Six Months to Get a Life By: Ben Adams

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Graham Hope had it all – a wife, two perfect children, a detached house in the suburbs and a huge TV.

Until today.

He now has an ex-wife, lives in his parents’ spare room and gets the kids and the dog at weekends.

He might be lost and lonely, but Graham is not a victim. Six months from today he will be forty-three. He vows to sort this mess out by his birthday. He gives himself six months to get a life.

Will Graham play a meaningful role in his boys’ lives?

Will his mates take him under their wing?

Will he move out of his childhood home?

More importantly, will he ever have sex again?

For Graham, failure is not an option.

Warning: if you are looking for a sanctimonious self-help book, then ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is NOT for you.

Release date: 21st January 2015

Published by Clink Street

Genre: Contemporary fiction

About Ben Adams:

Like a lot of people, Ben went to school, then college and eventually grew up and got a responsible job, a house and a family.

And then his mid-life crisis kicked in.

Realising that life was in danger of becoming all too serious, Ben started writing. Not in the way that Forest Gump started running, but at least he started.

He wrote on steamed up mirrors in the bathroom to make his children smile. Eventually he graduated to making up stories to entertain his kids at bed-time.

For some reason, his boys didn’t seem interested in his tales of every-day life, relationships, family, trauma, farce and the occasional bit of debauchery. His sons preferred JK someone or other.

Following his short-lived career as a children’s author, Ben now concentrates on writing stories for grown-ups. He writes for people who have lived, loved, worked, strived and suffered – people like him. People like you.

Ben has a gift for finding humour where others find pain; and also for finding pain where others find humour.

He lives in south west London with his two boys, his dog and his constant stream of girlfriends. He dreams a lot too.

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Interview with the Author:

Mark Rollins

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I am not sure I came up with the idea really. I think it came up with me.

My writing career has had a few false starts. While I was at school I wrote science fiction nonsense that I didn’t dare share with anyone. In my 20s I dabbled with crime fiction but too many hours spent staring at blank pages and a lack of life experiences meant that I couldn’t make my stories sing.

In my 30s I mostly wrote boring work-related web content and the occasional acerbic complaint letter to the government, the mail service, The newspapers and the dog over the road. It defecated on my drive.

And then my 40s came along. Sometimes it takes a life event to set you off on the right track. ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ was ultimately triggered by my own family upheaval.

My head was filled with a variety of emotions that seemed to me to be looking for a way to escape. Eventually, I just started writing.

Over the course of the Spring and Summer of 2014, my furious typing eventually moulded itself into ‘Six Months to Get a Life’.

So is it fact or fiction?

It started off being fairly factual but following various moments of realisation (including ‘people will slit their wrists if they read this crap’ and ‘my ex will go ballistic and she would have every right to’) the book evolved into a work of fiction. I invented a new ex – one who the principal character, Graham Hope, had met at a sexually transmitted diseases clinic. I invented some new friends for Graham, some totally new scenarios for him to get caught up in and, without giving too much away, I invented a love interest.

Getting my own personal emotions out of my head and on to a computer screen was therapeutic, but I soon found that I enjoyed writing the made up stuff even more. It made me smile and even laugh out loud at times. OK, I know you shouldn’t admit to laughing at your own jokes, but I did.

The one thing I didn’t reinvent was the lead character. That is because Graham Hope is essentially me. I know I won’t sue myself for misrepresentation, so, with Graham, I thought I would stick to what I know.

Graham does his best to have a positive outlook on life, as do I. Graham craves human company, whether it’s going out for a few beers with his friends or something more intimate. As do I. Graham hates nightclubs and is hopeless on the dance floor. As am I. Graham gets tongue-tied around attractive women, as do I. According to Graham’s ex, Graham has a big ego and a small penis. As… No, wait a minute. Let’s move on.

How much research did you have to do during the process of writing this book?

Having lived through some similar challenges to the protagonist in ‘Six Months to Get a Life’, I didn’t have to do too much research in the process of writing that book. Google was still very much my friend during the writing process though. I remember googling items of women’s clothing, sexually transmitted diseases clinics and marriage guidance counsellors amongst other things. All in the name of the book. Honestly.

When you aren’t writing, what books do you like to read?

I have quite diverse reading habits. Totally unconnected to my writing, I love a good thriller. Give me a crime, a bunch of detectives, some lawyers and a pathologist and I am happy. I also love stories about relationships and real life, especially if, like my book, the stories are infused with a good dose of humour. Authors I read regularly include David Nicholls, Sophie Kinsella and Nick Hornby.

If someone came up to you and asked for one tip on how to become a successful author, what would you say to them?

Procrastination is a writer’s enemy. I would tell them to write, then write some more. And then write again. The more you write, the better you get. Don’t bother going to expensive seminars on how to write. Don’t sit there reading a million blogs on how to do things properly. Don’t hang on every author’s word on the subject. Just write. Writing well isn’t enough, but it is the only start.

What’s the worst thing anyone has said about your writing?

My English teacher at school once said to me ‘Well at least you’re good at maths.’ I might look her up and send her a free copy of the book.

Six Months to Get a Life is now published. What’s next for Ben Adams?

A pint of beer, a quiet smile to myself, and then it’ll be back to writing. I am already well into my second book, ‘Six Lies’. Hopefully it will be out by Christmas.

Again, I can’t thank Mark enough for all of his insight and taking the time to answer my questions. I cannot wait for his next book ‘Six Lies’ and wish him all the luck as he moves forward with his career.

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My Review

Graham Hope (interestingly enough) is a newly divorced father trying to reinvent himself. We are introduced to him through his first journal entry:

My decree absolute came through today. I am officially divorced.
I have never been divorced before. I thought it would feel different – either like being released from the proverbial life sentence, or maybe in my more pessimistic moments like being a discarded cigarette, cast adrift with the life sucked out of me. I didn’t know whether to celebrate or cry. In the end I just changed my Facebook status to single and went off to work.

This paragraph is amazing…it’s like a car accident: we see the mangled twisted results, and yet cannot look away. And this is only the first of many sentences to make me cringe and laugh simultaneously. Mr. Adams has quit a knack at wielding words to elicit conflicting emotions.

He continues his entry with a list of new life goals for his 43rd birthday: be a good dad, get somewhere else to live, get a social life, get a more interesting job, get some decent bottled lager, and get fit. We see quickly that “Six Months to Get a Life” is not about the loving reunification of a family, but a hard look at life and the effort it takes to maintain our relationships and our sanity in the midst of all kinds of personal chaos. (Count me in!)

Typically, I do not like reading a book in first person; especially when it’s presented through the physical written word of the main character. However, when I started this book, with a huff and eye-roll of theatrical proportions, I was quickly transported into a soft romance including contemporary topics like divorce and modern dating. To my delight, Mr. Adams explores every empathetic nerve and fiber of Graham’s character and emotions to add dimension to his writing; and his methods…surprisingly work.

However, I wish our author would have taken more time developing Jack and Sean as they react to the destruction of their world. For children the ages 14 and 12 they display a tremendous amount of insight when it comes to the divorce of their parents.

This book was charming and entertaining. It was easy to absorb myself into the relationships and world of Graham as he rediscovered himself and found life after divorce. My heart tugged with so many different emotions, I laughed, I smiled, I frowned; really just a lovely read all around.

-JL

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