On Book Deux – PLUS an extract…

Book Deux still hasn’t got a confirmed title.

I realise how tedious this is for you guys, and I’m so sorry. The good people at Harper Collins aren’t crazy about my ideas (The Dating Virgin, The Late Starter, The Bastardette, The Single Life – you get the picture, it’s about learning to be single) but they haven’t finalised their suggestions yet. I don’t think my titles are that good either, mind you – titles really aren’t my favourite thing; I secretly wish The Dating Detox was still called The Dating Sabbatical, after all. So I’ve been fatuously and probably irritatingly calling the thing Book Deux, because ‘my second novel’ is too prim and well, there aren’t many alternatives.

Now, since Book Deux probably won’t have a title till May (EDIT! IT’S CALLED ‘A GIRL LIKE YOU’), but I’m dying to tell you about it, I thought an extract might be fun. You can read the first chapter over at brilliant chicklit review site www.chicklitreviews.com.

And just for fun, I thought I’d post another chapter. This isn’t the second chapter – it’s chapter eight, if we’re being exact – but it’s probably my favourite. At the start of this chapter, Abigail – our heroine and dating neophyte – is waking up after a particularly eventful date.

I won’t bore you with more now, but I will say that Abigail’s dating mishaps made for extremely amusing writing for me… Sheesh, that sounds dull, doesn’t it? It’s so much harder to talk about books than it is to write them. I feel bad for the book PR people. Let’s see… It’s a wacky fun-filled adventure about love and sex and work and laughing and friendship and fucking up and growing up! It’s about learning to trust your instincts, to take risks, and attack life with courage! WOO! High five me! Again! Yeah!

Ah to hell with it it, just take a look at the extract and, if you like, let me know what you think by emailing gemma@gemmaburgess.com

Book Deux will be published in December 2010 (oui, tis a slow process) so it isn’t available to pre-order yet, but you can order my first book The Dating Detox here. (Yep, gratuitous plug.)



Friday morning, 8am. My phone wakes me up, which is lucky, since I’m (a) meant to be at work by 7am every day (b) not in my own house (c) naked. I’m on the edge of a double bed with strange pale blue sheets, and as I turn my head to figure out how the hell I came to be here, I spy a naked man sleeping next to me. It’s Skinny Jeans guy.

I gasp in shock, fall onto the floor, and scramble around the bedroom frantically looking for my phone. My heartbeat is thumping in my head but I can’t think about that right now, I can’t think about that – ah, it’s in my bag in the corner. Under my bra.

I look at the caller ID. It’s Plum.

“Fuck!” I whisper, instead of hello.

“So, how was it?!” she says excitedly.

“Wrong tense,” I mumble, as I crawl around the bedroom on my hands and knees looking for the rest of my clothes. Knickers! On the bookshelf. Sweet.

“Fuck me! Are you still there?…” Plum starts to laugh hysterically.

“I don’t remember, I don’t remember anything,” I mumble.

“What the fuck happened?”

I grab my jeans from their hiding place half under the bed, whispering furiously. “We were
on our date, in a bar, and I called Robert for advice, and he suggested I have a shot for liquid confidence, and I did, but then I think I had too many…” I writhe on the floor to pull on my jeans without standing up, accidentally drop the phone and pick it up quickly. “Fucknuckle!”

“Do you like him?” asks Plum. “Fucknuckle is a good one, by the way. I’m going to steal that.”

“No, yes, I don’t know, I have to get out of here, I have to call in sick…” I decide against putting my bra on and stuff it in my bag. My top is, oddly, folded on the floor. Why would I do that, I wonder? Then again, it is one of my favourite new tops, I just bought it on the weekend with Plum and she suggested I wear it on my date. It’s the most perfect, dove grey silky asymmetric top from Cos and I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d bought two – oh, shit. Back to the nightmare.

“Okay. Sorry. Get home and call me. I’ll call in sick for you,” she says.

“God, I love you,” I whisper.

“Pip pip,” she says.

We hang up, and I edge open the bedroom door silently and crawl out of the bedroom on my hands and knees, my handbag strap firmly in my mouth. Skinny Jeans hasn’t even stirred. I wonder why the hell he isn’t at work. What does he do again? I try to remember. Ah, yes – he works for a film production company. His day doesn’t start till 10am.

I find myself in a living room, and spy the detritus of last night: an overflowing ashtray, empty wine bottles and – oh God no – a bottle of whiskey. My jacket is on the couch, along with my shoes. I put them on, fumbling over the stupid finicky fucking shoe straps on these YSL-via-Zara beauties, and stand up for the first time today. I immediately nearly faint from the sudden rush of blood to my head. I feel simultaneously hot and cold, nauseous and fuzzy, and I’m trying not to think about the fact that I think I maybe, yes, I think I did, possibly, yes, probably, have sex with Skinny Jeans last night.

I close the front door as quietly as I can and, squinting helplessly as the grey morning burns my eyes, look around for some kind of sign that will let me know where I am. Where does Skinny Jeans live, Abigail, think woman, think…

I hurry to the end of the street to look at the street sign. It says W10, what’s that? North Kensington? Ladbroke Grove? I don’t know! It’s so fucking quiet! There’s no one on the street, no traffic noise, nothing… I walk as fast as I can to the end of the road and look up and down the next road. Which way should I go? The street at the bottom end looks busier than the other, and I speedwalk down towards it, silently vowing to never leave the house without sunglasses and Panadol again, just in case something like this happens. I reach the end of the road and whirl around, frantically looking for a street sign. Chamberlayne Road, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Kensal Rise? I think so.

