Today I am very excited to share with you an interview I have done with Andy Jones, author of The Two Of Us, The Trouble With Henry and Zoe and his latest book, Girl 99, which is out TODAY! You can read my review of Girl 99 here.
‘When Tom’s girlfriend walks out on him the day before Christmas, he feels humiliated but not necessarily heartbroken. Sadie wasn’t, after all, The One. If we’re being precise, she was number eighty-five.
And so, for reasons that are only mostly wrong, Tom embarks on a mission to bring his number of encounters up to a nice neat one hundred.
Over the course of his quest he sleeps with a colleague, a colleague of a friend, a friend of a friend, a friend of a friend’s wife, the estate agent selling his flat and several more besides.
Everything is going, if not well, then at least according to plan…and then Tom meets Verity. Whether she’s The One remains to be seen, but she’s certainly more than just another number.’
1. This is your third novel, and in Girl 99 we actually go back in time, to before your first novel; The Two of Us, was set. Which is where we first meet EL, who also plays a big role within Girl 99. Was there a particular reason for going back?
There was a very good reason actually. It’s a bit complicated, but I’ll try to keep it simple. Girl 99 – an old version – was my first novel. My offical debut – The Two of Us – was written as a sequel. but the way The Two Of Us turned out; the male protagonist became a different guy to the lead in Girl 99. So I put it aside to revise at a later date – that date being now! But El, lovely old El, remained – more or less – the same, and I wanted to show readers the earlier part of his story.
2. Tom was….. a fool and actually a bit of an idiot, but even so, he was also a really endearing character which no matter what situation he found himself in, you can’t help rooting for him. Did you find it difficult to get that balance right?
Yeah, he’s an idiot. But his honest, and he’s aware of his flaws. So I kept that in mind, and made sure those traits came through. In fact its his reluctance to hurt people that often gets him in trouble: trying to spare Yvette’s feelings, for example let to a disaster. Had he been more brutal, or dismissive, he could have saved himself a lot of heartache. And of course, the whole ’99’ mess is largely a product of him trying to keep El happy. He’s an idiot, but an idiot with heart.
3. The relationship between Tom and his neighbour Doug, is easily my most favourite relationship in the book. I loved everything about it, the age gap never came up or caused a problem between them and they would natter over tea and games. What was very sweet was Doug never judged Tom or tried to change him but was always there and was never afraid to tell him he was a bit of an idiot sometimes. Whose friendship with Tom is your favourite and why?
I’m so happy you enjoyed the Doug storyline. It’s brand new to this revised edition of Girl 99 – so something new for readers of the original version. And I enjoyed writing it tremendously. But what’s my favourite – ahhhhh tough question. Tom and Ben have a great dynamic, but for me it has to be Tom and El. El is perhaps the most popular character I’ve created – he’s tragic, incorrigible, mischievous and romantic in his own way. And Tom and El have a great rapport and understanding – so, Yes Tom and El.
4. Although Tom was an idiot, kissing his a work college while his girlfriend, Sadie was at home, I was constantly hoping he would grow some balls with her treatment of him after they broke up. She instantly got her own back and then continued to punish him for a while afterwards. Was you not a
little bit tempted to have him stand up for himself?
Sure he could have fought back. But as mentioned above, Tom hates conflict. Also, he knows he was an idiot, and this – taking the heat from Sadie – was kind of a penance for him. It’s that catholic guilt.
5. I think my favourite part of the book was when Tom was cheering up the little girl with Verity and talking about Harry Potter, not only because it was about Harry Potter, but you could really see what a lovely guy Tom was. Which was your favourite part and why?
Well from the cringe point of view, there’s that excruciating conversation with Eileen, the seventy-year-old lady discussing her sex life and the size of her dead husband’s ‘winkle’. That was fun. And Tom dumping coffee on that jerk’s head outside the cinema; that was very satisfying. Albert’s audition, too, was a scene I’d love to see realised. God, I dunno, this is a very tough question. Right, gun-to-the-head tim, I’m going with Tom’s first conversation with El – because it’s funny, it’s tragic, it’s the first time we meet the inimitable rascal and it sets the whole thing in motion. Or, maybe you’re right after all.
6. Snog, Marry and Push of a cliff time, out of: Girl from the tube, Yevette and Kaz?
Oh come on! Right – snog Yvette; marry Kaz; sorry girl off the tube, I’m sorry, you’d better pack a parachute.
7. Where did the story of Tom come from?
That would be telling. But I have some interesting friends, I’ll leave it at that.
8. El and Phil have now featured in two of your books, do you have any plans to write their story? (BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE AMAZING! IT’S WHAT THE FANS WANT!)
That’s very flattering to hear. Maybe, yes – I’d love to spend some more time with them, and there is certainly a novel in it. For now, though, I’m deep into what will be my fourth novel – a real messy love square for want f a better phrase. The working title is Four, and I hope to finish the first draft very soon. After that I have a book planned about fatherhood, so to your original question – maybe one day, but not for a while.
9. What is your go to snack when writing?
Always a banana. But mostly I survive on coffee. Lots and lots of coffee!!!!!
10. Which authors inspire you?
Chuck Palahniuk for his inventiveness and dedication to craft. Stephen King for his discipline and genius. Charles Dickens for character, plot, pace, vividity and perfect sentences and I could go on. Martin Amis for style and intelligence, Ian McEwan for mood and depth. David Mitchell for pure story and literary exuberance.
11. Eileen, Doug’s lady friend had quite the fixation with Strictly Come Dancing, was this something that involved research or are you also an avid fan?
I can’t bear it! But it’s very hard to avoid, so I had a good idea of what was going on. But, yes, I did do some desk research and watch some YouTube clips to get in the mood.
12. The drinking games that Tom and El got up to during their uni days, was this from personal experience?
Yes it was. As memory serves, the police were called. For sure a never-again experience.
13. The same with all the film related games in the pub, that Tom and his colleagues played, are these games you yourself play?
No, I made that one up. Well so I thought, I did a little looking online and it turns out that the games has been around for a while. Maybe I’ll play it this weekend.
14. Describe your book in three words…
Laugh, cringe, love.
Thank you so much for taking part Andy!
And now for a bit about Andy Jones…
Andy Jones lives in London with his wife and two little girls. During the day he works in an advertising agency; at weekends and horribly early in the mornings, he writes fiction.
You can find Andy on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram as andyjonesauthor