On… the trailer (yet again)

Yep, the trailer is done. If you enjoyed it, and want to know more about making it, and whether I have a cameo, or the answers to any of other many questions I’ve received since the trailer came out, read this post.

First of all, The Making Of story.

My agent Laura and I had been talking about trailers. It seemed like it might be pretty easy (oh, silly me). I did some research and realised there are a lot of book trailers out there, but most are pretty dire and even the best just wouldn’t be compelling to the woman who might read my book (and I know her well, because she’s me – humour-hungry, short attention span, professional woman type of thang).

This was the brief: the trailer needed to be sharp, glossy and funny. It needed to communicate the spirit of book; the sharp silliness of the humour and the quirky appeal of the protagonist. The storyline needed to reveal the plot in a pacy and entertaining way, and as a standalone piece be compelling enough to watch all the way to the end. It also needed to be worthy of maybe, just maybe, forwarding on to friends (the holy grail of any digital campaign). Lastly, it all needed to be as near to free as possible as I was paying for the entire thing myself; not take up too much of my time as well, I had another book to finish and a wedding to plan; and not look too home-made.

I wrote the first script in February, my friend Sam is a TV director and thought it sounded like fun, through friends and contacts we got a full cast and crew together, we had some rehearsals, had a shot list worked out and hired very high-spec cameras. Sam is the reason it’s so professional-looking: he treated it as a short film. (With no budget. Ha.) All of this took weeks, but it was all pretty organic.

Then we filmed it over Easter, then I was away (wedding, honeymoon – yah, the usual), and Sam had other projects with his company Preditor, and we did about six or seven different edits and fiddled with the music, the sound clarity, building the trailer home page and so on. And now I think it’s – maybe – just about perfect.

And now, the answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Why make a trailer?

Well, why not?

First of all, it was interesting and fun to make, and I’ll do pretty much anything if it’s interesting and fun.

It was also a damn fine learning experience. I’m writing a screenplay for The Dating Detox, so the trailer was a chance to flex my screenwriting muscles; figure out how to introduce characters; use tone of voice in a different way, etc. The trailer is one particular chapter in the book, but I introduced a couple of asides she says elsewhere to get across the reasons behind the whole dating sabbatical thang. It was interesting. We could chat for hours about this. But let’s not.

And of course, I hope it will help my teeny tiny little minnow of a book get a bit more exposure. Because it’s really good. Honest.

Am I in it?
Yep. I am the crying girl. The girl we’d earmarked for the role had a hangover and didn’t turn up, so I threw some tearstick in my eyes and off I went. Apologies for the overacting. I’m a guy-behind-the-guy kind of person.

Why does the cover not look like the trailer?
Because the cover is wrong. Wrong colour hair, wrong colour bag, wrong everything.

Do I want to make a real THE DATING DETOX movie?
Yes. And no, I haven’t sold the rights yet.

Do you really think this will make a difference to book sales?
I don’t know. I hope so. If nothing happens, if everyone hates the trailer, and thinks I’m jolly silly for even trying, and the whole thing fizzles like a wet match then, well, tant pis. You play with the bull, sometimes you get the horns.

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The title for my second book, out December 2010, has been chosen.


(Cool, huh?!)

As you know, I’ve been waiting for Harper Collins to give me a list of their suggested titles for Book Deux. (My suggestions – The Late Starter, The Dating Virgin, etc – weren’t exactly setting the world on fire.)

Then on Tuesday morning I was thinking about titles (again), and thought, what do I really want the title to SAY to readers?

And the answer was: I want to say that this is a funny story about a girl like you.

So I rang my editor and said ‘What do you think about ‘A Girl Like You’?’. She said ‘oo!’ in an excited voice, discussed it with her team today, and just rang me and that’s the winner. So there we have it! I am thrilled.

You know what else? It’s a tiny homage to Kingsley Amis, who wrote a wonderful book called Take A Girl Like You. Yes, I know he was apparently a dreadful misogynist. But he was very funny. So there.

A GIRL LIKE YOU. By Gemma Burgess. Out December 2010. (Woo.)

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The Dating Detox trailer: THIS FRIDAY!

That’s right: just three sleeps to go.

Here’s a sneakpeek of the utterly delicious trailer site design by the very talented Sim Wishlade. (I’ve got a special URL for it and everything, but I’ll tell you THAT on Friday.)

What do you think?

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My new SheerLuxe blog

My new SheerLuxe blog is up!

Bit of an email snafu so it’s un peu late. It’s about getting my skin glowy for the wedding, and as you know I got hitched a month ago. But it’s all still pretty good advice, if I do say so myself.

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On romance

What do you want in your chicklit?

My needs are simple. I want to not think the heroine is a drip.

I want her to have a life and a brain. I want her to have friends that I’d hang out with. I want to fancy the dude. I want to find their conversations compelling and surprising and real.

I want to not want to miss a single word because the whole thing is crafted so delightfully.

I want, oh my GOD I want to laugh. And of course, I want an emotionally satisfying, optimistic happy ending. (With most chicklit – mine included – you can usually guess she’ll end up happy in some form or other. I don’t mind knowing the destination as long as I enjoy the journey.)

