Today I am taking part in the Lad Lit Blog Tour, and I am delighted to be joined by lad lit author Steven Scaffardi, and the star of his two books in the Sex, Love and Dating Disasters series, Dan Hilles.
Gentleman, welcome to Novel Kicks. Steven, if we could start with you. What were the main challenges of returning to an already established character or did it make writing the second novel slightly easier?
Hi Laura, thanks for having us! When I wrote The Drought, I never set out to write a series but I guess I fell in love with the characters, especially Dan and his three best friends, Rob, Jack and Ollie. At the end of the book, I started thinking what would the boys do next? It set the wheels in motion for a series of ideas that became The Flood.
In a lot of ways, already knowing the characters so well did make it easier as I knew how they would react in certain situations, but at the same time you also have an audience who already knows these characters so you have to remain true to who they are, so from that point of view you can’t suddenly change course completely like you might with a new book and a new set of characters.
Dan, you make a drunken bet in The Flood that complicates your life somewhat when you accept the challenge from your friends to date four women in eight weeks. What were your main motivations for taking the bet?
As you mentioned Laura, alcohol played a big part in me making that stupid bet. Basically, after going through the sexual drought in the first book, the boys were on my case and giving me a lot of stick about not being very good with the opposite sex, especially Jack who once he gets started, simply can’t stop taking the micky!
Anyway, after one drink too many I made the bet. I’m not proud of it, and you could say that I got bit on the backside by karma as I ended up dating a stalker, my crazy ex-girlfriend, the office ice queen, and the one who got away before. To be honest, I wish I could go back and change it all. It was a nightmare, especially trying to keep them all apart.
Steven, do you cast your characters and if so, who do you have in mind for Dan, Rob, Ollie and Jack?
The four original boys in The Drought (Dan, Rob, Jack and Ollie) were based on people I knew. Dan is loosely based on me I guess, but most of the personalities and the things the boys get up to are based on fact, and then exaggerated for comedy effect.
Some of the best stories I pick up come from friends when we are standing around in the pub reminiscing about old dating stories. That is a big reason why I wrote The Drought in the first place. Some of the things guys think or get up are to are pretty hilarious, so I tried to build a story around dating disasters. I wanted to tell a story from a man’s point of view about relationships. Most of the time, it’s not as perfect as chick lit makes it out to be, so I wanted to bring some balance to the world!
Dan, what song would be your anthem or would best sum up your experiences?
Jeez, great question, but that’s a tough one. Let me think about this. I’m sure if Jack was here he’d probably say something stupid like Short Short Man by Gillette because he thinks he’s funny but he’s an idiot!
I’d probably opt for Don’t Mug Yourself by The Streets. That song tells the story of a guy who really fancies a girl, but his mates are trying to tell him to play it cool, but he is struggling to do that. That paints a pretty good picture of my experiences in both The Drought and The Flood.
If I was going to choose songs for the other boys then Rob would have Smooth Operator by Sade, because that’s exactly what he is! He’s the good-looking one in the group we send in to groups of girls we want to talk to. Jack would probably have something by Chas & Dave because he likes to think he’s a cockney, whereas I’d choose Cameo by Candy for Ollie, but you’ll have to read the first book to find out why!
Steven, what is your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals (coffee before you start, writing in silence etc.) Do you plan much prior to beginning and do you edit as you go?
When I’m working on a new book, I aim to try and get 1,000 – 1,500 words written each session, but since my daughter was born last year that has gone out of the window! These days, in between a day job, a wife, a mortgage, a cat, a daughter and trying to find time to sleep, I have to be pretty disciplined to write!
In terms of rituals, I like to listen to music when I’m writing. I normally create a playlist for the book I’m writing on that will include songs that remind me of scenes in the book, or simply set the tone. Only last week I revealed the top 5 songs that were on the playlist for The Drought and The Flood as part of the Lad Lit Blog Tour.
Are you working on anything at the moment that you can tell us about?
I am working on the third book in the Sex, Love and Dating Disasters series. The working title is called The Pact, and this time Dan and the boys travel to Latvia in search of a girl Rob dated. It’s a little bit different to the other books, and so far I have created a few characters the boys run into including two Wham loving corrupt cops, a pimp who is stuck in the 70s, a Russian mafia boss, two drag queens, a sleazy hotel boss and his strange wife, and a henchman called Ray the Local. Watch this space!
