Twenty years ago, I stumbled across a copy of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods at a Barnes & Noble in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At first, I was only drawn to the cover, where lightning illuminated a distinctly Midwestern highway. But as I devoured the book over the next three nights, I knew I was reading an instant classic that people would be talking about for decades. I say all of this because since then, I've only felt this way about a handful of books—and Kelly Link’s first novel, The Book of Love, is one of them. I honestly think it’s a masterpiece.

Set in the fictional town of Lovesend, Massachusetts, where “toffee Victorians” and “single-family Capes” line the leafy streets alongside “chicken coops and soccer nets in the backyard, ”The Book of Love tells the story of four high school students investigating why three of them died, only to be resurrected nearly a year later by their music teacher, who may be more god than human. Over a few days, Lovesend becomes the battleground for a cold war between otherworldly deities, ghosts, witches, and creatures. Meanwhile, the human characters search for a way to avoid returning to the realm of the dead, where they only remember “a lot of trees,” the smell of roses, “and under the roses, something burning.” Along the way, Link interrogates the nature of love between friends, lovers, siblings, parents, grandparents, teenagers, and even animals.

The small-town world Link conjures in The Book of Love—one full of nuanced relationships between a large cast of characters, local history and cosmic mythology, and magic hiding in plain sight—is among the most detailed and immersive ever put to paper. It also makes for an extraordinary comfort read, and an emotional reminder of what we lose and gain as we age.

After establishing herself as a singular voice in science fiction and fantasy with five short story collections—including the 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist Get in Trouble—Link’s 600-page novel is one of 2024’s biggest literary events. From Link's home in the hilltowns of Massachusetts where she and her husband run an independent bookstore, Book Moon Books, Link spoke with me over Zoom about whether she believes in ghosts or afterlives, nighttime logic in literature, adolescence as a liminal space, and what she’s writing next. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

ESQUIRE: When and where did this book begin for you?

KELLY LINK: I’m a writer who finds it very useful to have a deadline, so when I sold Get in Trouble to Random House, I sold them a novel as well, on the grounds that it would make me actually write one. My plan was to write a very short haunted house novel, but I just could not come up with the thing that gave that book a heart. So I fell back on [The Book of Love] because I had a sense of the characters, and unlike the haunted house project, I could see why it would be different from a short story. And then of course it took eight years from that point to turn it in.

Why did The Book of Love need to be a novel instead of a short story?

Honestly, it seemed like it could be a trilogy. But I like compression. Believe it or not, this is a very compressed story as a single novel as opposed to if it were a series of books. There is space to imagine what might happen to these characters at the end, but the only thing I removed when I cut it down to one book was a loving pastiche of Regency romance novels. I was going to move the characters into that space for a whole book, and it would have been fun, but I don't think it was necessary.

How important was it for you to capture a sense of place? How much of Lovesend was inspired by Northampton or real towns on the Massachusetts coast?

The setting is a combination of lived experience and wish fulfilment. Easthampton and Northampton and all of the hilltowns up here have a really distinct vibe and a strong commitment to supporting quirky local businesses. When you live in a town that isn’t too big, that place begins to feel as if it’s a distinct living organism. If you live somewhere long enough, you mourn the ways in which a community changes. But when you write a book, you get to make things last in a way that they don't in the real world. Lovesend is an idealised version of that. There are people who have lived there for a long time who can still afford to live there. Climate change is not yet impressing upon this place in the way that it will very soon.

Why set this story at Christmastime in 2014?

The question of where in the contemporary moment to set it was a real issue, both in terms of music—because these are all characters with strong feelings about music—but also in terms of how the real world impinges on the characters. 2014 is the period when I began thinking about this project. So part of the tonal quality of the novel comes directly from a particular historical moment which is receding swiftly from us. I did think about what setting it at Christmastime would do to the tone. It was fun to take a holiday that wasn't Halloween—my favourite—and try to Halloween-ify it a bit. I also hope it provides a certain amount of solace and comfort.

"When you write a book, you get to make things last in a way that they don't in the real world."

Why did you set the main characters in The Book of Love in high school? Why not a college or adulthood?

I did think about making them much older, but adolescence is a liminal space. It’s a period in which you’re experiencing enormous change. You’re figuring things out about yourself, but you’re also more likely to make leaps into the wild. For me, these characters needed to be people whose impulsivity or decision-making felt more unpredictable, with fewer guard rails.

