When - after several months of zero publisher interest in TOYPD - I suddenly had five publishers offering to buy the book all at once, and for a week I went to a publisher meeting every single day, the one question all the publishers asked was: "do you think the book will sell to men?" I told them all that funnily enough most of the emails I received in response to the Guardian column (and there were thousands) came from men: husbands of breast cancer patients, brothers of same, and a huge response from doctors, mostly outside the UK, saying stuff like, 'this is so interesting for us, we have no idea how patients feel, ordinarily'.
To date, outside my immediate family, I know of only one male reader. Daniel Fletcher, MinstF (Cert), Head of Fundraising Development for the East and North Hertfordshire Trust (and therefore the CTRT appeal) tells me he read TOYPD on holiday. It's the only book he read during his two weeks away, but he says, he does have a two-year-old. His wife Fran managed two books, he added, with no bitterness at all.
And Daniel's review? "It's not unreadable from a male point of view". But if he wasn't connected to the CTRT appeal, there's no way he'd ever have picked it up - "because of the cover I suppose". The book he finished before TOYPD was J-pod, by Douglas Coupland (who coined the phrase Generation X), described as "a lethal joyride into today's new breed of technologies". Now that's he's finished J-Pod, he's gone back to another Douglas Coupland that he first read ten years ago, Shampoo Planet (the closest Fletcher's ever come to chick-lit, I guess). A fan of fantasy fiction - his favourite book of all time is Tolkien's prequel to Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion in which High Elves make war on the first Dark Lord - it has taken a book like TOYPD to give Daniel his first out-of-body experience. "It was quite surreal," Daniel says, " reading a book about people I know."