If you haven’t heard about The Next Big Thing then where have you been? Each Wednesday, authors who have been selected answer ten set questions on their blog about their next book. They then tag five authors, give a brief bio about each, and it will be their turn the following Wednesday. The idea is to make some sense of the blogosphere by drawing attention to good author blogs. I’ve tried to choose a varied set of authors who will take The Next Big Thing out in new directions, and I’m sure all of you will find at least one author you haven’t encountered before – and maybe get some new ideas about the ways blogs can be used. You’ll find them all at the end of this post.
With thanks to Colin Tucker who tagged me. Colin’s blog is at https://colinptucker.wordpress.com
1) What is the working title of your next book?
Help required on this. So far it has had the working titles Charing Cross Station and then Everyone Can Sing. I’m also considering A Time to Sing. Any feedback on these ideas would be very welcome.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for one of the main stories in the book came from a relationship I had with a character who seemed exceptionally kind and caring. A person of integrity. But it turned out he was extremely deceptive and hiding something important. I don’t like novels about couple relationships so I was waiting for something else I could add to the book. Then I discovered that a holiday cottage I had fallen in love with had been the scene of something horrific just before I stayed there. This gave me the extra inspiration I needed to build a story about how we make assumptions and how our perceptions about people and places can totally change when a single fact about them is revealed. I also wanted to write about feminism and love comedy, so meeting the stand-up comedian VG Lee inspired me to add a character based on her who has written a spoof book of extreme feminist ideas as a comedy but it becomes a bestselling cult manifesto.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
This is always hard to answer for me. It’s contemporary fiction, which says nothing about it except that the voice is very contemporary. It’s perhaps literary fiction, but I hate to say that as it sounds elitist and I think literary fiction can be an enjoyable read for most people. It’s definitely comedy but also has thought-provoking themes I hope. Like my last novel Everything is Free it’s probably a ‘state of England’ novel (as one reviewer said) as I like to write about our society, and it combines dark humour and light humour. It doesn’t get as nasty as Everything is Free, which I will be giving away for five days from Saturday on Kindle as a dark, alternative Christmas gift of a novel.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
The deceptively over-nice character Robert looks a bit like Alan Titchmarsh, but I’m not sure if he would like to act. Somebody like that with a ‘butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth’ look who isn’t too handsome. VG Lee could play the comedian who gives feminism a kick up the pants with her comedy manifesto. Judith and her 18-year-old daughter Lydia look like a younger and a middle-aged version of Carole King, and there’s a very androgynous character called Viv who may be male or female. I’d need a very feisty actor for Viv. A young Tilda Swinton maybe. Then there’s Joe who is like a middle-aged Bob Dylan. And a mystery woman who Glenn Close could do well.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The people who seem closest to us can be strangers guarding secrets and the revelation of one fact can make us realise we’ve been living a lie for years: everything we hold most important can be taken from us in that instant.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will approach agents with this novel. With my last novel I turned down offers from a major publisher and a good small publisher, thinking it would be good to support Ward Wood Publishing with it. But it’s not a good idea to be an author/publisher these days despite a long and important tradition of this in the UK. It’s much more effective for me to publish and promote the work of others. Unfortunately nowadays, with so many people self-publishing and setting up small companies to publish their own work, it has become harder to be an author/publisher in a professional way.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It isn’t completely finished but I’d say two years.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I can’t really think of any. I seem to have developed a bit of an unusual style, and even if I start off not writing in it, it soon takes over again. My contemporary writing voice has been compared to Catherine O’Flynne but she writes about urban disaffection whereas I love the city and even some of the most dreadful characters.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A person I met who seemed like one of the best people I had ever known, but who turned out to be the person who has treated me worst in my life. To him I send my gratitude, as it’s the most deceptive people who inspire some of the most interesting characters for me as a writer. The more successfully deceptive a person is, the more they surprise the reader, and the more the reader believes the other characters would have believed in them. An obviously deceptive person would be transparent to the reader and the people deceived would be demeaned as they would look too stupid and gullible. We all have to be conned by them, and in my life I’ve been inspired by two people who were excellent at the art of deception.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I had to learn to sing as research for this novel and it has become a passion. I wanted learning to sing to be a way Judith gets rid of her inhibitions and as an echo of how Erica Jong used aerophobia in Fear of Flying. Feminism is one of the themes of the novel, with the teenagers researching the history of feminism and discussing the iconic books and novels, so I wanted to have a similar positive note and title. Sorry about the pun.
The Next Next Big Things
Here are the five authors I’ve tagged. I enjoy their writing and their blogs and it’s a delight to be able to share them with you.
