Former Louth man Jimmy Rice, 33, has co-authored a romantic comedy novel with his friend Laura Tait, due to hit the shelves this summer.
‘The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me’ tells the story of childhood friends Alex and Holly, living in a quiet town called Mothston, who are both secretly in love with each other.
They both go their separate ways for university without ever knowing how each other felt - before being reunited 10 years later in London.
The book is written from both male and female perspectives, offering an insight into the minds of both characters and avoiding what Jimmy refers to as a “bog standard rom-com” format.
Jimmy, a former Monks’ Dyke pupil now working as a freelance journalist in London, said: “Hopefully the thing readers will enjoy is knowing exactly what each character is thinking, but having that sense of frustration that Alex and Holly don’t have the same privilege.
“Also, most rom-coms are written by women, so hopefully having a man write the male character makes it really authentic.
“I wrote Alex’s chapters and Laura wrote Holly’s. There was no overlap, although obviously we suggested jokes and offered advice for one another’s chapters.”
The sleepy town of Mothston, which both characters are keen to escape from in their youth, is partly based on Jimmy’s experience of growing up in Louth.
“My character is quite disillusioned with Mothston but that’s normal – most people his age want to get out of their hometown”, Jimmy said.
“But when he does get away he finds that he misses loads of things about it. It was the same for me with Louth.”
The chapters within the book appear to flit around, almost erratically, between character, time and place. One minute the reader is seeing inside Holly’s mind in the present day, and the next minute they are seeing things from Alex’s perspective back in the late 1990s. However, ultimately, Jimmy and Laura cleverly weave all the pieces of the puzzle together as the story progresses.
Laura, who met Jimmy while studying journalism at Sheffield University, said: “We had the basic idea for a plot – that two former friends who haven’t seen each other since school would meet up years later, and that there would be some sort of unresolved feelings between them.
“We started it before we’d completely formulated the idea, and we were so concerned with making it funny that we weren’t really thinking about the plot enough and got a bit stuck a few chapters in.
“We had a rethink and decided exactly what would happen and the journey each character would take and did a detailed chapter plan, and it was much easier after that. It’s been a massive learning curve.”
‘The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me’ has been advertised as “a novel for fans of Richard Curtis films”,
However, Laura says that there was no ‘target audience’ in mind, and adds: “I think it will be mainly women that buy it but hopefully it will be one that once they’ve read it they’ll pass it to their other halves and boy mates and say ‘You know what? I think you’d enjoy this’.”
The digital edition of this exciting new novel is released on Thursday (April 10) and will be available through Amazon and RandomHouse.
The paperback version of the book will be released through Corgi on July 3, retailing at £6.99.