Peter Jones – Author & Public Speaker

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Chatting to Michelle Ward on Phoenix FM…

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Last week (ish) I was invited back to Phoenix FM to talk to Michelle Ward about my latest novel ‘My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend’.

Now I know you’re probably all sick to death of me plugging the latest book (this’ll be the last one for a while – promise!) but the interview was such fun to do that I couldn’t not share it with you.

I’ve done a fair few radio interviews over the past few years (you can find them all here or on youtube), but of all the radio shows I’ve been on, Michelle’s interviews are my favourite. Yes, she takes the mickey out of me on air, and yes, she keeps me on my toes with her completely random comments or questions, but it’s all part of the fun.

This interview was quite long (about twenty minutes), with breaks for commercials and traffic and all that jazz, so I’ve broken it into two parts, and Michelle’s rather cleverly edited out all the ads for double glazing.

In this first part, Michelle asked me how I became an author in the first place, which somehow ended up in a discussion about how to meet the man or woman of your dreams on facebook. See what I mean? You wouldn’t get that on the Radio 2. If you can’t see a big PLAY button in an image below, click here.

In the second part we finally got around to discussing My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend. I told her how the story came about, why the cover was such a pain to get right, and who would play the three main characters should the book ever get made into a movie.

Again, if you can’t see a big PLAY button, click or tap here.


Click or tap here, to visit amazonThat’s enough now! 

This’ll be my last plug of My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend for a while, which means two things:

  1. Your email inbox is about to get a lot less interesting and
  2. that the price of my third and arguably best novel will be going back up very, very soon. To avoid missing out on getting a fantastic laugh-out-loud read that costs less than a cup of coffee, click or tap here to visit amazon – or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

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The difference between male and female book covers…

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Book covers.

I hate them!

No really, I do. Because the age old advice – never judge a book by the cover – is universally ignored.

Recently my third novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, came out and I couldn’t be more delighted. Like my previous two novels it’s sort-of a romantic comedy, only this one’s about… well, you can probably work it out from the title.

I went through hell and back with the designer working on the covers for my first two novels (you can read about those experiences here and here), but when it came to this book, I was pretty sure it would be a walk in the park. And here’s why:

In the opening chapter of My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, there’s a silly joke about our hero’s girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend being soooo perfect that there’s probably a Tibetan temple dedicated to him. It would be your standard Tibetan temple; chanting monks, a sixty foot golden statue – only obviously the statue would have an extra pair of arms so that Sebastian (the perfect ex-boyfriend) could hold various symbols and representations of all the wondrous gifts that he brings to the world.

That, I thought, would make a great cover for the book. I put all this in an email to my wonderful designer and this is what he came back with.

I was pleased. Okay so it’s not perfect by any means. It’s quite difficult to read some of the words against the patterned background, but as a concept it’s pretty darn close to what I had in my head. However, even though I really like covers that wrap around the spine and continue on the back, it seemed a shame that we couldn’t see all of Sebastian. Plus I had a nagging feeling that despite the cartoon style grin, this cover didn’t necessarily scream romantic comedy at anyone casually looking for a new book to read.

So with that in mind I decided to familiarise myself with covers of other women’s contemporary humorous fiction, written by male novelists, and from a male viewpoint. And here’s what I found:

I think you’ll agree, there’s definitely a style. Lots of flat colour. Slightly cartoony. Silhouettes seem popular. Oh, and all of them (with the possible exception of two) are EASY TO READ – particularly when reduced to a thumbnail. So – Mr Cover Designer Man – would it be possible to take that original design for my cover, and tweak it so that it wouldn’t look out of place when filling that gap in the bottom right hand corner?

Oh, and could I have a couple of ideas to pick from? Thank you.

Here’s what I got back.

 

Wow!

Now remember, these are just rough-and-ready sketches, so any weird blobs or lines wouldn’t be there on a final finished version, but even so, my gob was well and truly smacked. I loved them. All of them. Not equally of course, but each one was a massive improvement on the original, and I was utterly convinced that with a bit of tweaking we had a finished cover. All I had to decide was which one.

It was an easy choice.

Now obviously this one is a clear winner. No doubt in my mind. I was a little worried about my name getting lost at the bottom there, but really the title’s the more important thing.

