Sunday, 10 December 2017

EXCLUSIVE! Sneak preview of the first chapter from the new book...

Okay, okay, it has been way too long! I hold my hands up - I have neglected this blog for far too long, but in my defence and in the words of the great Tom Stade, my children have compromised my dreams! :)

I guess I owe all fans (yes, all three of you) of the Sex, Love & Dating Disasters series a huge apology for my radio silence, but since the release of The Flood last year I am pleased to say that I have been working on the third instalment, and I am delighted to release a sneak peek at the first chapter.

This is a work in progress so it is definitely subject to change, but I'd love to get your feedback and initial thoughts. Hit or miss? Funny or not? Excited or underwhelmed? I have three weeks off work over Xmas and after resisiting the urge to download Football Manager 2018, I am 100% committed to working flat out to get as much done on this new novel, and to reveal more details in the coming weeks.

I hope you enjoy this snippet...

Stone the flamin’ crows…
‘Okay Dan,’ I whispered to myself, exhaling a large gulp of oxygen, creating a feint whooshing noise. ‘You can do this.’
I took another deep breath and released, creating a small puff of vapour brought on by the cold night air. I held my hand up to knock at the door, but the nerves paralysed me. I closed my eyes tight, willing myself to do this.
‘Come on, pull yourself together,’ I muttered, attempting some sort of personal pep talk, but my clenched fist remained frozen, held aloft, more reminiscent of a poor man’s fist pump than an actual attempt to knock at a door. I must have looked like Tim Henman at Wimbledon from yesteryear; my balled fist of conviction not fooling anyone. I was doomed to failure.
‘Come on,’ I urged myself again, but my body simply wouldn't respond. It was like I'd reverted to that 12-year-old version of myself, desperately trying to build up the courage to call Fiona Mendleson all those years ago. I must have picked up the phone, dialled and hung up immediately at least 30 times that day before finally finding the spirit to see it through, only for her dad to answer and shout at me for my incessant drop-calling. At which point I hung up again.
But that was then, and this was now. That timid 12-year-old boy had been replaced by a 25-year-old man. Albeit a man who was too scared to knock at a girl’s door.
‘Damn it, we spoke about this.’ I hissed at myself, annoyed that I'd talked myself into coming here and now I was going to bottle it.
I slowly lowered my hand. I wasn't going to knock. You could give me 30 opportunities to knock and I'd still freeze like a rabbit caught in the headlights, and there wasn't even an overprotective dad in sight to tell me off this time.
‘You're pathetic,’ I cursed myself, my head bowed, eyes shut tight in shame and disappointment. After everything I had experienced over the last week – the chaos that was that trip to Latvia that I'd wanted to tell her about so much – it was ridiculous that I couldn't even bring myself to knock on at her door.
I was mad, mad at myself for building my hopes up that coming here tonight was a good idea. What was I thinking? I continued to berate myself, the whispers of self-deprecation acting as some sort of strange comfort as I resumed my lonely, solitary conversation with myself
‘What would the boys say right now if they could see you? I'll tell you what they'd say, they'd say man-up! Take off those frilly knickers and grow a pair!’ Well, that’s what Jack would say.
But I wasn't finished there. Fuelled by the thoughts of what my best friends would say (again, Jack in particular), I went one step further and adopted a silly high-pitched impression of a little girl.
‘What's wrong Dan? Did you leave your training bra at home?!’
‘Who goes there?!’
The voice startled me out of my monologue. I looked up to see a pension-aged woman peering around the corner of her doorway the next house along, hair in curlers and wearing a pink fluffy dressing gown that had seen better days.
‘Sorry,’ I whispered, aware that I'd probably been talking louder than I thought. ‘I didn't mean to disturb you.’
‘Tom!’ she yelled. ‘There is a strange man out here taking about frilly knickers and bras.’ She fumbled at something in her hands, before shining a torch in my face. ‘I think it's that pervert who has been stealing my underwear from the washing line.’
The light momentarily blinded me, and I held my hand up to block the yellow beam, just in time to see Tom appear at the doorway in his vest and braces, holding up his baggy brown trousers which were held in place just under his armpits.
‘Get out of here you bloody nonce!’ The old man yelled at me, defending his wife's honour. ‘You'll be getting no more panties from this house tonight!’
‘Shhh,’ I did my best to placate him, although the next line out of my mouth wasn't that well thought through. ‘I'm not here for your wife's old briefs!’
‘Don't make me come over there and teach you a lesson, sonny.’
But before I had the chance to reply, a third voice entered the foray, this one coming from the opposite side.
‘Everything okay, Tom?’ a bespectacled man asked from the open doorway of a house to the left.
‘It’s the underwear thief, Chris,’ Tom yelled to his neighbour, which only served to wake the neighbourhood as a scatter of living room lights flickered to life up and down that small stretch of road, accompanied by the occasional dog bark; a clear signal the commotion had not gone unnoticed.
‘I'm not an underwear thief,’ I pleaded my case, trying to bring an end to this sorry scene.
‘You filthy little git,’ Chris with the specs said, a healthy dose of disgust clung to his words. ‘So you're the one who's been wearing my Trisha’s stockings and suspenders?’
‘I've not been wearing anyone's stockings and suspenders,’ I fired back, now on the edge of hysteria, unsure how I'd quite managed to get myself into this situation. I'd simply come here tonight to see the face of the girl I loved. It was bad enough that I'd wimped out of knocking on her door, but how it had escalated into this was beyond me. This night simply couldn't get any worse.
‘What’s going on out here?’
