A few weeks ago, I found out about Nick Alexander
through some of his fans on Twitter. I was curious, so I picked up two of his books–The Half-Life of Hannah
and The Case of the Missing Boyfriend
–for my beloved Kindle
. I wasn’t disappointed. Both books are great reads (get thee to Amazon or your fave bookstore and buy his books ASAP). I tracked down Nick and asked him if I could interview him for kimtalksbooks. Nick is a British writer who is nowadays based in Nice, France
(lucky guy!), though he spends a lot of time in London, which he says is his favorite city in the world.
A: The initial idea came from an acquaintance who is married. At forty, though he has never slept with a man, he is beginning to have doubts that he might be gay, and talking with him about it, about his love for his wife and his children, about the effects it would have on everyone’s lives if he did take that leap, got me to thinking about his wife and how she would be affected. Because I wanted a certain balance (and because I like happy endings) I invented a long lost love from her past, and the more I worked on the book plan, the more it became about her and her lost love, and the less it became about him. But I intend to remedy that in the sequel.
Q: Your earlier novels have featured male protagonists. What prompted the switch to female protagonists? Was it a conscious decision or did the characters decide for themselves?
In fact only my Fifty Reasons
series of novels have a male protagonist.
I think there are a huge number of similarities in the lives and loves of women and gay men which is probably why they tend to get on so well.
In the end, I think it’s also simply easier for me to write a story from the point of view of a woman living in a male dominated environment than it would be for me to write it from the point of view of her a football loving, Top-Gear watching husband. I think if women are from Venus, then most gay guys must be too. Certainly anyone who can bear Jeremy Clarkson must be from a different planet to me.
Q: I loved The Case of the Missing Boyfriend. I think a lot of people can relate to the idea of going through life knowing that the person you should be with is not the person you are with. Or holding out until they meet the right person instead of settling for the right-now person. Was this a story you’d wanted to write for a while? How did it come to you?
A: The idea for The Case of the Missing Boyfriend
first came to me whilst on a train journey from Manchester to London with my best friend Rosemary. She was reading one of my Fifty Reasons
novels and commented how universal the experience of dating hell is in these dreadful days of internet chatting. She told me about a friend of hers who had been going to speed dating, and the story made me laugh so much. My brain simply wouldn’t leave that anecdote alone, and by the time the train pulled into London the arc of the story had already taken shape in my mind.
Q: Have you got a playlist for writing? Or do you compile a soundtrack for each of your novels when you write?
A: Though I listen to music pretty constantly outside work, I write in total silence. Only once, when I was writing Better Than Easy,
did a song become an essential part of the story. The denouement of the novel was inspired by a single song, Holcombe Waller
’s Take Me With You
. It was so important to the book that I got in touch with him to ask him if I could include the lyrics in full. In exchange for a first edition copy he agreed, which was a huge relief as the book had been written by then!
Q: Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a dedicated space in
your home where you always write, or are you the sort of writer who can write anywhere?
A: I write in a shed at the bottom of my garden. I take my daily commute across the grass every morning and work from ten till one and from two till five every day though if the writing’s going really well then I may work until eight or nine in the evening. I have occasionally managed to write elsewhere when circumstances dictated, but I find it twice as difficult to concentrate if I’m not in my little shed with my cats beside me. Routine makes anything that’s arduous that much easier whether it’s going to the gym or getting one hundred thousand words down, so I like to make everything about my working day as organised and predictable as possible to avoid distractions.