16 December 2012

The Next Big Thing

I have been tagged in the Next Big Thing blog meme by the lovely Charlotte Strong. It's been doing the rounds for a while now and it's been interesting to read other people's responses (some of which I've linked to at the bottom of this post).
I hadn't really considered it getting to me. I feel quite touched but also a little daunted as this suggests other people are taking me seriously. Maybe that means I should start taking myself seriously?

I should clarify that in my case 'next' is probably misleading as I've not yet finished a novel length story. I've had a few on the go at various times over the last several years. For the purposes of this meme I'm going to talk about the story I've done the most work on.
So, watch me dodge questions like a politician faced with a microphone.

What is the working title of your next book?
Away with the Fairies
This is very much a working title. I'm not good at titles and have enough trouble coming up with them for completed short stories.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I first dreamt about Auresimma in 2004 (I remember because I was doing exams at the time). There were 2 posh people looking at a painting of her and gossiping about her having an affair. I quickly had the idea of a murder mystery in a big country house, but with magic and fairies. I like the haughty, squabbling fairy royals in A Midsummer Night's Dream and had read a few books with these kind of fairies in (I've subsequently read more).

What genre does your book fall under?
I'm not sure if it'd count as historical since it's set in the 1950s and people can still remember that.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmm... don't usually picture characters in terms of actors, but I've done a little thinking and online research.

Katie McGrath (from Merlin) suits Auresimma's colouration. Though I've not watched Merlin in a few years, so I can't speak to her acting abilities.

James Wilby could be Lord Michael, in fact now that I think about it he's perfect (though it took a bit of googling for me to remember his real name). He definitely has the right look and has done period, aristocratic and fatherly roles.

Lady Clara (Lord Michael's wife) could be played by Imelda Staunton.

There are quite a few other characters I could try and cast; I'd need some aristocratic-looking fellas in their 20s and a young mixed-race woman. However I think that trying to do any more would mean me trawling through pictures of actors on Google Image for hours.
I'm not sure about the Fairy characters, it's probably best if I don't picture them as humans. They'd have to be played by tall, slim folk who could look a bit unearthly.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A house party attended by Elven royalty and English aristocracy is interrupted by murder, the guests are spirited away to a magical land as the family are drawn into a conspiracy that spans two very different worlds.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'd prefer representation & traditional publishing as I have more understanding of that model and those are the books I usually read more of. Of course times they are a-changing and I guess I'll see.
I mean this is quite a while in the future as I have to finish the thing first. Which leads us nicely to...

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It's a good question, I wish I knew.
Since the initial idea I've written 3 partial first drafts, in between writing other stories and a few major life events. Each time I've realised that I need a major change; like losing a crowd of pointless secondary characters, or changing the starting point, or (most recently) changing the ethnicity of a character meaning I need to do a lot more research.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Another good question that I feel unequipped to answer.
I suppose the story could be compared to any book where the mundane -or even repressive- in human society is brought into contact with the chaos and wonder of magic.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've already mentioned A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I think Stardust by Neil Gaiman was an early influence with the fairy stuff.
The BBC4 documentary Consenting Adults, about the Wolfenden Committee and attitudes to homosexuality in the 1950s, was also something of an inspiration, especially when approaching the character of Farrington.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
There's murder and magic, fairies and intrigue, hidden identities and family secrets.
There's also posh English people and the 1950s, both of which seem to be popular at the moment.

Now I'm supposed to tag 5 people to carry on the meme. However I'm not going to tag anyone as I'm pretty certain everyone I would normally tag has done (or been offered/tagged in) this meme already. So here are links to posts that have already been written. It's better this way because you get 11 and they're available right now.

Adrian Faulkner - whose talk of rewrites I found very reassuring
Andrew Reid
Anne Lyle
Colin F. Barnes 
Charlotte Strong - who tagged me in her post
Emma Jane Davies - who was tagged alongside me
Fran Terminiello
Jennifer Williams
Karen Davies
Mhairi Simpson
Ren Warom

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