So as you may be aware there’s been this meme going around various authors’ blogs called “The Next Big Thing” which is just an excuse to talk about what you are currently working on. As crass as that might sound, I’ve enjoyed reading other authors’ responses and was delighted when Anne Lyle tagged me in her blog post last week – because as friends will testify, I do like to talk about myself … and plus, I do have a book to promote, which makes it justified to talk about myself.
So here are my answers. Enjoy.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Well, the title is official – “The Four Realms”.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I suppose the genesis of it came from a time I was watching a news report on some lost Amazon tribe, or one the outside world rarely had contact with. I remember seeing this kid wearing a Nike T-Shirt and being amazed by the reach of commercialism. It got me thinking that if gateways to other worlds existed, they wouldn’t be just used for wartime evacuees to go to tea with Fauns, but would be used for smuggling drugs and all sorts of black market goods. I looked at the old Iron Curtain and the third world and from that the world of Venefasia was born, not as any form of comment (at least not consciously) but from wanting a sense of realism to my fantasy world.
Mr West and his entire plotline came from thinking about the idea I had and saying to myself, “what’s the one thing you wouldn’t do in a fantasy novel”. That idea became a major twist in the novel and whilst I thought it would throw some beta readers, they’ve all embraced and loved it.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Urban Fantasy. There’s a touch of traditional fantasy in there as well albeit in a contemporary fantasy world. Oh and maybe a splash of science fiction as well.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
What’s surprised me in doing this, is how much I do not have actors in mind for any of the parts. I love movies and it’s genuinely surprised me that I don’t create characters based on actors any more.

Nicholas Hoult as Darwin

In earlier drafts, Darwin was a lot older and I had the image of Hugh Jackman in my head. But Darwin has become younger over the years amd various drafts and is 19 in the finished book. So I think I’d want someone who could grow into Hugh Jackman, Maybe someone like Nicholas Hoult.

Cassidy?

… Played by Elle Fanning?

Cassidy is described as wearing big glasses and having pigtails. I’ve always thought of the little girl from V from Vendetta. But as for an actress, nearly any of them could obtain the look, it’s just a question as to whether any of them can get that mix of Cassidy’s scattiness with that hidden older self. A friend suggested Elle Fanning and in the absence of anything else, I will go with this.
Miriam Margolyes as Maureen

Miriam Margolyes as Maureen

Maureen would be a sought after role by senior leading ladies (how many leading little old lady action hero roles are there these days) . I’d originally thought Judi Dench – an actress able to play both the stubbornness and comedy of Maureen. But then a friend suggested Miriam Margoyles and that piece of casting is inspired as she’d be perfect for the role.
Michael Emerson as Mr West

Michael Emerson as Mr West

Mr West is probably the most difficult. I had a really obscure actor in mind, but do you think I can find their details? In the end I went for Michael Emerson. The role is a lot more erratic than he is known for but as Ben in Lost he showed he could play a bad guy you had sympathy for.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Darwin finds a notebook on a corpse in London, he sets off a chain of events which sees his fellow race of vampires exterminated by an army of shape-shifting cephalopods, and an elderly gatekeeper sneak into another world to find answers only to discover she might be the first woman able to do magic.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m being published by Anarchy Books, which is the small press imprint run by Andy Remic. I do not currently have an agent.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Elements of it have existed in one form or another since 1998. Every year I would say this would be the year I would finish the novel and then promptly rewrite what I did the previous year. I must have rewritten the opening chapter at least fifty times. In 2010 I really made a push to finish it and then spent a year editing it before sending it out.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m really bad at this sort of thing and one of the interesting things I am looking forward to is seeing what comparison’s readers and reviewers make. I have also famously made proclamations to close friends about previous things I’ve written only to be told it’s nothing of the sort. I just write the stories and let others make the comparisons.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think, like most writers, I’m frustrated with my genre. Fantasy is incredibly wide and diverse but it sometimes feels there are books missing, the type I’d want to read. The Four Realms is that book. If nothing else, I can hand on heart say I’ve written the type of fantasy novel I’d like to read. I hope I’m not alone.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Let’s see I can promise you plenty of tentacle death, suburban fantasy taking in the sights of Clacton-on-sea, Swindon and Guildford, centaurs with shotguns, tuk tuks, an interesting magic system (even if I do say so myself) and a couple of nice twists.
That only leaves me to tag some more people. It seems most people have been done so I thought I would choose a few writers that may not have much in the way of publishing credits but whose names you are likely to hear over the coming years. So I choose: Steve Aryan, Liz De Jager and Michaela Deas.