The Trouble With Book Two… by Andy Jones
You hear people talk about second-novel syndrome. Well, not often and not in public, but it is a recognised phenomenon. After – in many cases – years of struggle, doubt, rejection and determination, a writer succeeds in getting a novel published. You jump up and down, drink martinis, admit to people that, actually, what you’ve been doing in your cellar all these years is writing. And, yes, it is going to be published thank you very much, care for a martini? And then a strange thing happens. Your publisher says to you, ‘Can we have another, please? Same time next year.’
Right then, better put this cocktail down and get back in the cellar. You open up a blank document, type the words ‘Once upon a time …’ and then it happens. Your fingers stop moving. A voice whispers to you: ‘Better not balls this up, mister. Imagine how awful that would be. You know … ballsing it right up. Yeah, better not do that. Right-o, off you go, just – don’t – balls – it – up.’
Yeah, I got it. I got it bad.
Luckily, I had back-up. I have a supportive family, a wonderful editorial team, and my secret weapon … you. Yes, you, reading this. Books and the City and its followers got behind my last book The Two of Us in a rather wonderful way. People talked, facebooked and tweeted about it. They bought it, read it, reviewed it and gave it lots of lovely stars.
Well, most of you did. Here are few of my favourite 1-star reviews:
‘Couple meet have baby…… that’s pretty much it.’
‘Have just got to the ill-judged scene in the stripper club. Result? Book abandoned.’
‘Not just about the ‘two’ of them.’
Like they say – you can’t please everybody. The people I did please often said the same thing: It was interesting to read about romance from a male perspective. So, naturally, when I dragged myself back into the cellar to get on with book two, I decided to write from the female perspective. Well, where’s the fun in making things too easy for yourself?
The book is called The Trouble With Henry and Zoe, and the sharp-minded amongst you will have deduced that the book is about two characters. Henry and … Zoe.
One guy, one gal – and the novel is told in chapters alternating between the two protagonists’ perspectives. It’s a book about choices and consequences, mistakes, regrets and second chances. It’s about learning, growing and moving on. A nd the importance of a damned good haircut – something else I know nothing about.
So, how was it writing as a woman?
In a word: Liberating.
In a few more words: It was fun, it was challenging, it was eye-opening. But a guy writing as a girl isn’t so unusual, is it? I mean, this is fiction. I’m pretty sure Stephen King never killed anyone, but he writes a pretty good maniac. You do your research, you step into the character’s shoes, and you try and see the world through his or, in Zoe’s case, her eyes.
And of course, if I got it wrong, then I have my trusted beta readers (my wife and my mum) to point it out in red ink. My editor, copy editor and proof readers too, all women, all smart, all in possession of a red pen.
It’s been a busy year, lots of excitement, a few martinis, and a little nail-biting – but not too much. I’ve grown to love Henry & Zoe over the past twelve months, they feel very real to me, and they’ve had a pretty rough year themselves. But, that’s my job, after all.
I hope you like them too. If you have trouble with Henry, blame me. If you have trouble with Zoe, blame my mum, blame my wife.
Have a great year everyone, I’m off to mix a martini.