Breathe: The joke with the 85,000 word punchline.

It all started with a ridiculous name. I was out jogging, my mind wandering as I tried to distract myself from my knackered knees and aching hips. I was in no rush to come up with another story – I was still working on my previous novel, Alias – but the name came out of nowhere, and I remember laughing and wishing I had a pen so I could write it down.

Jemima Pardon.

You have to admit it has a nice ring to it. Somewhere on the home straight, I decided she could be England’s unluckiest paramedic, if I was ever minded to write a book about a paramedic, which at the time I absolutely wasn’t.

Skip forward a few months, and my wife and I are stuck in a fog-bound chalet in the Swiss Alps. I’m in a stinking mood, morose about the weather and the wasted days, and deep in the throes of my annual Post-Book Funk. This little-documented malady strikes whenever I finish writing a novel, and it usually involves terminal moping, the gnashing of teeth, and the utter conviction that I will never write anything good ever again, and anyway I have no ideas because I am rubbish. My wife is adept at riding this particular mood out, but being trapped in a small apartment with rain battering the windows made her less inclined toward hand-patting and “there-there”-ing than usual. She slapped a pen and a blank notepad on the table and told me in no uncertain terms to man the fuck up and come up with something, anything, to snap myself out of it.

So I made a brew, dropped a couple of marshmallows into her hot chocolate and told her about Jemima Pardon. You see, ever since that fateful jog, the name and concept had sort of taken root and I was having trouble thinking past it. I was coming to like the idea of writing something lighter, something funnier and, dare I say it, something that might actually be a romance.

Jem began to take shape that afternoon, acquiring a personality and background and quirks. She was a walker of small dogs, had chronic asthma, lodged with a Scottish bloke who baked pies for a living, and had once been ditched by a girlfriend at the train station in Milton Keynes. I wrote every detail down, no matter how small or stupid, and filled a few pages with character notes. It was a fun way to while away the hours, planning a story I’d probably never write because it was daft and as yet plot-less, and because I’d never wanted to do a paramedic story in case people thought it was a self-insert Mary Sue affair.

As often happens, the damn thing took on a life of its own regardless, and I found I couldn’t shake the character or the story. I wrote the first scene soon afterwards, introduced Jem to Rosie Jones, a slightly bonkers police officer, in a puddle on Barton Bridge, and away we all went.

A couple of years later, Breathe has a cover and a blurb and a September 1st release date. It’s sweet and funny in places, but – because I’m apparently incapable of writing pure fluff – there are dark edges to the tale and plenty of mayhem for those who like to blend their romances with suspense.

“It’s a pain in the arse,” Jem says about her name. “Everyone takes the piss.”

If I’m honest, I was taking the piss as well at first. The name was a joke. I just didn’t expect it to have an eighty-five-thousand-word punchline.

About Cari Hunter

Cari Hunter is the author of "Snowbound", "Desolation Point" and "Tumbledown", "Alias", and the Dark Peak series of crime thrillers - "No Good Reason", "Cold to the Touch", and "A Quiet Death" - all published by Bold Strokes Books. Her latest novel, "Breathe," will be released in September.
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13 Responses to Breathe: The joke with the 85,000 word punchline.

  1. Alicia van Vloten says:

    Oh goody, can’t wait!

  2. 58chilihed13 says:

    Looking SO forward to reading the 85 thousand word punchline!! I do love the name though, made me smile!

    • Cari Hunter says:

      I should’ve done a recount, I think it’s closer to 89,000 all told 🙂
      I love Jem’s name. It made me giggle-snort when I first thought of it – awkward whilst running – and I am so glad she stuck around and made me write her story.

  3. Bugs says:

    Not long now…. *rubbing hands in anticipation* 😀 Can’t wait to read all the humour, banters and what have you surrounding Jem and Rose! I mean, just Jem’s description alone is funny already! I mean, what could be more amusingly original than an unlucky chronic asthmatic paramedic with a hilarious name (although, I love the name – adorbs) pairing up with a free-spirited copper, eh? Add to that, a thriller of a case in the midst of a natural disaster, too?! Oh, you shouldn’t have, mate! Feeling spoiled! 😉

  4. Mark says:

    I know how much fun you would be having with a name like that but also got a pain in the ass it is for the character to take you down alley ways you don’t want to go.

    • Cari Hunter says:

      We had quite a healthy consensus in the end, balancing out a bit of thriller, mystery, romance and comedy. In some ways, it’s unlike anything I’ve written but then there are still a lot of my usual boxes ticked. I had great fun writing it and ended up very fond of Jem and Rosie.

  5. Gaby says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading it. A Cari Hunter book without the gore sounds like a winner to me 😁
    Congrats on the Goldie Award!!

    • Cari Hunter says:

      Thank you, I was very surprised and very happy!
      ‘Breathe’ is definitely a gentler read than…actually, all of my previous novels. I’m not saying there are no dark moments but there’s absolutely no on-page violence (not a conscious choice, it just wasn’t necessary in this one) and it is absolutely a romance at its heart – albeit, a thriller/mystery/adventure/action/romance. But they still count, right?

  6. Pingback: Breathe – Cari Hunter – Not Me Anymore

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