So, old bean, when you were last here we chatted about watching your first book fledge. What does it feel like with the second?
Although Best Friends Perfect Book One is my second book to be published, after Christmas Serendipity (CS), my novella published in December 2013, it is the first full length book to be published. Because the Best Friends Perfect series was the first manuscript I wrote, with a view to getting it published, I am much more nervous than I was with CS. Also, Best Friends Perfect has been split into a series of three books, which has meant some serious content edits to ensure each of the books is self contained. This has been hard work, but fun. I am nervous about whether people will like the stories I’ve written. Writers always/often/usually take from their own life experience to write their stories. When Jarvis Cocker, from Pulp, was asked about how much of Disco 2000 was true, he said ‘the only bit that isn’t true is the woodchip wallpaper.’ I think Best Friends Perfect is my Disco 2000 ;-)
What do you think you've learned since you were first published?
How much work and of a learning opportunity editing is with a good editor. CS had a light edit, and I learned some useful things from that, but it was only 18,000 words. Best Friends Perfect Book One is approx 65,000 words, and I’ve already started on edits on Book Two, which is about the same length. Val Hughes, my editor at Wilde City Press has helped me grow as a writer and I’m using what I’ve learned with her, in the new things I’m writing – they will still need a good edit though!
What do you wish you'd known when you were first published?
The difference between line and content edits, and how time consuming they are. How tempting to write a shiny new story is, while you’re up to your knees in content edits of a story you wrote a few years before.
What inspired the latest book?
My latest novella is called, I Love It – I Don’t Care, about a man who leaves an unhealthy relationship to start all over again. It was inspired by the Icona Pop song, I Love It, which became an earworm over Christmas 2013; the more I listened to its lyrics the more I saw the opening scene of a story. I had to write it in January 2014, and so I did.
What inspired the Best Friends Perfect series?
A desire to write a story that had been rolling around my head for years. A desire to see if people would want to join me in an imaginary world I created for my characters.
Did you know where Best Friends Perfect Book One was going from the start or did it take an unexpected turn?
I’m afraid I did. I knew where the whole Best Friends Perfect series was going from start to finish, as I’d planned each chapter with some bullet points of what happened before I wrote it. At drafting and editing stages, and after beta readers had read it, I did add some extra bits in, some more stuff happens in Book Two now. And there’s more interaction with Kev, by popular demand, all the beta readers loved Kieran’s other gay male best friend, so I added more of him. I am firmly a plotter when it comes to stories. I may use bullet points on a Word doc. I may use Post It notes, I may just scribble some ideas on a bit of paper, but I do, always plan what I’m writing – along with my trust character biogs I write too. That seems to be what works for me, so I’m sticking to it.
Have you ever been writing and discovered something totally unexpected about one of your characters?
Sort of: in Best Friends Perfect, Kev likes to dress up, shall we say. Beta readers loved this aspect of him, and quite a few asked why, where had it come from, what was the origin? I hadn’t thought about that, so I added a chapter when he explains it to Kieran, and writing that helped make him a more rounded, realistic character in later chapters I added with Kev as a main focus.
Which book do you wish you'd written and why?
I’ve just finished Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, and it’s so fresh and modern feeling. The characters he tells you about just jump off the page. I wish I’d written something with characters like that from a significant time period during my life.
Have you got a secret you'd be willing to share?
You know what they say about a secret don’t you? Once you tell someone a secret it’s no longer a secret!
Best Friends Perfect Book One is out 4 June 2014.
Kieran, 18, comes out and meets Kev and Jo. Now Kieran has his four best friends, it’s all set to be perfect. Will Kieran find his perfect Prince Charming boyfriend? Will Jo get on with Hannah and Grace, Kieran’s old best friends? Will Kev spend less on outfits and vodka and more sensible things?
We were like Thelma and Louise—Kieran and Jo. His real name was Jonathan, but he didn’t like anyone calling him that, and would only answer to ‘Jo’, specifically spelt that way. Jonathan Davis. We did everything together, we were best friends. We weren’t boyfriends, more like girlfriends, or maybe brothers, if we were feeling a bit less camp.
It’s amazing what you can get over: death, betrayal, loneliness. No matter what life throws at you to change your plans, to stop you as you try to make your perfect life, somehow you pick yourself up and continue. I survived all those things, because I’m here, happy in my life now.
Only it isn’t what I thought my life would be; when I was eighteen, taking my first steps into the whole new world of being gay, my idea of perfect wasn’t anything like what I have now.
Back then, I thought I had it all worked out. I’d find my perfect Boyfriend––capital B; my perfect new gay friends Jo and Kev would join my two other best friends, Hannah and Grace, to complete my perfect life. How wrong was I?
Instead, life came along, and it wasn’t nearly that simple. Only now, that part of my life is an ancient memory, along with the music, combat trousers and sleeveless tops. Now I’m ready to tell you my story.
Cover art by Adrian Nicholas. (And lovely it is, too.)