Make You Feel My Love Q&A
[WARNING: INCLUDES SPOILERS]
Q: Chasing Pavements had the perfect ending. Why did you decide to write a sequel to it?
A: I didn’t actually decide to write a sequel to Chasing Pavements. Chasing Pavements didn’t start off as a first in a series of books about troubled soul mates Mukti and Jamie. I had no idea what would happen to the manuscript – whether it would get published, and if it did, whether it would be successful. And even if was, even if fans demanded one, would that be enough to warrant a follow-on book? Did these characters have another tale to tell?
Whether it be films or books, I don’t believe in releasing sequels for the sake of it. Just to find out what the characters did next. The second instalment should be a project in its own right, and it must include all the elements of a standalone novel. This includes character development. Yes, even if your protagonist underwent a great deal of growth and development in the first novel, it shouldn’t stop there. Whatever happens in part 2 should inevitably change the characters in some way, otherwise the events in the sequel are probably not worth documenting.
The sequel has to meet the standards expected by the audience, whether they have read the first book or not. You shouldn’t rely on the notion that fans of the first book will read the second one. If you're lucky, then the majority of these fans will probably buy the next book, but if it isn’t up to scratch they will feel cheated. It might even affect how they feel about the first book. So writing a sequel to a book like Chasing Pavements isn’t a decision to be made lightly.
Q: How did it come about then?
A: The idea stemmed from a question I asked myself after I wrote the scene in Chasing Pavements where Jamie frames Daniel White for drug possession. What would happen if Jonathan and Mukti met again? Being a romantic at heart, I thought that of course he would fall for her all over again. But Jamie knew about Jonathan's existing relationship with Daniel and wouldn’t let anything happen between Mukti and the man she remembers as her saviour. So, in order to explore that question fully, Jamie couldn’t be with Mukti when she bumps into Jonathan.
Briefly, I considered the reunion taking place between summer and winter 2010 in Chasing Pavements, during Mukti and Jamie’s separation. But it would have been too much of a coincidence that Mukti and Jonathan should meet then, when 2010 had been such a significant year for Jamie and Mukti anyway. Also, Mukti and Jamie would get together in winter 2010, so I wouldn’t have enough time for the Mukti-Jonathan relationship (whatever kind of relationship that ended up as) to develop. So, I dislodged the thought from my head and carried on with Chasing Pavements.
But the idea never really left me. As soon as I finished the first draft of Chasing Pavements, I was thinking of ways to reunite Mukti with Jonathan – I was just so curious about what would happen. I knew Jamie had to leave Mukti for some length of time in order for me to bring Jonathan into her life. The soul mates didn’t have to break up; he could just leave for work, or to tend to his sick mother. And yet, that would never keep him away long enough. Then I remembered another errant thought I had when writing the first book. Jamie and Sarah had been very reckless; all that casual sex and almost always unplanned, it could only lead to trouble. “I bet she gets pregnant by him!” I had thought to myself once. And voilà, I had the perfect reason to separate Mukti and Jamie. Knowing Jamie the way I do, there was only one way he would react to this situation – separate himself from Mukti to protect her from getting hurt by him again.
But I didn’t start writing MYFML until April 2011, when I listened to one of my favourite bands Travis for the first time in years. Their music gave my ideas for Jonathan and Mukti’s relationship a… background if you like, and I knew the look of the book, the colours of the setting... Jonathan and Mukti’s relationship passed before my eyes as I heard ‘Love Will Come Through’. That song represented the beginning of their journey together and I wanted the song ‘Flowers in the Window’ to represent them at the point when they’re finally happy together.
Other artists, particularly Florence + The Machine, Coldplay and Bat For Lashes, helped take the story forward and I just had to write it all down. Even after I wrote it though, I still didn’t think of it as a sequel. The first book hadn’t been published yet, so there was no way I was going to talk about part 2! It was only when I let my friend read it that I thought seriously about publishing it. This was a few months after Chasing Pavements was published and I realised that Make You Feel My Love was a sequel worth releasing. I hope the readers agree.
Q: What was your favourite part about writing Make You Feel My Love?
A: I so enjoyed exploring Mukti and Jonathan’s growing friendship and love. The dynamic of their relationship, the way it started out, the couple they became, was so different to what happened between Mukti and Jamie in the first book. It allowed me to try different things, really highlight the contrast between the two male characters and their connection to Mukti.
Jonathan is nothing like Jamie, so of course he interacted with Mukti in a different way. He helped her through so much. He could have tried to play the nice guy, a shoulder to lean on, but he somehow knew that if he was always serious and overly sympathetic, then it would make her feel worse, make her pain more real. So he challenged her, joked around with her and got her to open up that way.
It was great to see another side to Mukti, let her regress back to the feisty girl that she was before the summer of 2005. And of course it was Jonathan who brought this out of her – he’s the only witness left in her life of the girl she used to be.
Q: Do you have a favourite scene or chapter in the book?
A: Yes, it’s the chapter called ‘Orbit’. Jonathan and Mukti get engaged after her art exhibition. She is finally ready to commit to him. They come home to celebrate. And find Jamie waiting for them in what was going to be their new room. Wow!
Even though there’s no dialogue or hardly any movement, so much goes on inside each of their heads. The whole book has been leading up to this chapter, and it’s the beginning of the segment of the story that I’d been building up to – the reason behind Jamie’s absence.
There’s a reason why we don’t see what Jamie gets up to in London, why the majority of the chapter called ‘News’ is from Maggie’s point of view – I wanted to reveal his secret at this crucial point in the novel. I wanted the full impact of the shock. For readers to find out at the same time as Mukti what has kept Jamie away from her so long.
Q: There is going to be another book, right?
A: Yes. By the end of Make You Feel My Love, Mukti has yet to make a final decision about who she wants to be with forever. She picks her man of the moment, the person she wants to be with at this point in her life, but she refuses to think about how this choice will affect her future. But she owes both men she loves a final decision, whoever she chooses, and so there will be another book where we will see if she can make that choice.