Not Another Happy Ending is a romantic comedy about writer’s block and sponge cake. Novelist Jane Lockhart has ground to a halt on the book that’s going to save the neck of her struggling, indie publisher and ex-boyfriend, Tom Duvall. As Tom sees it, the trouble is that Jane’s too happy to finish her latest misery lit hit. So, to break her block he sets about ruining everything in her life that’s making her happy.
How influential has your background in script writing been to writing this book?
I was tricked into writing this novel by my wife’s literary agent. He kept telling me that since I’d written so many screenplays, writing a novel would be a piece of cake. He lied. Now he’s my agent. I don’t know what that says about me.
What made you want to set the book in the world of publishing?
It was my first instinct. But then whenever I write a screenplay my first instinct is to insert a comedy parrot into the draft. So now I’m not sure I should trust my instinct. I hadn’t actually noticed the parrot thing until it was pointed out to me recently. I went back through all my first drafts. Feathers. Feathers everywhere.
This is your debut novel, so do you have plans for another?
I’m working on another novel at the moment, and I have plans for an adventure-romance, this time playing with our received idea of a legendary historical character.
Please tell us about your scripts Five Children and It and The Fabulous Bagel Boys.
Five Children and It was a feature film adaptation of the novel by E. Nesbit, which I wrote for the Jim Henson Company. For a lifelong Muppet fan it was an amazing experience. And Eddie Izzard voiced the Sandfairy, ‘It’. In a surreal moment I got to share a stage with him at a film festival. Piece of advice. If you find yourself in the same position, don’t try to be funny. The Fabulous Bagel Boys was my very first TV commission, for BBC Scotland, a cop show set in a crime free district, where the motto was ‘there’s less to this than meets the eye.’
Your wife is also an author, so to what extent do you help each other out?
Constantly. It’s like living in a writers’ group, but one where I have to take the bins out. However, when I give her notes she accepts them with maturity and serenity. When she gives me notes I tend to throw stuff.
Please tell us a bit about your script writing background.
A friend gave me William Goldman’s book, ‘Adventures in the Screen Trade’ and that was the first time I’d seen a screenplay in print. I decided to have a go. I think I wrote five screenplays that summer, one after the other, each in a different genre. Four of them were utterly dreadful, and one of them was only slightly dreadful. I’m still learning.
Who are your favourite reads?
Am I allowed to say the novels of my wife, Natasha Solomons? Her latest, ‘The Gallery of Vanished Husbands’ is wonderful – elegant, funny, moving. I don’t know how she does it, and I’m sitting next to her.
What is next for you?
Our son, Luke, was born last year and in that way that seems to happen I immediately felt the need to write something for him, so I’m working on a novel that he’ll like. Um. When he learns to read. What else? Natasha and I have written a screenplay about the life of Clarice Lispector, a fascinating and enigmatic Brazilian novelist. There’s also a TV project that I’m very excited about, set in a highly unusual and very secret department which, appropriately enough, I’m not allowed to talk about.