No-one is a bigger fan of actor Thomas Cassidy than Libby. No-one. That’s why she’s totally going to marry him
She is going to write a novel, name the main character after Thom, and find a way to get it to him. Intrigued and flattered, he will read it, fall in love with her prose, write to her and ask to turn it into a movie. She will pretend to think about it for a week or so, then say, sure, but can I work on it with you? Their eyes will meet over the script, and fade to black. It is a fail-proof plan.
Except for the fact that he is a Hollywood star – not A list, perhaps not B list, but certainly C+ – and she is, well, not. Except for the fact that he lives in America. Except, too, for the teeny tiny age gap. Not even twenty years! Totally overcomable. All of the obstacles are totally overcomable. It’s all about determination.
I am welcoming author Claire Handscombe to booksaremycwtches with a guest post about 10 thing we didn’t know about her as part of her blog tour for her book Unscripted, which is being published via Unbound.
1.My first celebrity crush was Jason Donovan.
I used to lie in bed and pray that he would become a Christian so I could marry him. Too many broken hearts, indeed…
2.My entrepreneurial spirit was apparent from an early age.
I could never get enough pictures and posters and interviews of Jason, so, when I was about thirteen, I hatched a plan. I cut out pictures and posters of other, lesser stars (you know, lesser like, say, Matthew Perry), filed them in plastic folders, and kept an alphabetical inventory of what I had. Then I typed out little ads on my Amstrad PCW8256 (given to me by my rich uncle and thus the height of sophistication) that said something like, “I have posters of all your favourite stars in exchange of anything you might have about Jason Donovan! Just write to me at this address…” I printed the ads and surreptitiously slipped them in books I borrowed from the teen section of the library. I got one reply once, which is actually probably not a bad rate of return.
3.The first place I was ever published was Number One magazine (RIP).
I’d just moved from Belgium back to England when I heard someone on Radio One make fun of the country I loved. I wrote in (with a pen and paper and stamps!), outraged, with words like “it’s a great place, full of wonderful people, so stop putting Belgium down!”. I signed it A Jason Donovan fan, because of course I did. If anyone who’s reading this has copies of the magazine from circa 1991, I’d love to see this letter again.
4.My next big obsession was Byker Grove.
For those of you not from the UK or too young to remember it, Byker Grove was a TV series for older kids that aired as part of Children’s BBC, after Newsround. It was set in a youth club, in the impossibly glamorous city of Newcastle upon Tyne. I loved it. I wanted to be a Dobson sister. I tried to cut my hair so it looks like Debbie’s, with a bit of the fringe falling out of my headband at the front, and it was a disaster.
I wrote to the producer and asked if I could be in the series, and he pointed out that Lowestoft was a bit far away, but he was super kind to me and we exchanged a few letters. I’ve tried to find him since, but his name is Matthew Robinson, so he’s a bit impossible to find on any social media. Matthew, if you’re reading, get in touch! Teenage me would love to say thank you.
Believe it or not, Byker Grove had a bit of a following, so much so that they even made and sent out newsletters! I was mentioned by name more than once in them and referred to as “avid fan” – and then as the very first MAF (Massive Avid Fan). I could do the accent, and to this day I can still say “This Byker Grove book, to accompany the programme, is now available in all good bookshops”. And if you’re wondering if I bought the books and read them many, many times – well, duh.
My stepdad took my mum and me up to Newcastle to meet the producer and tour the set. I even got to meet Jemma and Angel. Seriously! It was so cool. Sigh.
5.My dreams of being an actual actress were thwarted early on.
My mum insisted I had to take History instead of Drama for GCSE. I hated our history teacher and the only interesting bit was when we learned about JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis. But hey, at least I know about trephining, the four humours, and how to spell Egypt (I knew that last one anyway, but our teacher liked to patronise us in between his cigarette breaks).
6.I went to school with Zeb Soanes.
I didn’t go to the kind of school that produced a ton of well-known stars. It was the kind of school where the only application form they had for Cambridge was three years out of date. But, we did have Zeb Soanes. For those of you too young and/or too cool to listen to Radio Four, well, he’s a newsreader there, including, sometimes, on the Now Show. He did GCSE Drama. Just saying.
7.I revised for my GCSEs while making friendship bracelets.
I recorded myself reading from my notes, including for that stupid History GCSE, and then played the tapes back while I made friendship bracelets I presumably intended to sell. I could do the cool diamond and V shapes and everything. Oh, 1990s, how I miss you.
8. My nickname for a while was BT.
I’m a chatterbox, and British Telecom’s ad campaign in the ‘90s was “it’s good to talk”. I still believe that, by the way!
9. I have a bizarre love of Pizza Express.
At least, my friend Emily says it’s bizarre. Garlic dough balls, Pinot Grigio Blush, and, at the height of my love for it, the banoffee pie I’m still waging a one-woman campaign to bring back? I think if you don’t love it, then you’re the bizarre one, quite frankly.
10. The Washington Post one name me “the biggest fan you’ll ever meet”
Okay, if you’ve ever googled me, you will know this about me already, but I’ll take any excuse to tell the story of how I once had lunch with Josh Lyman, aka Bradley Whitford, who is clever and funny and the loveliest man I’ve ever met. But I’m a grown woman now, so I definitely don’t go around falling in love with famous men anymore. Nope. Not me.
About the author.
Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA, but actually, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. (Like her main character Libby, she knows a thing or two about celebrity crushes and the life-changing power of a television series.) She was recently longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, and her journalism, poetry, and essays have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Bustle, Book Riot, Writers’ Forum, and the Washington Post. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show about news and views from British books and publishing.
Claire Handscombe’s novel Unscripted is forthcoming from Unbound.
Unbound are an innovative, crowdfunding-based publisher who’ve produced best-sellers and award-winning books, like The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla. Their model is based on Kickstarter-style pledges, and when a book reaches 100% of their funding, they kick in as a more-or-less traditional publisher. So when you pre-order a book, you’re actually helping to make it happen. You get thanked in the back for being part of the journey, and you can also get various rewards at different pledge levels. So if you like the sound of Unscripted, please consider supporting the book by pre-ordering it a Unbound.