What I don’t particularly want is romance.

You see, I forgot my book on the way home to London from Cork last night, so I had to pick one up at the airport. I wanted a chicklit book, but there wasn’t much choice, and I’d read quite a few of the good ‘uns, and finding one that I thought would do all that… God, it was a nightmare.

I spent what felt like hours picking up book after book with covers jammed with flowers/hearts/stars/shoes/jaunty foot kicks/script font/cartoons (I try to look past the covers now, for reasons that are a whole other blog post and probable shitstorm), and turning it over to read the blurb. Every single one boasted about romance. And that’s just not what I’m after.

Perhaps I’m callous. Maybe I’m the only one who wants a little bite with her chicklit, who doesn’t want something overtly sentimental. I’m not a particularly romantic person. I don’t like long walks on the beach, slow dancing or the opera. I didn’t love The Notebook*. I will never watch Marley And Me. I don’t like Audrey Hepburn films, especially Breakfast At Tiffanys, or teddy bears holding hearts or surprise picnics with chilled white wine at dusk on Hampstead Heath. That sort of romance is just too contrived for me. It’s predictable, and a bit annoying. Surprise me with a romantic picnic and about three minutes later I’ll be bored, dying for a wee and the grass will be making my legs itchy. I’d much rather go to that bar around the corner and have a real drink.

Romance is boring.

But love is awesome.

And I do want to read books about love. I LOVE love. Real love. Falling in love, and love at first sight, and second-chance love. And I crave books about that giddy, exhilarated, almost unbearable full-of-joy feeling that you get when you realise that the person you know and love more than anyone else in the world knows and loves you even more.

Why is that so hard to find?

The morning after our wedding last month we lay in bed, ate smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, and gossiped about the night before whilst half-watching A Fish Called Wanda. (Kevin Kline! So awesome.) It was brilliant and funny and silly and intimate and deeply satisfying. Everything I think love should be. But was it romantic? Fuck, no.

In the end I bought Jane Fallon’s Foursome, by the way. The blurb said nothing about romance and someone on Twitter said it was funny.

*I did, however, cry at The Notebook, but not at the romance bits. I do cry at quite a lot of things. Brothers and Sisters fucking slays me, every episode, even though I only started watching it when editing The Dating Detox as I thought it wouldn’t distract me. I seem to cry at Glee a surprising amount. And once I cried when I saw a very old man posting a letter. But that is different from romance. Oui?

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On New York

So as the plane approached Heathrow after almost a month of wedding fun in New York and Anguilla, I decided to start writing a list of my favourite places in Manhattan.

Now! I’m not a New York expert, just an enthusiast. And I won’t even try to sum up the best places to go when lists like www.nymag.com/bestofny do it so much better, particularly since there are more restaurants in Manhattan than you can poke a breadstick at. I’m just going to tell you my favourites.

After all, it’s hard to get a bad meal in New York – but why take the risk?

We’ve been about six times in the past year and about once or twice a year before that, so I’ve got quite a few favourites to share.

Clearly, I love New York.

I should just move there.

I probably will.

Right. I won’t bore you with obvious things like the Boathouse in Central Park or the Rose Bar in the Gramercy Hotel or Clinton Bakery on the Lower East Side as every guidebook in the world will tell you about them (and they are awesome, it’s true). Instead, these places were all found by a very enjoyable process of trial and error.

DBGB: Bizarre-but-wonderful sausages, the paleron carbonnade was to die for and I WILL be back to taste the peanut-butter-and-jelly-chocolate-cake. Potentially the best meal I’ve eaten in my entire life. Apparently a new Daniel Boulud restaurant is opening at the Mandarin Oriental here in London. I could skip with happiness.

The Monkey Bar: Ahh so cool and (new) old school. I came over all MadMen when I was there. Exceptional burger. I’ll be back here ASAP.

The Bowery Hotel Courtyard: drink beer, read a book and smoke cigarettes with just a neglected graveyard to look at. A tiny, peaceful oasis practically smack-bang in the middle of downtown Manhattan.

The Cupping Rooms: The best brunch in Soho IMHO. The menu is the size of my johnson.

Bonbonniere: Grubby diner, amazing pancakes.

Bill’s Bar & Burger: It’s brand new, but looks old. If you can forgive that, just enjoy the burgers and fries.

The Soho Grand Lobby Bar – okay, I’m biased, this was the hotel all our wedding guests stayed in, and I’ve spent a lot of time there. But the bar is all understated, dusky sexiness, with cocktails that will make you weep with boozy joy. Also, one of the hi-how-are-you guys is a third culture kid like me, so he deserves a shoutout just for that. (Hi Brendon!)

Westville: Great everything. The sweet potato fries are amazing. Why don’t we have them in London?

Paul’s. Greasy little place, unchanged for decades by all accounts, with truly awesome burgers and shakes.

Bar Griffou: Any bar that has a cocktail called the Trophy Wife is a winner.

Commerce: Damn, I like this place. Flattering soft yellowy lighting, great food, interesting menu, lovely waiters, chichi buzz. Will be going back for brunch.

