Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Next Big Thing

In response to my oldest daughter's generous tag in 'The Next Big Thing' series, I have answered the following questions about the first novel I have completed (see sidebar) and the things I am working on now.

The writers recommended at the end of this blog post will, I hope, (I don't know any of them well - or at all in most cases - although I admire the work of all of them) then let the virtual world know what they are creating, and so on and so on, until we all know the ins and outs of each other's dreams. Got it? Good. Right.......

Where did the idea come from for the book you've written?

Originally, I wanted to write a short story about friendship and how someone you are absolutely intensely good friends with when you are young is not always the person you feel the same way about later - and how, while you fall into friendships with no aforethought, it is actually far more difficult to extricate yourself from a friendship morally, if that is the word, than to get a divorce. As it turned out it wasn't a short story, but a novel - partly about friendship but much more about other things.

What genre does your work fall under?

 Middle list fiction, apparently, according to publishers - a genre that is extremely unpopular and impossible to sell just now, so they tell me.

What actors would you choose to play the part of the characters in your first book in a movie rendition?

They are still a bit young but it takes a long time to get finance so they probably won't be by the time anything gets off the ground - and they are all tremendously good actresses as well as being friends of my youngest daughter:
1) Jo Starte as Sheila - she is just starting at NIDA and I'm sure will take the world by storm.
2) Hannah Murray as Helen - she has been in Game of Thrones and other, more interesting, if less prominent, things.
3) Ellie Kendrick as Kate - she played Juliet beautifully in a Globe production of Romeo and Juliet some years ago and has gone on to do many other things since then.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your work?

Three women muddle along.

How long does it take you to create a finished page?

 Ridiculously long - endless afternoons, changing 'pretty' to 'attractive' to 'beautiful' to 'easy on the eye' to 'lovely to look at' and then back to the original 'pretty' - all with a pen or pencil and a nice clean page started after each change.

Who or what inspires you?

Helen Garner, Jane Gardam, Margery Allingham, Martin Boyd, Beryl Bainbridge, Penelope Fitzgerald, Alice Thomas Ellis, Muriel Spark, John Updike, Tove Jansson, Geoffrey Willans, Clive James, Henry James, WH Auden, Philip Larkin, Edward Eager, John Verney, PL Travers, Auberon Waugh, Evelyn Waugh. I'd better stop now.

What else about your work might pique the viewer’s interest?

I hope that people will feel moments of identification with my characters, that at times they might say, 'Ah yes, so it isn't only me.' Also, for the kind of reader who likes to notch up lots of volumes, having set themselves the challenge to read a certain number of books a week, it's quite easy to read very quickly.

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

 I had an agent but sadly we fell out. I would like it to be published by someone other than myself.

The writers I am tagging are:

David Free, whose work I discovered one rainy afternoon. I couldn't believe that his novel hadn't been published as it is so funny and extraordinarily well observed.

Elberry, who is very clever and entertaining.

Josephine Rowe, who I have only just discovered and whose responses I would be intrigued to read .

Decca Muldowney, who has been a bit quiet lately but who has produced some lovely poems in the past.

Micawber White - (not I think his real name; I suspect he is a friend of Mark Griffith) - who has just started serialising a novel that appears to combine Wodehouse and Dickens and has me intrigued.

Wilf Merttens, who is a clever Devon boy.


  1. I find the publisher's verdict strange. Unless the world has completely changed in the last five years, midlist used to be the backbone of the '3 for 2' fiction tables. Also, you were picked up by one of the top agents in London - most people would kill to be represented by them - so I'm surprised by the reaction. I can only assume that publishing has become more risk-averse during the last few years.

    I'd either have another go, or sell it on Amazon as an e-book.

    1. It's being a first-time author that seems to be the added problem. If you haven't been published before and an editor decides to pick you up, they have to be able to pitch your book to marketing, otherwise it's no go - and nobody seemed to be able to imagine a way of pitching the book. Had I already had a book published this wouldn't have been a problem - or not such a problem - which makes sense, provided that first book had been a success. And of course it doesn't make sense if not having had a book published means you can't have a book published because you haven't had a book published - round and round and round. I should probably do as you say and make an e-book on Amazon and give the proceeds, which will be minimal anyway, to Medecins sans Frontieres