The first half of the book is written in a maximalist style that zooms in on small moments, memories, and details. Why did you take that approach?

Since this is a book about people coming back from the dead, the granular aspects of life—both the things that are irritating but also the things that give us delight—seem important. Because those are the things that keep us alive, right? If you lose joy or interest in those things, it gets hard to keep on going.

These characters have to make a decision about how badly they want to stay alive. It seemed important to me that they have a hypersensitivity to pieces of their lives that feel very minor. Like the noise that somebody makes when they're vacuuming. Also, to quote a meme, like a “bitch eating crackers.” When you’re so irritated by every single thing that they do. That kind of intensity seemed true to the characters within this narrative space.

How do you get inside so many different fictional people's heads with that level of intimacy?

If I'm going to care about the things that happen to somebody, I need to care about how they see the world in granular detail. The job of the writer is to make those details as interesting as possible. Or as propulsive and connected to the events in the book as possible. I'm not going to succeed at doing that for every reader. But I have to feel I’ve at least made them connective and interesting to me. The readers are willing to go along with it.

You’ve spoken about “nighttime logic” in fantasy fiction before. What does that term mean to you and how did you use it in The Book of Love?

Nighttime logic versus daytime logic is a way of thinking that Howard Waldrop came up with to talk about how narrative logic holds together for the reader as much as for the writer. With daytime logic, there is an explanation for things that happen. Clocks tell time in the way you would expect. Even if strange or fantastical things happen, there's a rule book by which they work that will be explained to you. A lot of realistic fiction, science fiction and fantasy, rely on daytime logic. Here's something startling, but I'm going to explain how it functions in the world. Often rooted in the inexplicable, even ghost stories have a kind of daytime logic to them. Somebody did something wrong and the consequence is that they are haunted.

Nighttime logic is more like carnival logic. Normal roles are upended. In James Theraper's book, The 13 Clocks, things are happening which will not be explained. It signals that the world has become a very strange place. It's not quite the same as dream logic, where first you're in one setting and then you're in another. Or you’re holding a cup of tea and then suddenly it becomes something else. We know dream logic. But nighttime logic is when you have a sense that there is an organising principle behind the world that belongs to the writer. The writer may not explain it, but there is a kind of coherence to it, even if it feels unnerving.

David Lynch is a great example of nighttime logic—there's an estranging quality to his work. A lot of horror operates in nighttime logic. Frankly, a lot of realistic fiction does, too—Joy Williams is great at that, and Barbara Comyns.

Do you often write at night to help you get in the right mindset?

I do my best work between 3:00 pm and 1:00 am. My writing brain gets sharper the farther we get into the afternoon. If I could organize my life so that I push that window further, I would be quite happy! If I'm on a retreat, I can work until three or four o'clock in the morning. I can write pretty much anywhere. I have an office. But I like being closer to other people when I work, so mostly I write down in our dining room. Ideally, I work in a room with other writers. I’ve gotten more writing done if I can see other people engaged in the same work, either having a great time or floundering.

Death plays a large role in this novel, as it does in many of your short stories. Has writing about it so often changed your perspective on mortality?

I saw somebody—maybe Nick Harkaway?—say that writers are generally catastrophists. You get on a plane and if you're a writer, you immediately start thinking about what happens if the plane crashes. You think about the most dramatic possibilities.

I was always somebody who was drawn to ghost stories. And death is always going to be part of a ghost story. I was the child of a pastor who then became a psychologist. Those are the professions where you're dealing with heavy, confusing things. I don't know why writers end up with the material that they draw from over and over again. You end up with a range of interests that you have an emotional connection to as a writer that you’re going to explore. For me, it's the fantastic—and monsters, and loss, and death. It's also about how people see the world and what they celebrate.

I don't think writing about death has changed how I see the world, but I do think it gives me a framework for thinking about the way I want to live. The pandemic has been a hard thing to go through. We had to close the press that my husband and I have run for over 20 years because my husband has long COVID. We have to be very careful about going out into the world because of the chance of exposing him to something that could make his health even worse. When you write fiction, you’re in charge of the things that happen. But you also get to work through the emotional costs and realities of dealing with very heavy stuff.

"I collect other people's ghost stories."

Do you believe in ghosts?

