This week we welcome Charlie Maclean, author of Unforgettable – a funny, thoughtful, touching contemporary romance with a premise similar to that of Sliding Doors. What if we could live two parallel paths resulting from the decision of a moment? see review here
Before talk to Charlie, let’s take a minute to look at the genre. Contemporary modern romance, with pastel-shaded covers featuring silhouettes in high-heels and glitter, is dominated by women. Both as readers and writers. Indeed, occasional foolish debates flare over whether or not men can even write romance.
Of course men can write romance, and women can write science-fiction and anyone can write in any genre. Your gender dictates what you can do with your body, not your mind.
Here are ten of my favourite contemporary modern romances written by men, just to prove my point. In chronological order of reading
High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
What it really means when you make someone a tape
Scratch, by Danny Gillan
There's a love story at the heart of this, but it isn't the one you think
Man and Boy, by Tony Parsons
Coming-of-age, but it’s the adult who grows up
My Fat Brother, by Jim Keeble
Idleness won’t cut it when the Barron brothers meet love, tragedy and a penguin
Time for Bed, by David Baddiel
Observations on ego and obsession, with fabulous set-pieces and blistering lines
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simison
Love as disruption told by an exceptional voice
Things My Girlfriend and I Argue About, by Mil Millington
The daily joys of cross-cultural married life with wickedly funny characters
The Humans, by Matt Haig
People and dogs as observed by someone who doesn’t do relationships
Us, By David Nicholls
Like Simison, Nicholls creates a character love changes for the better
Unforgettable, by Charlie Maclean
Tones of Shakespeare, but tragedy or comedy?
Over to our guest this week – Charlie Maclean...
Charlie’s debut novel, Unforgettable, is a sexy, gritty tale of present-day star-crossed lovers.
As a passionate storyteller he has also drafted TV and films scripts.
He lives between London and Brighton (UK) and is currently working on his next book, also a love story, this time set in Brighton.
Details at charliemaclean.co.uk
Which work most influenced you when growing up?
Some early favourites were I Am David by Anne Holm and Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian.
Where do you write?
I have my laptop or notebook with me at all times. At home, my writing desk is a square card table with fold-out legs and a green felt surface.
Who or what had the biggest impact on your creative life?
Tough question! I’ve never had a writing mentor; my writing has developed from reading lots of books and feedback from editors.
How far are you influenced by other media, such as music, TV or fine art?
Film and TV are particular influences. I’d love to see Unforgettable dramatised.
Do you have a phrase that you most overuse?
I always try to be original.
Which writers do you enjoy?
There are so many. I’m going to say two great favourites, Iris Murdoch and William Boyd.
Why do you write?
It’s something I’ve always done and always felt the desire to do. I love stories and trying to find some human truth through them.
What makes you laugh?
My dear friends.
Do you have a guilty reading pleasure?
Rereading my favourite books rather than ones from my to be read pile.
Which classic do you wish you’d written?
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Which book impressed you most last year?
It didn’t come out last year but my favourite read was This Is How You Lose Her, the collection of short stories by Junot Díaz.
Would you share what you’re working on next?
My next novel – also a love story – this time set on the South Coast of England, in Brighton.
Wild card: What’s the best way of spending a Sunday morning?
A couple of hours of writing, a run, then breakfast with strong coffee before climbing back under the bed covers, ideally with someone special.