Why did you write The Paper Boys and where did the idea come from?

I’d been writing a completely different book in a completely different genre (historical fiction) for at least a year and I was struggling with it. It dealt with some really weighty themes. 

Then a good friend of mine (who happens to be a literary critic) suggested I write the kind of book I liked to read. So, I took her advice and tried my hand at a rom-com. I chose to set it in the world of journalism because that’s my old profession and, as they say, “write what you know”. 

Once I had the broad setting, the characters started to make themselves known in my head. Sunny took a little while to develop. Ludo appeared fully formed, demanding the spotlight.

Do journalists really have a rule about not dating each other?

No! Journalists date each other all the time. They also sometimes date politicians, which is scandalous, to be honest. 

When I was a cadet journalist I dated a journalist from the opposition newspaper for a couple of years and I actually found it a bit tricky from time to time. So, when that relationship ended, I promised myself I’d never do that again. 

It’s really only my rule, not some kind of industry-wide convention, but it proved a super useful tool for Sunny’s character.

Which authors or rom-coms inspired you to write The Paper Boys?

When my friend said to write the kind of novel that I like to read, the first book that popped into my head was Boyfriend Material by Alex Hall. 

Hall says he was inspired by Richard Curtis-style rom-coms (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually) when writing that novel and, because I loved those films too, I decided I would follow that lead. 

The other book I took inspiration from was Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuistan. Now, that wasn’t initially a five-star read for me but it is genuinely one of the funnier rom-coms out there and I loved the banter/friction between Alex and Henry. I also loved that there was a heavy political sub-plot, which kind of gave me the permission or example I needed to do the same. 

I included a karaoke scene in The Paper Boys as a kind of homage to RWRB.

Did you ever work as a journalist at Westminster/Parliament?

No, I only ever worked as a freelance journalist in the UK, and never worked at the Houses of Parliament. Although I’ve been on a tour of the Palace of Westminster and I’ve watched hours of PMQs on television, it has never been my workplace. 

So, all the interior settings at Westminster are from my imagination. Do the reporters in the press gallery sit at a bench? I don’t know. Does the light in the Victoria Tower refract beautifully through stained glass? I have no idea. It doesn’t really matter. It’s not a documentary, it’s a novel. So here I claim artistic licence.

Why did you choose to write a “fade to black” rom-com?

I’m not anti-smut, but I didn’t want to write smut. It felt wrong for this book. I know some readers will be disappointed but, honestly, it never even occurred to me write a sex scene between Sunny and Ludo. 

For a sex scene to have earned its place in the book it would need to have driven the story forward and, generally, most sex scenes don’t. They just pause the action for four or five pages—which is four or five pages without any jokes or any plot. 

Instead, I took inspiration from the old BBC sitcom The Good Life, by Bob Larbey and John Esmonde. In it, the main couple, Tom and Barbara Good, are a very flirty, very “sexy” couple. You never see them having sex, but you know because of how they interact that they probably have a really healthy sex life. To me, that’s much hotter than writing/reading the most intimate details of the boudoir. 

You don’t describe how quite a few characters look. Why is that?

For the most part, this happened by accident but I kind of like letting the reader fill in the blanks themselves. I know when I read a book I get a really clear picture of a character in my head and then the author belatedly tells me they’re blonde and I can’t get my head around it and it takes me out of the story every time the author then mentions the hair colour that doesn’t match what I’ve imagined. 

The exception is Torsten Beaumont-Flattery. Although Sunny and Ludo both describe his tremendous bulk in quite lustful detail, we never learn about his hair colour or eye colour, etc. I’ve done this deliberately because I like the idea of him looking like each reader’s own ideal fantasy rugby player. I want him to be for you whatever you’ve imagined in your head. That feels like a little present from me to you. 

Is the politics of The Paper Boys your politics?

It’s fair to say I’d like our politicians (of any political colour) to show a bit more leadership and commitment on environmental issues, and I’d like our politicians (of any political colour) to be uncorrupted by self-interest and the pursuit personal wealth. 

I wanted, though, to make sure there were great and good characters of various political shades shown within the story, so it’s not a straight up left-versus-right, good-versus-evil narrative—because the truth is always more complex than that. 

That said, I can’t help but think if we put Bimpe Lasisi in charge of things for a while, shit would get done.

Class is really important in The Paper Boys but you’re not British. Did that make writing the book difficult?

Yes, it did. Fortunately, I have some wonderful beta readers and a fantastic development editor who were all hyper-aware of the British class system and helped me think about what I was trying to say and what I wanted to say. 

I come from a very working class background (my father worked in an abattoir), but I grew up in Australia, which has a very different class experience to Britain. I hope I’ve been able to explore British class issues effectively and with some nuance. 

Will there be more books featuring Sunny and Ludo and the gang?

Yes! There absolutely will be. Sunny and Ludo star in the follow-up novella to The Paper Boys, called The Silly Season, which is FREE to download. You just need to pop in your email address and it’ll be sent to you automatically. 

The second book in The Brent Boys series is currently working its way out of my brain, through my fingertips and into my computer. It features two new characters, one of whom works with Nick at PureFM. Separate books focused on Stavros, Petey Boy, Jumaane and the gang are all planned.

Why is The Silly Season only available in eBook and why can’t I buy a copy?

The Silly Season is a novella I wrote to give fans of The Paper Boys a little extra time with Sunny and Ludo. It’s absolutely FREE to download and read, so there’s no need for anyone to buy the eBook. 

All you have to do is sign up with your email address to receive the book. My hope is that you’ll stay subscribed and become a part of my little community, so I can email you and let you know about new books and special offers and so on. But, of course, you’re welcome to unsubscribe at any time. It’s not a hostage situation. 

At the moment, the free eBook is the only way to read The Silly Season, but I may make a paperback version available to purchase through this website later on, if there’s sufficient interest. There are no plans to make it available on Amazon or in bookstores.

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