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Jan Brigden lives in South East London with her husband and motley crew of cuddly toys. Jan's written for pleasure from a young age; short stories for classmates, odes for workmates, fun quizzes for family and friends, progressing to her first novel, the idea for which sprang from a script she composed as part of a creative writing course. After attending many author talks, literary events, and connecting with writers and readers on Facebook and Twitter, Jan learned of and subsequently joined the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme. An avid reader, reviewer and all round book devotee, Jan is also one eighth of online group blog called The Romaniacs.
Author photo © N. Bernie
Below is a Q&A with this author.
Who’s your favourite author?
I have several for different reasons. Maggie O’Farrell for her ability to portray such raw emotion in her characters. So too Lisa Jewell – her modern day observations are fantastic. I’ve always enjoyed the warmth and spirit of Maeve Binchy’s novels too. David Nicholls never disappoints, either, whether he’s making me laugh in his earlier novels or reach for the tissues in his more recent ones.
Who is your favourite literary character?
Alice who gets to experience all sorts of weird and wonderful goings on in Wonderland.
What’s the first book you remember reading?
Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. I must have read it a hundred times and so wanted to climb those branches, say hello to those fabulous characters like Silky and Moonface, and visit those different magical lands that passed by the tree top. You can see an escapism theme going on here, can’t you?
How would you describe your novel?
I’d say it’s about two couples and their eventful weekend clash of agendas, involving a girls’ only trip to York, a Brighton sales conference and a Spanish stag do. The story mainly follows undervalued wife Rebecca (in York with her best friend Abi) whose embarrassing yet poignant encounter with gorgeous, non-stereotypical Premiership footballer, Alex Heath, highlights the respect that’s leached out of her marriage, leaving her facing some harsh home-truths. Diversions to Brighton and Spain as the weekend progresses, find Rebecca and Abi’s respective partners tackling their own chaotic dilemmas. It’s a book about respect, self-worth, denial and the power & unpredictability of our emotions.
What gave you the inspiration for the story?
The idea actually stemmed from a creative writing course I completed a few years back via The Writers Bureau. I had to create a tense scenario involving two characters only. I chose a husband and his wife’s best friend. He’d secretly invited her to his house on the pretence of discussing his wife’s surprise 30th birthday party. Instead he confronted her about some gossip he’d heard regarding a recent weekend trip the two women had taken together. Which afterwards begged the question in my mind: ‘Well, what did happen during that weekend?’ And so the story evolved …
Where and how do you write?
I’m home-based and look after my husband’s business admin, so do most of my writing either at my desk or at the dining table, with either a mug of tea or coffee to hand.
Who do you base your characters on?
No one particular person. Most of the main characters in As Weekends Go are part fictional/part made up of several aspects of several different personalities of people I know or have met over the years either at work or socially, perhaps, and those I see on TV or online, in interviews, etc. Obviously with my main male character Alex being a footballer, I drew on my own knowledge of the game and one or two players I’ve met in the past, mainly focusing more on the non-stereotypical footballers though; their lifestyles, mannerisms, professionalism on and off the pitch. There is a wealth of information online but I also carried out lots of research of my own for authenticity.
What would you rescue from your house if it was on fire?
With my husband already safely outside, probably my laptop, wedding photo album and other family photographs and if I could carry it, my literary journal containing all my precious writerly notes and pictures from the early pre-publication days to present day.
What three things would you take if you were to be stranded on a desert island?
Well, assuming I’m all alone and have no access whatsoever to anything remotely techy-fied, a chunky notebook & set of pens (I sneaked them in as one!), a photo album with all my nearest and dearest’s faces to peer at for inspiration when I’m writing, and probably my lucky crystals. I would say a job lot of chocolate, but it would melt before I’d get the chance to savour its yumminess!
Did you always want to be an author- if not, what did you want to be when you were little?
An actress for a while. I loved the drama of all the school plays. Then a policewoman although I very quickly realised that I’m too soft and would probably let too many people off.
A warmly compassionate, amusing and very readable story, with extra sprinkles of fairytale sparkle. Jan Brigden is the winner of the 2014-2015 Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition, and this is her debut novel. 31 year old Rebecca is concerned about her marriage, as are her family and friends, she is persuaded to go on a weekend away with her friend Abi. After meeting a footballing star, Rebecca finds herself re-evaluating her life and the meaning of love. Rebecca and Abi are engaging characters, warm and likeable, it’s easy to stow away in their suitcases for the weekend. It’s also refreshing to hear the other side, Rebecca and Abi’s partners are away themselves and their thoughts and feelings add balance to the story. ‘As Weekends Go’ encourages you to join these girls on their trip, to believe in them, cheer them on, and wish them them happiness as their story reaches a well-deserved end. ~ Liz Robinson September 2016 Debut of the Month.