Her partner Michael has never been in a relationship for more than four years, so with their fourth anniversary coming up, Jen’s getting understandably nervous. Especially as she’s just discovered she’s pregnant, and she knows Michael doesn’t want any more children other than Kyle, his teenage son.
She means to tell Michael about the baby right away, but then he comes home on a brand new motorbike, having traded in his sensible car, and the moment is lost. Is Michael having an early mid-life crisis?
Jen decides to do some detective work about Michael’s exes in an effort to save their relationship, and embarks on a journey that will take her as far afield as North Norfolk and Cuba. But she has no idea of the can of worms she’s about to open.
Why do all Michael’s relationships break up? And what’s the big secret he’s hiding?
I’m very pleased to welcome Margaret as she tells us about her new novel, with an invitation to attend the online launch party….
I started writing my novel Taming Tom Jones when I was at the University of East Anglia as a mature student, taking an MA in Scriptwriting. I was supposed to be building up to writing my dissertation – a full-length screenplay or stage play, but the beginning of Taming Tom Jones just sprang vividly into my head, and I quickly became obsessed with my character Jen and her dilemma. When the book starts, Jen has just found out she’s pregnant by her partner Michael, and she’s thrilled, because she’s always wanted a family. In fact, she’s so thrilled, it makes her realize just how much she’s been supressing her desire to have children; because, unfortunately, Michael doesn’t feel the same way. He’s always been honest about it, making sure she was aware of his views very early on in their relationship. His exact words were:
“I’m crazy about you, Jen. I want us to be together. But I’ve got to be totally honest with you, if you want kids, you’d better find someone else, because I’ve already done all that. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a father to Kyle, but it’s enough for me.”
I know exactly how Jen felt hearing these words, because someone I was madly in love with once said pretty much the same thing to me. It’s dreadful when your man feels like the love of your life, but he just doesn’t want the same future as you. Jen wants Michael and their baby. After all, it’s not so much to ask, is it? It’s what plenty of people do have, and he says he loves her. The trouble is, Jen can’t forget the fact that so far Michael hasn’t stayed in any of his relationships for more than four years, and their own four year anniversary is quickly approaching. Scared as she is, she fully intends to tell him her news straight away, but then he comes home with a brand new motorbike, having traded in his sensible car for it, and the moment gets lost.
Which was precisely what happened to Taming Tom Jones for several years. Very reluctantly, I had to put the novel on the back burner while I completed my MA, and the moment, at least for a while, was lost. I set to work on something completely different for my dissertation – a stage play about the outcome of the general election being decided by the candidates being placed in a ‘Big Brother’ House. I had great fun with it, and I still think it would be a great idea to do this in real life, even if it was just a part of the election process. I’m giggling now, thinking about the party leaders’ every moves being watched by millions every day! However, I’m not really a political person, and I’m sure this showed in my play. I suppose a part of my mind was still with Jen too, and her attempts to save her relationship with Michael. Anyway, I scraped a pass on my MA, and then I won a bursary to write a screenplay for Screen East, which was very exciting. Inevitably though, this put Taming Tom Jones back once again.
Then I had a baby, and all writing had to wait for a while, and it was some years until I returned to complete the novel. Yes, by then I had a partner who did want the same as me; someone who didn’t expect me to shelve my dreams. Hurrah! And being a mother only served to make me want motherhood and happiness for Jen all the more.
Can she change Michael? Should she even try? You’ll have to read the book to find out, but one thing’s for certain, Jen’s life is never going to be the same again.
The online launch party for Taming Tom Jones is today! (2 October) There will be readings, quizzes, challenges and of course prizes! Do join us – it would be great to have you. The more the merrier! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/914730098613670/
Extract from the beginning of Taming Tom Jones
I’m in the ladies toilets at my local superstore. Inside the one functioning cubicle, sitting fully
clothed on the toilet seat, surrounded by overflowing carrier bags, a peed-on plastic tester stick clenched in my hand. Waiting for my fate to unfold.
Two minutes. The time it takes for Michael to go to sleep after we’ve made love if I don’t do
anything to stop him. The pee on the plastic stick is asking a question, and the chemicals inside it are working out their answer. And in two minutes I’ll know whether their answer agrees with my instinct.
“I’m crazy about you, Jen,” Michael said three months after we first got together. “I want us to be together. But I’ve got to be totally honest with you, if you want kids, you’d better find someone else, because I’ve already done all that. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a father to Kyle, but it’s enough for me.”
Michael. We met at a fancy dress party nearly four years ago – my mate Rick’s thirtieth birthday party. The theme was Pop Icons of the Twentieth Century, and the room was stuffed full of Elton Johns, Donny Osmonds and Mick Jaggers. I was Madonna, complete with pointy bra, and Marcia, my best mate, was Diana Ross.
“You look fantastic with all that long hair,” I told her as we propped up the bar, preening
ourselves and pointing out funny sights to each other.
“Thanks. I could get used to this glamour.” She ran a hand over the sea-green sparkles of her
dress. Perhaps we should start a band.”
“Yeah, right.” I hadn’t forgotten our last spectacularly bad attempt at karaoke on holiday in
Spain, even if she had.
Marcia never has liked to be reminded of her failings, even at school. “Your bazoomers aren’t level,” she told me stonily, jabbing an accusing finger in the direction of my breasts. “You need to go up a bit on the right.”
I yanked dutifully at my right cone, wondering if Madonna had experienced the same trouble.
“Anyway,” Marcia said, “who are you going to get off with tonight?”
“I’m not going to get off with anybody. It’s only been three months since I split up with Luther.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” she said. “Three months of freedom and so far you’ve done zilch to celebrate.”
“I don’t feel like celebrating.” I was hurt by now, but Marcia never has been a girl to let my hurt feelings stand in her way when she’s telling me something for my own good.
“Well, you should. Luther was a prize tosser. You are far, far better off without him, Jen.”
“I loved him.”
“You thought you loved him. That’s about as different as Ibiza and the Isle of Man.” Marcia stood on diamanté sandal tip-toes, peering into the crowd, the dark river of fake hair flowing all the way down her bare back. “Him,” she said, pointing. “That’s who you’ll get off with if you get off with anybody.”
Marcia pointed again. “Him,” she said. “Tom Jones.”
About the author
Margaret K Johnson began writing after finishing at Art College to support her career as an artist. Writing quickly replaced painting as her major passion, and these days her canvasses lay neglected in her studio. She is the author of women’s fiction, stage plays and many original fiction readers in various genres for people learning to speak English.
Margaret also teaches fiction writing and has an MA in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norwich, UK with her partner and their bouncy son and dog.