Gen and I have become great friends over the last couple of years and earlier this month we shared an evening just the two of us, curled up on couches at the Park Hyatt bar in Melbourne having cocktails and chatting until it was way past bedtime. Gen is a warm, sweet, caring person and a very, very talented author.
Clementine, a psychologist specialising in couples counselling, is reeling from the discovery that her boyfriend is married. Annabel, an ex-model, only seems to attract men who want her as a trophy. Daniela, a civil engineer, is stuck in the friendzone.
Abandoning the romantic notions of true love that haven't worked out for them, the three decide to use their considerable professional skills to find a partner. This isn't about hearts and flowers; it's about being practical.
Warm and witty, Husband Hunters is about what happens when you try to engineer love.
Loved it! From page one I was drawn into Genevieve Gannon's fresh and funny narrative voice. Loved all three of the used and abused husband hunters - Clem, Annabel and Daniela who all won their way into my heart. This is chick lit at its very very best - it's warm, wise, sentimental, romantic, trending, gives a great social commentary and above all is laugh-out-loud funny. Lots of big ticks from me! I'm a lover of chick lit but sometimes I find this genre just a little too silly and so light the book could fly away. Not here though, there's enough sentiment to keep you hooked in amongst all the laughs and mishaps. One of the most enjoyable books I have read all year (and I have read many!). Bravo.
You can connect with Gen on Facebook:
An interview with Genevieve Gannon:
Can you tell us briefly about your book?
Husband Hunters is a rom-com about three successful, single friends who reunite at a wedding where they hatch a plan to use their professional skills to find husbands. It sounds retrograde, but I wanted to twist the chick-lit formula of the strong independent lady who ostensibly doesn't need a man but who somehow spends the entire book in a flap over a guy. These women start out saying they would like to find love but as their scheme to snare a husband unravels they learn that perhaps pinning their happiness on matrimony was a bad idea.
Which Hollywood stars would you like to see play the lead roles in the movie version of your book?
I did a photo gallery of this recently! I thought Amy Adams would do a great job as the cynical, red-haired psychologist Clementine Crosley. Clem specialises in couples counselling but finds herself having a crisis on conscience when she learns her boyfriend is married. January Jones would be perfect for Annabel Summers, the blonde bombshell with brains who is single after leaving her over-bearing, investment banker boyfriend because he didn't support her business. And for the role of Daniella DeLuca I would cast Cristin Milioti. Dani is an Italian engineer whose mother flies into fits of hysteria at the site of her masculine work clothes. Cristin Milioti not only looks perfect to play petite Daniella, but her warmth and sense of humour is a match for the character.
Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
The novel is set in Sydney, which is where I was living when I wrote it. I think ostentatious Sydney is the perfect backdrop to the ladies' mad-cap scheme.
Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There are a few scenes that I really love in particular any scene Mirabella appears in. She's sort of the villain of the piece - vacuous and superficial and completely OTT. Her wedding (number two) is where the husband hunters reunite, and there are a lot of eccentric wedding guests who were fun characters to write. Each of the women have professional triumphs at one point or another that were fun too. Dani, dressed in her steel-capped boots, faces off with some haughty, sexist executives who run the property development firm that employs her. The juxtaposition of the pampered, fat, old men and Dani, young, scrappy and passionate, was really satisfying to bring to life. Of course there are also a few sexy scenes what were great fun too!
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
I didn't really use any real-life stories. There were one of two tiny real incidents that I included but that was more as a sly nod to my friends, than to inform the characters' motivations, or inspire their actions. My second book, Chasing Chris Campbell, borrowed heavily on my time in India. The main character, Violet Mason, finds herself in a lot of situations I experienced first-hand. Like getting huge, bulbous burns on the inside of my leg after riding around on a motorbike. But for husband hunters I just let my imgaination run wild.
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
The book was inspired by an interview I did with John Gray, the author of Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus. We were discussing romance, and he said women should be more pragmatic when choosing a mate. What he said made sense in the context of the discussion about unrealistic expectations, but I decided to take this to its extreme and the concept behind Husband Hunters was born. Once I had that, the rest of the story flowed naturally. While there is nothing in the book directly based on real life, the dating history of my friends and my own experience in the romantic trenches definitely inspired some of the things that happen to the husband hunters.
What song would you pick to go with your book?
Definitely Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine. You can watch the clip here:
How long did it take you to write your book?
This is the question I'm most commonly asked! It's hard to answer because I started it, scrapped it, went away and did something else, came back to it and started again. After it had been accepted for publication I had to undergo so much rigorous editing that it felt like I was basically writing the book from scratch. I can say the original article I wrote that inspired the book was published in June 2011 and the book was published in December 2014. But over that period there were huge periods of time when I wasn't doing any work on it. In fact, I stopped completely and wrote my second novel, Chasing Chris Campbell, and so was able to sell both of them to my publisher HarperCollins at the same time. Although, to say I wrote Chasing Chris Campbell within that three years is a bit deceptive too. The first time I sat down to write CCC was in 2007 when I was living in Canberra. At that point it was set in Europe - not Asia.
How did you come up with the title? Did you have alternative titles?
With Husband Hunters the title was almost the first thing that popped into my mind. I felt like it was the only option for the book. I like it. I think it reflects that characters well. Some people might be a bit embarrassed to brand themselves "husband hunters", but the ladies in my book are confident and unafraid to go after what they want.
How did you go about researching the settings and scenarios in your book?
I spent a lot of time in the Melbourne University library searching for books on social psychology. I wanted Clementine to be able to talk convincingly about human behaviour, so I did quite a bit of reading. I wanted to feel confident the few terms I casually dropped into the text were in the right context. For Dani, I relied heavily on my friends. She's an Italian engineer so I asked an architect friend an Italian friend to do a final read-through to ensure my research was accurate. Annabel was a little easier. As a journalist, I feel like I have a working knowledge of how the PR world works. Though, to be perfectly honest, her job probably doesn't really exist. She's sort of an branding consultant blended with a PR exec.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I'm about to do another re-through of my third novel. It is about an artist and a lawyer in Melbourne who get married after a whirlwind romance. It follows their first year of marriage which coincides with turbulent times in both their professional lives. That's a bit of a dry description but I don't want to give too much away just yet!
What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
I have a mentor who once told me the most important thing to remember when writing fiction is to f**k up your protagonist. It's important your main character faces challenges and obstacles - otherwise, why would people bother reading about them? They'd just go and find another book about someone who is doing something interesting.