Interview With Authors Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice of ‘The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me’
JR: We got an email from our agent, Lizzy Kremer, entitled OMG. It said two publishers had expressed a strong interest. A few weeks later we ended up with two offers so decided to meet both editors. They both had fantastic ideas, but as soon as we met Harriet from Transworld, and saw her enthusiasm for the book, we knew which way we’d go. I think I celebrated by going for a walk while trying to suppress screams. Not always successfully.
LT: I was at work when we got that email, and said casually to my friend sitting next to me ‘Oh, I’ve been offered a book deal.’ He was practically doing cartwheels then stopped and said to me ‘Hang on – how come I’m more excited about this than you are?!’ I don’t think it had properly sunk in. We signed the deal a few days before my birthday, which I’d booked the Monday off work for as I had weekend plans with friends. So then I pretty much went off the rails for three days in a booze-fuelled double celebration.
Have either of you written fiction in the past? Has this been part of a long term goal for either of you? Have you discussed what comes next after your 2 book deal, will you become the Ant and Dec of the publishing world?
JR:I wrote a dating blog, the character in which, Fishy, was an exaggerated version of myself. It’s called Plentymorefishoutofwater.com. It’s always been a goal to have a book on a shelf with my name on it. I never imagined I’d have to Tippex Laura’s name out to make the dream come completely true but you can’t have everything, can you?
LT: Deep down, writing novels has always been the dream but until we started I hadn’t written fiction since the Creative Writing unit I took as part of my degree. I had to write three short stories and 15 poems. I loved writing the stories – spending ages creating the characters and situations, and thinking of plot twists. Then I wrote all of my poems the night before deadline by not going to bed. You should have seen the drivel I was coming out with. You never will though.
I think what happens next will depend on how well this is received. We’ve had other ideas that would work as duel authored stories, but we’ve both also had ideas of things we’d like to work on alone so we’ll just need to work out what feels right to do next.
JR: Was that your way of telling me it’s over?
LT: Nope, it’s my way of being super-vague and non-committal.
What is your favourite scene in ‘The Best Thing…’? No spoilers, obvs.
JR: There’s a scene in Holly’s chapters where Holly cries and her friend Jemma – who is brilliant throughout – cannot stand to look at her because, in her words, she is such an ugly crier. It’s an emotional scene and that just releases the tension and stops it getting a bit too maudlin.
LT: I still always smile when I read Alex’s conversation with Kev in the garden towards the end of the book. Kev is one of those characters you think you have sussed from early on, so scenes where he surprises you are especially touching.
JR: From the very start Harriet, our editor, made us feel like the cover, the publicity, the editing would all be a team effort – and that’s how it been.
LT: Harriet showed us some covers of other books she liked and asked what we were thinking in terms of a cover for The Best Thing. Then she came back with a brilliant design from Lisa Horton and we both thought she’d nailed it, so aside from a couple of tiny colour tweaks, that’s the cover you see now.
JR: It’s not a follow up. We wanted the readers to be able to imagine for themselves what happens to Holly and Alex, together or apart, rather than dragging it out. There’s something in finishing something you’re proud of and leaving it at that, rather than trying to eek it out and exploit it. I love the way The Office, one of my very favourite shows, ended after 14 episodes, with a satisfying ending that left room for you to wonder what happened next.
LT: The format of the second book is the same – I write the female protagonist and Jimmy the male – but this is about a break up and the different stages they each go through as they try to get over each other. One of the secondary characters is of The Best Thing makes an appearance though, so you might get a hint as to the fate of Holly and Alex.
In the film version of the book, who would you see playing Holly and Alex?
LT: My mum suggested Karen Gillan as Holly, and I think that was a good shout. I reckon Hugh Dancy would make a good Alex.