Interview with MK Lee
Author of Raife and Dexter Are Getting Married
M K Lee is an author of poetry, short stories, and novels, who thinks the world deserves more happy stories. When not writing, they enjoy the company of all creatures great and small, love watching amateur dramatics, and discovering the world one good coffee and great cake at a time.
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How would you describe Raife and Dexter Are Getting Married to a new reader?
- Raife and Dexter Are Getting Married is a whole lot of happy. We watch through Raife's eyes as he gets excited in the lead up to their wedding, but it's not all plain sailing! They encounter problem after problem, big and small, things that are both related to the wedding and events going on around them. Throughout, we see no matter what problems they face, Raife and Dexter are a team, and are ridiculously in love.
What was the inspiration behind Raife and Dexter Are Getting Married ?
- I've always thought that so-called 'chick lit' is a very under-rated genre. Reading comforting stories of love and romance with a touch a comedy and a lot of real heart has always made my day better, so I thought, why not write something like that for myself? That is how this story came about. I started writing out scenarios of 'what would happen if this hurdle got in their way' or 'how would they react if they had this particular problem'. These events all came together to tell this happy tale of two people who love and respect each other no matter what, and deserve the entire world. Which is really the second thing that inspired me to write this story; I'm not a fan of stories where couples suffer and inevitably break up needlessly if there is a problem in their lives. I am a fan of stories where a couple is solid, encounter a problem, and face it together, still loving each other no matter what.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
- For this kind of story, Marian Keyes is the queen. I've loved every single book she's written, she has me equal parts cracking a rib with laughter and sobbing my heart out. I would love to be able to tell these sorts of stories as beautifully as she does.
Outside of this sort of genre I love Patrick Ness and Tom Holt, authors who tell vastly different stories but whose characterisation sucks me right into the story and doesn't let go of me until the final page.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in your book?
- Most of the locations in this book are fictional places, though the overall setting is in the south of Wales. Mallowham is the village where Raife and Dexter live, which is about half an hour's drive from Cardiff and a few minutes away from the coast. It's a quieter place to live than Raife's experiences first growing up in Bristol and then studying in Cardiff. Raife works at the also fictional Aldcastle University not too far from home. Dexter is local to the area, far more used to this quieter pace of life. He owns and works at Boone Autos which is also not so far from home; in other words, I've put given them as much as I possibly can right on their doorstep!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Tell yourself stories first and foremost. I feel like the best motivation any of us can have when we write is to actually enjoy telling ourselves these new stories, to really get to know our characters and want to have a window into their worlds. I'd also say try not to over-edit early drafts, just get the words down and come back later.
What's your writing process?
- I write the scenes I want to see, that are in my head in the moment, down in any order. It works much better for me to get down all the events and so on that are prominent in my thoughts then re-order them, than to try to slog through from beginning to end filling in the stuff I'm not so invested in. This way I find filling in the gaps of the stories I enjoy just as much as those prominent scenes.
Which character in Raife and Dexter Are Getting Married do you think will have the greatest impact on readers?
- That's a hard one! I feel like Dexter is one of the most good-hearted people in the world, and everyone would love to be loved by someone as wonderful as him. Raife adores him, and that's pretty obvious on every page. Raife is a very good judge of character! Raife is also a good soul. He's working hard to help his students make the best of themselves, stuck in the middle of a family drama that is beyond his control, and generally doing his best in life. He's a bit of a worrier, too, which, they say you shouldn't insert aspects of yourselves into your characters and I just didn't get that memo!
If Raife and Dexter Are Getting Married were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
- I love the idea of indie films, of giving people who don't get a lot of attention the opportunities to showcase their work and talent. I love the freedom of indie films as well, the lack of pressure from studios and so on to have characters behave and perform in certain ways. So, I don't know, some up and coming actors who would enjoy the idea of playing a loved up couple living a pretty ordinary life as they prepare to marry.
How do you think readers will respond to the various twists in Raife and Dexter Are Getting Married?
- Hopefully positively! The overall message of this story is, here is a couple who love each other heart and soul, and any adversity they face they do together. There are some more serious issues going on around Raife and Dexter, with friends and family. Some of them are easier to do deal with than others. Most of the characters dealing with those issues are good people who just need a little love and help in life. I hope no one looks at them and writes them off immediately. No one is truly villainous in this story!
Where next? What are you working on now?
- Actually, I'm so invested in this little world that I've already written about a third of a sequel told from Dexter's perspective. I also have a short Christmas story in mind, so, I guess we're staying in Mallowham for a little longer!
Raife and Dexter are one of those couples who make lonely people reach for a bucket of ice cream and watch Bridget Jones for the hundredth time. They also just happen to be getting married, in the most perfect of venues, surrounded by their closest family and friends. Life couldn’t be better for them. They have good careers, a beautiful house, and still make heart eyes at each other because they are so ridiculously, sappily in love. Doesn’t it make you sick?
They really do have it all. Except for when they don’t. Because even the most perfect of couples feel the pressure before getting married. And even Raife and Dexter have problems that are beyond their control. Join them as they face disaster upon disaster in the lead up to their wedding. Will you be rooting for Raife and Dexter to make it up the aisle?