A few years ago, a good friend of mine—Holly Black, the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles—got a letter from a kid that said, “Dear Miss Black, I need you to tell me if fairies are real, and don't lie to me like the other adults.” She wrote back, “I've never seen a fairy, but I know people who say that they have.” That's how I feel about ghosts. I collect other people's ghost stories. There are many that I find either persuasive or troubling. I've never seen one, but I fully believe that some people just don't have the antenna or the radar. I am bad at telling if somebody was drunk. So maybe I do see ghosts. We could be seeing ghosts all the time but we just don't know it.

Do you believe in an afterlife of some kind?

I think I do. A childhood spent in a lot of churches with a father who was a Presbyterian minister, maybe some of that is a holdover But I'm agnostic. I would very much like to believe that there is something after death. But I find the fact that I don't know kind of exhilarating—that there is a mystery to which we all either do or don't find out the answer. That seems kind of cool, that maybe there's something interesting aside from the process of dying. That maybe you get to find out.

I have a hard time at the moment with a lot of things that are happening in the world. Not knowing becomes troubling when you see so much suffering and so much needless cruelty and death. It seems wrong to think there's life after death. And maybe it will be better there because that's just a reason not to fix things. But at the same time, the idea that there's nothing past death makes watching suffering that you can't do anything about feel even harder.

If The Book of Love is a standalone novel, what are you writing next?

[Another] novel, which is a haunted house story. I want it to be economical. Small. More experimental. If a novel is a large boulder the size of a large boulder, the next thing I want to work on is a small boulder. The size of a large boulder—a classic 50,000-word ghost story novel that feels like a short story.

Originally published on Esquire US

Jake and I had done a bro-trip once before, driving from Lusaka, where he lives, down to the Luangwa Valley; but this was going to be very different. Instead of travelling cross-country, Mad Max-style, with driving beer and guns, we were going to be following the Lonesome Dove trail, from widescreen Texas all the way up the plains of Montana.

Jake has been obsessed with Larry McMurtry's Western novel – in which several Texas rangers drive a cattle herd north in the twilight years of the Old West – since it was first published in 1985, and for some years it has been his intention to drive the trail. As Jake is a former ranger and a bit of a cowboy himself, he originally wanted to do it all on horseback. When I told him I could spare five days and five days only, we opted for the next best thing. Which was a massive Ford Bronco Everglades, an SUV so large I suspect at some point it will be awarded its own zip code.

We picked it up in Austin, where we started the trip, poring over the route in the city's new Soho House. I felt so at home there I almost ordered a white-wine spritzer, but in the end opted for a margarita that was almost as big as the Bronco. Suitably fortified, we retired for the night, preparing ourselves for the next day's 10-hour, 600-mile drive to Dodge City.

Out soundtrack was obviously all-important, and we opted for traditional cassette-era rock, where you're never far away from a Bob Seger ballad or a Doobie Brothers singalong. Were Jack and I a cliché? Only completely.

By now we had bought cowboy hats – of course we had!

Kansas was far more rugged than Texas, a largely empty place that keeps its scenic charms so well hidden you might never find them. We certainly didn't. Our Best Western was misnamed. Hungry from having been in our designer tank all day, we wandered around half a dozen malls before finding an awful-looking Mexican restaurant with strip lighting, plastic chairs and worryingly cheap burritos. It was, of course, wonderful. Cheap Mexican food is always better than expensive Mexican food.

The following morning, following age-old advice, we got the hell out of Dodge.

And headed for Nebraska, which appeared to be Kansas squared. Sure, there was a lot of it, maybe slightly more than necessary. I felt as though I'd had enough of the place after an hour or so, so goodness knows what McMurtry's cowboys must have felt like as they ambled through.

By now we had bought cowboy hats – of course we had! Jake's was traditional, while mine looked like the kind Nick Cave might wear. Black. Svelte. Gentrified. Now we were getting to the heart of the matter, driving into Wyoming, the penultimate stop on our trip, and one of the most beautiful places on earth. This is real cowboy country, where the Rockies cast a shadow, both real and metaphorical, making you feel you could easily be steering a herd of unruly cattle across the Great Plains. Instead of Great Plains I had an irascible co-pilot with even lower blood-sugar levels issues than mine. We stopped for burritos almost as often as we stopped for gas.

