If you’ve never been to a stag or hen do, then Mike Gayle gives you the opportunity to attend both in his novel The Stag and Hen Weekend. Anna Bell asks him to share his thoughts on that last night of freedom.

Hen and Stag dos in the UK are a far cry from my parents’ generation of a few drinks the night before the big day. Now Hen and Stag dos are a billion-pound industry, ranging from jam-packed weekends of activities in the UK to trips abroad for week-long jaunts in the European sunshine. The average spend on the activities has doubled within the last three years. With many stag and hens adopting ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ mentalities, often the weekends are shrouded in mystery from the bride and groom-to-be’s other half. Author Mike Gayle is no stranger to the topic, after researching his latest novel The Stag and Hen Weekend, which is released today.

Firstly can you tell us a little about The Stag and Hen Weekend?

The Stag and Hen Weekend is two stories in one. One is about thirty-something Helen who along with a group of her closest friends heads to an upmarket spa hotel in the Peak District for her Hen Weekend where she bumps into a blast from her past which result in her having second thoughts about the wedding that’s scheduled for the following weekend. The second story is about Helen’s fiance Phil, who along with his mates has travelled to Amsterdam for his Stag Weekend. All goes well with the weekend until he bumps into someone who eventually reveals some information to him that completely turns his world upside down.

How did you do the research for the hen and stag weekends in the book? Did you have to pick lots of people’s brains?

I did indeed do a lot of brain picking as being a man I’ve never been on a hen weekend! I did however book myself into a couple of places like The Manor so that I could get the details right and observe a few hens up close. Similarly for the stags side I made a special trip to Amsterdam with a mate of mine. Sadly I came down with the flu and was so sick that I ended up going to bed early every night.

So did you find it difficult writing the ‘hen’ section of the book?

No, not really. I’ve written from a female point of view before in His ‘n’ Hers and The Life and Soul of The Party so I’d had plenty of practice getting the tone right. Plus my wife goes through everything I write anyway so if I’d had a female character wearing a scrunchie she’d red pen it straight away!

What’s the most outrageous thing that has happened to you on a stag do?

It’s a bit of a myth that outrageous things happen on stag dos. Ninety-nine point nine of them are just a bunch of mates getting together, drinking a few beers and having a good time. From what I can gather hen dos tend to be a lot more outrageous.

The average spend per head on stag dos has gone from £91 in 2009 to £195 (men) and £163 (women) in 2011. Why do you think we’re spending more on the ‘last night of freedom?’

I think it’s because people these days feel like they need an excuse to have a good time and so when an excuse does come their way they really go to town. Personally, I think they’re missing the point a bit. It’s not about where you go, or how much you spend, but the quality of the people you’re with. If you can have a legendary night out in your local, why would you bother getting everyone on a plane just to do the same?

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