So, Liam, what inspired you to start writing?
I can't draw or paint at all. I've kept a diary of thoughts, worries, aspirations and things I've done, since 1997. I've always enjoyed writing letters and emails to friends. I find these two things like a sort of therapy to help me feel grounded and reflect if things are getting a bit hectic or difficult in my life. I did some creative writing, mainly poetry and short pen portraits in my secondary school creative writing magazine. I'd had a vague notion of wanting to write a book for a few years, and talking to some friends about where to start: they said the thing about writing a book is you need to just do it. So I finally did, one chapter at a time, and I eventually got there.
Best Friends Perfect: why this particular setting and era?
The advice I had about writing at first was to stick to things you know, so you don't have to do loads of research before you even start the story. I grew up where the story's set, so I know the places mentioned pretty well. Hopefully this authenticity comes across. Hampshire has a good mix of rural, coastal and metropolitan, so it was flexible for different types of location for the characters.
My car friend James told me that once a car's 15 years old it's not just old, it's actually "retro". I think this can be applied to popular culture too. I wanted to give people the opportunity to relive those memories of the not to distant past, now that time has moved to become officially "retro" along with other more popular eras. I noticed a resurgence of nineties documentary programmes, analysing the music and fashions like programmes for the seventies and eighties before that. I thought, maybe it's been long enough for us to have a sideways look at the nineties, and that's what I've done with Best Friends Perfect. If readers smile or grimace as they remember the fashions and music in Best Friends Perfect, I've achieved what I wanted to.
How are you going to choose the way to get this story published?
I will explore options with traditional publishers, e-publishers and self publishing, possibly in that order. It's my first writing to be published, so I don't expect to have my hand bitten off as an unknown writer: but I hope the story and writing style appeals to readers and a publisher who's looking for something which is camp, dark and full of believable and fun characters.
Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?
Character driven. I started with an idea for the main characters, and how their friendship developed, alongside Kieran's long standing friends - the secondary characters. The secondary characters are almost as important to me as the main ones: their advice to Kieran was so particular to them, their dialogue often just wrote itself as I heard Hannah, Grace or Kev's voice in my head.
If one of the characters starts going off at a tangent I would either play with it to see where it led to, if it was interesting, and if not, then bring them back in line with the overall story arc. It's good to play with the characters sometimes and see where they end up.
If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?
Hannah, without a moment's hesitation. She'd drop everything, be round with a war-chest of supplies, straight away.
If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?
I'd like to write a book about how people who are HIV positive are recieved in society, at work, by friends, family etc.
Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?
Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I had to read it for A level English and found myself skipping through very liberally. I don't enjoy books with long passages of description, I like the plot to move, and be driven by dialogue, snapping between interesting characters. I don't really mind what the view out of the character's window looks like.
What’s your favourite gay fiction book? And why?
Fifty Ways of Saying Fabulous by Graeme Aitken. I read it just before I officially came out, and completely identified with Billy, who lived in a small community and knew there was something different about him. I loved the title, which comes from a phrase Billy's dad says to him as a way of describing gay men: they've got fifty ways of saying fabulous. While reading it I started to meet some people who definitely had fifty ways of saying fabulous, which as far as I could see then, and still now, is much better than fifty ways of apologising for being gay.
What's your next project?
The working title is: and then he came along...
It's about a character who's in a long term relationship with his husband, which appears to be perfect, until he meets a new friend. This new friend causes him to question the whole way he's lived his life up to that point, his relationship with his best friend, and even the relationship with his husband.
Liam's website includes a sample first chapter of Best Friends Perfect and his blog about baking, cats, cars, and other general campness, and musings about progressing his next project while trying to publish his current one.