Lancastrian author Deborah Swift has tagged me in this blogging "chain" where authors write about their Works In Progress. Deborah is a "Word addict, book addict. Nature, art and poetry fan, and writer of thought-provoking historical fiction." I'll drink to that.
I joined in The Next Big Thing previously with a blog post about COACHMAN, which was then almost ready for publication and so is now out in paperback and for Kindle.
However, I'm now doing National Novel Writing Month and I'm starting afresh!
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
1.) What is the title of your book?
2.) Where did the idea come from for the book?
In 1995 I had a novel published by J A Allen, AGAINST THE ODDS, and I've often thought of continuing the story of the two main characters Madoc and Sian. As it's now nearly 20 years since that book ended, this year's NANO was a great excuse to find out what has happened to them in the meantime.
3.) Under what genre does your book fall?
I am finding the characters pushing me into a murder mystery! I've never tried this genre before but it's one I read quite a lot. It won't be a police procedural, because I just don't have the background for that. I want to look at the way such a big event is both a result of change and an agent for change, in family relationships. It's also interesting to put my characters through a bit of hell, and yet set it in a local backdrop.
4.) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I would rather not type-cast, since it's better for readers to picture their own versions of heroes and heroines. Physically, many of my characters resemble people I have known at some time in my life. Although authors try to insist their people are entirely fictional that can't ever be true - we just hope nobody recognises a character trait that's been lifted. But if someone offered me Daniel Craig to play Madoc I wouldn't object! That's not only because he is famous and good looking. Daniel Craig is a Cestrian brought up on Wirral, as am I, and Madoc worked there for a long while in AGAINST THE ODDS, so their backgrounds would mesh.
5.) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Sian Owen's 18 year marriage to Madoc is in the doldrums and she has a brief fling with businessman Charles Humphreys, but it changes her life more than she expects when Charles is found murdered.
6.) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ve self published the last 3 of my books and will do the same with this, though not until it's ready. I think nothing does a greater disservice to self-publishing than badly edited and badly produced books. As it happens, I’ve designed the covers for all my books, including those produced by mainstream publishers. So it has been quite good fun to go it alone. It would be nice if an agent picked up my writing, but for now I’ll slog on with selling myself.
7.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm four days into NANO and have only got 7,000 words so far (and I'm procrastinating by writing this) but the outline is there for the rest. Having chosen the murder mystery structure I'm finding I have to be far more strict about which scenes I include at which points in the narrative - sticking far more closely to the 3-act pattern of stage drama. So my lifelong love of Shakespeare and the stage is of some use after all. Who knew?
8.) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I would like it to be as good as Josephine Tey's BRAT FARRAR, though the storyline is only similar in that there is a murder associated with a family who own horses.
9.) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Sian Davies and Madoc Owen were two characters I liked very much when I wrote AGAINST THE ODDS, and I've always meant to follow up on what happened after they married. Knowing your characters really well makes writing a great deal easier. Also, following them up means they can be nearer to my own age and experience, so I don't have to make so much up!
10.) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s a love story about a marriage that survives. (I'm beginning to see a recurring theme here.) How does a middle-aged marriage get over that falling-apart that happens when the kids are growing up and wanting to fly the nest? Is it possible for trust once broken to be reforged?
I originally sent this on to Mary Witzl but she is not blogging at the moment, being fortunate to have so much work she can't keep up with it all: "I've been lucky enough to find almost more work than I can do teaching English and Japanese, proofreading, editing, and, especially, writing. I am writing this to explain why I'm disappearing: I have so little free time now that I have to spend it on writing." Isn't that fabulous? Good luck, Mary, and remember to breathe!
Since Mary's busy life means she isn't blogging I will suggest you go on to read Kathleen Jones' blog. Kathleen has recently published her first historical novel, The Sun's Companion (reviewed here) but she has been writing since she was a child and has published ten books including six biographies and a collection of poetry. She lived for several years in Africa and the Middle East, where she worked for the Qatar Broadcasting Corporation. Since then she has written extensively for BBC radio and contributed to several television documentaries. Kathleen is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. Her biography, "Katherine Mansfield: The Storyteller" was published by Penguin NZ and by Edinburgh University Press.
Suzie Tullet. Suzie says of herself: "Going Underground is my first novel and its setting was inspired by my observations of the Mod scene, having been married to a Mod for quite some time now. Of course, it's not a social critique in any way, it's an entertaining physical and emotional journey that uses the fun and nostalgic elements of Mod to weave a very human story - elements that we can all enjoy and identify with. I'm a full time writer, lucky enough to live between the UK and Greece. And when I'm not tapping away on the computer creating my own literary masterpiece, I usually have my head in someone else's."
I shall add links to a couple more authors' blogs very shortly.