The idea for The Case of the Missing Boyfriend first came to me whilst on a train journey from Manchester to London.
The wrong kind of leaves had fallen on the rails and our ultra-rapid Virgin Pendolino train was proving to be anything but ultra rapid.
My best friend Rosemary finished the novel she had been reading and flipped it closed with a sigh. “It was supposed to last the whole journey,” she said. “Now I’m out of reading matter.”
“You could talk to me,” I offered. I had promised myself I would work on the train, so was happy for any distraction.
“I suppose,” she said with an unflattering lack of enthusiasm. “What have you got on your Kindle?”
I shrugged. “Not a lot at the moment,” I said, switching it on and checking the screen. “I’ve got all of my own stuff – I’ve been re-proofing them.”
“OK. Anything else?”
“Read it. Loved it.”
“Read it. Loved it.”
“A Son of the Circus?”
“That’s old isn’t it? By what’s-his-name?”
“Yes. Read it too.”
“Hot Gay Erotica?”
“Erm, no ta. Not today.”
I shrugged. Rosemary held out her hand. “Actually give it here,” she said. “I’ll read Fifty Reasons again.”
Deprived of my Kindle, I pulled out my laptop and stared blankly at the a blank document entitled, “Book Ideas.”
I had just finished writing Better Than Easy, the fourth in the Fifty Reasons series, so it was time to come up with a new project.
I had decided to write a fifth and final volume but I was a bit stuck, because I had stupidly ended the fourth volume, Better Than Easy in Colombia. When I had written it, I had been dating a Colombian and he had promised to take me to see the country. I had been counting on that trip to plan the next volume, but as we had now separated, and because I didn’t actually have the cash to go to Colombia anyway, I needed to find a way to extract the hero from Colombia within the first few pages of the novel. I knew exactly the story that I wanted to write. I even had a title, Sleight Of Hand, but I hadn’t yet worked out how to get Mark out of Columbia. I was cursing myself for having left him there in the first place.
And so we sat, on a track somewhere between Manchester and Birmingham, Rosemary re-reading Fifty Reasons to Say Goodbyefor the umpteenth time, and me trying to come up with a device which would enable me to continue, and end, my epic series of novels.
After almost an hour Rosemary looked up. “I’ve read this so many times,” she said. “but I still love it. It’s amazing because my single mates are all going through dating hell. I think it’s a universal experience these days. The men you meet are all bonkers basically whether you’re straight or gay.”
Rosemary proceeded to tell me about her young single friends in the ad agency where she worked. One of them had been to a speed dating event, and had told Rosemary that with the exception of a single, brown-eyed hunk of spunk, every single person there had been clinically obese. Trouble was that when she had tried to flirt with Brown Eyes, she had tripped and spilt her drink over him.
By the time the train groaned, shuddered and started to move on again, Rosemary had returned to Fifty Reasons to Say Goodbye, and I to my document – no longer blank.
I had written the following notes:
“Why is modern dating so hard? Why are guys all bonkers? Why do women get on so well with gay men? Isn’t their experience of dating just the same in fact?
Missing Boyfriends abound.
The Mystery of the Missing Boyfriend.
The Case of the Missing Boyfriend???
The second I wrote that last line, the whole thing started to solidify in my mind.
A young singleton, in an ad agency. Dating hell. Gay friends. And of course the ending would have to be…
Well, you wouldn’t want spoilers now would you?