Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On Writing "Manly" Romance (and Humor) by Matt Dunn (and GIVEAWAY!)

I understand that there's something weird about me. No, not a sixth toe, or a third nipple, but the fact that I write romance novels. And I'm a man.

Not that I've always been aware of this. When my novel, The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook, was shortlisted for a major romance award in the UK, I had to admit I was surprised. Not only because I'd been shortlisted, but also because it was the first time I'd actually heard my novel described as 'romantic'. I'd just assumed everything I wrote was comedy - romantic comedy, sure, and there was a love interest, but on reflection, I'd perhaps tended to undersell – or even overlook - the 'romance' side of it. Or maybe gloss over it a little - after all, I suppose it's hardly the most macho of professions for a red-blooded male to admit to.

Besides, while my books are undoubtedly romances, they're 'bromances', too, given how the friendship between the two main characters, Ed and Dan, plays out through each story. I've always found the dynamics of friendships interesting – sometimes they go through the same ups and downs that relationships do. And having two characters who are such great friends and yet such opposites allows me to have a lot of fun with them – hopefully, that comes through to the reader, too.

For me, the comedy element is extremely important, and is something I've always been drawn to. I think the old adage 'comedy = tragedy + time' is true – after all, how often do we say 'you'll look back on this and laugh' when something particularly bad has happened? Given that a lot of the situations in my books have happened to me, and I've been able to make something funny out of them, it's certainly a phrase I repeat often. And I'd add something to that too, in that 'comedy also = tragedy that happens to other people'. Want proof? Just look how funny those home video clip shows of people falling over and hurting themselves are.

And that's the fun thing about being a novelist. You can make all sorts of bad things happen to all sorts of people and nobody actually gets hurt. If you can spin it into something funny, then so much the better - which is fundamentally where the humour comes from in Ex-Girlfriends United, I think: nobody would want to be any of the girls that Dan has put through dating hell, and certainly nobody would want to have to perform the kind of karmic reparations they make him do, but because it's someone else it's happening to – i.e. not you or I – it's funny!

It's not that I'm ashamed of what I write – quite the opposite, in fact. The trouble is, tell people you've written six romantic novels, and they'll expect you to be some sort of expert on the subject. Many's the time I've been cornered at a party by someone wanting my advice on a particular aspect of their relationship. What they don't realise is that the only reason I know so much about romance is because I used to be so bad at it myself – to quote Dan, when Ed asks him why he's such an expert on relationships; 'Because I've had so many, obviously!' Though the upside of that, I suppose, is that I've got a lot of material, which can only be a good thing.

I'm proud of what I do, though. And while I'm not quite at the stage where I'm going to be wearing a T-shirt with the words 'I'm a Romantic Novelist' printed on the front, I'm certainly not going to deny it.

Unless I find myself in a biker bar. In which case, if anyone asks, I'm a Navy SEAL.

Thank-you Matt for the great guest blog! It's not secret that I LOVED Matt Dunn's novel, The Ex-Boyfriends Handbook and found it to be highly entertaining and witty. I am very excited about his new book Ex-Girlfriends United. I'll have my review of the book up next week. In the meantime, see below for a chance to win a copy of this new novel.

Giveaway Details
Beth from Sourcebooks has been kind enough to offer one copy of Ex-Girlfriends United by Matt Dunn for a giveaway.

If you would like to win a copy of Ex-Girlfriends United please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel or this guest blog.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday June 24th.

Good luck!


  1. This looks like it would be a very fun read! Thanks for the giveaway!


  2. i would love to read matt's novel...thanks for the chance :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  3. I don't think that I have ever read a romance novel by a man. It is intriguing!!

    Thanks for the giveaway! My email address is darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com.

  4. Haha, this guest post is absolutely amazing! It is full of humor, and I couldn't stop smiling, throughout! :) I especially can relate to when Dunn talks about how people expect him to be an expert on "love", just because he writes romance novels. I don't even pen romance novels, and yet, when people ask me why is it that I seem to know how to deal with relationships so well - I tell them, because I had to make every damn mistake out there before I learned "what not to do to screw it up!". Haha!

    Thank you for this amazing guest post - I'd love to win this novel, especially since I just got "Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook" :D Thank you for hosting this amazing giveaway!

    GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
    Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

  5. What a great interview! I would love to win the book! I'm a follower.

    I posted this on my blog:

    dancealert at aol dot com

  6. I just obtained The Ex Boyfriends Handbook and can't wait to get started. I would love to read this one also.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Uhura Mitchell

  9. Well, I would love to read this one for the very fact that it's A MAN THAT WRITES ROMANCE! :) Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  10. I have never read a romance novel by a man (that I know of) and the fact that he is cool with writing romance is pretty awesome.

    I look forward to reading this in the near future.

    cheers! Thanks for the great giveaway.