Munir Bello is the author of The Breakup Recipe, a romantic comedy told from the point of view of a salesman named Mark Mutton whose fiancee unexpectedly breaks off their engagement just weeks away from their wedding. His novel has been met with great success, and reviews that rave about the wit and charm of the book. He also writes a column called Men Uncovered about relationships in the London based magazine, We Are the City.
I had the opportunity and get to know him a bit and in the short time that I have been corresponding with him I can confidently say that he is as humble and kind as he is funny. Keep reading to learn more about his novel, writing process, and hysterical outlook on love & dating!
1. What made you want to write The Breakup Recipe?
I’ve always wanted to write and when I went through a break up that left me in financial difficulty, nature made the decision for me and I had to come up with a way of making extra money to survive.
2. Are there any specific authors or novels that inspired you while you were writing your book?
Humour was the main thing that I wanted to get across to my readers so I watched and read a lot of comedy like The Def Jam series, material from Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock and others. In terms of authors I finished reading Maya Angelou’s collection and the writing was so stunning that it made me want to get started. I’m not comparing myself to any of the people named but they definitely played a role in helping me to tell the story of Mark Mutton.
3. Where did you get the inspiration for the characters in The Breakup Recipe? Do you see aspects of your own personality in them?
Some of the characters are exaggerated versions of people I know and some of them are figments of my imagination. There is some of me in the book but generally speaking I used poetic license to do as I pleased and was so lucky to get the reception for the book that I received.
4. What was the most challenging aspect of writing your first novel? Are there any specific hurdles that you can tell us about?
The most challenging thing was trying to fit in trying to work full time and surviving on little or no sleep to fit the writing in. The main hurdle that I had to conquer was the severe exhaustion of operating on 3 hours of sleep a day for 9 months. That was tough!
5. Do you have any advice on publishing or writing that you would like to give to aspiring writers?
I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, you have to be thick skinned because there will be people who will tear your work to pieces and slate it. Use their criticism as a learning tool and just keep working away. I’d also say that whilst your end goal is to be successful, do not assume it’ll just happen, stay humble and don’t get ahead of yourself. Most importantly you better be prepared to work harder than you have ever done to compete with others with similar aspirations.
6. Do you plan to write another novel in the near future?
I’m writing two more books which will be follow ups to The Break Up Recipe and then I’ll close the chapter on Mark Mutton. After that there are other books I’d like to write on different subjects. In the immediate future I am writing columns for different publications and hoping to get my dating show commissioned.
7. As The Breakup Recipe is a romantic comedy I wanted to know if you try to take a lighthearted approach to dating and relationships in your personal life?
I most definitely do. Life’s far too short to spend arguing and fighting so I’m very laid back and my marriage is one that I try to fill with laughter and happiness.
8. Have you ever been on a date that went terribly wrong?
Yes I went to the toilet during a dinner date and when I came out the girl said, “Oh so you didn’t take a shit then?!” and burst into loud laughter. She was drunk and was speaking really loudly about all her toilet habits including how she once woke herself up from her sleep because she farted very loudly. Everyone in the restaurant heard it and they all looked at me in pity.
9. How long does it take you after meeting a woman to know if you are romantically interested in her?
I always know within seconds if I’m physically attracted to the person and after about 15 minutes my mind would have been made up on whether or not there would be a second date. As far as long term prospects, it completely depends on the person. Sometimes I would be unsure and other times I would be very sure, only to be proven very wrong!
10. Have you ever had a long-term relationship with a woman that you met in a club or bar?
Yes I met somebody in a club and was in a 5 year relationship with them. I’ve only met three women in clubs. The second person I met in a club, I had a short relationship with and the third was someone I met up with but it went no further than a date before I decided it wasn’t going to work. She thought the same so it wasn’t too awkward.
11. If a woman accepts a man’s offer to buy her a drink in a club do they expect anything in return? Do you expect anything in return if you buy a woman a drink?
I don’t know if other men do. If I bought someone a drink in a club then the only thing I’d expect is a short conversation but nothing else.
12. In your opinion, is chivalry sexist? For example: does a woman make herself less of an equal if she expects the male to pay for the first date, make the first move, and open every door for her?
Crikey, I’ve got to make sure I don’t say anything that gets people wound up. Chivalry is cool, excess chivalry is pathetic and unnatural as it doesn’t make you and your partner equals if every time she wants to walk through a door you open it for her. It’s fair for a woman to expect a man to pay for the first date but she should always be prepared to go 50/50. Making the first move is anybody’s to do in my eyes. Open every door? Well it depends, if a lady is across the room and closer to the door then she should open it haha. I think an overly expectant woman doesn’t make the relationship equal.
13. Do you have any advice for women who struggle with asking men out because they fear rejection, or fear that males will find them to be aggressive?
Yeah, have a shot of tequila! No, I’d say if it’s a fear then try and conquer it because a man won’t bite you for trying to be brave. It is actually very endearing. I don’t think it’s aggressive to be asked out. An aggressive female would be someone who straps you down and demands sex (not cool first move behaviour).