Where the fuck is a black cab. Please God, please send me a black cab. One finally turns up, and I bleat ‘Primrose Hill’ as I get in, collapse on the back seat, and take a deep, shaky sigh.

What the fuck happened last night?

The first hour or so was fine. We met at Negozio Classica on Portobello Road, made chatty, flinty, witty repartee that was one part fun and one part hard work and one part petrifying nerve-wracking hell, and shared two bottles of wine. I was in a bad mood about my disastrous day at work and trying to forget about it, so I definitely drank faster than I usually would. (Too passive, my arse, I remember thinking, as I flirtily ordered a second bottle of wine from the waiter.)

Then we went on to a restaurant called Taqueria where I was overjoyed to discover they had margaritas and other potent libations of the Tex-Mex persuasion. Robert’s right, I thought happily, as the waiter whisked away my picked-over tacos and delivered my fourth tequila-based cocktail, dating is fun.

Skinny Jeans was slick, flirty and very confident. I laughed at everything he said, laughed even harder at everything I said, and after a few drinks, found it easy to play the cool/detached card, as instructed… until he started playing with my hands after dinner. Curling his fingers around my fingers, tracing my palm with his thumb, smiling at me, looking into my eyes… It was completely nerve-wracking. I ran to the toilet in a panic and rang Robert.

“What do I do, what do I do?” I gabbled.

“What’s going on?” asked Robert.

“Umm, he’s looking me in the eye a lot, and playing with my hands, and it’s like, I don’t know, a seduction thing. I’m finding it very hard to be cool and detached when it makes me want to run away…”

“You can leave anytime you want,” said Robert.

“No, I want to stay,” I said bravely. “I’m going to have a proper date if it kills me.”

“If you don’t like the seduction routine, just take your hands away. You’re in total control.” I made a humph sound. “Then maybe you should have a shot of something. Liquid confidence.”

Good fucking idea, Robert, I think now. The cab is nearly home, and going past our local shops. Do I need anything? Because I sure as hell am not leaving the house all day once I get there, possibly ever. I have bottles of water in the fridge (hydration is urgently, urgently needed), and lots of those dissolvable sparkling vitamin tablets and please God let me have painkillers. I don’t have any crumpets but fuck it, I can do without.
All I need to do is survive the rest of the day, one minute at a time.

I finally get into my tiny ensuite bathroom, nearly dying of exhaustion from the effort of climbing the stairs, and gasp in shock for the second time today: last night’s carefully applied make-up is now Courtney Love On A Bender, and my smooth ponytail is a Amy Winehouse-y rat’s nest: knot upon knot upon knot. I look like that anti-binge drinking ad. God! Why the fuck am I binge-drinking! It’s so not me. Social drinker, enthusiastic drinker, animated drinker, yes – but not binge drinker… I can’t bear to deal with it right now. I’ll just wash the rest of me and worry about the hair later.

Then I start gagging in the shower and climb out, spilling water everywhere, and hang on to the toilet seat to vomit up the poisonous sour taste of half-digested wine and whiskey.

Hello, rock bottom. Fancy seeing you here.

Then I’m all vomited out, and I’m in bed with the curtains closed and my room nice and cold and dark. My heart is still hammering and I’m panting light, shallow breaths.

I hate alcohol.

What else happened last night? I’m trying to remember. After Taqueria, we went to a pub around the corner, which I can’t remember very well, and we did tequila shots at the bar, and then we went to downstairs bar with a DJ, and I have a feeling more shots were involved. I remember rubbing the belly of a fat man at the bar ‘for luck’. And I gave a girl in the toilets a make-over, and showed her the importance of blending. I think I was dancing to Marvin Gaye, yes I was and oh God, I think I did the splits on the dancefloor.


We definitely snogged in the last bar, and then we were in a cab snogging more, and I think I was on his lap but I can’t remember, and oh God, I am a slutbag, we were back at his, and we drank more (more?!) and that’s about it. Blackout before the R-rated bit starts…

I’ll try to drink the first bottle of water.

Cripes, that’s exhausting.

Oh my God my fingers smell like a tobacco factory. I don’t even really smoke, why did I buy a whole packet last night?

I need a hug. I make a little whimpering mew sound to myself, then stop. Even that is exhausting.

My phone rings. It’s Plum again. It takes me a long time to pick it up, press the right button and hold it to my head.

“Fuck,” I say again.

“Are you okay? Are you home?”

“Yes,” I say. “Did you call work?”

“You have a throat infection that will keep you in bed all weekend,” she says crisply.

“Oh, that’s lovely,” I whisper. “Oh God, Plum, I’m dying, I’m fucking dying…”

Plum is openly laughing now. Why is someone else’s hangover and drunken remorse always amusing?

“I just threw up,” I whisper.

“If I were there I’d hold your hair back,” she says. “I’d even braid it for you.”

I moan slightly. “It’s fucking Robert’s fault. I hate him. He told me to have shots for confidence.”

“How many shots did he tell you to have?”

I pause. “One.”

“How many did you have?”

About sixteen.

“Shut up, Plum,” I instruct. “I am hanging up now.”

I decide to lie as still and calm as I can to relax my body and get the poundpoundpounding in my head to go away. I’m sweating and shaking lightly. My scalp hurts. I try to ignore the waves of drunken remorse that are overpowering me, the flickering images of last night that are moving around my head in a nightmarish kaleidoscope… Don’t think about it now Abigail, just don’t think about it.

Somehow, by holding my head at just the right angle, my bottle of water clasped to my chest, and shivering lightly, I fall asleep.

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