The title of this week’s Friday Read made me smile. My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend by Peter Jones sounds a fun read. Just take a look at the cover!
Adrian Turner, Mountaineer, Secret Agent, Fireman… Ade would dearly like to be any of these things, though he’d trade them all to win the heart of feisty Public Relations Executive, Paige.
Instead, he’s a disillusioned school teacher, on suspension, after an unfortunate incident with a heavy piece of computer equipment. And somebody’s foot.
And Paige? Despite being his girlfriend for the past eighteen months, she still seems to have one foot out of the door and hasn’t quite committed to leaving a toothbrush in the bathroom.
Of course, it doesn’t help that she’s working with her ex-boyfriend, Sebastian. A man who in almost every way imaginable is better, taller, wealthier, hairier, and infinitely more successful than Ade.
Is Paige still in love with Sebastian? Why then did she suggest they get away for a few days? Some place romantic…
But when Adrian finds himself in Slovenia – with Sebastian in the room down the hall – he realises there’s serious possibility that he’s in danger of losing his job, his mind, and the woman he loves…
Appealing to fans of Matt Dunn and Nick Spalding comes this hilarious romp about love, and the things people do to keep it from getting away.
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Peter Jones started professional life as a particularly rubbish graphic designer, followed by a stint as a mediocre petrol pump attendant. After that he got embroiled in the murky world of credit card banking. Fun times.
Nowadays, Peter spends his days writing, or talking about writing.
He’s written three novels; a Rom-Com (Romantic Comedy), A Crim-Com (Crime Comedy), and a Rom-Com-Ding-Dong (A sort-of Romantic-ish Comedy, with attitude). He’s currently working on his fourth novel, which – if it’s a musical – he’ll no doubt describe as a Rom-Com-Sing-Song. (Spoiler: It isn’t).
He is also the author of three and a half popular self-help books on the subjects of happiness, staying slim and dating. If you’re overweight, lonely, or unhappy – he’s your guy.
Peter doesn’t own a large departmental store and probably isn’t the same guy you’ve seen on the TV show Dragons’ Den.
Love the name ‘Rom-Com-Ding-Dong’ Peter. I think you’ve invented a new category. 🙂 Can you tell us a bit more about yourself
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Absolutely. I remember ‘making books’ when I was a kid. My grandmother would give me several sheets of paper and I’d fold those in half to create a blank book. Then I’d start writing a story, complete with illustrations, and when I ran out of pages the story would come to an abrupt halt.
Things have changed a bit since then, but not nearly as much as you’d think.
Has any author inspired you?
Too many to mention really. The list just keeps getting longer and longer. I suppose my favourite authors (the ones who I’m completely in awe of) would be Nick Hornby (his last novel – Funny Girl – was very unusual and very clever), Audrey Niffenegger (Her Fearful Symmetry being my favourite), the late great Sir Terry Pratchett (of course), and more recently Claire North (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August being my current ‘favourite book of all time’).
What do you like writing most?
Anything that stretches me as a story teller. That’s a rubbish answer isn’t it? Okay, basically, if I can make my partner laugh, cry – or cry laughing – then I’m punching the air. If she simply says, “yeah, that’s okay,” then I’m bereft and may never write another word. She’s sitting next to me right now by the way, and if she doesn’t laugh soon there’s every chance I might not make it to the end of this interview.
Do you have a special place for writing?
I used to write on the train. Most of my first novel was written in two, daily, 50 minute bursts, between Leigh-on-Sea and London Fenchurch Street. These days I’m usually sat at my desk trying to type with one hand either side of a cat as she attempts to push her rectum into my face whilst she rubs her cheeks against my arms. That might sound uncomfortable but right now I’m squashed into seat 30F on a packed British Airways night-flight back to Gatwick. I’m trying to type on my iPad in manner that makes me look a little like some sort of scholastic tyrannosaurus rex, and it’s hard to concentrate because the woman directly in front of me is having a particularly loud conversation – possibly with herself – about cheese. And of course, she insists on reclining her chair into the small amount of space occupied by yours truly. So in summary whilst writing with an overly affectionate cat can be difficult, I wouldn’t recommend this as a particularly comfortable alternative… though I am getting an idea for a character.
