I wrote The Accidental Proposal in an attempt to explain why proposing is such a big deal for us men – possibly the biggest deal – and also, I wanted to explore how it might feel to have the tables turned, and to investigate all the insecurities and issues that might go with that.
One of my best friends was actually proposed to – his girlfriend used the less-than-romantic 'it's time' – and perhaps not surprisingly, you could tell he felt extremely awkward about admitting she'd done it. He also felt she'd denied him one of the major life experiences, and I wanted to write about that, and what that might mean to us. I'm also aware that my friends have generally had very different reasons for proposing, or they've each proposed under very different circumstances, and that getting down on one knee is actually a crunch time for any relationship – particularly if you're not sure (and who ever is?) that she's going to say 'yes'. I also wanted to write about the change a relationship goes through when you move from boyfriend and girlfriend to being engaged, and, of course, how you feel as the big day approaches.
The book's also about infidelity – I try to make all my books 'about' something, and that was interesting to write about, particularly because Edward and Dan have such differing viewpoints.
Weddings are quite funny anyway, if you think about them, and I knew I could have a lot of fun with the run-up to Ed and Sam's – especially with the stag night.
On a personal note, it's the third time I've written about these characters, and it'll (probably) be the last, so I wanted to give Ed, Sam, and Dan a fitting send-off before leaving them to get on with their lives!
Giving the male perspective
February 11, 2011
I'm often asked why I chose to write in a genre dominated by female voices. Well, ignoring the fact that most things are dominated by female voices, I suppose the answer is I didn't choose it - it chose me. I always knew I wanted to write. Well, from the age of fourteen, when I wrote a piece to be read out at school assembly which got a few laughs. And while that may have been because my flies were undone, it was then I knew I wanted to be a comedy writer.
Unfortunately, it took me another twenty years to sit down and start writing my first novel – Best Man – partly because work/life got in the way, but mainly because it wasn't until I read Nick Hornby's High Fidelity that I realised there might be a market for the kind of thing I wanted to write about. Let's face it – for us men, the pursuit of you women is the thing that dominates most of our lives, and the strange thing is that very few of us are any good at it. As my love life progressed – or didn't – and I saw the trials and tribulations I and my friends were going through, I'd often sit down with them over a beer to discuss what was going on, and the conclusion we'd reach was 'you couldn't make it up'. So fortunately, I didn't have to - once I started writing, I realised I had a wealth of material. Then I just wrote how/what came naturally.
Any putting into a category or genre is co-incidental, as I don't think I could write in a particular style that wasn't mine. Besides, I'm not sure I was aware of any sort of genre when I was writing. In fact, I didn't realise that my type of male-confessional stuff would actually be of interest to female readers – I thought I was writing for other men like me. But I'm glad it is!
I've tried to cover a major topic in each of my novels – friendship, being dumped, parenthood, relationships, marriage, and – with The Accidental Proposal – fidelity, but even after six, I don't seem to be running out of material. Which is both encouraging and depressing, if you think about it!