So many parts of the novel writing process are a lot of fun for different reasons. World-building is always a blast, coming up with characters, storylines, research trips (justified or not)… but one thing that I absolutely love is activating something in my head that would have stayed dormant otherwise, and when writing my latest novel, No Ex Before Marriage, this meant taking a trip back to 2006.
No Ex Before Marriage follows Poppy, 31, as she tracks down her ex-husband, Zac, to let him know that their divorce never actually went through, just days before he’s set to the knot again. As Poppy and Zac gear up to finally end their relationship for good (something they both thought they had already done) there are a handful of flashback chapters showing how they got together, how their relationship played out, and what it was that brought it all to an end.
Poppy and I are about the same age which means that looking back at different points of her life were not unlike looking back at my own. The backdrop, the trends, the clothing, the music. Flashback chapters are always fun to write but, for some reason, letting myself travel back to 2006, and chatting about it with my friends, was especially amusing. My 2006 scene in particular foreshadows one of the present-day chapters and thinking about how things would be different between the two, more than fifteen years apart, was hilarious. For example, Poppy might not be without an iPhone the size of her hand these days, but back in 2006 it was all about the Motorola RAZR. These days we communicate with our friends far differently, with GIFs and emoji, but back then, when I think about how my friends and I used to message each other, oh my gosh, there was no word we wouldn’t try to shorten, with text messages appearing a series of three letter words and numbers, and we had to settle for emoticons instead of emoji.
The fashion was funny to think about too. Teenagers these days are so stylish, with perfect eyebrows and contoured cheeks. Back in 2006 the height of fashion was worlds away. Things like jean shorts with black leggings underneath. Vest tops with layers and layers of beads. Bracelets high up your arms. And the make-up, wow, it was all Dream Matte Mousse and so much eyeliner and so many layers of mascara I’ll bet most of us still haven’t quite removed all of it. As for the hair it was backcombed to hell, with a big thick fringe swept to one side, fixed in place with a flower headband.
If you were cool enough you would have a Jane Norman bag that you used for your PE kit. Jake Gyllenhaal was only 25, Matthew McConaughey was still making romcoms, and Leonardo DiCaprio was still dating women under 25. Actually, that last one is still true, sorry.
How old were you in 2006? What do you remember about it? Or if you were in secondary school at a different time, what was the fashion like, and what made a person cool? I’d love to hear all about it.