My “Next Big Thing”

Posted on December 29, 2012


IMPORTANT UPDATE – Catharina Sheely now also tagged!

IMPORTANT UPDATE #2Carol Ryles now also tagged – you’re it!

Thank you to Donna Hanson for tagging me in this Next Big Thing thingynabob. But like any pyramid scheme as time goes on it becomes increasingly difficult to find people interested in being tagged who are actually free to do so. For the time being I only have one person tagged in down the bottom of this but I shall add others in and re-release if necessary. So just what is this Next Bit Thing? The idea is that authors answer a string of questions about their work, describing what shall be their Next Big Thing and name (‘ping’ or ‘tag’) five other authors in your piece. Those authors then also answer the same questions and tag other authors. And so on. And now it’s my turn.

Q: What is the working title of your next book?

I often have more difficulty in coming up with a title than I do with writing the story so I often never get further than my working title. An exception to that was my novella, It Hides In Darkness where the title just came to me but that was definitely an exception rather than the rule.

I have two major projects on the go. While I am usually a speculative fiction author, I have a non-genre novel that is advancing along, examining aspects of the Australian experience on the Western Front in 1916. This is part of a thesis I am working on for a Masters Research degree at the University of Canberra. It has a working title of The Front.

My other project is an urban fantasy which has a working title of Pawn.


Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for The Front came together after reading several years ago about the Battle of Fromelles in World War 1. I knew nothing about it despite an existing interest in military history which lead me to reading material in the collection of the Australian War Memorial. Yes, I know, I’m a sticky-beak. Then when I was encouraged by a member of the academic staff of the University of Canberra to return there to do a research degree involving creative writing, this eventually lead to pulling together the story and overall thesis that has become The Front.

Pawn is a more recent idea that came from watching reality programs like Hardcore Pawn and Pawnstars. I had the idea of what if a pawn shop specifically dealt with the occult? While it is no longer directly about the pawn shop in question, the pawn shop and its characters are still an important part of the story that has become more noir in style and approach (so far anyway) but still has the working title of Pawn. And it also gives me an opportunity to use that most beloved line from old Hollywood scriptwriters “And then a shot rang out!”


Q: What genre does the book fall under?

The Front – testimonial fiction (don’t know about that? Then wait for my thesis)

Pawn – urban fantasy with overtones of Raymond Chandler-esque noir (if only I could write like Chandler!).

Q: What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?

Curiously enough, usually when I’m developing a story, as part of the character development I go looking for physical models to help build that character and actors/celebrities can be a fertile ground to explore. But with The Front I  have been more inspired by period photographs in building the characters and probably the only actor I could think of for a role would be Sam Elliott for one of the older soldiers (with Elliott being a younger man than he is now, rather obviously).

For Pawn this is still a bit fuzzy. The female character is something along the lines of Marisa Tomei from The Wrestler. I cannot think of male actors for this as yet. I shall leave that to the eventual casting company. 🙂

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Front – the hell and insanity of the Somme for the first Australian troops fighting there and what it meant.

Pawn – a PI is drawn into a murky, unsuspected underworld of the supernatural.

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

A publisher has expressed some interest in the concept of The Front.

Not advanced far enough with Pawn to be giving any serious thought to publishing although the experience with It Hides In Darkness makes the greater potential returns from self-publishing an attractive option. Although my self-published poetry collection has yet to even make a ripple as it fell into the pool of published materials. Bugger. (Go and buy a copy, read it, admire my photographs, then marvel that someone can dare to publish such shite.)

Q: How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

First draft of The Front of about 80,000 words took several months. Revising and modifying are now in progress. Two versions being written; a shorter version within word limits for the thesis and a longer version for going out to the commercial market.

Pawn is still heading towards that first draft mark and I’m looking towards around the 100,000 mark. I have targeted mid-2013 to have an advanced draft to hand.

Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I really dislike trying to compare my work to anybody else’s simply because the comparisons are inevitably being made with authors far better than me. For The Front I hope to emulate some of the story-telling aspects of The Middle Parts of Fortune by Fredrick Manning.

With Pawn, I am in a real Raymond Chandler mode with this one but no way am I as good a writer as him but his noir quality is what I hope to achieve.

Q:  Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The Front – a fascination with Australian military history combined with the forthcoming World War 1 centennials which shall no doubt see more recitation of the perennial and inaccurate mythologising, leaving a place for something hopefully telling it as it actually was. Plus there is surprisingly little fiction in existence which deals with this specific subject.

Pawn – watching the pawn shop reality programs gave me the ‘what if’ to draw in the pawn aspect and combining it with an interest in further exploring the urban fantasy – noir combination by using a character from a previously published short story.

Q: What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?

The Front – exploring the real experience of what the hell the AIF went through in the sheer insanity of the fighting around Pozières on the Somme.

Pawn  – a dark, gritty piece with a different (or at least different-ish) setting.

And now I would like to tag S. M. (Frankie) Blooding (who you gonna call? Paranormal Rescue! – go read her bio) and once I find some other authors who haven’t been quick enough to scream and run away from me, I’ll re-advertise with more tags. But for now, over to you, Frankie.

Posted in: Writing