Bestseller Muhairi MacFarlane presents a sharp and emotional new novel about a woman who cancels her engagement to the “perfect man” and moves in with a charming stranger who makes her question everything about her life, her past, and the secrets she’s kept for so long…
We talk to Mahiri all about her new novel crazy of youalong with writing, book recommendations, and more!
Hi Muhairi! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
My God! Do I have to? My favorite thing about my job is never having to write a resume again. (Well, I hope). I am a British romantic comedian, live in Nottingham and have a fluffy cat. I think Joan Wilder is in Romance on stone But she’s less flashy, and less likely to have a guy in cowboy boots roll out her window in a sailboat on a trailer.
When did you first discover your love for writing?
Probably like a lot of writers, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t really writing. I loved writing stories as a kid and had a natural impulse to fill A4 lined books with my wandering bastard. Many of them are alive, written in a hint, in capital letters EWAN DO NOT READ THIS!!! printed on the cover. (Ewan is my little brother, and I don’t doubt these warnings were very effective.)
Lightning fast tour! Tell us about the first book you ever remember reading, the book that made you want to become an author, and the book you can’t stop thinking about!
Auf. First, I read myself, I guess: It wasn’t my first time, so don’t call the police, but I used to put the addresses on my mom’s bookshelves (I was that kind of early kid, who always suspected the party was going on somewhere else) . So I read feminist memoirs like Gloria Steinem, non-fiction books about persistence training, (!!it didn’t work) and the memoir that still stuck in my head: The White Palace by Glenn Savan. (It was made into a movie with Susan Sarandon and James Spader.) I’ll be about 10 years old, and I won’t quite be able to take in much of it – thankfully! – But the lines in it still stuck in my head to this day. “It was important not to confuse a part of the truth with the whole truth.”
Inspirational author? Let’s go with Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen’s humor, her social observation, her sheer calm ability to simply tell the story in this solemn voice. It made me realize that romance can be a community, in a box. With more hope and redemption.
Someone I can’t stop thinking about: Kate Atkinson “Behind the Scenes at the Museum.” It has this amazing way of describing patterns and generational resonance, and it has to go on for the 25 years since I’ve read it, yet I had in mind to write my current novel.
Your new novel crazy of you, out now! If you could describe it in just five words, what would it be?
snappy; funny. warm. heartbreaking. optimistic.
What can readers expect?
A humorous novel about a wedding photographer in Leeds, Northern England, set in a deeper and darker area about the malevolent nature of abusive relationships. But humorous! A hotter and flirtatious.
Where’s the inspiration for crazy of you comes from?
I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a serious issue you’re addressing and I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while. I couldn’t figure out how to fit into the tone and primary joy of a romantic comedy. Once I realized that my hero had experienced this in her past, not her present, the puzzle pieces began to fit together. The theme of the novel throughout – which I only realized too late! Often the method is control, and it can take various forms of control. We hope the book was interesting though. J Light and Shadow!
Can you tell us a little bit about the challenges you faced while writing and how you managed to overcome them?
Again, it’s hard to do without spoiling but the plot involves the heroine taking a stand, there’s a negative reaction to it, and the heroine is working out how to do it. This actually meant the stakes went up and up, and that required some thought. I spent a lot of time talking to my editor and playing The What If? A game, which is how all fiction works, I guess. By the way, don’t let anyone tell you that there is something more difficult than plotting. I think building a surprising and satisfying story is honestly the hardest part of the novel. Your readers are a sophisticated audience. Who could easily choose Netflix instead if you’re not delivering the goods, haha.
Were there any favorite moments or characters that you really enjoyed writing or exploring?
Huh, I love writing monsters who don’t know they are monsters, so John’s fiancé and mother-in-law, Jacqueline, was a real pleasure. John is the part of the book I am most proud of: a man completely trapped within his own interests and selfish logic, yet convinced he is the perfect man. There is little of it there.
What do you love about the romantic genre?
There’s a lot to love: Basically, how would you describe the ways people treat each other, and like the godmother of this type, Jane Austen, it’s not just about how people treat each other romantically. In Mad About You there is a clip about how 21Street Gatsby behaves on social media, basically the same as the famous kids at school in their 30s. I loved writing it as a social comment: They are kind! They exist! I would also like the reader to take all the British references in this section and replace them with the American references. Like “They get to work on Monday, straight from a fun weekend away at the Eurostar…”. Is this a Greyhound bus for you?! Well, maybe not… that’s why I need your help.
What’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve received?
This is a great question that I don’t think has been asked before. Better. nations. “You lie about anything but your emotions.” This is very true, I think. Or if not, I never found the contradiction. Absolutely everything is ready for renewal, but human nature springs from eternity. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t get much from Shakespeare.
Worst, easy! When I was unpublished, I collected a lot of advice online, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. My first novel, You Had Me At Hello, was in the first draft stage. About a quarter of the book is flashbacks because the heroes met in college, so I turned on “Didn’t They?” In the past tense, together with the present tense “would they not.” This piece was read by an incredibly strict woman on the edge of the century models saying Never ever include backups it slows down the narration! Thinking that I had found an unalterable law rather than a clumsy arbitrary opinion, I sobbed for a friend, I’d better take all the memories of the university out of my book. He replied, “VS Naipaul uses flashbacks. However, I had never heard of this woman before.” This heals me.
My ninth rom com for Harper Collins! You caught me on a good day when I absolutely loved the work in progress. Ask me next week and I’ll probably be begging to get rid of it
Finally, do you have any recommendations for the 2022 book for our readers? Are you looking forward to 2023?
Sally Thorne, the genius behind The Hating Game, wrote a wonderful gothic historical romance called Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match. It proves once again that no one is quite like Sally. Her mind is amazing.