Episode 6

Writing about tricky topics in romantic comedy with Mhairi McFarlane

Mhairi McFarlane was born in Scotland (which is why her unnecessarily confusing name is pronounced Vah-Ree). After working as a journalist, Mhairi started writing novels. She lives in Nottingham with a man and a cat. Today, we're discussing her (totally bloody wonderful) eighth novel Mad About You.

Our interview begins at  00:22:00

Mini book club: This is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch by Tabitha Carvan*

When was the last time you felt unapologetic and obsessive joy for something? We loved the way this book explored joy and passions and encouraged us to pursue that – however strange it may seem to some.

Fun facts: We learn Michelle went through an Elvis phase after watching Lilo and Stitch as a child and Caitlin has added to IMBD trivia about Friends. And they both make themselves lists of things to read while on holidays because they can't not be productive.

*Thank you to Harper Collins Publishers for providing a copy for Michelle for review. Caitlin's position at HCP did not influence our discussion.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Weddings and the wedding industry: why Mhairi wanted to explore this in Mad About You
  • How Mhairi manages to tackle tricky subjects (like emotionally abusive relationships) while keeping the humour and lighthearted rom-com feel of her work
  • How Mhairi approaches plotting out her stories
  • Mhairi's advice for her past self (and aspiring writers)
  • How it feels to get endorsements from iconic writers like Marian Keyes
  • Mhairi's work as a journalist and her journey to publishing
  • Why Mhairi still finds it hard to call herself a writer
  • Why Mhairi sets her books in the north of England

Books and other things mentioned:

Follow Mhairi on Instagram @mhairimcf

Connect with us on Instagram: @betterwordspod

Mad About You is available now in Australia and the UK.

Please note that we choose podcast guests independently of Caitlin's job at HarperCollins Publishers. Although her job does help put us in touch with authors, we choose our guests based on what we've enjoyed reading and think you'd find interesting.

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.