However, just to be absolutely sure I’d picked the right one, I decided to ask some other authors. Specifically romantic fiction authors. Specifically female romantic fiction authors. I uploaded all six new designs (plus the original design) into one of the private facebook groups for the Romantic Novelists Association and asks my fellow novelists to vote.

I’m not going to lie to you… I was shocked at the result.

With the exception of one person (Hello Sue Lovett), every single woman chose one of the following:

This left me scratching my head. I was so sure my choice was the better cover and yet here I was being out-voted by 10 to 1! (Incidentally, Sue chose the original, first design).

So I asked my partner what she thought. Along with all her (female) work colleagues, she too picked one of the two covers above, with the majority of her colleagues picking the version on the right.

Not only that, but almost every woman I’d asked took the time to tell me that, although they liked the design, they hated Sebastian’s orange tie! One woman (Hello Virginia) said it reminded her of Halloween!!

Still reeling from this new information I decided to ask my male friends which one they would go for. With the exception of one person (Hello Patrick – there’s always one isn’t there) they all picked the same one I’d chosen, or a near relative.

So this left me with a rather interesting conclusion and a potentially troublesome conundrum.

Conclusion: Different covers appeal to male and female readers.

Conundrum: Do I pick a female cover, or a male one?

It really wasn’t a hard choice if I’m honest.

I write Women’s Contemporary Humorous Fiction. 90% of my readers (possibly more) are women. If I’m going to continue trying to make a living out of this writing lark then I had to choose the cover that the RNA ladies and my girlfriend’s colleagues had gone for.

Thing is, I didn’t like it.

The strap line seemed sort of lost at the bottom, and my name seemed a bit lonely up there at the top. And the two new silhouettes (which are supposed to represent Adrian and his girlfriend Paige), well they just seemed to be plonked either side of the word PERFECT for no reason.

I went back to Mr Cover Design Man with these thoughts and a couple of days later I went back to my girlfriend and novelist buddies with these four variations:

At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between them so let me talk you through the key points.

  • In three of the designs Adrian and Paige have been resized to create a sense of perspective. Now we have a ‘scene’ being illustrated. In fact, in two of the designs they even have their own shadows!
  • Two of the designs obviously have borders whilst two don’t, but in all of them the colour of the tie has changed to match the word perfect, and my name has been tinkered with to make it look more ‘fun’.
  • Finally in one version the grin has made a reappearance, because I like the grin. I thought it was funny and would make people laugh. Turns out I was wrong. Most people told me the grin was off-putting and scary.

Everyone liked the pink tie though. And aside from comments about my name being hard to read, and the strap-line being too long, everyone chose either the second or third version.

And those comments were easily addressed.

I present to you, the final version:

 

And I have to say… I love it. Of all the covers on all my books, this one is most definitely my favourite.

It’s perfect.

Or is it? Let me know what you think in the comments.


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited time only. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

Blog Tour!

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Blimey.

I’ve never had a blog tour before.

But all of that is about to change!

Starting this week I’ll be making a guest appearance across the web on all sorts of writing related blogs. Sometimes I’ll be giving an interview, sometimes there’ll be an extract from my latest novel (My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend), and sometimes, just sometimes, there’ll be a searingly honest review. That’s right. If you haven’t already splashed out the 99 pennies needed to download the fruits of my labours, you might want to wait a day or so to see if it’s worth it.

Seriously though, I’d like to thank all these wonderful blogs for taking part, and the lovely Rachel Gilby for organising it.

(Clickable links to all of the blogs are below the image)

Book Tour

24th Oct 

Vikbat

Ali – the Dragon Slayer

Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews

25th Oct

Book Lover in Florida

Everywhere and Nowhere

My Eclectic Reads

26th Oct

Dash Fan’s Book Reviews

Turdah

My Reading Corner

27th Oct

Sal’s World Of Books

Books, Life and Everything

Kim The Bookworm

28th Oct

Little Ray of Sunshine

The Quiet Knitter

Bookaholic Confessions

29th Oct

Novel Gossip

Writing Around The Block – Christina Philippou

30th Oct

Whispering Stories

Black Cat Book Reviews

Short Book and Scribes


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited time only. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

Where do you get your ideas from? (Part 2)

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So. Book titles…

hate them!

Specifically, fiction book titles.

Why? Because they’re so important, and so much rides on getting them just right. You might spend 10 months of your life writing circ. 80,000 words, but unless those half dozen words on the cover are absolutely perfect, you could quite easily have been wasting your time.

