The Next Big Thing (In My Dreams)

It’s Wednesday so I am duty bound to stand up and be counted as the Next Big Thing. Or possibly be a handy target for passing custard pies -always a danger when you stand up, particularly on a peak. That’s why I moved to Cambridgeshire. There aren’t any peaks ūüėČ

I was nominated by the lovely Teresa Morgan, whom I have never met but,¬†comfortingly, she sounds as batty as me when we chat on the Wonderful Wide Web. So if you haven’t read her Next Big Thing blog post, you’d better jolly well hop over there and do so. (No, not right now! Sit down and read mine first).

What is the title of your next book?

Oh no. Fallen at the the first hurdle. I haven’t decided on a final title yet; its working title is Tamsyn, because that’s the name of the heroine. However, it may well end up being called¬†Watch the Wall, My Darling, which is from the poem mentioned below.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

In 2010 we went on holiday to Cornwall and I picked up a fascinating book about Cornish history,¬†traditions¬†and folklore. Then last year while studying one of my final year modules – Children’s Literature -for my Literature Degree, I came across Rudyard Kipling’s evocative¬†A Smuggler’s Song¬†in the poetry anthology. Bam! It sparked a plot for a YA novel based around smuggling in Cornwall.

I was drafting an outline and doing research for it when I happened to spend a lovely day in Chesterfield at a Pocket Novel Workshop run by the delightful Sally Quilford¬†(highly recommended. Sally is very welcoming and very funny!).¬†So when I came to write scenes, not surprisingly my head was filled with windswept fishing villages, smuggling, boats, tunnels and mysterious lights. Not all those things have made it into this book – although those that haven’t might still make an appearance. The book is likely to come up too short, as the outline was designed for the original Pocket Novel¬†length¬†of 30k and hasn’t grown much since. I need to create another Event, which will probably take two or three chapters, and some of what Teresa Morgan calls additing too ūüôā

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical romance. Hopefully well-balanced between the two!

What actors would you choose to play the characters in the movie rendition of your novel?

I think Keira Knightley (above) might make a good Tamsyn. She does a believable feisty. Or perhaps Natalie Portman.  Simeon was quite fuzzy in my mind for a long while Рhe kept changing Рbut now he is definitely Emun Elliott.

He’s handsome but does the desperate haunted look very well! Simeon would have to be quite gaunt and ill-kempt at the beginning, and I think Emun could carry that off. See?

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

A fiercely independent woman learns to compromise when she takes in a handsome lodger with a tragic past!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Well I’m hoping it will fit into the Easy Reads Caress Line (Easy Reads were meant to replace My Weekly PNs), because although the original pocket novels are coming back (see Sally Quilford’s post on the return of pocket novels), the new flyer says Maggie Seed only wants Second World War onwards. As mine is set at the end of the 18th century, I don’t think it qualifies, sadly! A shame because I had the impression that the historical pocket novels were popular.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’m still working on it! I started the first draft during NaNoWriMo last year but had to stop after a fortnight, at 18750 words. I hadn’t touched it again until this NaNo; I’ve spent about 8 days on it so far, and it’s up to 27993 words.

What other books would you compare this story to within the genre?

That’s a tricky one. I would love to say E.V. Thompson’s Cornish novels – such a massive loss to historical fiction when he died this year, he is a hard act for anyone to follow. And perhaps Jennifer Donelly because she writes very determined feisty women.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love historical fiction and women who are capable, and as I said above, the initial spark for writing about smuggling was¬†A Smuggler’s Song. And Cornwall because it’s a fascinating place with a wealth of smuggling history. I love hanging fiction on a factual framework, whether it’s a mere skeleton or a really detailed event or character (to my mind one of the finest examples of this is¬†Tracey Chevalier’s¬†Remarkable Creatures).

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hopefully, like the novels of the much-revered EV Thompson, my finished novel can deliver a real sense of place and history without overwhelming the story Рso that the reader feels they have painlessly seen and learnt things whilst still being entertained. But then for me, that is the job of fiction: to broaden our horizons by taking us on an entertaining journey which never involves leaving our chair.

So that’s me. Probably not the Next Big Thing, but hopefully a slightly bigger thing than I am now (admittedly this could be achieved more easily by forgetting the writing and eating the custard pies…). The next Next Big Thing will be another Twitter writing pal, Sinead Fitzgibbon. Sinead describes herself as ‘Writer, blogger and lover of books, history, art and food!’ and is the author of four¬†History¬†in an Hour titles.

*Takes off crown and lobs it in Sinead’s direction* ¬†Over to you! ūüėÄ

 

 

The NaNoRebel Diaries – Week One

So here we are. 8th¬†November. A whole week of NaNo lies¬†behind¬†me. And how many words have I written? *Cue drumroll* Tadadadadadadadada!!!!…..

3855

Oh yeah. I rock…. sigh.

I always knew NaNoWriMo would be tough this year. Especially as it got closer and it became obvious that even though I’d got ahead with my degree, I was never going to finish my essay (due today) before November. And that I have several courses, extra sessions of work and meetings to go to – amazing how these things only come out of the woodwork in such quantity in November! Any other month, it’s a tiny single line formation of downtrodden woodlice waving banners that say ‘you might have to do a few extra hours this month’. But as soon as November comes into view it’s the Peabug Rebel Army: marching in¬†multiple¬†columns, wearing flak jackets and bellowing ‘Abandon All Hope! All The Free Time That You Clung To Has Gone!’ through a¬†loud-hailer.

In true rebel style, none of those 3855 words are from a new novel started just for NaNo.¬†1665 of them are a story written by twisting an idea I used for a story in the first year of my Creative Writing Diploma. It’s no longer about the leading lady’s father, but her husband instead. Even worse, shock horror, it needs editing and polishing during NaNo because I want to send it off to Writing Magazine’s Marriage theme comp for the 15th.

247 words of them are a Flash Fiction story called My Medicine that I’m sending off ¬†to another WM comp before January, in hopes of winning a book. 1210 are from the serial I’m writing to submit to JukePop Serials – the working title is The Box but I think that will change! 259 words are another Flash about Chocolate for another book-winning WM comp – that will need a major revise after November. And only 474 words, so far, are towards the 50k novella I started during the last NaNo and am determined to finish in this one, ready to be revised, polished and sent off to Maggie Seed at Easy Reads by the end of the year.

Today is my day off but of course I have that pesky essay to write (on¬†Othello, in case you’re vaguely interested. Ok, stop snoring…)

The plan is to get the essay pinned down and begging for mercy by 1 pm, grab a celebratory lunch and then crack on with some writing. So why am I here? *shuffles feet* Good question. Off to the essay…