Thursday 19 April 2018

Forget marathons and lycra, to stay young write a novel

Penning a book can transport you into a dreamworld where nights out end with steamy threesomes rather than a chippy on the Nitelink

Good news for you men out there. I've just discovered the secret of eternal youth. Write a novel. Trust me, no man will ever grow old as long as he can write about having hot sex with a bisexual celebrity chef.

I have just put the finishing touches to my debut novel, Keep Away from Those Ferraris. I'd like to be able to say the book is a fast-paced and witty look at Ireland in collapse during 2008. I certainly hope it is. But reading through the final draft, I realise that it's mainly about me.

I don't mean the lead male character is based on me. I have barely managed to get through 10pc of the stuff in my 46 years that the narrator Noel Byrne crams into a busy fortnight. (I'm not telling you which 10pc or my poor mother will be disgraced in the bridge club.) The book is really about me because it allows me to hang out with my youth for another few years.

I am a middle-aged married man with an 18-month-old daughter. Until I sit down at my laptop and become Noel Byrne. I only need to type one word and I'm back living the dream.

Middle-aged guys are making terrible decisions these days in an attempt to stay young. Extreme marathons and cycling around in suggestive lycra doesn't make you look young – it makes you look desperate. You're far better off writing a book – live it up as Novel You and let your body age with a bit of dignity. And there's a real bonus if you are still in the market for a lovely lady or two. Chicks dig writers – even old ones.

Here are some tips if you are planning to write a novel. Let's start with sex. There should be loads of it. Never mind that most real-life nights out ended up with a battered sausage on the Nitelink. (That's not a metaphor.) Novel You should be scoring left, right and centre with women who look like Jennifer Lawrence. Don't bother going into too much detail with your sex scenes. Writing about sex is like trying to sing a pizza. People will just end up laughing when you write about your expectant love bazooka. As a general rule, if your sexual exploits end up in laughter then you're doing something wrong.

Make sure to send Novel You out on some crazy drinking nights and then give him the mother of all hangovers the following day. It will make you feel better about the fact you're too old for the booze in the real world. And there's nothing more comforting than someone else's hangover.

You should set your novel some place wild and free. Mine is set in Dublin during 2008 even though I left there and moved to Cork in 2003. I didn't realise it at the time, but that move marked the end of my over-extended childhood.

Dublin was where I hung around with a gang of under-employed types who would call around to my place on a Wednesday afternoon and get goofed up on espresso and maybe more. I know Cork people aren't supposed to admit this in public, but those Wednesday afternoons left me feeling that Dublin is the greatest city in the world. I still do. Which is why I set my novel there. Have a think about where you had the best laugh of your life. And then write a novel about it.

A word of warning. If you are Irish or have lived here for a while you will feel the need to be the next James Joyce. Forget that only about 17 people actually liked the last James Joyce.

You will feel compelled to write a "serious" novel. That means only your mother and possibly David Norris will admit to liking it. And serious writing will turn you into an old man overnight.

I set out to write Keep Away from Those Ferraris as a serious novel until I started to drown in tears of boredom. Don't make your book about serious stuff like identity or the power of memories. They're buzz wreckers. Maybe make it about a Dublin TV reporter trying to come to terms with his borderline sex addiction. That way we can all have a laugh.

Finally, and I can't stress this enough, make sure to kit out Novel You in a heavy disguise. If you have brown hair, make his blonde. If you are tall, make him small. If you are from Cork, then make him from Dublin. It will only take the smallest similarity for your partner to go "oh, so you like the notion of group sex with a famous model in a luxury ghost estate". Trust me on that one.

Keep Away from Those Ferraris is out now. See for details.

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