I stand corrected. It just got worse.
‘Dan? What are you doing here?’
It was a voice that tipped me over that edge. There she was, the reason I now found myself in this ludicrous position. I was twisted over this girl; she’d got to me like no one else. I had so much to tell her, but I had no idea where to start.
‘That’s the underwear thief,’ Tom’s wife said.
Explaining that I wasn't the underwear thief was probably a good place to start.
‘I'm not the underwear thief,’ I repeated, looking from Tom and his wife and then to a Chris. ‘I'm not!’ And finally, I turned to Kelly, my voice softening. ‘The only thing I'm here to steal is your heart.’
Okay, I didn't say that last line, but that was my intention. I loved this girl and I didn't care who knew. But instead of that rather corny Hollywood line, I think I mumbled something like: ‘I don't wear women's underwear, Kelly.’
See why I tried to convince you that I used the Hollywood line? Anything would have been better than having to defend accusations being thrown my way that I stole an old lady’s panties and then wore them like some sort of trophy.
‘It’s okay guys,’ Kelly said to reassure her neighbours. ‘This is a friend of mine. He might be a lot of things,’ she continued with a grin, ‘but he's not the type to dress up in women's clothes. At least I hope not.’
‘I don't!’
Kelly apologised to Chris, Tom and Tom’s wife for the disturbance. I offered a rather meek ‘Sorry’ which I'm sure didn't really appease them, especially as Tom’s wife continued to eye me suspiciously when I said I hoped they caught the real underwear thief soon. Eventually they all retreated into their homes.
Kelly stared at me, not in a confrontational way, but her raised eyebrows and half smile was enough to tell me that she wanted to know what I was doing here.
‘Hi Kelly,’ I said, rather sheepishly.
‘Hi Dan,’ she returned with a full smile. ‘Why don't you come in before the police get here to arrest the notorious underwear thief.’
She stepped aside to let me in. I wandered into her living room, and turned to see Kelly standing in the doorway, arms folded, but still smiling.
It was the first time I'd laid eyes on her in two weeks. She was wearing a mauve pyjama t-shirt with check patterned bottoms. Her curly brown hair bounced softly against her shoulders, and her dark brown eyes dazzled in that dimly lit room. And those curves, of my God, those curves!
She was a sight for sore eyes, the last person I thought of at night before I went to sleep and the first person on my mind when I opened my eyes in the morning. I'd barely been back in the country for two hours and she had been the first person I wanted to see; to tell her about the adventure I'd just been on.
‘What are you doing here, Dan?’ Kelly broke the silence, forcing the issue as to why the prime suspect in the mysterious missing underwear case had turned up at her house after dark without any warning.
It was a fair question, but where could I start? The last time we had seen each other was not exactly conventional. In fact, having greeted her at the airport following her return from a years-long travelling, I'd made a bit of a fool of myself, practically laying my heart out on the line to her, only for it to be crushed in a split second.
But more about that later.
I was here on a mission, to repair some of that damage, but to also show Kelly that I was not going down without a fight.
‘I just...’ I hesitated. But I'd come too far to back out now. Time to lay it all on the line. ‘I just wanted to see you.’
And there it was it, in its most simplistic form. I just wanted to see her. I had so much more to tell her, but right now, those six little words were all I wanted her to know.
‘Are you sure that isn't just your alibi to clear your name for stealing Mrs Daly’s undergarments?’ Kelly said, smiling and lightly swaying to one side.
‘Maybe,’ I smiled back. And then silence. Not an awkward silence, but a silence that said a thousand words. The electricity in that room was so strong you could have cut it with a knife.
‘What are you really doing here Dan?’
Okay Kelly, time for the main event. No going back now, Dan.
‘I don't know,’ I started, attempting to play down the magnitude of this moment. Hey, I didn't want to come across too desperate, right? ‘I've just got back from a crazy trip in Latvia with the boys, and I guess I just wanted to tell someone about it.’ I paused, searching her eyes, hoping that she was feeling the same as me. ‘I wanted to tell you about it.’
It was time to stop tip-toeing around the subject. Kelly was the girl for me. Whenever anything of any significance happened in my life, she was the first person I wanted to tell about it.
I started to piece all those heartfelt words together in my head that completed the most wonderful jigsaw in the world. Words like friendship, yearning, warmth, caring, tenderness, affection, fondness, devotion, passion.
They completed a Scrabble board of my feelings towards her. Nothing could stop me hitting the high score in this game and winning her heart. It was time to do this.
I didn't hear the lock turning to open the front door, but I did feel the sudden draft of cool air pass through me. Then a voice. That voice.
‘Hi babe, only me.’
Kelly shifted uncomfortably, the corners of her smile took on a new meaning; forced. Then the voice again, moving towards us from the hall.
‘I just saw Chris outside.’ That deep Australian twang stabbed at my senses, making my teeth itch. ‘He said you've got the underwear thief in here.’
And then he appeared at the door.
‘What's going on babe?’ He greeted her with a kiss.
‘Carlos,’ Kelly started, a glimmer of apprehension to her tone. ‘This is my friend Dan. You met him the other week at the airport.’
Carlos narrowed his eyes at me, trying to recall our brief encounter.
‘Oh yeah,’ he beamed. ‘How's it going Darren?’
Darren? It didn't even sound like Dan! But before I had time to correct him, he grabbed my hand and shook it. ‘So, you're the one who's been sniffing old lady Daly’s underwear, huh?’ And he laughed, although it was more of a bellow. Either way, I didn't like it much.
‘I'm not the underwear thief,’ I said, pulling away from his firm handshake. ‘It was all just a misunderstanding.’
