My first guest of 2012 is a wonderful young lady with a great sense of humor and a funny new book to tell you about. I could try, but there are just some things an author has to do for themselves. Ladies and gentlemen:
THE PITCH THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
Author Elizabeth Kyne Reveals How Her Latest Novel Surprised Even Herself
It was only a page long, it had only taken me a couple of hours to write, but when it was read out to a room of other writers, it got a round of applause and generated a very excited vibe. This was the pitch for my novel, If Wishes Were Husbands, and it changed everything.
I’d written a lot of science fiction before this point. I’d grown up loving anything with spaceships, a bit of adventure and out-of-this-world ideas, so it was natural that I’d write science fiction. The problem was, every time I showed my stories to other people, they showed, shall we say, a lack of enthusiasm. They’d respond with things like: I was good at doing people, but the science didn’t work; or it was well plotted, but nobody was interested in time travel anymore. This was, as you can imagine, very frustrating.
Then I noticed something about the reading I was doing. At the time, I was buying a lot of science fiction and following reviews of the latest releases, but when it came down to reading what I’d bought, I seemed to stop half way through. Book after book failed to interest me. Whatever was happening in the science fiction genre, it wasn’t happening for me.
Maybe it’s because I had changed. It was a long time since the concept of travelling to alien worlds had gripped my imagination, since I sat glued to an episode of Star Trek or scanned bookshelves for another novel by John Wyndham. I’d grown up, got a job, bought a house, had men in my life and seen men disappear from my life. Maybe it was time to change tack.
None of this really crystallised until I met a bunch of other writers at an intense two-week course in America. During the course, we were all asked to write a pitch for a bunch of different stories to see which ones would interest the tutors (a group of established writers who read them as if they were editors looking to commission a book). This was immensely freeing because it meant I could try out a whole selection of ideas without making the commitment to turn them into 100,000 word novels. In fact, I wrote up a host of ideas in genres which I had never seriously considered writing in before, including a fantasy, a thriller and a kids’ book.
One of the ideas that emerged had been kicking around my head for a while. It was the story of a woman who invents a husband for herself and goes around telling everyone she is married, in order to avoid telling the truth about her dull single life. The only problem is, she repeats the story to so many people, it takes on a life of its own – and so does the man! One night, she comes home to find her mythical husband sitting on her sofa – and that’s where the fun begins.
I’d tried writing up the story before (at one stage I thought it might make a good radio play), but never got further than a few pages. But, when I sat down to write the idea at the course, the story seemed to come together. It was only one page long and it was only the sketch of a story, but I had a good feeling about it. So, it seemed, did other people. My pitch was pulled out of the pile that evening and read to my assembled colleagues by the lovely writer Christina F York. I can still hear the way she pronounced all the British slang I used with her American accent (I’d never heard the word ‘pub’ spoken with such a long vowel!). I also vividly remember the buzz in that room after the reading. It gave me the confidence to write in a genre I’d never even considered before.
I didn’t sit down and write it immediately after I got home. The course had taught me a lot and my head was swimming with new ideas and possibilities; plus there was a half-finished science fiction novel I wanted to complete; not to mention a fortnight’s worth of washing. But the reaction to that pitch never went away. My fellow course members would email me every so often to ask when I was going to get round to writing that If Wishes Were Husbands novel.
When I finally sat down to write it, I found it to be a refreshing experience. I hadn’t written something set in the contemporary world for a long time and I surprised how many details and incidents there were in my brain to draw upon.
I’m extremely grateful for that moment in that workshop. It told me that I had found my niche, that I had discovered something exciting that could excite others. It also gave me the confidence to write in a genre I hadn’t tried before, and would never have tried if it hadn’t have been for the opportunity I was given over those two weeks. That’s not to say that I have left the concept of alien worlds and spaceships behind me, because it’s a genre I used to love and one I would like to return to one day. But, for the moment, I’m blissfully happy in the world of romantic comedy. I love taking the real world, giving it a twist, and seeing what happens to my characters. I’m rather hoping my readers like it too.
Rachel re-invents herself when she moves back to her home town of Aylesbury; with a new job, a new house and a new haircut. But people’s eyes glaze over when she tells them about her life as a forty-something singleton who works in accounts. So why not spice things up a bit? Why not tell her new hairdresser and her new friends about her fantastic husband? Everyone wants to hear about Darren, the man who cooks her amazing meals, cleans the house and takes her to bed for orgasmic sex three times a night! What a shame he doesn’t exist…
…Until she comes home one night and finds Darren sitting in her lounge. And everything she said becomes true: from his sensuous food to his skill in bed. So real, that she believes it.
Not as if living with a perfect is man is… well, perfect…
She can’t find anything because every time she puts something down, he tidies it away. Then there’s the shock of the credit card bill from buying all that gourmet food. Not to mention the sex! Three times a night is great at first, but sometimes all she wants at the end of the day is a sandwich and some sleep.
Then Rachel decides that Darren has to go – and that’s when her troubles really begin.
Elizabeth Kyne takes the absurdities of the modern woman’s quest for love and turns them into an enjoyable romp. She finds the comic in everyday situations, from buying a dress to experimenting with hair dye at home. While, underneath, she comments on the pressure to find the perfect husband and how that quest is doomed for us all.
Elizabeth Kyne trained to be a radio journalist and spent her early working years reading news bulletins and writing for magazines. Later, after learning the meaning of “mortgage” and “gas bill”, she decided to do the sensible thing and drop the freelance lifestyle to get a proper job. The job, however, all went horribly wrong and she returned to her first love of writing, and worked on several novels before finding success with “If Wishes Were Husbands”.