Matthew has had poems published in a variety of places, including Fire, Poetry Ireland and Poems from Art (Tate Modern) and some are forthcoming at nth position. His first collection of haiku - The Regulars - was published by Snapshot Press in 2006 and the second, The Lammas Lands, will be published in 2013. He is associate editor for Presence haiku magazine and was joint writer/editor (with John Barlow) of Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku (Snapshot Press, 2008). He is the UK contributing editor for the annual Red Moon Anthology of Haiku (USA). His haiku have been anthologised in - amongst others - the Iron Book of British Haiku, The New Haiku (Snapshot Press), and, more recently, The Humours of Haiku (Iron Press) and he has run haiku workshops for the Essex Poetry Festival and for Poetry South. His blog is at http://matthewpaulpoems.blogspot.co.uk
After a career making Arts Programmes as a producer/director and executive producer for British, American, Japanese and European broadcasters, Colin Bell (aka wolfiewolfgang), gave up television to concentrate on writing. His novel, Stephen Dearsley's Summer of Love, will be published in 2013 (Ward Wood Publishing). He has also published three children’s stories (Novello’s), film reviews (Mansized, the biggest men’s health online website), and poetry in the UK and the USA in The Blotter, Every Day Poets, Shot Glass Journal, Bittersweet, Prism and the Fib Review. His short stories have been published by Ether Books and performed by White Rabbit Theatre in London and he is a Writers’ Village Best Writers’ Award winner. He lives in Lewes, East Sussex, England and also writes a daily blog and other reviews as wolfiewolfgang on his website http://www.wolfiewolfgang.com
Abegail Morley is guest poetry editor for The New Writer. Her collection How to Pour Madness into a Teacup (Cinnamon 2009) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2010); the title poem was previously nominated for the Best Single Poem. Her second collection Snow Child is published by Pindrop Press.
She was nominated for the London Best New Poet Award 2010 and won the Cinnamon Press Poetry Collection Award (2009), The Didsbury Arts Festival Open Poetry Competition (2011) and an Orbis Readers’ Award. She has won prizes in Agenda Competition; Nottingham Open Poetry Competition; The Frogmore Prize; Leaf Books; Kent and Sussex Folio; Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition; Canterbury Festival and Swale Life Poetry Competitions. Her work appears in a wide range of journals including Anon; Assent; Envoi; Financial Times; The Frogmore Papers; Ink, Sweat and Tears; The Interpreter’s House; Iota; New Walk Magazine; Other Poetry; Poetry Review; Poetry Salzburg; The SHOp; Snakeskin; The Same and The Spectator and is reviewed in the TLS; Other Poetry; Peony Moon; Ink and Sweat and Tears and Eyewear.
She is also in the following anthologies: Not Only the Dark (2011); The Forward Book of Poetry (2011); Balancing Act and Other Poems (2011); Did I Tell You? 131 Poems for Children in Need (2010); The Sandhopper Lover and Other Stories (2009). Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual (2012).
Abegail’s blog is at http://abegailmorley.wordpress.com
Mike Horwood was born in London in 1955 and grew up in Berkshire. He has lived in Finland, where he teaches English, since 1985. Mike has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and is currently working towards a PhD at Bangor. He has a poetry collection, Midas Touch, and a novel, The Finn´s Tale, both published by Ward Wood Publishing. His blog is at http://www.mikehorwood.blogspot.com
Sharon says: I became a writer at five when my German-Brazilian-American grandfather gave me an Amazonian plant which he said could sense good and evil, thus dooming me to a life ruled by a vivid imagination. Having survived a sticky teenage hell by turning to verse, I became Shell Young Poet of the Year, my first collection, Rain in the Upper Floor Café, being published when I was seventeen.
After spending several years pretending to be a model, art dealer and bookseller in post-Velvet Revolution Prague, amongst other places, I studied English at Queen Mary, University of London and then read for an M.Phil. in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Jesus College, Cambridge, before returning to London where I gained my Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Lisa Jardine.
I taught at various universities before abandoning academia to work freelance and focus on fiction. Since then, I have received the title of Writers Inc. Writer of the Year and have also been short-listed for the Raymond Carver and New Writer story awards on four occasions, being named in the latter as the Editor's Choice.
Having been published in anthologies, newspapers and journals in the U.K., U.S. and in translation in Mexico, my work has also been the subject of editorial features in The Telegraph and The Guardian and various TV slots. In addition, I have read at venues such as the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall, a selection of my stories also having been produced at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival, winning an award from The Scotsman. keen traveller, I have wandered widely in Mexico, India, Thailand and Europe. I have also spent an extensive amount of time in America - the former home of my grandfather - most recently undertaking astronaut training at N.A.S.A. whilst researching Emptiness, my new novel about female astronauts – ‘The Log Flume’, a chapter from this work, was recently published in The New Writer. I currently live on the Sussex Coast with my cat, Muse.
My first novel, Sharonville, is currently under submission.
Sharon’s blog is at http://www.sharonzink.blogspot.co.uk