Public: Small but perfectly formed menu with a sprinkling of Asian-Australian magic. And the guava-chili margaritas are sick.

Torrisi: I think this might be the best coffee in New York, and you know that I’m obsessed with coffee. The sandwiches are extraordinarily good, and apparently dinner is excellent too.

La Esquina: The walking-through-the-kitchen thing is, obviously, thrillingly stupid and stupidly thrilling, but the food is amazing. The tequila menu is frightening.

Liquiteria: Okay, so pre-wedding I was on a health kick but I think I’d come here for the amazing jucies, smoothies and wheatgrass shots even if I wasn’t.

Brinkley’s: This place always lets us in for drinks at 2am and that is reason enough to like it. Also you’re guaranteed a seat and my heels are always hurting by that point.

The White Horse and Spring Lounge: you will meet future best friends at these bars.

Aside from the obvious big New York stores like Sephora/Bergdorfs, this is my pick of the US-only high street and smaller independent stores: Club Monaco, Rag & Bone, Ricky’s, Fabulous Fanny’s Frames, Aedes de Venustas, CO Bigelow, Steven Alan, McNally Jackson Books, MOMA Store, Economy Candy, Greenwich Letterpress, Calvin Tran, Moscot.

Hair salons… dude, there are hundreds of great ones. But I get my highlights done by Lola at Space Salon. She. Is. The. Best.

Brazil Bronze gives the most incredible spray tans in da world. Seriously. I am perfectly nutbrown even though I’ve worn SPF50 almost every day since I was, like, born.

And lastly, you can get particularly great manipedis at Dashing Diva in Gramercy.

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More wedding photos

Is this the right place to post wedding photos? I don’t know. Is it relevant to someone who wants to know more about writing and publishing? Negatory. If that’s what you’re after, scroll down. I write about writing a lot because that’s what I do most of the time. Just not lately. Lately I’ve been getting mawwied. (Said in Princess Bride voice.)

These are wedding ceremony, post-ceremony bridal party and dancing shots (yes, I am a wanker when I dance. I am at peace with this). If you’re into flowers/invites/decor, I’ll post them too. Let me know.

PS In answer to email questions:

My dress is Max Azria, and the shoe are MiuMiu, my headdress is from www.vintageheaddresses.com.
The venue is Tribeca Rooftops in Manhattan.
The flowers are Matthew Robbins (you can’t really see them, but trust me – the dinner tables etc were like flowerporn).
The photos were the wonderful and amazing Daphne Borowski.

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On relaxing

I’m still on honeymoon. But I thought I’d say hello. You see, it’s been three weeks since we left London, and I haven’t gone this long without writing in a decade.

And I really miss it.

I’m just not that great at doing nothing these days. That’s something I’ve realised over the past ten days of honeymoon. (We’re in Anguilla in the Caribbean, and it’s hot and sandy and blissfully five-star with hot and cold running mai tais.)

We got here and for the first two days I marched around, looking for activities, making lists, worrying that I didn’t know how to do nothing. Then on the third day I got back into bed after breakfast and had a nap, and realised that I did know how to do nothing. I just haven’t practiced doing nothing since, well, university.

And I’d forgotten how awesome it is.

What with the two books (and a half a one that died, RIP poor little bookfail), the trailer, the screenplay, my freelance copywriting, the wedding and moving house, it’s been a busy 18 months. And even pre-book life, I never took a long holiday. I didn’t have a gap year, I never saved enough to take time off between jobs (I’d like to blame the pathetic pay of an advertising copywriter for this, but it may also have had something to do with my well-documented fondness for cheap clothes and expensive bars). I guess I could have gone to work in a bar on a beach somewhere, or whatever people do when they’re on a career break, but I was generally paranoid that if I did I might not have a career to come back to. The holidays I did take were broken up into one week chunks over the year so I could pop to Hong Kong to see my folks regularly (which was lovely, but any family holiday is by definition not relaxing, right?), and the odd long weekend somewhere cheap and hot with friends. So you see, all in all, this extended-relaxation honeymoon thing is a bit of a shock to the system.

Not, by the way, that I was a workaholic in my 20s. Very, very far from it.
In fact, for most of my 20s, I focused on having a good time, and tried not to get lost/dumped/broke/drunk before sundown. Then I turned 29, and got a strange ‘I can do more than this’ feeling about, well, everything in my life. It was like someone flicked the ‘on’ switch in my brain. And these days there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything I want to do.

I’ve started to wonder if I enjoy working (by which I mean writing) more than I enjoyed relaxing.

That is probably why I’m here, writing this, like some QWERTY-addicted junkie. Just between you and me, because I know it’s a bit odd, I realised today (as I savored the thought of writing this, thought about what I wanted to say and then sat down in peace and quiet and zoned everything out as I started to type) I really do find writing thrilling. It floods me with those feel-good endorphins you read about in magazines. Like sex, chocolate, coffee, shopping, or smoking cigarettes, I get a strange euphoric rush when I write. I just love it.

Good thing I’m a writer, huh?

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