Non-fiction book titles are easy; just describe what your book is about and make darn sure you have a key-word in there (something that people looking for your book might type into google). So for instance, a book about finding happiness in this ever increasingly busy world might be called How To Do Everything And Be HappyThat would work.

But fiction? That’s a whole different ball of wax.

Take for instance my last novel; The Truth About This Charming Man. Not a bad title. But not particularly good either. Unless you saw the cover it doesn’t really tell you what the story is going to be about. Some have argued that even if you DID see the cover, you still wouldn’t know what it was about!

And my novel before that: The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The GirlTerrible title! Awful! I mean okay, it’s quite funny, a bit of alliteration can’t hurt – and the cover helped a bit – but having previously published four self-help books, most people assumed it was another self-help book! What was I thinking choosing a title like that?

Anyway, fortunately the same cannot be said for my latest fictional offering. This time I’ve cracked it! This time I have a title which is both funny, AND gives the reader a hint of what’s to come. And what’s more I can’t really take any credit for it.

I met my partner Valerie about three years ago.  Val had just come out of a long term relationship with… well, let’s call him Steve. It had been an amicable split so it wasn’t uncommon for her to mention Steve occasionally. I’d say something 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 Val 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 Val, seeing the light bulb hovering above my head. “You can’t! Absolutely not!” But this was Friday. And you know how this works – 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. More than that a plot was beginning to emerge that was just too fun not to write!

Now obviously it’s all made up. But that said, I really hope Steve doesn’t recognise himself in it.

Come back tomorrow and read the entire first chapter for FREE, or subscribe to this blog and have it arrive in your email…

Enjoyed this post? Read how I get my ideas (part 1) here.


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited period. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

Where do you get your ideas from? (Part 1)

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One of the questions an author is sometimes asked is “where do you get your ideas from?” My answer is usually “anywhere,” which is, I admit, a bit glib. The answer should really be “it depends which book you’re talking about.”

I came up with the idea for The Truth About This Charming Man many years ago when I was part of a small theatre company that ran Murder Mystery events for discerning clients. One evening a fellow actor walked into the dressing room and told us that he was off to Australia for a week. ‘Very nice’ we said, but he didn’t share our enthusiasm. Jeremy was flying half way around the world to claim a body.

It turns out that in Australia, a body can’t be released until it’s claimed by a blood relative. It didn’t seem to matter that Jeremy had never actually met his Great Uncle, the Aussie Authorities just needed him to fly out and place his signature on a piece of paper. A task which was not only costly, but extremely inconvenient for our Jez.

Which was when I had an idea: Did it really need to be Jez that flew out to Aus? Couldn’t one of us take on the role of Jez, and fly out on his behalf? Would anyone notice? Would anyone… care?

More than that, perhaps Jez was the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps there was a whole slew of potential clients in need of the services of professional actors. After all, haven’t you ever needed to be in more than one place at the same time? Haven’t you ever wanted to send someone to a boring social event or meeting in your stead? Haven’t you ever been tempted to hire someone to play your boyfriend for the evening in order to keep your colleagues, family, and everyone else, from asking why you’re always single?

Those are the sort of thoughts that make me want to sit down, and write a novel…

And if you’re a fan of Nick Hornby, or Mike Gayle, Rom Coms or Heist movies, or theatre, or just a bloody good read, then The Truth About This Charming Man could be right up your street.

Read the opening chapter for free…

Still need more convincing (to part with less than a quid)? How about a sneaky look at the first chapter?

Read the rest of the opening chapter, for free, here.

Charming, fabulous, witty and easy to read book,
cannot wait for the sequal!

says amazon reader Lynn Wedge

 

Reading this in an email? If there’s a gap above that’s where a video would normally appear. Jump over to youtube to watch it.

 


TTATCM sidebarHot news! 

The Truth About This Charming Man is 99 pennies for the month of May 2017. Download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, today.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)

The Truth About Great Cover Design…

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Book covers.

I hate ’em.

No really, that’s the truth, because that age old piece of advice – never judge a book by its cover – is universally IGNORED!

Everyone judges pretty much everything by its cover, ESPECIALLY books. So it really doesn’t matter how many months I spent slaving over the words on the inside, if the cover isn’t absolutely perfect (or as close as), I’ll have pretty much wasted my time. After all, I went through goodness knows how many covers for my first novel and to this day I’m still not entirely sure we got it absolutely right (read about that here).

