My Dad rang yesterday to ask, in a very serious and concerned voice, if any of 'The Dating Detox' was true, “because if so...” – if so what, I never got to find out. I assume a team of vigilantes would be flying in from Hong Kong to wreak havoc on a handful of unsuspecting bastards in South-West London.
I assured him that it's fiction. And I thought it was worth saying again here.
It’s totally made up. The characters are made up, the events, all of it. Fiction, innit.
My own single life was, of course, marked by various dreadful relationshits, all a bit less dramatic than the ones in the book but no less painful nonetheless, and a couple of very nice ones that simply Weren’t Quite Right. I went on a Dating Sabbatical once, after a series of seriously bad dates, and stayed on it mostly because I thought it was a funny thing to say and I didn’t meet anyone particularly tempting. It lasted about six weeks before I gave in and went out with a guy who turned out to be a complete ass-hat.
It's worth adding that in those six weeks, life got better in a hundred tiny ways, just because I was looking at it differently. So after the ass-hat dumped me, I took stock of everything, remembered my change in perspective, and started again. (Lessons in real life are never as linear as they are in books.) And that changed the way I approached work and love and everything else, for years. And then I met a ricockulously funny and lovely guy who I'm getting married to in April and wrote a book and well, became the happy little bunny that you see before you today.
All my friends wanted to know 'who is who'. Who is Rick, and if Kate is so-and-so, and if Jake is (my young man) Foxy, etc. One friend is so convinced that one character in my second book is Foxy's brother that she rang me, during the reading of an early draft, shocked that one particular thing actually happened. But I made it all up, guys. I really did. I promise. I know those characters a thousand times better than I know my friends, in a weird way, because I invented them. They do as I say and come to my whistle. If it sounds real, then high five me, as that's what I'm aiming for... but it's fiction.
I should caveat that my sister read The Dating Detox and said 'it's like talking to you but I can't talk back'. But then she read the second book recently, which has a totally different main character, and said 'this just sounds like you too, in a different way, but still you'. I hope it's just the way I write. I try to be chatty and confiding and real.
Having said all that, I need to be honest and say there are similar details: I'm a copywriter in advertising, I always have a yellow clutch, I lived in Pimlico for years and spent my 20s trying not to get dumped, drunk, broke or lost - and frequently failed, but still had fun. And I'm the same combination of show-off-and-shy, confident-and-worried - but then, I think a lot of us are like that. Right?