Wyoming is Americana maximus, where every vista is lunar, and every backyard is full of discarded cars. I reckon Bruce Springsteen came here on vacation when he was 16 or so and inhaled enough cowboy/highway/blue-jean imagery to keep him going for an entire career. Honestly, after we'd been driving for three or four hours, I felt as though I could write a Springsteen song myself. Either that or a McMurtry novel.

Crossing into Montana makes you feel life's great achievements ought to be immediately downgraded

If Wyoming was our favourite state, Montana came a close second. Sure, every town looked like a larger version of Port Talbot, and yes, all its rivers had long since run dry, and yes, the mountains appeared to have been replaced by forests of grain silos, but there was no denying its beauty. Crossing the state line into Montana makes you feel as though life's great achievements ought to be immediately downgraded. It is so gargantuan, so preposterously epic that even our Bronco felt small.

On arrival at our Airbnb, Jake read me an email from the own: "I hope you boys have a great time in town. Just remember not to leave any trash outside. We have a rather cantankerous bear."

Being a cowboy, and the kind of chap who never goes anywhere without his Leatherman, Jake found this terribly amusing, whereas I immediately reverted to my default Reservoir Poodle disposition and started sulking. We never saw the bear, but this was only because we were distracted by the contents of our local liquor store. Having had dinner in the local tavern (yup, burritos again, and they were terrific), we decided we needed a couple of Northern Hospitality beers to take the edge off the night. As we walked in, wearing our cowboy hats, singing "Long Train Running" and swaying rather too enthusiastically for men who had only drunk two medium-sized margaritas, we saw a store-within-a-store full of firearms. And just as Jake was about to start fondling one of the assault rifles, the assistant stopped us in our tracks.

"Sorry boys, you can buy your beers and your whiskey but the gun shop's closed for the night. If you wanna buy a gun you'll have to come back at eight in the morning."

As I was flying out of Billings early the next day, I missed the concluding episode of our trip. But Jake's gone worryingly quiet and there have been no sightings of the bear since October.

Dylan Jones' latest book, Faster Than a Cannonball, is out now. This piece appears in the Spring 2023 issue of Esquire, out now

Originally published on Esquire UK

It wasn’t long ago that cigarettes were content with just slowly killing the people who smoked them 10 or 20 times a day. More recently, the tobacco industry wants to do away with itself, too. In an act of slow-burning suicide, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of cigarettes has chosen to quit smoking, stubbing out a multi-billion dollar business on the back of its own hand.

In the summer of 2021, Philip Morris International announced that it intended to “un-smoke the world”, including stopping the sale of Marlboro cigarettes in Britain within a decade. Audaciously, the tobacco giant also proposed the notion of “a world without cigarettes”. It called on the British government to actively ban the sale of its tobacco products, with Philip Morris International CEO Jacek Olczak suggesting that the UK should start treating cigarettes like petrol-powered cars, the sale of which is due to be banned from 2030.

An interesting approach when one considers that, just two years ago, Philip Morris’s Marlboro brand was the world’s most valuable tobacco product. Estimated to be worth $33.6 billion, Marlboro’s value sat alongside brands like Nike and American Express.

And get this: with its marketing muscle now fully behind the IQOS e-cigarette, a device that heats tobacco to deliver nicotine without the smoke and tar that cause diseases, including cancer, Philip Morris planned to reposition itself as... wait for it... a “health and wellness” brand.

At epoch-defining, culturally seismic moments like this, it is, one feels, important to spare a thought for the cruelly victimised community who will be most acutely affected by such a game-changing decision: the supermodels.

Without Marlboro Golds (the cigarette formerly known as Marlboro Lights and still called that by, well, everyone) what on earth is Kate Moss going to do? What will the fashion industry X-rays in Paris, Milan and London do with their hands and mouths between shows, looks and shots? How will the stylists, photographers, PRs, party organisers and model -agency mavens get through the day without a draw on their cork-tipped cylinders of poisoned pleasure?

Hard to believe, now that smokers have become pariahs and outsiders (quite literally, dar-ling), but throughout the naughty 1990s and beyond, Marlboro Lights were everywhere, as ubiquitous as drop-waist Maharishi combat pants, Nike Air Max and “Wonderwall”. Back in those days, an old party-hard friend of mine would stop at his front door every time he ventured out for an evening — so that’s every single evening for a decade — taking a second to ensure that he had everything he required, in hand or pocket, for the next few hours’ carousing. He called it the “C-check”: cash (for cabs and cocaine), credit cards (for cocktails and champagne) and, most crucially, cigarettes. Marlboro Lights, of course. No other brand was acceptable.