So it was with considerable trepidation that I approached the cover design for my latest fiction offering; The Truth About This Charming Man. And just for “fun” (yours, not mine) my agent thought you might enjoy seeing the personal torment we went through to arrive at the FABULOUS jacket above / to the right. That’s nice of her, isn’t it.

Anyway, let’s start with these three doodles…

The Truth - proof4 The Truth - proof The Truth - proof2

If you’re shaking your head in bewilderment I can’t say I blame you. Let me give you some context:

My latest novel was never intended to be a novel at all. Back at the beginning of 2015, in a desperate attempt to plug the hole in my bank account, I’d written a five part story entitled The Truth. The plan was to submit it to a well-known weekly women’s publication in the hopes that they might serialise it. This is a bit like trying to solve a financial crisis by purchasing a single lottery ticket, but still, I was determined.

The basic plot was (and still is… to some degree) about a thirty something actor who, despite never having secured a ‘proper’ role on stage or screen, has, somehow, landed three unusuallet’s call them ‘positions’… pretending to be whoever his clients need him to be. And although it still isn’t proper theatre, by and large, life is pretty good for our hero… until the day he needs to play two of those people. At the same meeting.

It’s an idea that Kate and I originally came up with many years ago – although typically, when I actually came to write it, it morphed into something very different, and in my humble opinion, far better, than what we’d originally envisaged.

In fact, so pleased was I with my second piece of full length fiction that I resolved to self-publish it as a novella should the magazine in question decide not to take the story. Hence the doodles above. These are *some* of my attempts at what I thought might be the cover… and I hated them. I still do. In my head I had this idea about our hero falling between sinister versions of the two famous actor masks. I realised too that the design had to be at least sympathetic to my first novel, but I just couldn’t get it to work; close friends I shared these doodles with said it made the book look like a murder mystery. Arrrgghhh!

FORTUNATELY, around March of last year, destiny stepped in.

I’d just landed myself a new agent, who in turn had secured a publicity deal with amazon, which led to my first novel being re-vamped and re-published. But before I’d even signed my contract, my agent was understandably keen to know what else could be in the pipeline. So I showed her The Truth, and… she loved it.

Though she didn’t love the title.

Or the fact it was a novella.

“Go away,” she said, “and turn this into a proper, full-length novel… with a better title.”

Nine months later and I had finished The Truth About This Charming Man.

Which brings us onto this…

THE TRUTH kindle proof

 

I was still basking in the glory of somehow completing an entire novel in the tenth of the time it had taken me to write the first one, when this cover was designed. Maybe I wasn’t being objective but at the time I loved the masks. I loved the way they’re all angry or sad with the exception of the one he’s wearing. I loved the spot light. I loved everything about it. I was in love!

So pleased was I – and so confident that both amazon and my agent would love it too – I grabbed my wallet and went right ahead and had the finished artwork made up.

Oops.

My agent did like it, sort of, but there were some problems.

Firstly, apparently books that are obviously about actors or acting are unpopular with publishers (as are books to do with writers, or writing). So anything with actor masks on it was a strict no-no.

Secondly, my market, apparently, is women’s contemporary romantic fiction. Regardless of whether my books are heavy on the romance or not 90% of my readers fit that demographic, and therefore it’s those ladies that have to look at the cover and go “Ooooo…”

I was sent back to the drawing board, with strict instructions to come back with ‘at least three’ ideas that we could pick from.

Several days later – with the dread that this entire process might take as long as it did last time hanging over my head – this design popped out:

TTATCM man in heart sketch

I liked it!

I felt we’d finally cracked the font. I liked the colour. The strap-line felt right.

I wasn’t sure whether we’d get away with the mask on the man…  more than that though, I was even more worried it still wouldn’t appeal to the women’s contemporary romantic fiction market.

A fear that was addressed by the following…

TTATCM bench sketch copy

Bear in mind this is a sketch, so it’s a bit rough round the edges. Those lines on the bench wouldn’t be there in a finished version.

I hate it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. It’s more or less a scene from the book, and I like the London skyline, but it’s so… chick-lit. There’s nothing wrong with chick-lit of course, but slap a cover like this on my book and I could envisage two things happening:

  1. I’d lose every single one of my male readers (even though there are probably about 6, and I know them all by name).
  2. There would be more than a few female readers who were hoping for a plot that’s a good deal more romantic than the one I’ve actually come up with.