‘Sure it was, Darren.’ Carlos chuckled again, slapping me across the top of my arm. It was quite forceful, causing me to stumble slightly from one foot to the other, but I regained my composure to save face, although the fact I instinctively reached to give my arm a little rub pretty much killed any equilibrium I'd attempted to display.
‘And my name is not Darren,’ I sputtered out; trying to win back some sort of control, although it quickly dawned on me that this whole bumbling act was nothing short of a Boris Johnson impression without the blonde hair and posh accent.
‘He's just teasing you,’ Kelly interjected. ‘Take no notice of him, Dan.’
‘Of course I am,’ Carlos said, a big beaming smile plastered across his rugged good-looks. He wrapped his muscular arm around Kelly’s waist and gently pulled her towards him. She didn't resist, but continued to look awkward, for my sake more than anything else.
I kind of nodded and half-smiled to acknowledge how bloody hilarious Carlos was. Pretending to get someone's name wrong – what a comedian. Not.
I sized him up, recalling our first meeting two weeks ago. All of those initial thoughts came flooding back. That Australian confidence and bravado oozed from every orifice. The dark tan that sparkled against his athletic physique was the perfect match, and the stubble he was sporting was more manly than trying to be too stylish, but it worked on both levels.
He had this constant grin on his face, like he was always on the verge of revealing the punchline to the world’s funniest joke.
I desperately wanted to find something wrong with him; a fault in his make-up that would boost my own self-esteem that I somehow had a chance of winning Kelly back from this Aussie pin-up.
And then a final thought seeded itself into my brain; the exact same thought that had planted itself in my head when I first laid eyes on him when he'd initially shattered my heart by returning home with Kelly. My Kelly.
I bet he's got a big penis.
The bastard.
God I hated him. Of course he had a big penis; guys like Carlos breeze through life without a care in the world, because quite frankly, when you have a big penis, what have you got to worry about?
But as I continued to ponder the advantages of being well-endowed, something awful happened. The thoughts flying through my head whisked me away into a daydream, staring aimlessly at nothing in particular; that glazed wide-eyed look gave away the fact that the lights were on, but no one was home.
‘Whoa, you okay there mate?’ Carlos shook me from my trance-like state back into the real world. ‘Why don't you take a picture? It lasts longer!’
At first I didn't have a clue what he was going on about. Another wisecrack that no doubt was laugh-out-loud in his head, but as I shook off the remaining cobwebs, it dawned on me that in my half-conscious state whilst I contemplated the size of Carlos’ manhood, I had been staring straight at the bulge in his jeans.
‘I wasn't… I mean I…’ I stuttered like Gareth Gates on acid. I'd come to win back Kelly’s affections and now found myself having to explain away the reason I had been eyeing up her boyfriend’s impressive lunchbox.
But before I had a chance to even attempt to explain why I'd been staring at his groin, Carlos beat me to the punch.
‘Hey, will you quit looking at my cock.’
‘I… No, I wasn't…’ Oh God this was so awkward. I literally had no words (other than admitting I was trying to work out the size of his willy, but I couldn't exactly say that!).
‘Carlos!’ Kelly giggled, tugging at his muscular tanned arm. ‘I told you to stop teasing him. Take no notice of him Dan. That's just his way.’
And the way she said ‘his way’ left an ache in my heart. It was said with endearment, as though his way made her laugh and feel good inside. I felt I couldn't compete with that, especially as my way at that precise moment in time was to get caught looking at another man’s package.
‘I hope you're not trying to get a peek at my underwear,’ Carlos jibed, his big white smile mocking me again. ‘We’d better keep our undies under lock and key whilst Darren is around!’
I smiled, a rather pathetic smile that said I somehow found myself in the rather unenviable position of now being happy to be labelled a knicker thief called Darren, instead of having to explain why I was taking such a keen interest in his meat and two veg.
I followed up my pathetic smile with an even more pathetic chortle, which sounded more like the air being released from a balloon. For a second, it killed the mood.
‘Anyway,’ I said to break the awkward silence brought on by my weirdness. ‘I guess I'd better be heading off.’
‘But you only just got here,’ Kelly said, her tone urging me to stay. ‘Besides, you said you wanted to tell me all about this crazy trip to Latvia.’
‘What crazy trip to Latvia?’ Carlos butted in. ‘Isn't that one of those Eastern European countries you poms like to go to for bachelor parties?’
‘Yes, but it wasn't a stag do…’ I tried to explain, but Carlos was clearly excited and cut me off.
‘I bet you’ve got lots of stories and about strippers, booze and hookers, and shit like that, eh?’
‘Well, yes, but it wasn't like that…’
‘This sounds like a great story!’ He turned to Kelly. ‘Babe, I'm going to get a drink. Glass of wine?’ Kelly nodded her head, before Carlos made a dash to the kitchen. ‘I'll get you a tinnie too, Darren.’
‘It’s Dan!’ I shouted, but the second I heard Carlos’ distant laugh I knew I shouldn't have bitten. As Carlos sought out alcohol, my eyes rested back on Kelly. ‘This story isn't all about strippers, booze and hookers.’ I protested.
She smiled, shook her head ever so slightly and walked towards me. ‘It’s good to see you again, Dan,’ and she put her arms around me and hugged me. For some reason, I was taken aback and hesitated to return the hug for a split second. Maybe it was having her back in my arms after all this time, or maybe I'd built this moment up in my head for so long that a simple hug sucked the life out of me. Whatever it was, I eventually wrapped my arms around Kelly and held on tight. I never wanted to let go.
