Monday, 5 August 2019
Douglas Adams once quipped that he ‘loved’ deadlines: ‘I love the wooshing noise they make as they go by.’
I would like to be so gifted that I would be afforded such artistic licence, but as a jobbing journalist with no family wealth behind me, I’ve never had the opportunity. I think I can honestly say that I’ve never missed a deadline in 31 years of professional writing. That’s quite a few thousand articles, reports and books.
So when Unbound said they would like me to complete proofreading A Love of Two Halves by 31st July, giving me a week, I set aside the time. Late morning on 31st, having carefully read every line (some of them while camping in Kent during the Margate Book Festival), I returned the manuscript with the few corrections clearly marked. We’re on course for 3rd October publication day. But to be safe, I’ve arranged the launch events for November.
I felt relief and pride as I read the work. I do feel it’s a strong story, funny and romantic in parts, and that the characters really come to life. Not everyone will like it, and it isn’t pitched at everyone. It’s for a reader who likes a relationship-based story that is accessible yet at times reflective. The plot will win no prizes for originality, but many of the social and gender themes are addressed from a fresh angle, I would argue.
The city of Leeds plays a significant supporting role. Here’s an excerpt from the point of view of Karen, the female lead:
‘Leeds city centre was always simmering on a Saturday evening, sometimes boiling over. This restaurant was in an area between the river and the Corn Exchange with an edgy feel, where you had both the smart set and the stag dos. There’d be middle-aged couples on the way to the theatre, lads just back from the footie. Everyone had an opinion and a drink. Normally I would just be walking by, gazing in with longing at the diners ... It felt tremendously good, after all the years of scrimping and saving and bus rides and inexpensive treats, to feel all middle-class for a change, an equal with the smart set; to have finally arrived, if only for a few hours. You learn to seize and treasure your moments, and keep them alive in memories.’
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