I am very proud to announce that my ninth novel, The Best Man, is officially out! So I guess I should tell you what this one is about. It opens as Henry and Madeleine are waiting at the airport to meet the best man for their wedding, Henry's old college friend, Aiden. And then ... you see, here's where I get stuck.
Allow me to explain. This is the first time I have started with the title. For some authors, that's their preferred method. But on more than one occasion, my publisher and I have still been scratching around for a title just before the manuscript was due at the typesetter. This is not an ideal situation. So it was very handy to come up with a title first. The Best Man. Three little words that had the potential to mean a whole lot. They did to me, anyway, which is why I was eventually able to write an entire novel around them. I started dropping the title here and there, and it seemed to get the desired response: 'The Best Man, eh? Who is the best man?' 'Hmm,' I would reply, cryptically. 'Who indeed?' That is the question. I wondered if I'd finally attained the holy grail – of fiction and non-fiction writers alike – and managed to create a 'hook'. A hook is that irresistible idea, or a question you can pose that creates a buzz, has everyone talking, and sucks you straight into the story, dying to find out the answer. My friend and fellow author, Liane Moriarty, is a master of the hook. Every time I hear the idea for her next novel I want to read it immediately (after wishing I'd had the idea first!).
So I was very proud of myself for coming up with a catchy, hopefully intriguing title. But as I progressed further and further, I realised the rest of the story wasn't going to be so easy to encapsulate. This seems to be the way it goes with my books. My focus is all on the characters, so the first thing I did after the title popped into my head was create them – their names, backgrounds, what they did for a living. Then I threw them together at a particular, significant point in their lives, and watched what happened next. That may be all well and good, but it does not make for a must-read blurb on the back of the cover! And it also makes it very hard for me to post an interesting blog (Are you still there? Hello? Anyone?). The only time I get to have such conversations is when I'm invited to book clubs, where (mostly) the attendees will have read the book. The rest of the time – at events, in interviews – I have to tread carefully and not give away too much. So I guess there's only one way around it – you have to read it for yourself!