The Plus One is my first book, a novel, which I wrote while working at Tatler magazine. It all came about thanks to my wonderful agent, Becky, who emailed me some years ago to say she liked my writing and had I ever considered writing a book? I had, actually. When I was 23 and moved to Abu Dhabi to work for a newspaper, I got reasonably close to a deal for a non-fiction book based on my experiences as a single girl in the desert. The heat, the drinking, the affairs, the seven-star hotels, the money, the arms dealers and so on. In short, the clash of expat life with the cultures and laws of the region.
But then the deal fell through (I was 23, I think my ambitions to write a 21st century White Mischief were probably fairly ambitious). I was gutted, but I carried on working as a journalist back in London until Becky’s email arrived in my inbox and I decided I wanted to have another stab at a book.
The Plus One is the result. A rompy, hopefully funny novel about my heroine, Polly, who has just turned 30, has a terrible sex life, drinks too much and is bored of her job working for a magazine called Posh! But then one day she’s sent up to Yorkshire to interview the playboy son of a duke and… Well, HERE’s a link to Amazon where you can get it as an actual book, on Kindle OR in audio version if you want to hear me read out the rude bits.
Jilly Cooper – Queen Jilly Cooper – said the sex scenes made her feel ‘like a nun’, which made me howl, because the truth is I was an incredibly late starter with love. With boys. In fact, the book’s foundations were probably laid when I was a chubby, awkward teenager who never did any snogging, so I gorged on romantic films instead. I fell for Sense and Sensibility, Grease, Gone With The Wind, Cruel Intentions, Notting Hill, The Notebook and so on. I wept over Titanic for weeks. I longed for dramatic love like this but…where to find it?
Love, it turns out, can be surprising. And that’s what The Plus One is about. It’s a story about finding love where you don’t expect it and I hope it resonates with anyone who feels like their friends are getting promoted, getting married, buying houses and having babies, and yet their own life is so shambolic they can’t even remember to buy more loo roll on the way home. It’s also about mothers and daughters, female friendships, bad sex and wine. When I recorded the audio version I realised quite how much wine drinking there is in it. Oh well.
Above all, I hope it makes you laugh. That’s the thing in life I think – laughter. We all have dark days or weeks. Months. Even years. But if you can laugh, if you can find something even a tiny bit funny, then I reckon that helps carry you along. So please let me know if it does make you laugh, I’d be thrilled.