At times it seemed as if the whole of Swinging London was bumming from the same pack

My pal knew, as we all did, that those perfectly formed paper tunnels, packed tight with heady brown leaves, were social mobility sold in crush-proof packs of 20. Mini chimeneas of glowing orange and sweetly intoxicating acridity that flirted and swaggered, even on the lips of dorks and in the hands of wallflowers. Simply everyone who smoked, smoked them.

In 2021, smokers are regarded as bad influencers, but in previous decades they were cover stars, rock stars, Soho blades, record-company tyros, movie directors, Primrose Hill yummy mummies. And, at times, it seemed as if the whole of Swinging London was bumming from the same pack.

Though truly a global product, Marlboro Lights seemed to flaunt a certain London look (the brand was named after a Philip Morris factory on Great Marlborough Street, W1), neatly and expensively and serendipitously positioned as the vogue cigarette long before Vogue cigarettes became a thing. More than just a smoke, they were a pop icon, with their architectural logo, its letters crenelated like the Manhattan skyline, pack graphics designed in geometric, constructivist style by Frank Gianninoto.

Launched in the 1920s, advertising for Marlboro was originally based on the cigarettes’ “lady-like” filter tip (big tough men obviously preferring their smokes full strength and unfiltered). Marlboro’s cork filter had a printed red band around it to hide lipstick stains. “Beauty Tips to Keep the Paper from Your Lips” went the sales blurb.

The Marlboro Lights’ foggy hegemony and swanky social mobility was baffling and frustrating for its rivals, who spent just as much on sponsoring F1 teams as they did but couldn’t quite get in the game. Indeed, so all-asphyxiating was the great American smoke in the Big Smoke during the last millennium that other brands were forced into guerilla marketing tactics in order to stay competitive.

At Oliver Peyton’s wildly fashionable Atlantic Bar and Grill in Piccadilly, cigarette girls would walk the floors brandishing trays of Camel Lights. If they spotted some hipster inhaler — Bono or Helena Christensen — with a pack of Marlboro Lights next to their Cosmopolitan cocktail, a Camel cutie would insert herself and offer a whole pack — gratis — so long as the celebrity smoker stubbed out his or her Marlboro Light and sparked up a Camel instead. It didn’t work. Marlboro Lights carried on being the default-setting smoke for bad-boy actors and 3am-eternal fashion mannequins; girls who lit boys who lit girls who lit boys, as the Blur song goes (nearly).

How much was Philip Morris paying Kate for this incredible PR? Zip. Zero pounds

But it was getting the supermodels on board that was Marlboro’s greatest, accidental coup. All the big girls knew that a pack of Marlboro Lights a day kept the hunger at bay. Especially when paired with copious sea breezes and the company of a lizardly rock star.

And then there was Kate Moss, perhaps the greatest smoker of all time. During the 1990s, Kate was said to be raking in around $10 million a year from contracts with Burberry, Chanel, Calvin Klein and more. But her most loyal and gilded partnership was surely with the Marlboro Lights flip-top pack, which she promoted with reliable and casually professional zeal. Pretty much every night, for around 20 years.

How much was Philip Morris paying Kate for this incredible PR? Zip. Zero pounds. Kate was Marlboro’s coolest and sexiest brand ambassador— and she did it for free. For the love of the warm glow of the yellow flame ignition, the long, noirish drag, the fuggy blast of sweetly noxious, bluey-grey cloud.

And now? Time for Kate — and the rest of us — to prepare for a world without the Marlboro Golds. Either that, or move to the developing world. No plans, so far, to stop selling the cancer sticks there.

Simon Mills is a contributing editor to Esquire. This piece appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Esquire UK.

Originally published on Esquire UK

An acquaintance asked me recently if I ever worried about getting another boyfriend. Surely, he said, my job would put potential suitors off? Later on, I tried to think of another trade men might say this about, and could only come up with sex work. I am not a sex worker, though I have something in common with escorts and cam girls. I too am engaged in the business of selling myself.

