Here, she talks to Pat Black about her new novel and the strange artistic avenues coveting Molly Ringwald’s cardigan can lead you into…
Liz Tipping: I live in Birmingham with my husband and our adopted beagle, Mary. I write romantic comedies. The books I write are influenced by where I live and working class culture so they’re more Gavin and Stacey/The Royle Family type scenarios than a Richard Curtis Notting Hill-style rom com.
B: What’s Don’t You Forget About Me about?
L: Don’t You Forget About Me is a movie themed romantic comedy which pays homage to all those great John Hughes 80s teen movies like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Cara works in a video store and is invited to a school reunion. Remembering the terrible school discos she attended back in the day, she still yearns for her high school prom moment like the ones in the movies. She sees this as her chance to grab her magical movie moment.
B: It references an eighties song – if you were to pick five songs which define the book from that decade, what would they be, and why?
L: The Lotus Eaters - The First Picture of You
This song just screams 80s and fits nicely with how one character feels about another character but can’t quite express it. It’s also a great summer tune with only a slight hint of 80s misery.
Deacon Blue – Real Gone Kid
Cara in the book is desperately trying to be cool. There’s a scene where Cara’s friend, Stubbs “plays her old 45s” and it reminded me of this song. I think Deacon Blue as a band correlate nicely with the book too. Great music, great band but probably not “edgy” enough for the cool kids, which is kind of what the book is about- not being cool.
Taylor Dayne - Tell It To My Heart
This has 80s school disco written all over it. In the book Cara is haunted by an embarrassing incident at a school disco but actually the lyrics in the song fit the book pretty well. We’ve got these characters with stuff bubbling under the surface and what they need to do is let it all out, and scream it from the rooftops in a gigantic-haired Taylor Dayne kind of way.
Roam by the B52s is one of my favourite songs. It’s a cracking pop song and it represents how Cara feels about stuck in her hometown.
Safety Dance - Men Without Hats– this is the silliest song and an eighties classic! And there’s a fella in the book who has a daft haircut a bit like the lad in the Safety Dance video. I’ll have this one for the end credits, I think.
B: Video shops are relics of the past. What video did you hire Too Many Times To Be Healthy from your video shop as a kid?
L: We do still have a couple in Birmingham but I’ve not used one in years! The Lost Boys – watched it over and over again. I reckon I still know all the words off by heart. I think I watched it daily. And I had the soundtrack too of course and know all the lyrics to all of that too.
B: The boxes on videos were scary, I found. Did you ever think that, or is it just me? Do you remember any in particular?
L: Like, the pictures on the boxes? Or the actual boxes? Because , yes, the actual boxes were pretty scary. You’d certainly know about it when you trapped your fingers in the case when closing it. Not sure about the pictures on the boxes. I used to hire the Nightmare on Elm St films a lot. They were scary. I even made a paper mache house like the one in Nightmare on Elm St 3. What a little weirdo I must have been!
B: A two-part question on the Brat Pack. Which Brat Pack member did you fancy the most, and which one did you most want to be? Choose any movie/star from the era, doesn’t have to be John Hughes.
L: I would probably say I fancied Rob Lowe the most, but his hair was really stupid then. He’s much better looking now and his hair is alright now. And the movie star I most wanted to be was Elisabeth Shue. Adventures in Babysitting was another much rented video as was Cocktail starring her and Tom Cruise. and I still fancy Tom Cruise as well, which I have decided it completely fine, thank you very much, before anyone starts!
B: Do you find it strange that radio stations are still playing so much eighties music? I don’t remember 1950s music being played quite so much back in the 1980s. Is it possible the eighties were underappreciated in terms of music, fashion, art and culture? (may be too big a question I guess).
L: I don’t know, maybe we just have more radio stations now and people have more choices? I do remember fifties music being played a lot in my house and that music was slightly before my parents era. It’s interesting how many younger people are into eighties culture. When Don’t You Forget About Me started life on wattpad, it had tons of teen readers and they all told me how much they loved John Hughes films and Molly Ringwald. It’ll be something to do with economics and post- modernism probably.
B: Do you know anyone who might be able to sing the chorus to St Elmo’s Fire, pitch-perfect?
L: Yeah, I reckon John Parr is your man. I just went and had a look at the video to see how I fared and I wasn’t great at it but it did make me think about how St. Elmo’s fire didn’t really click with me. I reckon if it was released in 1985, then by the time it came onto video or on the telly, I would have been around thirteen maybe, but I never really liked it that much at the time. I think it’s because in the other eighties films, like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Adventures in Babysitting, the characters are at school, any of us could relate to them because we’ve all been to school. With St Elmo’s fire, I could never really fathom out what was going on.
B: What’s your eighties style dream/disaster? So many girls had the Fergie Bow, but nobody talks about it… It’s like Phil Collins records and watching House Party!
L: I had a lemon Fergie bow on a clip which was pinned to the bottom of a French plait. I wore it with a lemon and white t-shirt and a white skirt. That was probably one of the better outfits to be honest! Also had some pink ski pants with black elastic stirrups on them with a white shirt and a pink paint splatter pattern on them. Matchy matchy!
B: Tell us a bit about your next project.
L: I’ve had so many ideas floating around for years, but nothing so far that’s grabbed me as much as Don’t You Forget About Me did. But then, on Saturday I suddenly had a new idea and I sent it to my agent and she said it “sounds amazing” so I’m going to get cracking on that ASAP.
Read the review of Don't You Forget About Me here.
Read the review of Don't You Forget About Me here.