Caroline Hulse’s debut novel, The Adults, was published by Orion on 23 August 2018.
Caroline kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Adults.
Two divorced parents. Their daughter. Their new partners. A family holiday… of sorts. What could possibly go wrong?
2. What inspired the book?
I was trying to think of a plot for an everyday suspense (this was before I realised I was actually writing a comedy) with the potential for tension between well-meaning people. I don’t really like to write ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’: people are more complicated than that. I read an article in a weekend section about an ex-couple who went on holiday together with their shared family and new partners, and I just thought, How? Why?
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Plan plan plan! There are always surprises along the way, though – things change as I write, so I replan all the time. I don’t know how anyone keeps track of everything without a plan – writing a novel is such a long, disjointed process, and I can’t keep everything in my head. I’m reliant on my spreadsheet.
4. Having been through the publishing process is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
I’m surprised how frustratingly bad my first drafts look these days – the first novel I ever wrote, many years ago, I thought my initial version was good. It was more fun to write the first draft then, but I suppose that’s the penalty for getting more self-aware (and, hopefully, better!) I now enjoy the editing side more these days, whereas picking apart a ‘finished’ book felt painful and impossible once.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I play games. Board games, card games, logic puzzles, jigsaws. I am also partial to a bit of karaoke, and like to screech my way through a range of songs, though often ending up doing eighties power ballads. And I watch A LOT of telly!
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Oh, this is hard! I’m going to say Me Cheeta by James Lever. An animal narrator reminisces about his time in the spotlight as the star of the Tarzan films. Funny and moving and more insightful than an animal-narrated book should be, I cried and cried.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
The question would be, ‘How weird is this?’ YES. This whole experience is so odd. I knew no other writers (or anyone in publishing) before this process started, and I think, if you’re from outside the industry, it is such a culture shock! I’m still learning the norms and feel like I’m living a weird double life, like a (sofa-bound, ineffective) superhero.
About the book
Claire and Matt are divorced but decide what’s best for their daughter Scarlett is to have a ‘normal’ family Christmas. They can’t agree on whose idea it was, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did – and it’s too late to pull the plug.
Claire brings her new boyfriend Patrick, a seemingly eligible Iron-Man-in-Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, their daughter, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He’s a rabbit.
Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Organized Fun activities, drinking a little too much after bed-time, oversharing classified secrets about their pasts and, before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends – where this story starts – with a tearful, frightened, call to the police…
But what happened? They said they’d all be adults about this…
About the author
Caroline spends most of her days writing, having fulfilled her dream of having a job she could do in pyjamas. She also works in Human Resources sometimes. She is openly competitive and loves playing board and card games. She can often be found in casino poker rooms, and wishes other people would want to play Cluedo for money. She lives with her husband in Manchester where the two are captive to the whims of a small, controlling dog.