Post 50 Shades, the bad boy has made an unwelcome return to the world’s bookshelves and I wrote ‘The #1 Rule for Girls’ to show how in real life, brooding boyfriends bring a heap of misery. Daisy, the main character, is witty, fun and enjoys her life until she meets Bad Boy Toby who can’t wait to change that.
Daisy also has her roots in some of the students I’ve taught over the years. One in particular was a bright, super confident girl of seventeen who I taught at college a few years ago. One day, I was walking behind her in the canteen when her boyfriend (a member of the rugby team- I have nothing against rugby players, by the way!) called to her using a revolting term and she walked over to him as though it was completely fine! Gutting. I guess sometimes people aren't as self-confident as they appear.
Life comes in shades of life and dark, good and bad things happen and, like Lara in ‘Me & Mr J’, Daisy has the ability to look through the darkness to the light on the other side. I enjoy writing characters whose quirks mean they live at an off-kilter angle. Even though Daisy in 'The #1 Rule for Girls' has her heart broken, she is determined to dust herself off. Resilience is a vital characteristic, not just in fictional characters but in life. The idea we all need to ‘keep on keeping on’ as much as we can. The comedy side important to me: I love comedy, mainly quite dark humour. The British have a rep for the dry gallows-y stuff and I guess I’ve grown up surrounded by it.
Bad Boyfriends R Us
Toby is a hybrid of fictional bad boys. Hands up Marlon Brandon in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and Heathcliff. Daisy falls for him because he’s attractive, she’s vulnerable and lonely and he seems nice- at least at first. In one particular series I’d read, the inference was that Bad Boy’s controlling behaviour could be excused because he'd been treated badly himself. WT...? There's no excuse for controlling behaviour. Full stop.
So I wanted to use the bad boy trope but from a healthier and empowering angle: instead of waiting for him, the girl gets fed up and realizes she’s perfectly happy to be on her own. It’s Rule #1, right?