Rich and Mad

by William Nicholson

'new gen' - Great Fiction for Young Adults Books of the Month - <b>August</b> eBooks of the Month

LoveReading View on Rich and Mad


April 2010 'new gen' Book of the Month title.


Full of the myriad and criss-crossing emotions of adolescent love, this is a warm-hearted and finely observed view of two teenagers’ experience. Sixth-formers Maddy Fisher and Richard Ross both want to fall in love. Both want the heady experience of the real thing. They want all the craziness, all the pain that goes with the intense emotions but neither knows who they will fall for. Luckily, after complications and crossed lines, the two find each other gradually building a relationship and coming together for their first sexual experience.


William Nicholson is the April 2010 Guest Editor on Lovereading4kids. Click here to find out more...

Rich and Mad Synopsis

This is a compelling and beautifully written novel about first love, first sex, and everything in between. Maddy Fisher has decided to fall in love. And not just any sort of love: can't-eat can't-sleep crazy in love. Rich Ross is after the same thing. He's set his sights high, and he's going to make it happen. The problem is, in life's messy whirlwind of friends and lies and sex and porn, the real thing can be hard to find. But there's always a first time for everything...


William Nicholson, April 2010's Lovereading4kids Guest Editor, talks about Rich and Mad in this video:


Rich and Mad Press Reviews

'Nicholson's books are bestsellers... he offers the potent combination of a gripping narrative and a questing intelligence...' - Daily Telegraph




RICH AND MAD Q&A by William Nicholson

Your books for young readers have so far all been set in fantasy worlds. What made you decide to write ‘Rich and Mad’?
I’ve long wanted to write a love story for teenagers: something that reflects the reality of love - the self-doubt, the insecurity, the intense longings, the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the hurt, the pain, and of course the passion and the joy. I wanted to tell the story from both sides, so that girls would get some idea what it’s like to be a boy, and vice versa. I wanted it to show the process of two young people discovering love for the first time. And I wanted to make it as true as possible.

Why did you decide to write explicitly about sex?
If you’re telling the truth about a love affair, you can’t leave out sex. It’s the source of so much nervousness, ignorance and fear, as well as of passionate longing and intense emotion. And if you’re writing about sex, how do you do it without describing it? You can write about sexual feelings without using explicit terms, but not about sexual acts. So I made the decision not to censor myself, but at the same time to show the sex from the point of view of the characters, with all the accompanying emotional colouring. The exact opposite of pornography, which is impersonal and dehumanised.

Are you worried that readers will be shocked or offended?
I certainly don’t want to give offence. I hope that the information on the book’s cover will warn readers about the nature of the content. My guess is that parents and guardians may be more concerned than teenage readers. All surveys reveal that teenagers have massive exposure to internet pornography. I very much doubt if anything in my book will come as a shock to most of them. As far as I can tell, we more thoughtful writers, in our attempts to be responsible, have left the field of sex to the pornographers. I regret that. I’m trying with this book to reunite sex with real people, real emotions, and real joy.

Aren’t you afraid that your book will encourage young people to have sex before they’re ready for it?
Young people are having sex before they’re ready for it as a matter of routine; much of it unplanned, while drunk, and subsequently regretted. Current surveys show that almost 90% of both girls and boys aged 13-17 have experienced relationships that include some degree of physical intimacy. Sex is not now, if it ever has been, a closed book to teenagers. They’re growing up in a world saturated with sexual images. What they lack is a context for these images. Sex has become identified with its most superficial aspects - body image, celebrity, glamour. How are teenagers ever to know that sex takes place most of all in the heart and mind? So my hope and belief is that my book will encourage young people to seek love in sex, rather than loveless sex.

Part of your plot hints at a sado-masochistic sexual relationship. Why did you include that?
Most people have no idea how big an issue this is. A recent NSPCC survey shows that one in three teenage girls has experienced violence in a relationship. A disturbingly high proportion of girls continue to accept violence at their boyfriends’ hands because they believe that’s the only way they can keep them. My book is a love story with a happy ending that features two gentle decent loving main characters. I felt it important to touch on the darker side of sexual emotions.

You’re not a teenager yourself. How do you know your version of teenage love is accurate?
I was a teenager once. I remember vividly what it was like to long for a girlfriend, for love as well as for sex. I remember my fears and insecurities. I remember my slow clumsy progress towards my first sexual experience, with a girl I loved with all my heart and soul. I wrote this book in part to communicate that amazed joy to my readers. But before starting to write, I talked to as many teenagers as I could; often inviting them to tell me about the experiences and attitudes of ‘friends’, to avoid getting too personal. I have three children of my own, a son now aged 20, and daughters of 18 and 16, who I have observed closely. All three read ‘Rich and Mad’ in manuscript, and gave advice. However, in the end the test of the accuracy of my insights will come from my readers’ responses. Either they’ll believe it or they won’t.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781405247399
Publication date: 05/04/2009
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd an imprint of Egmont Childrens Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781405247399
Publication date: 5th April 2009
Author: William Nicholson
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd an imprint of Egmont Childrens Books
Format: Paperback
Genres: NewGen - YA Fiction, Books of the Month, eBook Favourites,

About William Nicholson

William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire. He was educated at Downside School and Christ's College, Cambridge, and then joined BBC Television, where he worked as a documentary film maker. There his ambition to write, directed first into novels, was channelled into television drama. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story, both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were Sweet As You Are and The March. In 1988 he received the Royal Television Society's Writer's Award. His first play, an adaptation of Shadowlands for the stage, ...

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