If you had to do it all over again…what would you change?
Regrets. I’ve had a few. But then again… If you’re lucky enough to be a working novelist, it’s a little churlish to say you’d do it differently if you had to do it all over again. Besides, you have so little control over how and when your books are published, you have to wonder whether doing anything differently would have made any difference.
That said, I’ve written a book a year for the last six years, so I suppose I’d take a bit more time off. Although if I did, I wouldn’t have written six novels, and had the pleasure of seeing them published in as far-flung places as Turkey, Croatia, Brazil, and of course, the U.S.
Perhaps I’d have started writing when I was younger – but then again, I wouldn’t have had the material. Mind you, seeing as I write about relationships – or more specifically, people with relationship problems, I could probably have done without going through so many of them myself.
I’d put a disclaimer in the front of my books saying that even though I write about this stuff, if you corner me at a party, I won’t necessarily be able to solve all your relationship dilemmas. Although thinking about it, there have been some party conversations that have inspired actual scenes in my books. And in one case, a whole book.
Maybe I’d spend longer writing each one – I’m a firm believer in the observation that you never actually finish writing a book, you just decide to stop working on it – although if I didn’t have a deadline, I’d probably never finish. And I suppose that so much of what makes a book is defined by where you were ‘at’ when you wrote it, which is probably why when I had the chance to ‘tweak’ The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook and Ex-Girlfriends United for their US release, I decided against it: What if Leonardo Da Vinci had kept re-touching the Mona Lisa? We might never have seen it. And not that I think my books can in any way be compared to the Mona Lisa – though they may occasionally raise the same enigmatic smile – but they’re preferable in their original form. To me, at least.
Ex-Girlfriends United is all about someone who’s made mistakes in his past – trouble is, he hasn’t realised they were mistakes until they come back and bite him on the behind – but the karmic reparations he has to make will hopefully ensure he doesn’t repeat them. And that’s what mistakes are, isn’t it? Learning experiences. Though the trick is, I suppose, actually learning from them.
So would I change anything? Probably not one paragraph – of my books, or my life. After all, anything bad that’s happened? Well, like I keep reminding myself, it’s all good.
Good material, that is.
About the Author: I was born in Margate, but escaped to London and then Málaga (which is in Spain, for those of you who didn’t pay attention in geography class), where I worked as a newspaper columnist – and played a lot of tennis – while writing my first novel (although not at the same time, obviously). I now live back in London, but spend a lot of time in Spain, where I’m writing my sixth novel and still playing a lot of tennis (again, not at the same time).
Previously I’ve worked as a professional lifeguard, fitness-equipment salesman, and lastly an I.T. headhunter, where my success in re-writing other peoples’ CVs made me think I might have a talent for fiction.
My second novel, The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel Of The Year Award, as well as the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. And while it didn’t win either of them, I was still pretty chuffed to be nominated.
And (if you’re interested) I’ve also written about life, love, and relationships for the Times, Guardian, The Sun, and a number of magazines, including Company, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, and Scarlet (phew!).