Wednesday 24 October 2012

The Next Big Thing…

The idea of The Next Big Thing is that a writer puts up a post on his or her own blog answering ten questions about his/her work in progress, and then “tags” three other writers to do the same. The writer then posts a link to his/her “tagger” and to the people he/she is “tagging” so that readers who are interested can visit those pages and perhaps discover some new authors whose work they’d like to read.

John Hudspith, a writer in possession of a wild and unique imagination, tagged me in his Next Big Thing. John is currently working on Kimi's Fear, the follow up to his outstanding debut, Kimi's Secret, a fantastic and fantastical book for readers aged 9 to 90.  Thanks, Johnny.

Here are my answers re my Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
I first called it Poetic Justice but now it's called The Spiritual Hunt. This will no doubt change to something snappier when it's finished.

Where did the idea for the bookcome from?
Mock up of cover when working
title was Poetic Justice
I've been fascinated by the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud for a very long time and wrote a play about him some years back (Death Without Tears), so it seemed a natural progression to write a novel inspired by him too. 

I was also struck by a brief meeting many years ago, with a young man in Berlin. He claimed to be under the spell of an older man who kept him in control by tapping him on the forehead and singing jingles. I never discovered any more about this young man but have always remembered his wild eyes and air of terrified vulnerability. His image and situation seeped into my consciousness and he partly inspired one of the characters in this book.

What is the genre of your book?
This is always a difficult one for me. It is, I think, general fiction with a good handful of literary fiction thrown in - I hope.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Another hard one! I tend not to imagine my characters in such precise detail. I like to leave the reader room to develop their own ideas as to what the character looks like. Of course, I do give descriptions - Andrea is blonde, Albert is dark with a little tuft of beard, and the boy has messy chestnut curls. But as to who would play them, I just have no idea.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A missing Rimbaud manuscript has been rediscovered - or has it?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm not sure about this yet. Some of my other novels are self-published but I might send this one out to agents to see what reaction I get. If there's no interest from the traditional publishing world then I would self publish digitally certainly, and possibly also in print form.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Ha! I'm still writing it and it's been several years so far. I do take a long time to write a book - I wish I could speed up but I seem to have to let the work mature before I know exactly where it's going. I revise as I go along so really I'm on the umpteenth draft but it just isn't finished yet. I'm hoping the whole thing will be all done by Christmas (preferably this Christmas!).

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
People who've read what I've written so far have mentioned The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas and The Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies, as being in the same general category. I'm not sure that it's exactly like any of those books but perhaps has elements of all of them.

As it's written using various different voices and devices such as letters, diaries and blogs, in addition to the main narrative, it's not a straightforward book in terms of format and chronology.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As I said  above, Arthur Rimbaud - French poet extraordinaire - is the progenitor of this book. I've been mildly obsessed by him for three decades, if mild obsession is possible, and I've always been fascinated by the idea that there may be a lost work by him still out there somewhere. I also wanted to stretch myself by writing in different styles using different voices, so this novel has been (and still is) a challenge to write.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The main narrative is about the protagonist Andrea's obsession with Rimbaud and the lost manuscript. The novel charts her involvement with a man who claims to be a Magician - with a capital M! - and the teenage boy who is his acolyte. As she falls deeper under their spell, Andrea begins to lose her grasp on what is real and what is not.

In addition to this strand, there are also strands woven through which tell the story of Rimbaud and Verlaine and also chart the whereabouts of the manuscript from 1872, when it was last seen, to the 150th anniversary of Rimbaud's birth (2004), when the book is set.

The writers I am tagging are:

Jimmy Bain, who writes The Bumble Books

and (as I've been unable to find anyone else to tag because all the writers I know have either already taken part or are too busy (very sensibly) engaged in writing their next book)

Barbie Scott, who writes erotica.

If anyone reading this would like to take part, do get in touch and I will add you to this very select list of taggees!



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