T.A. Williams talks about his experience writing a rom-com chockful of Dannys.
Hi, I’m the either very brave or very foolhardy man who thinks he can write books for women. My name is Trevor Williams, but I write under the androgynous name TA Williams.
So why try my hand at writing for women?
First of all it’s not so much trying to write for women, as writing the sort of thing I enjoy reading myself. A number of male friends have now read When Alice met Danny and tell me they enjoyed it. Maybe it appeals to all.
Second, it’s a question of statistics. Two-thirds of all books being bought these days are bought by women. At least, that’s if you can believe what you read on the internet. Men, as evidenced by current events in Brazil, apparently spend their time watching football and drinking beer. Again, we all know that this is a sweeping generalisation, but business is business…
Where do the ideas for my books come from?
The answer is that I’d love to know that myself. They just sort of appear. Dirty Minds was inspired by an article in the newspaper. The Room on the Second Floor just came out of nowhere. When Alice Met Danny started life as the account of a real development I did of an old house near here. I have no idea why I chose the name Danny, but the idea of making a lot of the characters share the same name didn’t come until I reached the black Labrador. I’m playing with ideas for another book at the moment and I know that the idea won’t come as a result of hours spent studying the horizon and pondering. It will just pop out one day.
So what influences have I had and what sort of stuff do I like reading, watching?
I read a lot of historical stuff. I was blown away by Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and I’m a sucker for the sort of pseudo-scientific stuff about Templars, Cathars and mysteries stretching back over the millennia. I really enjoy Tom Sharpe, one of the funniest authors I know, and a man I would have loved to have met.
I was brought up on spaghetti westerns like A Fistful of Dollars and action movies like Diehard, but I also really love the sloppy stuff like Top Gun. Mind you, the cowboys eating beans scene in Blazing Saddles still has me creased up with laughter. And on TV, I have to admit to a weakness for stuff like The Big Bang Theory and Friends.
And finally, how do I plan and write my books?
The answer to this one is that they develop organically. That is authorspeak for they just sort of happen. I normally start with the haziest of plans. Maybe just the location and the main character. Certainly, in When Alice Met Danny, I started with little more in my head than: girl loses job in London, moves to the country, buys house to renovate. All the other stuff, including every single different Danny, just popped up as the book progressed. It sounds crazy, but there comes a wonderful point (normally about a third of the way through) when the book starts writing itself. Truly, stuff just happens. My wife still remembers an incident years ago when I was writing a thriller. I appeared in the kitchen at midnight furious with my main character. She had only met the guy that afternoon and she was already in bed with him! Not only was that not the plan, I was appalled. Like I say, stuff happens.
Devastated after losing her job, eternal pragmatist Alice leaves London for a new start inDevon. It’s there that she meets Danny.
Then she meets another Danny.
And then she meets Daniel – Danny to his friends…
In fact, there seems to be a Danny at every turn! Her neighbour’s a Danny; there’s little baby Danny; there’s a vicar, a windsurfer, even a dog called Danny! And whether it’s laughter, comfort, a flutter of romance or a walk along the beach, they each bring something special to Alice’s new life.
You might say it’s a coincidence. Alice certainly would … at first! But when she suddenly risks losing not just one Danny, but all of them, she begins to wonder: might there be more in a name than she ever guessed?
Trevor Williams was born in England of a Scottish mother and a Welsh father. He lives in Devon, in south west England, and started writing when he was 12. With a degree in modern languages, he is the author of Dirty Minds and The Room on the Second Floor. When Alice Met Danny is his first attempt at romance. Carina UK is publishing his fourth book later in 2014.