This week, The Next Big Thing returns to starkholborn.com! I’m lucky enough to be acting as host this week for one of my dearest friends, the inestimable Alashiya Gordes. She in turn has nominated a likely band of writers, photographers and even a comedian! You’ll find links to them below, along with her answers, fresh from the banks of the Tiber. So settle in on this cold winter’s night and enjoy.
Last Wednesday, the glorious Stark Holborn of Nungslinger fame (aka Laura, or ‘Pixie’ to some) tagged me to be part of ‘The Next Big Thing’. It works like this: an author answers the ten questions below on his/her blog and then tags up to 5 other writers to do the same the following Wednesday. As in some things I still appear to be living in the 20th Century and keep no blog, the Holborn has kindly offered to guest-host me here. Thank you!
1. What is the working title of your next book?
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
Yikes, where do ideas come from? I guess – a dream, my own general philosophical musings and a challenge to myself? In this case, that is. It started with the dream, which I don’t actually remember anymore. That somehow fused with my endless musings effectively enough to tease me into taking the challenge. And that was that.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Literary fiction with a light post-apocalyptic undertone.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Do I get to say I’d actually really like the actors to be unknowns with individual, real-people faces and bodies? If I let myself daydream about a screen rendition, it’s about something understated, grainy and truthful, in which the few science fiction elements are completely naturalized and absolutely no fuss is made about the fact that their story isn’t exactly set in the world we know.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A brutal attack on an old lady in a small town exposes the more problematic aspects of the community’s good principles for human coexistence.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I definitely need to give it another thick lick of paint before thinking about either seriously – punching it out as part of NaNoWriMo means it’s still a bit unpolished. After that, I’ll be nagging good friends for their invaluable opinions, and I’ll think about next steps following that round of improvements. Trying my fortune with formal representation would be cool though, and good practice in whichever advice it casts up (even if it does just serve to thicken my artistic skin).
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Not very long at all, because I wrote it as part of National Novel Writing Month this November. So the bulk of the writing (50,000+ words) took 30 days. I did spend a couple of weeks in October plotting it out, to give me a handrail through the daunting task of averaging 1,666 daily words. I’m still tying up a few loose ends – so Draft 1.0 will have taken about two and a half (intense) months in total.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Ooo, this is fun. First in my mind is Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. Speaking strictly, it’s a completely different kettle of fish. But it is about a small place, and it jumps between a gossiping ensemble of locals while unshyly steeping the listener in its love for words and voices, so I say it counts. Second, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, for its youth-versus-adults conflict, and the metaphor of the witchhunt (though the ‘witchhunt’ element is rather more suppressed in the case ofmy excursion into ascriptions of blame and guilt). And because I can’t keep comparing this little novel to seminal theatre scripts, let’s go for Claire Merle’s The Glimpse, a work of young adult fiction. It’s far more explicitly sci-fi, but also addresses questions about how we distinguish between people whom society values and those it doesn’t.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
a) An idea of an idea found me.
b) I was shying away from a bigger project I’ve been mulling over for some years.
c) National Novel Writing Month came along and seemed like a decent opportunity to grab the good bull by the horns and write something from start to finish. And then there it was, fattening up pleasingly in a lengthening word document.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
You get to meet a lot of rather different people. You skip between their minds, but although you soon know them well, who did beat old Mrs Rider up in her bed, and why, is perplexing for a good long while. That should be at least a little bit intriguing. You also get the backdrop of a breathtaking U-shaped valley – I think you might like the view. And each chapter is built up like a short story, so you can dip in and out of a place that is familiar, skew, attractive, worrying, complicated and brief.
So, continuing the special spin on the ‘authors only’ theme, my nominations for Next Big Thing include comedians and photographers alongside authors:
Robert Frimston is from the UK, and the Northern half of the Frimston and Rowett comedy duo. Maybe he can tell us something about plotting a mime – who says you need words to tell a story? But he’s also got some pretty funny words up his sleeve. If we bully him, he might even tell us about the scripts for television he’s been thinking about. As, like me, he is no blogger, the long-suffering Ms Laura / Stark will be prevailed upon to host another poster. (Pretty please?) Frimbs gets to tweak the 10 questions to suit the sketch-iness of the stand-up genre. Go on Rob, make us laugh. (http://www.frimstonandrowett.com/)
Simon Griffee – photographer. Born on the South American continent. Travels, works. Continues to work and travel. Currently based in Rome, Italy. (www.simongriffee.com)
Amber Ruth Paulen grew on a farm in Howard City, Michigan. She left the USA on a one-way ticket when she was twenty-two. Between then and now, she’s lived mostly in Europe, travelling whenever she can. She is currently living in Rome, Italy. Her first manuscript, The Body’s Long Madness is seeking publication – though I believe she may choose to tell us about a new work in progress. (http://descriptedlines.com/about/)
Ariana Salvo was born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, and has lived in Italy, the US, and Canada (where she is currently to be found). A lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world, I’ll leave it up to her which stories (poetry? travel writing? novelling?) she’d like to tell us in the authorial 10 questions next Wednesday. (http://routesofpresence.blogspot.it/)
A Study in Purple: Born and raised in Singapore, from and student in the UK and currently living in Middle Earth, this one’s also traversed a fair few photogenic places. She likes photography, dancing and protecting the environment. As above, I do think photographs are A Big Thing too, with swirling narratives snapped up and held still for one minute moment. (http://a-study-in-purple.blogspot.it/)
And so it goes. Tune in next Wednesday for another installment, with a special guest who might just be the Next Big Thing…