I first saw Mike Gayle do a reading at a Borders bookshop in London. His words hung in the air, and shortly afterwards I read his 1998 first novel, 'My Legendary Girlfriend'. I have been hooked ever since.

Mike has since then published five other novels, 'Mr Commitment' (1999), 'Turning Thirty' (2000), 'Dinner for Two' (2002), 'His 'n' Hers' (2004), 'Brand New Friend' (2005) and 'Wish You Were Here', and is currently working on his seventh book.

Once described as being the male answer to 'Bridget Jones', Mike's books all tell of male-female relationships, but also make a lot of references to rock music, both in their titles and their content.

I spoke to Mike, who is both a former fanzine writer and magazine agony aunt, about about his books and his interest in rock music.

PB : You started off by writing for a fanzine. Which year was that ? What was the fanzine called and did you do it on your own or with friends ?

MG : I wrote two fanzines, both with my friend, Jackie Behan. The first was called 'Incredibly Inedible' and ran from 1990 to 1992. The second one was called 'Bandwagon' and ran from 1992-1994. Between the two fanzines we interviewed bands like Blur, Teenage Fanclub, the BMX Bandits and Leatherface and artists like Bill Hicks, Sean Hughes and bizarrely Trev and Simon.

PB : And what we you doing before that ?

MG : Before the zines, I was a student at Salford Uni occassionally dabbling in music reviews and wishing I was writing for 'NME'.

PB : You later became a features writer for a women's magazine. How did that come about and how long did that last ?

MG : After graduating from university I moved back to Brum, where I'm from, and became a music editor of a local listing magazine. Through doing this, I made lots of contacts in the London music scene, many of whom became friends. I then moved to London after a year to do a postgraduate diploma in Journalism, and it was while I was there that I realised that I quite fancied teen journalism as a career.

I did work placements at various places and then graduated ended up working for the makers of Take That's official magazine, before moving first of all to 'Bliss' as agony uncle, and then 12 months later to 'Just 17' as features editor. I did that for about a year before going freelance so that I'd have the time to write my first book, 'My Legendary Girlfriend'. I would do a fortnight's freelancing then a fortnight on the book.

PB : Was 'My Legendary Girlfriend' the hardest of your books to write ? How long did it take to write and can you write books more quickly now ?

MG : It was actually really good fun, I loved the idea of writing to please no one but myself and had fun with it. Door to door it ended up taking probably a year and a bit. These days it takes me about ten months a book, but I'm not a particularly efficient writer.

PBM. Four of your books have very famous song titles for book titles, 'My Legendary Girlfriend' from Pulp's 'His 'n' Hers ':'His 'n' Hers' itself : 'Brand New Friend', the Lloyd Cole single and 'Wish You Were Here', the Pink Floyd track. Was that intentional ?

MG : I was a fan of Pulp and interviewed them for my fanzine when they played the Boardwalk in Manchester in 1991. I remember playing 'My Legendary Girlfriend' to a friend of mine and she picked up the sleeve, and said that it would make a great title for a book and it stuck with me. As for the other titles bizarrely, it's been more accident than design.

PB : Are you a frustrated musician underneath ?

MG : Isn't everyone ? You should see me play Sing Star on the playstation. I have rock hero in my blood!

PB : You always write from the male side. Any plans to write from the female side ?

MG : Yes, the new book which is tentatively entitled 'The Life and Soul of the Part' has a female lead. She's great though, the kind of girl that guys would have as their best mate.

PB : Last question ! Any plans for the next novel?

MG : Yes! I've got millions of ideas for book nine. The problem is just choosing the one!

PB : Thank you.

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