You see, Kelly and I had a bit of history. We'd worked together and before she left to go travelling, we'd become good friends, then more than friends. We even had a bit of a fling, if that's what you could call it. Okay, we had sex. Once. But it was amazing, and I'd thought about her pretty much every day since she left.
Standing there, with her in my arms, it just felt right.
‘Jesus mate, I go away for two minutes and I come back and find you dry humping my missus!’
Carlos’ voice jolted me away from Kelly, who just rolled her eyes; an indication that she was all too used to his sense of humour. Me on the other hand, I was still a bumbling idiot and reacted all too easily.
‘I wasn't dry humping her,’ I pleaded my defence, the first hint of my impatience wrapped itself around my tone. ‘We were just, er –‘ dammit, I'd said more than I needed to, and now found myself trying to explain away something that didn't need any further explanation ‘– hugging it out.’
‘Hugging it out?’ Carlos recoiled, his face itching to take the piss out of my response. ‘Who are you? Ari Gold?’
I sighed, the final line of my defence when I didn't really have a better response.
‘Come on, let's sit down,’ Kelly said, motioning us over towards the sofa to put me out of my misery at the hands of this joker.
We sat down, me on the armchair and Carlos next to Kelly on the sofa. He threw a can of lager at me, which I just about did enough to catch, and then he cracked open his can and took a big gulp. Kelly sipped on her wine, and perched herself on the edge of the seat.
‘So come on then mate,’ Carlos said. ‘Let’s hear this story.’
‘I’m not too sure where to start,’ I said, holding the can in my hand.
‘The beginning is normally a good place,’ Carlos said, laughing at his own joke. The idiot.
I ignored him. The truth was I really didn't know where or even how to start this story. It was one of those ‘too crazy to believe’ stories; the type you'd only see in a film, or to make it easier for Carlos, an episode of Neighbours.
‘How did this all come about?’ Kelly asked, encouraging me. She'd seen first-hand the ridiculous and downright bizarre situations I'd managed to get myself into over the last couple of years. If anyone was going to believe this story, it would be her. ‘Does this have anything to do with when we last saw each other at the airport?’ Kelly asked.
Ah yes, the airport. Kelly knew me too well.
‘It certainly played a big part in what played out,’ I replied.
It was that night two weeks ago that I’d made the mad dash to the airport with Rob, along with our two best friends Jack and Ollie, to try and stop Rob’s girlfriend, Veronika, from flying back home to Latvia.
But we were too late.
We missed her by minutes. Rob was devastated. I'd never seen him like this before. Rob was not the type of guy to fall for a girl that easily. If anything, he was normally spoilt for choice due to the fact he was so good looking that he was never short of admirers and tended to jump from one girl to the other.
But Veronika was clearly different. She'd ignited a flame in Rob; the type of fire that burns brightly when you know you've met the one. I should know, that same fire was burning inside me right now.
‘What happened next?’ Kelly asked, intrigued.
‘That's when I saw you.’ It was true. After all of that, I bumped into Kelly who was returning to the UK after her year of globe-trotting. I can't tell you how happy I was to see her.
But she wasn't alone, of course. She'd picked up Carlos along the way, and I'd pretty much hated the guy since I'd laid eyes on him.
‘But what made you all fly off to Latvia?’ Kelly pressed me.
‘Because we made a pact.’ I told her about the promise we'd made to each other that night at the airport.
We promised to help Rob find Veronika, no matter what. We promised Ollie that once we got back home, we'd help him win the heart of a girl called Steph who he'd fallen head over heels in love with, but she was engaged to some arsehole banker. As for Jack, we'd simply promised to find a girl – any girl – who could put up with his crap! That was perhaps the biggest challenge of them all.
‘That’s amazing,’ Kelly said. “The fact that you guys care about each other so much at you made this pact. I didn't know men cared so much.’
‘Well,’ I shrugged, playing it nonchalant like it was no big deal, but inside I felt like I'd struck gold. If I played this whole thing right, maybe, just maybe, I could win Kelly’s heart back tonight.
‘Yeah, amazing,’ Carlos scoffed, shuffling forward in his seat, taking another swig on his beer. ‘Back home in Oz, you'd probably get beat up for acting like that, but if you poms like that sort of thing, good luck to you.’
And he smiled. It's was a mocking smile. A smile that said: ‘You'll never win Kelly back with crap like that.’
What he didn't know was that I had an ace up my sleeve. My story was so amazing, so eventful, so romantic (kind of), that once I was done telling it, I'd be a hero in Kelly’s eyes.
‘What made this Veronika sheila run off in the first place?’ Carlos paused, making it all too obvious that he had another wisecrack up his sleeve. ‘Did she get spooked after coming home and find Rob’s best friend going through her underwear drawer?’
‘Carlos!’ Kelly slapped Carlos across the top of his thigh, as he raised his hands with a stupid look on his face like he'd done nothing wrong.
‘What?’ he said. ‘I'm only having a bit of fun. You don't mind do you, Darren?’
‘Not at all,’ I lied, through gritted teeth.
‘I just want to hear the whole story, like you babe,’ Carlos turned his attentions back to Kelly.
Okay Carlos, I'll tell you the whole story, but be warned – after I've finished, Kelly will be so impressed that she’ll practically fall out of your arms and into mine.
I cracked open my can of lager, forgetting that not two minutes ago Carlos had launched the can at me, and the beer inside that tin exploded, drenching my face in foam.
I think it took exactly 0.3 seconds for Carlos to react with howls of laughter. Even Kelly joined in, although she at least attempted to stifle her sniggering. This was going to be a long night.
‘It all started two weeks ago,’ I said, wiping the remnants of beer from my face.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Check out this Jon Rance Q&A with me!

