Stepping into a party feels electric… by Juliet Ashton
…anything could happen. You’re dressed up, your make-up is perfect, your hair is behaving for once, and you smell divine. Perhaps you’ve had a glass or two of Dutch courage. Scanning the room, you spot some faces you know. Plus one or two you wish you didn’t. Hmm… guy-wise, there are a few possibilities, with the hair/face/trouser combo that floats your particular boat.
I love parties.
In my new book, These Days of Ours, I propel my protagonist, Kate Minelli, into a party or gathering in each chapter. Her love life, her emotional life, and her family life are all illustrated by birthday parties, weddings, a funeral, even a country house weekend that turns into something very different to what Kate was expecting…
Things happen at parties. Not just romantic things – although a high proportion of lovers meet in a crammed kitchen over a platter of cocktail sausages – but other stuff, too. Real stuff. Important stuff.
People have a need to get together. It’s comforting to know we’re not alone as we battle through the tough times or celebrate good fortune. Something I explore in These Days of Ours is the way we persevere with the people in our lives, even though they aren’t always good to us or even good for us. People are complex, a mixture of traits; sometimes we love the baddies the best.
Straightforward stories don’t interest me. I like knotty, gnarled tales where events surprise you. Because isn’t that what real life is like? Every day I hear outrageous snippets I wouldn’t dare include in a novel. I know a woman who believes she first met her current husband in twelfth-century Denmark, and one of my male mates has been in love with his wife’s sister for twenty years.
People are fascinating; no two will react in the same way to the same situation. Putting myself in my characters’ shoes as they meet and change each other, come into conflict, fall passionately in love (or lust) and deceive each other, save each other, drive each other bonkers, is the best bit of being an author.
The research for this book was a doddle. Not for me a dusty library, or a fact-finding tour of a mill town. No. I went to parties. As if I was on safari, I studied the beasts around me. On the look-out for nervous guests, I watched them dealing with their shyness. The flirts were a constant source of amusement, especially when they came up against a brick wall. Possibly my favourites were the bickering couples trying to look as if they were having a whale of a time, but actually impatient to get in the car and carry on with their endless list of complaints about each other.
All human life is at parties. I’ve tried to cram it all into These Days of Ours. Writing it felt like going from one party to another, without the bother of leaving my desk.
These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton is out in eBook on 10th March, and pBook on 7th April.