When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was twelve and wrote several plays, short stories, and comedy sketches. Then, at fifteen, I had a crisis of confidence and stopped for seven or eight years. In that time, I went to drama school and trained as an actor. When I was in my early twenties, a friend was putting on a show in a theatre in London and needed material. I offered a sketch I’d written about a teenage boy whose mother doesn’t want him to grow up, so she keeps him in a shopping trolley. It went down a storm and then bit by bit I began writing again until it became something I had to do as my main career.
Tell us about your novel, The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard.
Coco Pinchard was never a single thirty-something. She married young, had a son, and put her dream to be a writer on hold. Now, her first novel is published. Husband Daniel has greyed nicely into a silver fox, and son Rosencrantz is grown up. It should be time to enjoy life. That is until the annual family Christmas with her hideous mother-in-law Ethel, and Coco opens her gift from Daniel. It’s not the jewelry she chose, but an iPhone. This marks the start of Daniel’s mid-life crisis, and she catches him in bed with a younger woman. The iPhone becomes a confessional of sorts, through emails to her friends Chris, an ageing trustafarian, and Marika, a slightly alcoholic schoolteacher. Then, she meets the hunky Adam, and she’s back in the world of dating as a single forty something. Read the emails that tell the hilarious tale of Coco picking up the pieces.
What inspired you to write The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard?
It’s sort of the polar opposite of Bridget Jones. I loved the Bridget Jones novels but I thought, what about all the women who weren’t the singletons, the ones who got married and had kids in their twenties? They’d be in their forties now - as would Bridget Jones. What’s their story? Enter Coco Pinchard!
Coco’s son, Rosencrantz. I have used many of the experiences I had as a young actor in London and put them into Rosencrantz. Also, Ethel, Coco’s mother-in-law. She has a life of her own when I write, and she says all the things I don’t dare say myself. And of course, Coco. She’s a writer, and I have put many of my experiences into her, although I like to think I have better luck than she does!
What message do you hope readers will take away from your novel?
I want them to laugh, forget about their worries, and lose themselves in a great story.
Why do you write women's fiction?
By happy accident really! I met my partner, Ján, when I was performing in a play I had written at the Edinburgh Festival. He said, "you must write a book," and so I did. The book began with Coco's husband, Daniel, as the narrator, but an editor friend of mine read an early draft and pointed out that Coco's voice was much stronger and said that I should be writing this for women. So, Coco became the narrator. Also, I love to write female characters. I think as a gay guy, not constantly trying to sleep with women, I notice all the other great stuff about them. I put that into my writing, and I found this story best worked within the women's fiction genre.
What is the most challenging part about being a writer?
The bit after the flash of inspiration. That’s when the difficult work begins, when I have to coax that little idea, character, or image into something more substantial.
What is the most rewarding?
When I begin writing a book, I know where I’m going and can see it in my mind, stretching away to its conclusion. I know I can get up every day and write, immersed in the characters and their world.
What are you working on now?
I have just released my second book, Bitch Hollywood, and I have started on the sequel to The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard. Thank you, Chick Lit Bee. It’s been great to talk to you.
Thank you, Robert!
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