Jon Rance
On April 22 of this year, lad lit author Jon Rance was kind enough to feature me on his website in a Q&A as part of the Lad Lit Blog Tour. Jon has since created and designed a new website (check it out here) so my Q&A will soon disappear from the big wide world of the web! But you can now read the interview here on my blog instead :)



I'm excited to have a new author on my blog today. Steven Scaffardi is just about to release his second comedy novel, 'The Flood' and so I thought I'd catch up with him and see what all the fuss is about.

Hi, Steven, welcome to my blog! It's good to have you over for a pint of lager and a packet of crisps. For the people out there who have never heard of Steven Scaffardi tell us a bit about yourself.

Cheers Jon, it's great to be here. For people who have never heard of Steven Scaffardi before, I am tall, athletic, and as good looking as David Beckham. I once dated Kelly Brook and Sofia Vergara at the same time, and believe it or not, I am the person who wrote the lyrics to Baby for Justin Bieber. And if that hasn't impressed you, I am also a lad lit author in my 30s desperately trying to recapture my youth on the pages of my two novels, The Drought and The Flood - both part of the Sex, Love and Dating Disasters series.

To promote your first book, The Drought, you ended up spending a year on the stand-up comedy circuit, what was that like? 

It was a great experience, full of the most eclectic mix of people I think I have ever met, from out of work actors to a six-foot blonde who graced the covers of lads mags, and 20 year veterans of the circuit who had never quite made it and hated the world for it, to people who had very messed up views about what they thought funny was! There is probably a book that could be written about some of those characters! I did it for a year and I managed to get to the final of the Golden Jester competition after about 50 gigs which wasn't too bad. Nothing quite beats the buzz of being up on that stage when you're having a good gig. The flip side of that, of course, is that it is the most awful place in the world to be when you have a bad gig. Apart from a South American prison perhaps.

I've always had the ambition to do a bit of stand-up at some point, any tips?

Do it! Someone once said to me that stand-up comedy is the best hobby you can ever have. You get to stand around in pubs all evening watching comedy! The best advice I can give is make sure you write a varied set because if you stick to one story or theme and it doesn't work, you have nowhere else to go. And don't be afraid to try different material. Open mic stand-up comedy audiences can be quite forgiving because they know you are new, so when something works keep it in, and when something bombs throw it out. Sooner or later you'll have a set that works.

How is it different writing stand-up comedy to writing a comedy novel?

With stand-up you don't really have time to build up to the joke like you might in a book. When you first start up in stand-up you are doing gigs where you have 5-10 minutes (at most) to do a set. It might not sound like a lot, but believe me - trying to find five minutes of material that is funny is really hard. I take my hat off to guys like Micky Flanagan and Kevin Bridges who put together an hour long show with laughs all the way through. With stand-up you are constantly looking for a quick punchline to keep the audience on side. They have turned up to have someone make them laugh after all. With a 5 minute set, you want to aim for a laugh at least every 20-30 seconds, but with a comedy novel you have more time to build things, even if the reader already knows where you’re going. In The Drought, you know from the very start that Dan is on a sexual drought. As a reader you know at each and every attempt to get his leg-over he will fail, but it doesn't matter. My job as the writer is to make sure that even when the reader knows Dan's latest attempt is doomed to failure, they are always thinking "But what if he does succeed this time?"

Your second novel, The Flood, is out now - congrats! - tell us a bit about it?

The Flood is the follow-up to The Drought, although you could quite easily pick up The Flood without having read The Drought. This time the main character, Dan, gets himself into more dating disasters when he makes a drunken bet with his friends that he could date four girls all at the same time. That challenge is hard enough as it is, but when the girls he ends up dating include a stalker, an ex-girlfriend, the office ice queen and the one that got away, Dan soon finds out that dating a flood of women is a lot harder that he thinks. He has eight weeks to juggle all four girls without them finding out about each other.

This is a question I've been asked a few times. Why do you write romantic comedy? What draws you to the genre?

