2002

Tommy's Tale

Tommy's Tale is my debut novel, and was published by Harper Collins in the US and Penguin in the UK. The US edition was first, in September 2002, with the UK edition following in April 2003.

Chapter Six of the novel, entitled The Disabled Loo, is included in the anthology Best American Erotica 2004, edited by Susie Bright. To learn more about the erotic anthology series, visit www.susiebright.com.

Tommy is twenty-nine, lives and loves in London, and has a morbid fear of the "c" word -- commitment, the "b" word -- boyfriend, and the "f" word -- forgetting to call his drug dealer before the weekend. But when he begins to feel the urge to become a father, he starts to wonder if his chosen lifestyle can ever make him happy. His flatmates, the eccentric, maternal Sadie and the stoic, supportive Bobby, encourage Tommy to tone down his lifestyle a wee bit and accept the fact that he's got to grow up sometime. His boyfriend, Charlie (whose son, Finn, is the epitome of childhood charm), wishes that Tommy could make a real commitment to their relationship. But can he? Faced with the choice of maintaining his hedonistic, drugged-out, and admittedly fabulous existence or chucking it all in favor of a far more sensitive, fulfilling, and -- let's face it -- slightly staid lifestyle, Tommy finds himself in a true quandary. Through a series of adventures and misadventures that lead him from London nightspots to New York bedrooms and back, our boy Tommy manages to answer some of life's most pressing questions -- and even some he never thought to ask.

Tommy's Tale took me ages to write.  But it is one of the things that I am most proud of, in terms of sense of achievement.  It is pretty daunting to go into another field and put yourself out there, especially when there is such a disdain of actors turning novelists, and vast intellectual snobbery in the literary world. But I came out of it ok, especially in the UK, where I was really heartened that the book did so well.

Tommy's Tale was begun as an attempt to right an imbalance I felt existed in the stories I read or saw. It is essentially a modern fairy tale: a fairy tale in that fairy tales are usually about someone going on a journey or learning a lesson through a series of adverse circumstances,and ultimately the hero gorws up and there's a happy ending; and modern in that in real life people grow up and have sex and take drugs and try to keep it together.

I wanted to write about how I felt the family unit has changed. In my experience, being someone who has travelled far from his homeland, I began to envy people who still had their family nearby. But then I realised that I had made my own family, only now they were a collection of friends and lovers, each of whom gave me something that added up to what we expect and need from our families. So my friends have become my family.

I also wanted to talk about the desire that a man can have to have a child.  We often hear abut a woman's ticking clock and the overwhelming urges to procreate. But I felt really strong urges like that too, though it seemed as if that was a woman's domain and it felt wrong to voice them.  So in this book I do, and I also talk about dealing with those urges if you are neither in a relationship that can produce a child, or indeed if you don't even want to be in a relationship at all.  What do you do with those feelings?

Finally I wanted to combine two realms that I love and that I hope are not mutually exclusive: dirty druggy nights out and fairy tales.

Geeky fact 1: In The Anniversary Party, Joe, the character I play has written a novel called Tommy's Tale, and a copy of it is on the shelves in the house. Jennifer designed the book jacket.  So in a way I was sort of creatively visualising the future (or more like trying to embarass myself into finishing it!)

Geeky fact 2: i had the biggest battle with the US publisher about the cover, because originaly there were a woman's legs sticking out of the bath too, and I felt that it was a misleading image considering the subject matter of the book.  She even went as far as to offer to add hairs to the woman's legs, but finally she backed down and they were airbrushed out!