What are the main themes in And Then That Happened?
Romance – being with the right, and the wrong person, and how sometimes you don’t know which is which until you get a glimpse of the other side of the coin.
What it’s like to be with someone you’ve fallen out of love with.
How a new person in your life can help you discover a whole new side to yourself. How in Muriel’s Wedding, Rhonda makes Muriel change how she views her whole life.
Losing a generation of gay male friends around you, then realising another generation of gay men can be just as prejudiced about the issue as others.
Being able to see humour even in the darkest of things.
Are some of those themes do you think? Have you experienced someone coming into your life changing how you view everything, if so, what was that like?
It’s 1999 and 28-year-old Dominic’s carefully planned suburban life with his boyfriend Luke is perfect. His job as a nurse, his best friend Matt, his relationship with his parents, everything is just right. He and Luke have been together ten years, seen each other through friends’ deaths and their parents’ ups and downs, and even had a commitment ceremony.
Gabe isn’t happy with his boyfriend, but he stays with him, because, well it’s complicated.
Fate throws Gabe into Dominic’s life. And then that happened. Gabe’s open relationship, impulsive nature, enthusiasm for life and straight talking advice are fascinating to Dominic. They’re friends, they click over a shared love of Goldie Hawn and Gabe shows Dominic there can be more to life than planned and safe. So why can’t he take his own advice?
And Then That Happened is about finding a new kind of happiness, even when what you have is already perfect. And how sometimes perfect isn’t quite what it seems.
Excerpt: Somehow we’d continued to move further away from the Dominic and Luke we first were, further away from the Dominic and Luke we settled into as we both started our careers, to where we were now. If I was honest with myself, I didn’t really know how we’d got here. It hadn’t been one big thing, no big arguments, no door slamming, just a gentle slide into this place we found ourselves in now. I say a place, but it felt more like a non-place: not lovey dovey ‘Do you still love me,’ at the end of every phone call; not ‘I hate your guts, you can fuck off,’ doors slamming; and not even night in with a DVD and takeaway, cuddling on the sofa, love.
I felt alone, marooned while being in a relationship. Alone yet attached. Not connected to Luke, but not separated from him.
We were just there, with each other, like air is just there, all around you.
And up until I had met him, I hadn’t really noticed that, I just thought, this is how it is when you’ve been with someone so long. But now I wasn’t quite so sure.
1. He lives, with his partner, where east London ends and becomes nine-carat-gold- highlights-and-fake-tan-west-Essex.
2. He was born in Hampshire with two club feet (look it up, it’s not nice) and problem ears, needing grommets: this meant he was in plaster from toe to groin until he was two, and had to swim with a cap and olive oil soaked lamb’s wool over his ears – olive oil bought from a health food shop, before it was sold by supermarkets.
3. He started writing when he was 14: sat in French lessons during a French exchange trip, for want of anything better to do, he wrote pen portraits about his French exchange’s teachers. He wrote for his school’s creative writing magazine and still writes a diary every day.
4. He grew up on the edge of the New Forest – not in the New Forest mind, but on the edge. Now it’s a national park, it’s so much more glamorous. He went to uni in London and never really left.
5. One evening, flicking through the channels, he stumbled across the film, Saving Private Ryan, and it took twenty minutes of not seeing Goldie Hawn in an army uniform, before he realised it wasn’t actually the film, Private Benjamin.
6. When not writing, he also enjoys baking.
7. He avoided any sport at secondary school by having an orthodontist appointment between the age of 14 and 16, and when he was old enough to drive, just drove home instead of playing rugby/hockey/whatever.
8. He is a car geek, his particular passion is old French classics, and his every day car is what is popularly referred to as a ‘hairdressers car’ a Mazda MX5 in powder blue – Muriel.
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