It was a combination of two things. 1) My wife is a huge romcom fan and I have lost count of the amount of times I would shout out "But a man wouldn't do that!" watching one of those films. Let's be honest, men are not very good at romance. We rarely get those sort of things right, and even though we talk a good game, we're fairly hopeless at understanding the opposite sex so I wanted to tell a story from the male perspective. And 2) Most guys have stood around the pub talking rubbish about first dates and relationship experiences. More often than not, those stories are hilarious for all the wrong reasons. I started making notes of all the funny stories I'd heard, threw in a few of my own experiences, exaggerated them for comedy value, and that is pretty much how The Drought came about.

OK, here's the bit where you get to show us how good a salesman you are. Why should people buy your book?

Because (hopefully) they'll laugh lots! The best contemporary fiction, in my opinion, is the stuff you can relate to, and I try to do that with my books. I have a had a lot of male readers tell me how much they can relate to some of the stupid things Dan and his friends get up to, while most women are horrified (in a good way) to find out what men really think. I've been lucky to have some really great reviews on Goodreads and from book bloggers, and that probably carries more weight than anything I could tell you. Chick Lit Plus said of The Drought: "Steven Scaffardi's first novel is absolutely hilarious and will leave every reader, male or female, laughing out loud." Hopefully that might make one or two of your fans give it a go.

You describe yourself as writing lad-lit. What exactly is lad-lit and how does it compare to chick-lit?

Lad lit is best known as the male equivalent of chick-lit, primarily written by men exploring relationships, emotions and day-to-day life experiences from the perspective of a male protagonist. Often told with humour, charm and wit, lad lit leaves many readers laughing out loud at the scenarios men get into. My favourite lad lit analogy is this: If book genres were diets then lad lit would be the rather disheveled 'before' picture and chick lit would be the perfect 'after' image. Lad lit is like that car crash of a first date you went on or that person you went out with and still wonder years later "What was I thinking?" For me, the goal of chick lit is to get to that perfect happy ever after (HEA) ending, but lad lit does not always have to follow that pattern. In relationship terms, you have to get through a whole lot lad lit before you find your perfect chick lit!

What are your top five books by men about life, love and relationships? To get the ball rolling and to see if we're any different mine would be: Nick Hornby, High Fidelity, Tony Parsons, Man and Boy,  David Nicholls, Starter for Ten, Mike Gayle, My Legendary Girlfriend, and since I really can't include my own books and these are all better than mine anyway, The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi. 

That's a pretty good list - I'm not sure I can beat that! High Fidelity and Man and Boy have to be in there, without question, and you couldn't have a top five list of books by men about relationships without Mike Gayle, although I'm going to opt for Seeing Other People. Another author I'm a big fan of is Danny Wallace and I really enjoyed Charlotte Street so I would put that one in there. The last spot is tough as you have other great authors in the genre like Matt Dunn and of course your good self (This Thirtysomething Life is next on my read list!) but I think I'll give a shout to Nick Spalding for his Life From... Both Sides because I think it's a great series of books.

What's next for Steven Scaffardi?

I am busy promoting The Flood as part of this Lad Lit Blog Tour right now, but I already have plans for the third instalment of the Sex, Love and Dating Disasters series. The working title is The Pact and this time Dan and his friends travel to Latvia in search of a girl who dated Dan's best friend Rob. It is a little bit different to the first two books in that the theme to this book is a bit of a tribute to one of my favourite books of all time The Book With No Name. It includes a whole host of unsavoury characters including a Russian mafia don, two drag queens, a pimp who is stuck in the 70s, a sleazy hotel boss and his strange wife, two karaoke loving corrupt cops wo worship Wham, and a henchman who goes by the name of Ray The Local. I'm hopeful of having it out by the end of the year, but we'll see.

Cheers Steven, I hope you enjoyed the pint and the crisps and thanks for answering my questions. One last question and it's the classic question every author gets asked. What are your top five writing tip?

Thanks for having me Jon, it's been a blast and the pint and beer snacks were a pleasant bonus. My top five tips would be: 1. Create bios for your characters. The more you know about your characters, the better equipped you will be to write about how they will react in certain situations. 2. Create a playlist for your book like a movie soundtrack. I find music really helps come up with ideas and develop scenes you are writing. 3. Make sure you have a great proofreader. The amount of little mistakes and errors that creep in will surprise you. I've conceded that I'm not a good writer, I'm a good storyteller! 4. Always be prepared to make notes on the move. I'm forever tapping into my note app on my iPhone as the most brilliant ideas always pop into your head at the most random of times. 5. Immerse yourself into the world of book bloggers. These people will become your best friends, but don't take them for granted. They blog for the love of reading and they do a bloody good job if you ask me.

Thanks so much to Steven for popping over. He's doing a ridiculous number of interviews and blog appearances for the release of 'The Flood'. If you want to check out some of his other blog tour stops have a look at this...

Lad Lit Blog Tour, Steven Scaffardi, The Flood, Lad Lit,

This Q&A was originally posted by Jon Rance at his old website on April 22...

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Author Interview: Matthew Norman

author interview, Matthew Norman, Domestic Violets, We're All Damaged
Today I am delighted to be joined by author Matthew Norman, who is promoting his new novel We're All Damaged which came out on June 1.

