Monday 24 October 2016

George Hook: ‘I have always wanted to write an erotic novel.”

The Week in Radio

George Hook
George Hook

‘I have always wanted to write an erotic novel.”

Those are not my words. Well, I guess they are, in a sense. In the sense of me having just typed them. Does that make them mine? Can words ever truly be owned? Or do we merely borrow words? Plucking them, when needed, from the linguistic ether that swirls about us before freeing them to fly off and rejoin the eternal word-swarm?

Fascinating questions that demand to be answered. Or, to put it another way, irrelevant questions that deserve to be ignored. So let’s ignore them, move on and clarify that I have not always wanted to write an erotic novel. Okay, if I were to wake up on the morrow to find I’d somehow penned an erotic bonkbuster in my sleep, I wouldn’t be displeased exactly. It’s just something I can take or leave.

Not George Hook, though. George wants to take it. He really wants to write an erotic novel. A fact I cleverly deduced by a) listening to Friday’s The Right Hook, and, b) noticing that George spoke the words: “I have always wanted to write an erotic novel.” This instantly struck me as a not insignificant clue.

Jilly Cooper might be to blame for all this. For it was she, after all, who once foolishly encouraged George to write a “sexy novel about rugby”. That was, however, a few years back. And though George suggested, at the time, that he already had “all the sex planned”, I’d since convinced myself that he’d surely, by now, forgotten the whole business. Not so. Not so with knobs on.

“It is one of my great undone challenges,” he told James Dempsey. “I don’t want to parachute jump... or climb Everest... I want to publish an erotic novel.”

You can’t say we haven’t been warned.

The latest warning came towards the end of Friday’s ‘Pop Shot’ — a weekly segment in which, said Hook, Dempsey “arrives in to... try and teach this old, conservative, fat, curmudgeon about what’s happening in modern pop culture”. This week’s lesson was all about ‘fan fiction’ (or fanfiction if you insist and prefer), which Dempsey explained as “when fans of various characters... take these characters on board and concoct their own stories from them.” Which was clunkily put, but essentially right.

From there, talk turned to the reassuring absence of “George Hook fan fiction” online (listeners were encouraged to compose their own, if they were bored and/or insane), and how EL James had shown there could be heaps o’ cash in all of this (Fifty Shades of Grey started life as Twilight fan fiction).

Hook then revealed that he’d actually “made a stab” (ooer) at the erotic fiction market, only for his efforts to be (mercifully) “rejected by the publisher”.

The rejected stab? Something to do with a “young Polish girl” who’d been “despoiled” (as George put it) by “four members of the German Army”.The idea, Dempsey suggested, might have benefited from fan-fictionally leaping on the bandwagon of a popular TV show. “Kalinda!” exclaimed George, in spluttered and sudden agreement. Kalinda Sharma, he meant. From The Good Wife. George could see it all (and what he saw was part Tarantino, part Michael Winner, and all Hook).

 Thigh-high boots...  voracious sexual nature... she’ll be the daughter of the one who was despoiled in 1945 in Warsaw and she’ll be carrying out a campaign against the sons and daughters of the four guys who despoiled her mother.”

“It could be the next publishing sensation,” laughed Dempsey.

“There’s a danger he might be right,” sobbed everyone else.

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