind of guy who played in a garage band. At one of our jam sessions, Kylie sang Anna Begins by the Counting Crows. She’s a naturally gifted singer and her voice, full of beauty and power, swept me off my feet. She expanded the band’s narrow repertoire of ’90s grunge music with alternative bands we hadn’t heard of, like the Goo Goo Dolls and Lisa Loeb.

Our paths crossed again when she came back from London. Listening to her talking in the back of my car about living in London and travelling through Europe, she seemed so grown-up and worldly. I suggested we catch a movie, as a first date: she preferred to find somewhere in the city where we could talk – which we did for hours. I didn’t ever want to stop talking to her.

Just before we got married, Kylie suggested I might enjoy a novel she’d read, Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. That book awakened an interest in philosophy in me and so, at 27, I let go of my scriptwriting dreams to pursue a PhD in moral philosophy, which I finished in 2010.

After five years of writing, Kylie’s dream of becoming a successful romance writer finally happened when her third and fourth books [Lick, 2013, and Play, 2014] went gangbusters. As a successful writer, she was suddenly earning more money than me – and it came as a relief. We were both juggling demanding, full-time jobs and raising a young family.

My research work, as a member of a team, requires me to be very methodical and efficient: there’s no time to procrastinate. But Kylie, who works independently, can spend months at a time ironing out the wrinkles in a manuscript. She spends a lot of time refining and polishing her output and I love being around that artistic meticulousness.

“Helping Kylie gave me the confidence, in 2015, to unearth a manuscript I’d abandoned 25 years earlier.”

She has an extensive fan base and we often unpack what’s going on for her on social media. I’m not sure how useful I am in this space: my careful thinking doesn’t always translate neatly into a tweet’s limited confines, but I do really enjoy helping her draw out complex characters in her books, such as the teenage protagonists, Edie and John, in Trust (2017).

I like helping with dialogue. She reckons I write up to 5 per cent of some of her books. Helping Kylie gave me the confidence, in 2015, to unearth a manuscript I’d abandoned 25 years earlier. With a clearer idea of what I wanted to do, I rewrote The Beautiful Fall from scratch. I’d often ask myself, “If Kylie was writing this, what would she do now?” and that would prompt me to write more boldly.

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Writing a book is an enormous undertaking. This is my one and it might be my only. Kylie writes multiple books a year. It makes me appreciate just how accomplished she is. It’s very impressive and very cool.

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