Putting the man in romantic fiction: Love Byte author believes rom-coms aren’t just for women

David Atkinson

David Atkinson

Interview by Esther Lee

How did Love Byte begin?

When I started writing Love Byte, it wasn’t in my head that I was writing romantic comedy until I started laughing at some of the ideas I’d sketched out. It’s not ‘slushy’, as I focused more on building characters into real people who you can believe in. There are sad bits and funny bits so Love Byte isn’t your traditional, stereotypical romantic comedy, but there’s romance and comedy in it so it sits in the rom-com category reasonably comfortably.

What challenges, if any, presented themselves while you were writing Love Byte?

The first decision I made with Love Byte was to write it in the first person. It is a challenge writing in this way as it is difficult to widen out the narrative so what you write has to be tight, interesting and disciplined. I think, though, the decision to give the main protagonist’s view-point rather than multiple views allows me to create more in-depth characters. It’s a style I have also employed for my next book.

The male perspective is certainly a fresh, somewhat alien one for romantic fiction. Do you feel that male, rom-com authors might struggle with this genre?

I can’t help but give the male perspective on anything I write, it’s all I know. Whilst it is unusual for a man to write this kind of story it does, I feel, give a different slant to things. I don’t believe that writing in this genre as a man is necessarily any more difficult than it is for a woman. I’m sure more men will write in this genre in the future; the key (as with all books) is coming up with something fresh and/or from a different angle. I believe that the choices and issues are the same, regardless of gender.

Some people tend to be put off romantic fiction. Why do you think that is?

I’m not sure I agree that romantic fiction is treated dismissively, I suppose it might be by those who like literal fiction but good romantic fiction, especially romantic comedies, can be very commercial and transfer well from book to film/stage. The market is usually women, but I believe what I write is accessible to both genders.

May we have a cheeky peek at your next novel?

My next project begins with a ménage à trios that causes ripples of upset and comedy for the people concerned, and I suppose has an old-fashioned message that everything has its consequences. I like to think that anyone who reads one of my books is able to identify with the characters and what they are going through, and that they could see it happening to them should circumstances conspire against them. The ending should leave them feeling good and if I can evoke an emotional response from readers then I, and the book, has done its job.

What do you think makes a good rom-com?

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