Hi Matthew, thank you for joining me here at the Lad Lit Blog. Could you tell me a bit about yourself and your books?
Good to be here…virtually. I’m an advertising copywriter in Baltimore, Maryland with a wife and two daughters. At night and on weekends, I write novels. First and foremost, my books are comedies. It’s taken me a while to fully admit that to myself. There are serious things in them, of course—even downright depressing things. But humor is always there. I like comedy because it makes the difficult stuff more palatable.

You have a new book coming out now called We're All Damaged. What can you tell me about it and why should readers pick up a copy?
Again, it’s a comedy, which I think makes it fun to read, and it’s filled with pop culture references and contemporary music. But, at its core, We’re All Damaged is about a guy named Andy Carter and his journey back from heartbreak. Man or woman, young or old, gay or straight, we’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been, well…damaged. Consequently, through all of his bad decisions, questionable behavior, and cries for help, I think readers will see a lot of themselves in Andy. 

The main character, Andy Carter, sounds like he is having a bit of a tough time. Why do we find other people's misfortunes so amusing?
In the context of fiction, I think it’s mostly about storytelling, really. Happy people with no problems and easy lives are boring to read about. The flip side of misfortune is redemption, which, ultimately, is something that I think readers are rooting for. If we’re talking about real life, though, I think the answer is more complicated. We’re a tear-down culture, for sure. Maybe other people’s problems help us deal with our own problems. If everyone’s unhappy, maybe it’s OK if I’m unhappy, too.

Your first book, Domestic Violets, was nominated for the Best Humor Category at the 2011 Goodreads. How much do nominations like this help you as an author?
Awards and recognitions can be really valuable, particularly for writers like me who have managed to so skillfully avoid fame. The Goodreads nomination introduced Domestic Violets to tons of readers who never would have seen it otherwise. It amounts to free publicity, essentially. And, you can never get too much of that.

We're All Damage, Domestic Violets, Matthew Norman, Lad Lit

Domestic Violets is about a struggling author trying to make his way in life. Any of your own experiences in there? Not that I'm calling you a struggling author with family problems, it's just, you know... Damn, this is awkward. Maybe just answer the question and help me out here?
It’s far and away the most common question I get: How much of your writing is autobiographical? The answer is complicated, I suppose. If we’re just talking in generalities, than none of my work is autobiographical. That’s because there’s not a single scene or line of dialogue in either of my books that really happened. However, I’d be lying if I said that my real life experiences haven’t informed the books. In my first novel, Tom Violet hates his job and is trying to become a writer. I’ve lived that experience. In my second novel, Andy Carter is recovering from heartbreak and trying desperately to find his way in the world. I’ve lived that experience, too. So, is my writing autobiographical? The short answer: Yes. And no.

You write what I would call lad lit, but how would you describe style of your writing?
We don’t have that term in the U.S. Over here, there’s “chick lit,” obviously, but no one is exactly sure what to call the male version of that. Here’s the simplest description I can come up with: I write very contemporary comedies about relationships and families, and, so far, I’ve done that through a male point of view. I heard someone say “dick lit” once. But…that’s just gross.

Who are your favourite authors writing in the same or similar genre?
My favorite writer is Richard Russo. His novels taught me that serious—sometimes very serious—fiction can also be funny as hell. A close second to him would be Nick Hornby. Anyone who writes the types of books that I do owes Mr. Hornby a huge debt of gratitude. When you read his work, you laugh and then you cry, and all the while you’re nodding your head, because he just gets it. Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta are great, too. I like those guys a lot.

Out of all the characters you have written, who is your favourite and why?
In We’re All Damaged, there’s a group of gay rights activists that call themselves the Glitter Mafia. Their leader is a man named Stephen. Of all the imaginary people I’ve created, he’s my favorite. He was great fun to write because he says whatever the hell he wants, whenever he wants. More importantly, he plays a complicated role in the book. His cause is noble, but his tactics are mean-spirited and often, technically, illegal. I like the idea of forcing the reader, based on his or her political point of view, to cheer for someone who is a criminal.

If you could have dinner with any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
As much as I’d love to have dinner with Richard Russo, I’d probably just spend the whole time telling him how great he is. Consequently, I’ll say Jonathan Franzen. He’s arguably the most famous literary male novelist working at the moment. It’d be fun to get his perspective on writing. I’d ask him about what it’s like to write and to maintain focus amidst so much scrutiny from readers and critics. Whenever he writes something, it’s a full-on literary event. I feel like fame would be very distracting as a writer.

What can we expect from Matthew Norman next?
Another novel. Book #3 is well on its way. So far it’s coming together much faster and more smoothly than my last book. My wife and I had two kids while I was writing We’re All Damaged. Babies, in my experience, have very little respect for the writing process.

I know exactly what you mean! Thanks for joining me Matthew and good luck with the book!

Be sure to check out Matthew at his blog and on Amazon where you can pick up a copy of his brilliant new novel We're All Damaged for £3.99 on the Kindle.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Seven new dates announced for the #LadLitBlogTour

Lad Lit Blog Tour, #LadLitBlogTour, Steven Scaffardi, Lad Lit, Comedy, Funny Books, Blog Tour, The Drought, The Flood
I am delighted to announce seven new dates for the Lad Lit Blog Tour! Coming up on May 28 I will be with Food For Bookworms, and then it's off to Allie's Opinions (May 29), Matt Dunn's Blog (May 30), Chick Lit Uncovered (May 31), BrizzleLass Books (June 1), Books & Authors UK (June 2), and then Novel Kicks (June 3).

A huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in the tour so far. This takes us to 46 dates in total!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Keep Calm... #LadLitSunday will be back next week

Hi guys, sorry for the radio silence this weekend but it was my little girl's first birthday so I took a break from #LadLitSunday last week. But it will be back this weekend! Watch this space. Or this blog. Whichever one looks more interesting. Or maybe watch something else and then just come back on Sunday :)

Sunday, 24 April 2016

#LadLitBlogTour Week 1 Round-Up

Lad Lit, Blog Tour, The Lad Lit BlogTour, The Drought, The Flood, Steven Scaffardi, Comedy, Humour, Humor, Sex Love and Dating Disasters,

"One month, 39 blogs, five countries, three continents and a whole host of interviews, character Q&A’s, guest blogs, book reviews and the odd giveaway – I am taking lad lit global. From London to California, Bradford to Texas, Ipswich to Montana; the #LadLitBlogTour bus will be globetrotting from as far afield as Australia then back into Europe across Scotland and The Netherlands, and it all starts here in Kent, England at Boon’s Bookcase…"

That is the exact intro that got the Lad Lit Blog Tour started with a bang on Boon's Bookcase with @JulieBoon on Tuesday, and wow what a week it has been since then. In fact, the whole tour started with a skip in its step following a bonus book review before the official April 19 start date.

On April 14, The Drought was given a five-star review on By The Letter Book Reviews, with Sarah Hardy (@sarahhardy681) saying: "The Drought is a hilarious novel that I think would definitely make a belter of a movie or television show. Would certainly highly recommend this to both sexes who have a good sense of humour and are in need of something more lighthearted."

From there it was off to My Book File Blog (who had already given four star reviews to The Drought and The Flood in March) for a Q&A session. My favourite question was when Cindy (@MybookfileBlog) asked me: "If you could take any of the women from The Drought and The Flood out on a date, who would you pick and why?" Check out the interview here for my answer.

Next up on day three was a trip to Bookaholic Confessions for another interview. Holly (@BookaholicHolly) - who is also running a giveaway for her readers to win a signed copy of The Drought on her site - was the perfect hostess. We had a good old chat about everything from lad lit to my stand-up comedy to my favourite authors. Check out the interview here. And I have just seen on Goodreads that Holly has finished reading The Drought so fingers crossed she enjoyed it!

Day 4 was with Linda Hill (@Lindahill50Hill) at Linda's Book Bag for a unique experience - an interview with Dan Hilles (lead character in The Drought). It was great fun actually, and Dan did a good job talking up the book if this tweet was anything to go by:

Following that nice little surprise, an even bigger one was in store on day 5. First of all I stopped by for a pint and a packet of crisps with fellow lad lit author Jon Rance (@JRance75) to have a good chat about writing comedy, and then I got the added bonus of a five-star review for The Drought from Michelle (@thebookmagnet) at The Book Magnet who said: "Steven Scaffardi has a Mary Poppins' handbag of hilarity that goes on and on until I had to put the book down from fear of actually splitting my sides!"

And to cap it all off, I was with Kerry Parsons (@bellaboobos11) from Chat About Books for another cracking interview. We spoke about where my ideas came from, how I picked the names for my characters, and who my favourite authors are. Make sure you check it out here.

Well, that's it! Week one is over and week two starts tomorrow with Chick Lit Goddess. A huge thank you to all of the bloggers who took part this week - you guys are awesome! Make sure you follow the progress on Twitter by using the hashtag #LadLitBlogTour and follow the rest of the blog tour here:

Lad Lit, Blog Tour, The Lad Lit BlogTour, The Drought, The Flood, Steven Scaffardi, Comedy, Humour, Humor, Sex Love and Dating Disasters,

#LadLitSunday: Matt Dunn joins the Lad Lit Blog Tour and Rob Radcliffe pens a book by his readers

Lad Lit Sunday, Keep Calm, Lad Lit, Lad Lit news, #LadLitSunday
It's been a quiet week in lad lit land so I will keep this update short!

First off, I am delighted to announce that Matt Dunn will be joining the Lad Lit Blog Tour. The lad lit best-seller will be hosting a guest post from yours truly on his very own blog in a few weeks time.

The first week of the blog tour to promote lad lit has just come to a close and it's been fantastic so far. One of the highlights was being part of a Q&A on Jon Rance's blog, so to have signed up a second hugely successful lad lit author is a real honour. 

And this week I interviewed Rob Radcliffe, who is currently flying high in the Amazon humour charts with his novel Meat Market. One of the highlights of my chat with Rob was finding out about his latest project called Untitled where his readers are helping him write the novel.

Rob said of the unique project: "As a writer you find yourself shut in the dark while you scribble away in the hope your book will connect with your readers once you have finished. For Untitled I have turned that on its head. As I write the chapters I post them on my website and the pages are accessible to people who have signed up to The Novel Experiment reader’s list. I wanted feedback and comments as I wrote this book, I wanted reader engagement as I went through the writing process and so far feedback has been awesome. There have been readers who have made suggestions to me which have helped shape the direction this novel is going and it is great. The title will be voted for by my ever growing email list and it really feel like I am connecting with the people I do this for, my readers"

You can check out the full interview here.

Tweet of the Week
He has a point...