Chicklit Club


October 2016



Eva Woods is the author of The Ex Factor and The Thirty List. She also writes crime fiction as Claire McGowan. Born in Northern Ireland, she now lives in London. (Interview by Jade Craddock)

  1. How did you come up with the idea for The Ex Factor of freecycling exes?

    It came from real life, when a friend of mine suggested I might like to date someone she’d been seeing and was tired of. I thought it was quite a revolutionary idea!

  2. The novel has four very different female leads, was there one of them in particular who spoke to you more than the others?

    I probably see Helen as the main character – heartbroken and stuck in a rut with her cat and boxsets, she suffers from anxiety and has really opted out of life. It was great to write about her transformation.

  3. We don’t hear as much from Marnie in the novel, and she’s possibly the toughest nut to crack. What made you take a step back from her in telling more of her side of the story?

    I wanted her to be mysterious – in fact I originally didn’t include her viewpoint, as I like the idea that we often have no idea what’s really going on in our friends’ lives.

  4. I loved that the male leads weren’t especially the most typical of leads, how important was it for you to create characters like Nikesh and Karl, who somewhat go against the grain of what an alpha male is like in women’s fiction?

    It was definitely important as you rarely see nerdy guys in romance, yet I love them. A guy in a tank top and glasses is basically my idea of heaven. I wanted to show that everyone has different tastes, so a date you might not have clicked with could be perfect for your friend.

  5. There were some pretty horrendous dates mentioned in the novel, how much of this was mined from real life?

    Sadly all true – I have been on that terrible silent restaurant date, with a guy who didn’t speak for two hours. Dating can be magical, but it can also be the pits when it doesn’t work out.

  6. Do you think the ex factor project could work in real life?

    It can definitely work as long as it’s just casual dates and not long-term exes that you still have feelings for. In the book it churns up a lot of old rivalries and insecurities between the friends, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

  7. How easy was it to let your characters go at the end of the novel?

    I like to think that they’re all happy now, forging ahead with love and careers, but it would certainly be interesting to catch up with them at some point. No doubt Marnie would have moved to Peru or something to work on a llama farm.

  8. You’ve previously published a number of crime novels, when and why did you decide to start writing women’s fiction as well?

    I had an idea (The Thirty List) that I desperately wanted to write, about two years ago, so I went ahead and did it anyway. I wanted to write about the things I was experiencing in my own life, and murder isn’t one of them, luckily!

  9. As a relatively new writer to the genre, how do you feel about the labels chick lit/women’s fiction?

    ‘Chick lit’ can be so dismissive, and puts people off reading, whereas ‘women’s fiction’ is basically meaningless. I think we need a better way of describing smart funny books about contemporary issues.

  10. What was the biggest challenge in transitioning from writing crime to writing women’s fiction?

    Convincing people I could do both, and that I hadn’t stopped writing crime!

  11. 11. How do you balance writing the two very disparate genres and how easy is it to switch back and forth?

    I find it quite easy as they’re quite different, and it’s a nice change of pace, though sometimes it can be hard to get out of the rom-com ‘voice’.

  12. Do you prefer writing one or other of the genres?

    It really depends on the book and what stage it’s at – I usually hate it once it’s quite advanced and I have to start editing in earnest.

  13. I couldn’t imagine Helen, Rosa et al cropping up in one of your crime novels or characters from your crime novels appearing in The Ex Factor, and I wondered whether this is something you’ve ever thought about and whether there is any middle ground?

    Definitely – there’s a great Australian author called Liane Moriarty who manages to mix women’s fiction with crime and does it brilliantly. Her books are dark, funny, suspenseful, and modern. I’d love to try and do the same.

  14. Are there any more women’s fiction novels in the pipeline?

    I just sold a book to a different publisher that will be out next year. It’s called How to be Happy and will tackle some big emotional issues, and I hope people will like it.

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