I’m working on a novel manuscript this year and currently on draft number…? I’ve lost track. Its working title is The Proper Place of Things.
Given that I write speculative fiction, contemporary fiction, crime and romance with a humorous bent, you might be wondering what genre is my novel?
Well, this one is a contemporary mainstream novel – not fantasy or science fiction – and I think it will probably be described as romantic comedy. There’s also some white-collar crime.
Romantic comedy is a broad term these days and has been used to describe anything from Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to Graeme Simsion’s ‘Rosie’ novels. I’ve even heard the wildly popular ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ described this way. The humour tends to be drawn from gender and relationship politics and personalities.
I describe this manuscript as a ‘post-marriage romantic comedy.’ The couple in my book are at the first stage of starting a family. Marriage and family life are pretty fun and funny a lot of the time, and the conflict sure doesn’t stop when rings are exchanged (or mortgage papers signed!). There’s heaps of material to draw on which hasn’t always been explored in novel form.
In between reading whatever catches my eye at the local bookshop or library, and ranging across genres and levels of seriousness, I’m always drawn towards optimistic contemporary novels that restore my faith in humanity. It’s my opinion that both serious literature, which can often be pessimistic, and more light-hearted novels, both have their place for the avid reader. Sadly I don’t believe our world can be accurately represented without a healthy dose of pessimism. Conversely, without the balm of optimism nothing would ever get done. While despair saps motivation, hope energises, and some books are bottled hope.
When my son was born, my aunt gave me the first of Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Scotland Street’ series, and this remains one of my favourite optimistic series of all time. Nothing could have been more perfect for a tired new mother than this gentle episodic social satire. When it came to writing my own novel, I really wanted to create a book that new parents would be able to relax into and relate to, and hopefully help them see the lighter side of life with a newborn and the inevitable pressures on a relationship. In fact, I wanted to create a whole series, so watch this space.
I’ve built the novel on the characters from my short story ‘The Ring’, first published in Plan B Mystery Magazine (and anthology) and featuring Elliot Aitken and his wife-to-be, Olivia. The story is a playful pastiche with an intricate plot that had lots of positive feedback. The short story was written and published in 2012 and now difficult to access, so I will post it up on the blog soon for people to read.