When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
I have always loved writing, but it didn’t occur to me when I was at school that mere mortals like me could become authors. Instead, I aspired to be a judge (too much like hard work), a footballer (no talent) and a pop star (less than no talent). It took me until my 40s to develop the confidence to give writing a go. I have loved every minute of life since.
The best and worst thing about it?
Undoubtedly the best thing about writing is inventing new characters, fast paced dialogue and twists and turns that readers don’t see coming. The worst thing is that writing can at times be quite a solitary experience. It’s hard to talk to people about a book when they haven’t read it, and while you are still writing it, no one will have read it…
What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
Er, my name?
I did write some science fiction nonsense when I was supposed to be studying at college. It really was nonsense though, so I didn’t dare show it to anyone.
What made you create Six Months to Get a Life?
My writing career has had a few false starts. After the science fiction episode, I dabbled with crime fiction but too many hours spent staring at blank pages and a lack of life experiences meant that I couldn’t make those stories sing.
In my 30s I mostly wrote boring work-related web content and the occasional acerbic complaint letter to the council, the Royal Mail, the newspapers and the dog over the road – it defecated on my drive.
And then my 40s came along. Sometimes it takes a life event to set you off on the right track. ‘Six Months to Get a Life’, which is about a dad struggling to cope with his divorce, was ultimately triggered by my own family upheaval.
My head was filled with a variety of emotions that seemed to me to be looking for a way to escape. Eventually, I just started writing.
Over the course of the Spring and Summer of 2014, my furious typing eventually morphed into ‘Six Months to Get a Life’.
Who is your literary hero?
I love Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole. If I had created Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones, I would have made them have a steamy affair and then spent the rest of my life writing about their dysfunctional, clumsy and vain love child.
How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
When I started writing ‘Six Months to Get a Life’, I thought I was writing a memoir. But I soon realized that it is much more fun creating new characters. I invented a new ex for divorced dad Graham, and new friends too. I invented scenarios for him to get caught up in and, without giving too much away, I invented a love interest.
While I found it hugely therapeutic to get my own personal emotions about divorce, being a part-time dad and dating again out of my head and on to a computer screen, I actually enjoyed writing the made up stuff even more. It made me smile and even laugh out loud at times. OK, I know you shouldn’t admit to laughing at your own jokes, but I just did.
You have probably noticed that I haven’t said anything about reinventing the lead character. That’s because Graham Hope is essentially me. I know I won’t sue myself for misrepresentation, so, with Graham, I thought I would stick to what I know.
Graham does his best to have a positive outlook on life, as do I. Graham craves human company, whether it’s going out for a few beers with his mates or something more intimate. As do I. Graham hates nightclubs and is hopeless on the dance floor. As am I. Graham gets tongue-tied around attractive women, as do I. According to Graham’s ex, Graham has a big ego and a small penis. As.. No, that’s not right. Next question.
Describe your main character in six words.
At times loveable; at times slapable.
Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Real life, believable people, British style.
What scene was your favorite to write?
Without question, the most fun scene to write was the scene in which the lead character and his ex discuss their sex life with their marriage guidance counsellor.
What scene was the hardest for you to write?
The big finale scene. By that point, I felt that I owed it to my characters to give them the ending that they deserved.
What are you working on now?
After I have had a holiday, a few pints of beer and a quiet smile to myself, I will get back to writing. I am currently pregnant with my second book, ‘Six Lies’.
Goals? Accomplishments? Improvements?
Goal: enjoy the fact that people are investing their time in reading my novel. Enjoy and learn from their feedback.
Accomplishment: finishing my first book is a pretty big accomplishment, but I won’t rest there. I want my next book to be out by Christmas.
Improvements: have less hangovers. Trying to be creative with a hangover is a nightmare.
Are there any authors or books you recommend?
I love authors like David Nicholls and Sophie Kinsella (is a man allowed to read Sophie Kinsella?). Or if I am in need of a bit of courtroom drama, Scott Turow is my man.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
Sit on my children, ruffle their hair or generally embarrass them in front of their friends. If embarrassing my children was an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medal-winner.