Every now and then you read a book featuring a character who feels like someone you already know or you should know. That’s how I felt when I was reading The Case of the Missing Boyfriend by Nick Alexander. CC, the main character, has a great job, an enviable flat in London (even if there is too much shade from her neighbor’s tree) and a group of friends she adores. But there’s something–someone– missing from her life, and that’s the boyfriend she wishes she could share her life with. So where is he? Like a lot of us, CC hasn’t had the best of luck on the romance front. She’s had the cad ex-boyfriend (who didn’t want to have a baby with CC but got someone else pregnant within two months of breaking up with her), she’s tried speed-dating but it hasn’t yielded any results. So CC’s wondering where is the elusive missing boyfriend–the Mr. Right is because she’s ready to settle down.We follow CC as she journeys through the the emotional minefield of searching for that special someone–not an easy task since CC isn’t interested in casual sex and she hates the dating scene. Through it all, you’re firmly in her corner, rooting for her and hoping she finds the person who will make her feel complete.
What I love about this book is that it feels like CC is sitting beside you, confiding in you as she recounts these highs and lows of her personal and professional life. You could be sitting in your favorite wine bar, pub or café commiserating with her over a glass of rosé or a huge mug of coffee. I love the honesty of CC’s character. She isn’t shy about sharing her likes and dislikes, her foibles and her secrets. There’s a rawness to her that pulls you in and makes you care all the more about her, especially in the second half of the book, which has a darker feel to it. And CC’s spot-on humor made me laugh out loud on enough occasions that people on the subway gave me strange looks. 🙂
Nick Alexander has crafted a fabulous book that traverses so well the ups and downs of women’s lives, especially single women on the cusp of 40 who are caught in that limbo where their married-with-children friends aren’t so comfortable with their single friend and their single friends are too busy looking for love themselves. The Case of the Missing Boyfriend is a fun read that isn’t afraid to tackle serious topic, so if you like your women’s fiction to have an edge, then this is the book for you. I loved CC and her story, and I can’t wait to read the continuation of CC’s story, The French House, which is coming out in April.
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.
A few weeks ago, actress Megan Fox made news by joining and then leaving Twitter. She said she thought this was the year she’d become a social media butterfly but it wasn’t to be. I know quite a few people who feel the same way. They say Twitter (and Facebook and every other social media site) is a waste of time, a waste of intellect, etc. One of the people who said this to me is also someone who watches reality shows and wants to discuss them with me. I try to avoid reality shows. They annoy me, especially the ones that do nothing more than pit women against one another so some fat cat producer can make money off them. Ah well, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. But the point is that a lot of people don’t like Twitter (or social media in general) and say it’s never given them anything useful.
I used to be one of those people who didn’t see the point of Twitter. I could never follow any conversation I joined or started. It was like walking in circles or getting stuck in quicksand. Then one day I realized I could make lists and keep track of the like-minded people I followed.
Recently, one the people I follow on Twitter raved about a book she was reading. I don’t always trust everyone’s book recommendations, mostly because lately people keep telling me to read Fifty Shades of Grey (which I already read and hated). But this Tweetie recommended Nick Alexander’s the Half-Life of Hannah and the Case of the Missing Boyfriend and said both books had great characterization and pacing. There was no mention of anyone called Grey and both stories sounded like what I was interested in reading–stories about women who were trying to figure out what and who they want, stories about love that didn’t candy-coat the trials of life with shopping and designer names. So, I was intrigued, I used my Amazon gift certificate (thank you, Tord!) to buy both books. I started reading The Half-Life of Hannah a few days ago and I love it so far.
Twitter also led me to the new book by Ali Harris, The Last First Kiss. Now, I knew this book was coming out–I read about it on Ali Harris’s website back in December–but my sieve-like brain had managed to forget about it. Then a Tweetie mentioned it and I made sure I purchased it.
So now I’ve got three new books to keep me busy for a while and it’s all thanks to Twitter and the Tweeties I follow. 🙂 Thanks, Tweeties! I’ll post reviews soon, as well as an interview with Nick Alexander.
By the way, I am going to follow a fellow writer’s lead (yes, Seumas, thanks for including me in your list) and I’m going to end every blog post from now on with new blogs and sites I’m following. Maybe you’ll want to follow too. So here they are:
Happy reading! 🙂