Today I am delighted to welcome author Steven Scaffardi to my blog. Steven has written a great piece about lad lit. Steven is the author of The Drought (Sex, Love and Dating Disasters Book 1) and his new book The Flood (Sex, Love and Dating Disasters Book 2) is due out on the 30 th of April.
I often lay awake at night fretting over the choices I’ve made as an author. It is like some sort of literary insomnia; panic setting in as I toss and turn over the fact I have thrown all of my eggs into the lad lit basket, the frowned upon little brother of its more successful chick lit sibling.
I’m lying of course. I don’t really stay up all night because of my genre choices. I have an 11-month-old baby girl who keeps me up until the early hours. But she is super cute so I let her off.
I’m just trying to pull at your bibliophile heart strings. You see, I believe that lad lit is just misunderstood; a victim of a severe case of Chinese Whispers.
According to Wordspy.com, lad lit is:
A literary genre that features books written by men and focusing on young, male characters, particularly those who are selfish, insensitive, and afraid of commitment.
That description wouldn’t exactly encourage me to read lad lit either.
But let’s not be too hasty here. If lad lit was a Hollywood movie genre, surely it would be a comedic triumph. Just take a look at some of the recent loveable rogues who fit that lad lit description: Stifler from American Pie, Phil from The Hangover, Seth from Superbad, Jay from The Inbetweeners. They all arguably steal the show in those respected films. They are not characters we love to hate, they are quite simply characters we love.
Maybe lad lit isn’t the right term to use. Perhaps there is already too much of a stigma attached to those two little words that evoke the wrong reaction in booklovers. Other variations of the genre don’t really do much help to the cause either: bro lit, bloke lit, geezer lit, fratire, dick lit.
No wonder it has a bad name, especially as I’m willing to guess that most readers would rather pick up a good thriller or crime novel before they even consider a book with the word ‘dick’ associated to the classification!
So let me try and build a case for lad lit.
Tony Parsons, Mike Gayle, Nick Spalding, Matt Dunn, Danny Wallace, Jon Rance. Call it what you like – romantic comedies, chick lit for men, funny books about relationships, laugh out loud novels, lad lit – they have all written brilliantly wonderful stories full of characters that reader’s fall in love with.
The one glaring omission from that list is of course Nick Hornby; the undisputed king of lad lit, multi-time best-selling author, a Bafta winner and two-time Oscar nominee! Here is a man who brought us Rob Fleming in High Fidelity; one of the greatest contemporary novels of our time. It is probably fair comment to say that Fleming was selfish, insensitive, and afraid of commitment, but we loved him nonetheless.
With that argument being made, I don’t think we should consider lad lit an unworthy genre. I think it encapsulates the category perfectly. Let’s not overcomplicate things – lad rhymes with lit, it sounds like chick lit, it is invariably books with a male protagonist exploring their emotions through love, friendship and adventure. Lad lit works.
With my Sex, Love and Dating Disasters series I make no bones about the style of my writing and the obvious lack of romance synonymous with chick lit. My books are about the fun side of dating and relationships. It’s about that car crash first date you still tell your friends about 10 years after it happened. It’s about that relationship that leaves you forever wondering what was I thinking? It’s about that fabulous roller coaster of experiences you have to go through before you meet the one, because long after you have had that HEA ending, those memories will stay with you and you’ll always look back with a smile.
For me, that’s what lad lit is really about. Women have long debated over a glass of wine or two how clueless men can be when it comes to romance; I just try to bring that to life in the pages of my books. I’ve had both men and women read and enjoy both The Drought and The Flood; many who have never even heard of or read a lad lit novel before.
I interviewed Jon Rance recently and asked him if he thought lad lit would become as big as chick lit one day and he said:
“I don’t think so simply because the majority of readers are women. One of my biggest and luckiest breaks was working with an amazing and lovely editor at Hodder. We became good friends and still are. One of the first things she told me was that most of my readers were women. It made me realise that I wasn’t writing books for blokes like me, but women, who were not like me at all. You have to take this into account when writing. I don’t think lad-lit really exists because not enough men read it. This is why it’s so hard for men to tackle the world of romantic comedies. We’re at a disadvantage going in. There’s also a lot more women writing in this genre than men. But that doesn’t mean a handful of men can’t be successful.”
His response saddened me somewhat because I think with the right sort of publicity, lad lit is a genre that many more readers – both male and female – would enjoy immensely. That’s why I started #LadLitSunday, a social media initiative to highlight the great work being written by lad lit authors.
So next time you find yourself with a free Sunday and nothing to read, be sure to check out the hashtag, and you never know – you might just be pleasantly surprised with that selfish, insensitive, commitment phobe you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.