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
A what!? A panster? Is that a thing? Excuse me whilst I consult my good friend Charles DeGoogle.
Ahhhh… it’s an ‘organic writer’. No. Definitely not one of those. Before I write a single word I know…
- Who the characters are
- Where the plot is going
- The end (sort of)
- Key stuff that has to happen
- And the opening scene
Then; I write ‘draft zero’ (a kind of really boring synopsis), and turn that into a long bulleted to-do list. The list will be updated as I begin, and each scene written will have an entry added to my master fiction spreadsheet which helps me keep track of the story timeline (a blank version of which you can download from here).
I know. What can I say? I’m a nerd.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
Nooooo! Not in the slightest. I mean, my first novel was rom-com about a thirty something guy and the extraordinary lengths he goes to to find a girlfriend. Obviously, having previously hired an actor, an image consultant and a flirt-coach in order to jump start my love-life, that’s not a situation I’ve ever been familiar with. My second novel was a crim-com (crime comedy) and (partly) about a failed actor and the frustration of trying to pursue a career doing something he loves. Again it’s a scenario that’s totally alien to me having been talked out of a life in professional theatre by my Mother, back when I was a fresh faced teenage fame-wannabe. Decades later I became a full time novelist. Totally different.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
Well now, funny you should ask. A couple of years back I met my partner who had just come out of a long term relationship. Her split had been quite amicable so it wasn’t uncommon for her to mention… well, let’s call him Steve. I’d say things like, “I’ve made some fresh bread this weekend,” and she’d say, “oh, Steve used to do that.” Only bloody Steve would have made the bread from flour that he’d milled himself. From a stone that he dug out of the ground. Whilst building his house. Single handedly. One day I got so cheesed off hearing how fantastic Steve was I said, “if you don’t shut up about Steve I’m going to put him in a novel and then kill him off!” To which my partner laughed and said, “what would you call the book? My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend?” Well. It was a such a good title, how could I resist? “No!” Said my girlfriend, seeing the light bulb hovering above my head. “You can’t! Absolutely not!” But this was Friday. And you know how this works Karen – by the end of the weekend we had renamed Steve, morphed him into this completely unbearable character called Sebastian. We’d also decided that the protagonist would be a down on his luck school teacher called Adrian, and that his girlfriend would be a sassy American PR executive called Paige, and a plot was beginning to emerge that was just too fun not to write! Obviously it’s all made up. But that said, I really hope Steve doesn’t recognise himself in it.
Lol! I recognise this scenario so much. I’m constantly snatching bits of my grown-up daughters’ lives, tweaking them, and sticking them into a story. 🙂
What are you writing at the moment, Peter?
I’m a third of the way into my fourth novel. Unusually, this one really is inspired by true events. Not mine I hasten to add. I overheard a conversation between two women, who were discussing ‘first jobs.’ One mentioned that she got a job with the M.O.D (Ministry Of Defence) when she was barely seventeen. Just filing. Nothing special. Except that it wasn’t the M.O.D. Not exactly. And she had to sign the Official Secrets Act to start work. And the revelations didn’t stop there.
What time of the day do you write best?
I like to be at my desk, writing, by seven. Every hour, on the hour, I do a word count, and if I’m coming in at less than 200 words I give myself a stern talking to. By midday I am a burnt out husk of a man, so I usually stop, eat, and spend the afternoon doing post, emails, admin etc.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Blimey. I haven’t a clue. Doesn’t it depend on what they need to know? How about ‘Write about what you know‘ – I mean obviously that’s not something I follow myself, but it certainly sounds like very good advice. Do that. Oh, and if you happen to end up writing about your partner’s ex, maybe change their name.
You can find out more about Peter here:
Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Peter. It’s been fun. 🙂
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