Put simply, I wasn’t convinced it was a  good fit, even if I knew, in my heart of hearts, that this was probably the cover amazon and my agent would go for.

There hardly seemed any point in having a third idea – so I suggested a simple typographical solution, using the font and background colour from the first idea, maybe the border from the second idea. Just something we could throw into the mix so we could say, hand on heart, that we’d delivered three covers. The book equivalent of a guy in a red jersey beaming down to an unexplored planet with Captain Kirk.

What I got was this…

TTATCM typographical solution sketch

This is another sketch. Those glasses, I was assured, wouldn’t have the words shutterstock across them. But I wasn’t listening. What I was thinking was…

Woah!

I knew pretty much instantly that this was it. There was a kind of stirring. In my loins. Despite the fact that this design was turned out in the time it took me to send an email, go downstairs, make a cup of tea, and come back up again – I just knew.

And I wasn’t alone. I sent all three covers to several friends, and most chose the design above over the other two. Especially those friends who hadn’t seen any other design, or had no idea what the book was about.

My favourite bit of feedback was this:

“I like the glasses. It makes me think of ‘deception’ – but also about those comedy glasses you could buy with a big nose and bushy eyebrows attached.”

Perfect!

Interestingly, those that didn’t choose this design, chose the couple on the bench. But no one liked the guy in the mask.

So, naughty though it may be, I casually forgot about the guy in the mask. I know, I know – I was tasked with submitting three ideas, but I wanted my favourite to have at least a 50/50 chance of winning even though I was 100% certain that the chick-lit cover would beat it to a pulp!

And I’m delighted to say I was wrong.

My agent circulated the two covers (the ones on offer) round her agency and my fave won hands down! The only objection being that it might not be *quite* romantic enough… and was it possible to ‘fix’ that? Which is why we came up with the finished version below by adding a little bit of a glow and a few love hearts (including the dot on the i in the word ‘charming’).

Personally I prefer the un-romanticised version, but hey – it’s not that much of a compromise. I’m still proud to be associated with this design.

TTATCM kindle

But… maybe we’ve got it wrong?

Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.


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Hot news; my second novel The Truth About This Charming Man is available right now, in paperback and for your phone, tablet, computer or kindle device!

Read the opening chapter, right now, right here.

The film will be along some time in the next decade.

Who could be in a movie of ‘The Truth About This Charming Man’?

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Back in those early heady days of bashing out my first novel, my friend Wendy criticised me for being a little scant on my character description.

“I don’t know what these people look like,” she said.

I mumbled some rubbish about wanting my readers to make up their own mind and she probably gave me one of her looks, because I went straight home and spent the next few hours on google finding images of actors & actresses that reminded me of the characters I’d created, and could make a pretty good job of playing that character should the book ever be made into a movie, or turned into telly. I printed those pictures off, stuck them on a notice board in my office, and glanced at them frequently whenever I was writing.

It’s a trick that I’ve adopted ever since. Right now, hanging just to the right of my computer screen, is a cork board with a picture of Martin Freeman on it. An actor who would be absolutely excellent in the lead role of my third novel.

Yes, third.

My second novelThe Truth About This Charming Man came out mere days ago, and here’s something quite exciting, there’s already been some chat about turning it into a movie! And I’m not referring to  private insane ramblings between me and my cat. I mean proper, serious, genuine ‘chat’ by people whose job it is to rub shoulders with those who are in a position to actually make things happen, and tempt them with the movie / TV rights of their numerous clients.

Now I expect these kind of conversations happen quite frequently, and I expect the vast majority of those conversations never amount to anything – just as (so I’m told), only a very small percentage of books where the movie / TV rights are successfully negotiated actually ever end up being made into anything you’re ever like to see – but it’s all very exciting none the less, and because of my approach to figuring out character description, should anyone ever ask me if I’ve got any ideas who should play which role, I can do something more than mumble “I dunno, that guy from one of the X-men films?”

Here then, are those pictures that until recently were pinned just to the right of my desk. Those talented stars of stage and screen who I would dearly love to breathe life into the lives of people who up until a few days ago only existed in my head.

If you’ve already started reading The Truth About This Charming Man I’d love to know what you think. Post your thoughts, feelings, or alternative casting ideas in the comments at the bottom of this page (or here if you’re reading this in an email).

