I was recently asked what inspired me to write my new novel THIRTY, a story centered around a single woman on the cusp of her thirtieth birthday, and my answer was easy: single women!
I was inspired by all the single women in my life; my single girlfriends, my own seemingly, never-ending single status and by the conversations I was having with what seemed at the time, like every single woman I met.
‘Where the hell is he and when is it going to be my turn?’ was quickly becoming the reoccurring theme underpinning most conversations, dominating everyone’s thoughts. Thoughts that were intensified, often catastrophised, when played out against the backdrop of getting older, and more specifically, turning thirty!
There was something about this particular birthday that seemed to be unnerving everyone. The pending reality of adulthood. That abrupt pivot from your twenties when you’re just figuring it all out, thrust directly into your thirties when you should have it all figured out.
That birthday we’ve all seen coming for years, always there in the far-off distance, when it finally arrives somehow catches us by surprise. We feel unprepared. We’re not ready yet…we’re still single, for god’s sake!
Turning thirty felt like the final transition into fully fledged adulthood, and with it, came a big, unnerving question – am I where I thought I was going to be by this point in my life and am I living the life I actually want?
I was fast discovering that turning thirty was a catalyst, inadvertently forcing everyone to recognize and then to reconcile where they were in their life with where they always imagined they’d be by that point. And, as it turned out, most of us felt like we were falling short as a result, mainly, because we were still bloody single.
That crucial link between the lives we had and the lives we wanted, or at least thought we wanted and had always imagined for ourselves, was missing. The man – The One – was missing! And when you think that person holds the key that unlocks everything else you think you want, i.e. your entire future happiness, you start feeling a sense of urgency to find him, sharpish, ideally before you’re waving goodbye to your youth along with your last good eggs.
This was the conversation I was very much a part of and, honestly, it felt closer to an epidemic than a conversation – my new novel THIRTY was written in response.
I wanted to explore the relationship between someone’s single status and their happiness and sense of self-worth, and whether one is ultimately dependent upon the other. How we measure them is so often benchmarked against society’s expectation’s; the sexy career, the impressive salary, the ever-so-desirable, Instagram-able lifestyle, the property that comes with a mortgage and not a landlord and five other housemates, the wedding ring, the babies. If this isn’t pressure enough, let’s not forget the relentless pressure we put on ourselves, constantly comparing our own life with the lives of those around us, so often judging our reality against their highlight reels on social media. It’s little wonder that people, especially single people, feel like they’re not quite keeping up as a result.
Writing a story about a single girl who finds herself in the epicentre of this very situation, grappling with her own ‘coming of age’, felt like a really fun and interesting way of exploring this idea a little further. The thirty dates quickly became the perfect vehicle to drive her story forward while at the same time capturing and ultimately exposing, some of the magic, horror, hilarity, truth and often the outright absurdity of dating, when you’re trying, desperately, to find The One.
My ambition for this book was to write an unconventional, modern-day love story while at the same time reframing and reclaiming what it means to be single. My hope was to weave the voices of so many single women into one character’s journey and in doing so, create a story that would be relatable, shedding a more optimistic, empowering and joyful light on what it truly means to be single, when everyone around you (according to their social media accounts) seemingly has it all.
I hope I achieved this with THIRTY and I very much hope you enjoy reading it!