Today I welcome Jon Rance as part of his About Us blog tour. He is the author of five romantic comedy family-lit novels. About Us is his latest book and he’s going to tell us all about what got him started. Thank you Jon.
“One of the things about the book is that there’s something in there for everyone. Whether you’re male or female, young or old or somewhere in the middle.”
What is your book about?
Hello. Firstly, thank you so much for having me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here. About Us, is the story of Rosie and Pete, from the day they meet at university in the 90’s right up until present day when they’re early forty-something’s living in south London with their three children. It’s a story about falling in love, growing up, making choices, and how we react when life doesn’t go to plan. It’s about as the title suggests, a story about life, about love, about us.
What inspired the idea for your novel?
I always enjoy this question, so thank you. This was a novel I’ve been working on for a few years. I love writing and reading romantic comedies, but the part that always irks me is not knowing what happens next. You know when you get to the end of the romcom and the couple get together, and it’s all lovely and brilliant? Well how about a year later? Five years later? Twenty years? This is what interested me. I wanted to write a book that told the whole story of a relationship from the beginning until the end. I also wanted an excuse to write a part of a novel in the 90’s because I love the 90’s!
How long did it take you to write your novel?
This is always a funny question because I find that novels, or at least the idea, evolve over long periods of time. I probably wrote down the idea for this novel two or three years ago, but I only started writing it at the end of last year. In writing time, it was about eight months, which is quite short for me. I think because I had the idea so clear in my mind, when it came to write, it all came out quite quickly. The editing took longer than the first draft because it was quite complicated in terms of plotting. As with most books, I wrote a lot more than was in the finished novel, so deciding which parts to put in and where was the most difficult aspect of writing this book.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I really enjoyed the challenge of writing a book from the female first person perspective. This whole book is written from Rosie’s point of view, so I was writing a teenage, twentysomething, thirtysomething, and fortysomething, woman. This was really challenging because the worst thing that could happen was that every woman who read it was like, this is terrible. Trying to gauge Rosie at every step of her life and find that voice was difficult, but I loved it. I would definitely write another book from the female perspective.
What did you research the most while writing this book?
I don’t really need to do much research for my books, but for this book because it was set over twenty years, I had to make sure that everything rang true. I wouldn’t really call it research, but I did Google quite a few bits and pieces to pop into the book to show the different time settings. The most research I normally do is using Google Maps to find pubs, coffee shops etc. For me research is usually working on the characters and their voices because that’s the most important part of writing for me.
For those who have not discovered your novel, how would you describe it to get them interested?
Good question. If you love authors like, David Nicholls, Jojo Moyes, and Mike Gayle, you might just enjoy my novel. If you love the TV shows, Cold Feet and This is Us, you’ll probably enjoy About Us. One of the earliest reviews said it best, “This book isn’t about you, it isn’t about me but, strangely and oh so convincingly, it’s About Us.” I think one of the things about the book is that there’s something in there for everyone. Whether you’re male or female, young or old or somewhere in the middle, you’ll find something you can understand and relate to.
What inspired you to want to write books?
Writing is just something I’ve always done. As a teenager and young man, I always wrote, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I really started pursuing it as a career. I suppose I always thought of it as just a hobby until I realised it was something I could actually do and make money from. It’s that realisation that’s the turning point for most writers. Writing is just something I’ve always done and will always done. It just happens that now I do it as my job.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Interestingly, my next book is going to be a book I wrote about six years ago. It’s a book that’s never been published, but I wrote it before my first published novel, This Thirtysomething Life. I picked it up recently and despite being horrified at how bad the writing was, I loved the story and the title, and so I thought, this could be a brilliant book. All I can say is that it’s a romantic comedy. I’m also going to be writing my second Christmas novella next year. I really enjoyed writing my first one, A Notting Hill Christmas, and I have what I think is a killer title, so we’ll see. It’s going to be another busy year with lots going on! I’ve also been delving into the world of scriptwriting, which is something else I love.
What is the theme or message of your book?
The theme of About Us is life. It’s about what happens to us between being young optimistic teenagers with the world at our feet to twenty years later when things are so very different. It’s about the choices we’re forced to make and about how they change our lives. It’s about the beginning of things – Rosie and Pete meeting, getting married, and having children – and the end of things – Rosie’s mother dying of Huntington’s disease. I suppose it’s about the circle of life. In terms of a message, I would say – Life is short, so be brave, choose happiness, and follow your heart.
Thank you for your time.