William Lewis (James MacAvoy)will

“My name is William. Will to my friends. Though it could just as easily be Gary, or Roger, or Stephan – just tell me who you’d like me to be and watch me morph into someone else. It’s not lying. Lying is an untruth. This is acting. It’s telling a story, and stories are a good thing: they teach us. They help us to make sense of the world. They allow us to stay safe – in that way they’re better than the truth.”

James MacAvoy was pretty much my first choice when casting the story’s lead character in my mind. Though I know nothing about the man (other than his numerous screen appearances) I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if he’s as obsessed about his craft in real life, as Will is in the book.

Nathia Brockenhurst (Olivia Williams)
nathia

“Nathia’s smiling when she opens the door. A big, warm, welcoming smile that promises an evening of laughter and cocktails. The smile falters when she sees that it’s me. “You’re late,” she says with enough venom to poison a small army. She turns and stomps back into her apartment, and I notice she’s already in full costume: slim-fit high-waist sleek-black trousers, semi-translucent shirt, killer heels – the usual Nathia attire.”

I’ve always been a big fan of Olivia Williams, and when it comes to playing high-flying brutal-business-woman-with-a-secret Nathia Brockenhurst, I have absolutely no doubt she’d walk the part.

Michael Richmond (Hugh Grant)hugh_grant

“In many ways Michael Richmond is a man out of time. A century or two ago he’d have a bushy moustache, impressive sideburns, and a belly the size of a small country. He’d spend his evenings smoking expensive cigars and talking about his time in Africa. Roll back the centuries still further and I can imagine him dressed in animal furs, sporting a heavy copper helmet, and wielding a blade high above his head before he conquers another village, and takes his pick of the wenches available. But instead Michael goes to the gym. He watches his weight. He pops statins. And on evenings such as this, he shares stories of boring corporate deals negotiated across expensive but dull conference room tables. Is it any wonder that he drinks too much, laughs too loudly, and always looks as if he might explode at any given moment? That granite exterior is holding a lifetime of frustration in place. “

Hugh Grant built almost an entire career playing ‘the toff’, ‘the fop’, and every variation in-between. But allegedly Helen Fielding always had him in mind for the character of Daniel bit-of-a-bastard Cleaver in Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s that charming-but-evil element that I think he could carry off so well in the role of Michael Richmond.

Rachel Richmond (Anne Hathaway)
rachel

“But behind that shy smile, those beautiful soft cappuccino eyes, and her tall, lean, slightly Arabian veneer, is someone else. And sometimes, when she’s asked me an innocent sounding question, she stays quiet after I’ve given my answer, like she’s waiting for me to say more, waiting for me to give myself away. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t give me something of a buzz.”

When it came to casting the love-interest it really didn’t take me long to come up with a suitable candidate. Oh come on. Can you blame me? If I’ve got to write convincing love-scenes then when I glance up at the pin board I need to be looking directly into the face of a woman I could easily find myself falling in love with! That’s my excuse, I’m sticking to it.

Zlata Ruzencova (Vera Farmiga)
Zlata

“One particularly chilly morning in March, an eccentric gum chewing woman of indeterminate years – all wild bleached blonde hair (with dark roots), pristine makeup (and plenty of it) – turned up on my doorstep.
‘Hello,’ she said, as I opened the door. ‘You are Lewis, the actor. Yes?’
‘If you say so,’ I replied. It was very early in the morning. Too early to be standing on my doorstep talking to a tall lady in a fake-fur-coat that just about covered her shoulders, and a snake-skin mini-skirt that was barely long enough to cover, well, anything.”

Of all the characters in the book Zlata is far and away my favourite. Even now, long after I penned her last few lines, she’s still in my head, passing judgement on all that I do, and asking me, sometimes several times a day, where is my plan for cake.

If I were an actress (just go with me on this), then Zlata would be the role I would love to play. Casting her however, was a huge challenge. No one seemed quite right – then a friend suggested Vera Farmiga and after that, well… there was no after that! She’s perfect.

So? What d’you think? Post your thoughts and / or alternative casting suggestions in the comments.


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Hot news; my second novel The Truth About This Charming Man is available right now, in paperback and for your phone, tablet, computer or kindle device!

Read the opening chapter, right now, right here.

The film will be along some time in the next decade.