I am a writer who writes mostly about her own life. I sometimes pitch ideas about other subjects, but they rarely get picked up. In the past year, I have written nine articles. Seven of these could be classed as memoir. Three were about ex-boyfriends; relationships relayed in less than glowing terms. The men were disguised, though not so well that they wouldn’t recognise themselves.

This is another question that comes up a lot, when you write memoir: What happens if a man spots himself in your work? The answer is nothing, most of the time. Despite the fact we have some of the most stringent libel laws in the world, you have to be very rich, or inoperably maligned, to bring suit. If someone is telling the truth, you can’t sue for defamation; you’d have to try for invasion of privacy. And provided the writer has made an attempt to obfuscate your identity, that’s fairly hard to prove.

I can’t say when, exactly, it became my job, to write bitter essays about men

The ethics are less clear-cut. Unless you’re writing about your time as an anchorite, other people are going to feature in the story. As with most things, it’s easier to seek forgiveness than permission. People generally fall into one of two camps: those who love being written about and think the whole thing is a terrific wheeze, irrespective of what you actually say, and those who are horrified by the idea, and will consider even the most carefully rendered portrait to be a violation. There’s nothing you can do to please this second camp, short of leaving them off the page. I suppose you could always deploy that flimsy but time-honoured excuse: I was just doing my job.

I can’t say when, exactly, it became my job, to write bitter essays about men. Some time after my bitter memoir was published. The book was about an ill-fated affair I had with a married offshore worker. It contained the ghostly imprint of another book, the book it was meant to be: a piece of straight reportage about oil rigs. No one came out of it well: not me, or him, or the other men, or the oil industry itself.

Yet the only person who objected was a woman: my ex-boyfriend’s wife. Long before the book was published, she wrote to my editor, concerned I might smear her husband’s good name. When my editor asked me what I thought we should do, I suggested a tactic I’ve used all my life. You might say it’s the very principle b ywhich my existence is organised. It’s called: Let’s put our heads under the duvet, and hope it goes away. Curiously, my editor took my advice. More surprising still: it held good. Nothing came of it. The book enjoyed modest success. I got offers of other work. Over time, a new connection was soldered in my brain. Psychic pain means money.

The industry has an endless appetite for female self-disclosure. To the point that I no longer think of my life as a series of chapters, but as discrete episodes that can be turned into features and monetised. Editors like personal essays because they’re quick to turn around, compared with other types of journalism. There’s no research to undertake, no interviews to conduct, no travel to expense, no PRs to win over.

I tend to hoard certain conversations, noting the stupidest and most insulting things people say

Writers like them because they’re pretty straightforward to do. You just need to sit down at your desk, disinter some buried grievance, and transcribe it. When I was struggling with my book I often used to wonder if writing a novel wouldn’t be easier. Now I am writing a novel, I can say, with complete certainty, it is not. Of course, I already have a title in mind for the essay I will pitch, should I decide fiction is not my forte and junk the project altogether (“Couldn’t Make It Up”).

Admittedly, the work has left me with some weird habits. I tend to hoard certain conversations, making notes of the stupidest and most insulting things people say. If I have a fight with a man, I’ll write it up, while it’s still fresh in my mind. And I’m more sanguine about breakups, because part of me will be thinking: “Good. I can go off and convert this experience into cash now.” I’m not quite at Liz Jones’s level (yet). Her tales of marital woe and unhinged spending once made her one of the best-paid columnists on Fleet Street, but she said the job warped her behaviour. She used to find herself picking fights so she'd have material for her next piece. This is Nora Ephron's mandate, pushed to its furthest logical limit. If you truly believe that everything is copy, and allow these magpie instincts to rove unchecked, then pretty soon, your whole life will be plotted per the vectors of the market place. The more money you earn, the more convinced you'll be there was no other course.

As to whether it puts prospective boyfriends off, it's very hard to call. Men don't get in touch to tell you they're not going to ask you out, then list their reasons why. A more reliable metric might be to audit your old relationships, and see how often the issue came up. When my last boyfriend and I argued, he used to say I didn't care enough to write about him, which suggests that, far from being scared off, he quite fancied the role of muse. Personally, I think this is an insane complaint. But then, I would never want to go out with a writer. They might promise to respect your privacy while you're together. They very rarely honour that agreement in the end.

Tabitha Lasley is the author of the memoir Sea State. This piece appears in the Summer 2023 issue of Esquire UK.

Originally published on Esquire UK