Dan, which of the characters from the first two books would you invite for a fantasy dinner party and why?
First off I’d probably invite my good friend Kelly, as she always has great advice about the opposite sex and doesn’t take the micky out of me like the boys. Well, not as much as they do anyway. Secondly I would invite Denise and Ronnie from The Flood. Denise is the stalker I date, and Ronnie is her boyfriend, and although the experience I had with both of them was pretty troublesome at times, they would certainly be great fun (for all the wrong reasons!).
The fourth person I would invite would probably be Grace, another one of the girls I date in The Flood, but I also dated her in The Drought too. My reason for inviting Grace is simple – she is the hottest girl I have ever seen in the flesh. I just like looking at her.
And fifth and final spot would reluctantly go to Jack. I’d love to invite all of the boys, but there is no doubting that Jack’s quick wit and sharp tongue would keep things entertaining at least.
Steven, if you were told you could only own three books, which three would you pick?
Great question. The Godfather by Mario Puzo is one of my favourite books of all time, so that would be in there. Next up I would pick The Book With No Name by the anonymous author behind the Bourbon Kid series. If you like Quentin Tarantino, you’d love that series. The last book would have to be lad lit classic High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.
Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?
Hmm, I love Michael Corleone from The Godfather, but I’d actually like to meet Sanchez from the Bourbon Kid series. He is such a brilliantly fun character and I’d love to put him together with Jack from my books. That would be a seriously funny book!
Any advice for new writers?
For new writers, the best bit of advice I can give is simply get those ideas down on the laptop and don’t be too critical during those early stages – just try and get through to the end and then come back and be critical. And remember, the hardest part is not writing the book – it’s the promoting it afterwards! Be prepared for the real hard work to start after completing the manuscript!
Steven Scaffardi is the author of the Sex, Love and Dating Disaster series. His first novel, The Drought, is the laugh-out-loud tale of one man’s quest to overcome the throes of a sexual drought. After the stormy break-up with his girlfriend of three years, Dan Hilles is faced with the daunting task of throwing himself back into the life of a single man. With the help of his three best pals, Dan is desperate and determined to get his leg-over with hilarious consequences!
My verdict on The Flood (Book two in the Sex, Love and Dating Disasters series.)
One bet, four girls, eight weeks, multiple dates. What could possibly go wrong?
Following his traumatic eight month dry spell, Dan Hilles is back in the driving seat and ready to put his dating disasters behind him.
But if only it were that simple.
After a drunken afternoon in the pub, fuelled by the confidence of alcohol, Dan makes a bet with his three best pals that will complicate his love-life more than ever when he brazenly declares that he could juggle multiple women all at the same time.
With just eight weeks to prove his point, Dan is about to find out how hard it is to date a flood of women without them all finding out about each other, especially when they come in the shape of an ex-girlfriend, a stalker, the office ice queen and the one that got away.
The Flood is the second novel in the Sex, Love and Dating Disasters series.
Having not read the first in this series, The Drought, I was completely new to the adventures of Dan Hilles. However, the fact that I was joining the series on the second book didn’t impede my enjoyment (although it does make me want to go and read The Drought.)
Steven Scaffardi revisits all of the characters well and so I didn’t feel as though I was trying to play catch up too much or getting lost.
The Flood focuses on Dan and his friends, Rob, Jack and Ollie as they try to navigate through the minefield of love and relationships (which can be just as complicated for the guys even though Dan brings some of it on himself a little.)
Whilst on a night out, Dan makes a bet with his friends that he can juggle four women at the same time. Of course, disaster and hilarity ensues. There is also a very funny scene involving Dan’s parents.
Dan is a likeable character. There are moments in this novel where he is pretty much acting like a class one prat but he is so likeable with it.
Rob, Jack and Ollie are perfect wingmen. The scenes where they were all together were among my favourite in the novel. I think there is a character in this novel that is relatable to everyone.
From the first page, I was laughing out loud. There are some brilliant, hilarious moments mixed in with some poignant ones. Steven’s style of writing makes it easy to fall into this novel.
Its style very much reminds me of Mike Gayle’s novels and so would suit fans of his. Also, in my opinion, there were elements of Nick Hornby’s Rob Gordon in Dan’s character too – someone who is lost and doesn’t quite know what is good for him.
Overall, I have quickly become a fan of this series and am eagerly awaiting the next one (which is going to be equally as funny if the end of this novel is anything to go by.)
Good job, Steven!