(and One Time I Kissed Him First)
It’s out today! Thank you so much to everyone who has been liking/sharing my posts and making me feel all smiley about this book being out. I can only hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I am currently blog-touring to spread the news about this book, so you might have already heard a bit about it. I also had ‘Five Times’ bookmarks at RT, which turned out to be a bit pre-emptive as the book wasn’t even on the Dreamspinner Press ‘Coming Soon’ page that week. Oops. You live and learn!
For any of you who may have read fan fiction, the concept of 5+1 might already be familiar. It certainly is to me. I started writing fan fiction when I was about fifteen years old (half my life ago, jeez). In those days I was firmly entrenched in the world of Harry Potter and I wrote what I call “fill the gap” scenes. I hadn’t figured out what shipping was, I didn’t know that Harry/Draco was a thing, and I definitely didn’t read or write smut. All of that would come later.
The thing is, I still read and write fan fiction. I never left that world. This novel is my homage to fanfic and the online communities that basically taught me how to be a writer. I didn’t do a creative writing degree and I hadn’t taken any writing classes until after I’d already become a published author. I’ve always said that I see my writing career as evolving from an apprenticeship in fan fiction, rather than being taught.
I know some people look down their noses at fanfic and part of me does understand why. However, I think what those people don’t appreciate is how difficult it can be to take someone else’s characters and world and recreate them accurately. It’s actually not easy to write in the world of Harry Potter. JK Rowling wrote something so incredibly rich in detail and nuance that it takes a huge amount of skill to manipulate and emulate her world. I’ve read fan fiction stories which have touched me so deeply, the storytelling being so incredible and moving. That’s good writing, however you want to look at it.
With ‘Five Times’ I wanted to pay homage to that part of my history.
Which leads me back to 5+1!
5+1 is a writing format which has been used for literally decades. Like I write in my author’s note in the book, it started back in the 1980’s with a Star Wars story, and has been used in hundreds of fan fiction stories since. In fact, a quick search on Archive of Our Own (a fan fiction site) yields over 3,000 works tagged as 5+1 stories. I’m sure the overall number of stories is much higher.
Though the format is quite flexible, the most common interpretation is ‘five times someone did something, and one time they did something else’, which is what I used for this novel. If you’re interested, these are some other examples I came across when I did that search –
- 5 Times Steve Rogers Felt Awkward Talking About Sex, and One Time He Stopped Talking Altogether
- Five Times Derek Failed To Tell Stiles How He Feels (+1 Time Stiles Knew Anyway)
- Five Things the Avengers Caught Tony Stark Trying to Put in His Ass
- The Five Letters Harry Wrote Louis, and the One He Sent
You get the picture.
When I decided I wanted to write a 5+1 story I knew I needed to work it slightly differently than most other novels I’ve written. There’s not actually any chapters in the book. Instead there’s six sections that were each written independently from each other, and should be fairly self-contained (if I did it right!). It’s more like an anthology of short stories than a novel, one that follows the lives of these two people from childhood through to their mid-thirties.
So, you know what, I’m not going to tell you any more about the novel. Whenever I sit down to write something new my goal is always, always to write something new and fresh and different, and I definitely think I achieved that with this one. Hopefully whether you’ve read fan fiction in the past or not—and you definitely don’t need to have read any fanfic at all to get this story—you’ll find something totally new with ‘Five Times’. And if not, I’m pretty sure it’s the longest book title Dreamspinner Press have ever published.