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Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Next Big Thing Redux

It's now my turn to take the stage on The Next Big Thing blog meme, following on from Nicole Hayes (see my last
post, and thank you for including me). Here are my responses to the questions:

What is the working title of your current/next book?
It's called Fairfleet, which, a friend told me, suggests a nautical or possibly even naval theme. It is firmly landlocked, though.

Where did the idea come from?
I never know where book ideas come from: I suspect that lots of little prompts, from reading, watching television and travelling around come together to meld an idea together. I was partly inspired by the Kindertransport statue at Liverpool Street Station, though.

What genre does your book fall under?
I never really know the answer to this! Novels of mine have been classed as crime, historical and women's.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

German Kindertransport refugee, Benny, comes to England with a guilty secret which he keeps for decades until he lies on his deathbed,  nursed by a young woman whose own violent and secret childhood past is linked to his own through their connections with Fairfleet house.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My agent, Maggie Hanbury, has already sold Fairfleet to Blanvalet in Germany, who have published three of my previous novels: Weil du mich liebst, Die Antwort des Windes and the soon-to-be-published German version of The History Room.

How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About twenty months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Elements of the abortive 1940s love story were perhaps inspired by The English Patient. Among other contemporary authors, I very much admire Nicci French in her/their various combinations, and Julie Myerson. I would love to think that I have been inspired by their work.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Like many parents of young children, there's always been something about the Kindertransport as depicted in news clips, fiction or film that I find emotionally moving on an almost primitive level: surrendering your children for ever (in most cases) for their own good. Reading about it was the trigger for Fairfleet. Watching coverage of evacuee children sent away for their own safety can make me feel profoundly moved and unsettled.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
It has women flying Spitfires in it!The women who delivered planes, from fighters to enormous bombers, during World War Two were fascinating characters. I relied a lot on Giles Whittell's Spitfire Women and pretty well every single woman he describes is worthy of being the subject of her own novel.

It's now time to pass on the tagging baton.

Kristina Riggle is an American author friend of mine whose perceptive, someties almost raw, depictions of contemporary family life have gained her a fast-growing readership. Her novels are: Real Life & Liars, The Life You imagined, Things We Didn't Say and Keepsake. Kris and I have been writing buddies for years now, swapping manuscripts (and childcare tips) regularly. Kris is very active on Twitter, so do join her there if you tweet: @krisriggle.

Tim Stretton is another author friend, UK-based, this time, and is one of my son's literary heroes, writing historical fantasy. Tim blogs about his novels, which include The Last Free City, Dragonchaser and The Dog of the North. Tim also tweets: @timstretton. I got to know Tim when were both published as first-time authors by Macmillan New Writers. We meet up for lunch occasionally with other MNW authors and as Tim is also an accountant he is able to perform the complicated bill-dividing equations that throw most of the rest of us into a panic.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

My good friend, Nicole Hayes, is talking about her new book, The Whole of my World, on her blog Melbourne Musing as part of The Next Big Thing meme (and she kindly mentions me).
Nicole's novel is the story of a troubled teen, Shelley Brown, who's unable to connect with her grieving dad following her mother's death. Alone and desperate to belong, she escapes into the blokey world of Australian football where she befriends the star full forward who has his own issues, not the least of which is a quickly fading career.
Have a read about how Nic came to write The Whole of my World, the background to the story and what she calls the 'misspent' youth that inspired the book.