Henry, the male lead character in my new novel, jilts his fiancé the night before their wedding. I have never jilted anyone but I did have a punch up at my wife's best friend's wedding. So I know a bit about being a rubbish boyfriend. But only a little.
Half of my new novel is written from the perspective of the female lead, Zoe. Writing as a 29 year old woman with a ton of emotional baggage was hard - but if you average out the age of my wife, mother and two daughters, you get … 29! Plus, my mother and wife read all drafts of the book, and were quick to correct me if (when) I got Zoe wrong.
Henry also works in a bar. I used to work in TGI Fridays - you know, where they fling the bottles around. I was awful at it, smashing more than I caught and showering one gentleman in expensive vodka. He didn't tip.
Both Zoe and Henry cycle around London, in fact, they are astride their bikes when they have their first kiss. I used to cycle to work everyday until a taxi driver knocked me out of the saddle and into hospital. I was typing one-handed for three weeks and couldn't lift anything heavier than a glass of wine for three months. Well, that's what I told my wife.
As well as being a dentist, Henry is a talented hairdresser. I have all my teeth, but very little hair.
Henry's dad is a boxer. My dad was a wrestler. Honestly.
Zoe works in children's publishing and is working on a Christmas book called the Elfabet - my little girls think I should actually write this book. I think I might - A is for Antler, B is for Baubles, C is for …
When Henry & Zoe meet, Zoe is planning to travel the world for a year, and - unfortunately for them - she is planning on travelling alone. Her first scheduled stop is the Thai island Rai Leh, which is without doubt the single most beautiful place I have visited.
There's a karaoke scene in the book featuring the song 'I Got You Babe'. To help me get the singer's voice right, I listened to Mark Kozelek's version of the song. Check it out; it's a thing of gruff beauty.
Henry was an only child to a mum who always wanted a daughter. When he was growing up, she made him watch all the classic romantic movies - Casablanca, His Girl Friday, The Apartment, Brief Encounter, An Affair to Remember and many more. In researching the book, I watched 'em all. I didn't care much for Brief Encounter, but The Apartment in particular was wonderful.