I have been aching to talk a little about my current writing project, and courtesy of the lovely Adriana Noir, I now have the ideal opportunity! The game is called ‘The Next Big Thing’ and presents a series of questions for writers to answer for their next book/story/big project. I have selected the next five talented writers below, should they choose to accept the tag, but before you reach them please give my own questions and answers a quick read. I hope you find them interesting…
1. What is the working title of your book?
LYNNWOOD. The title refers to the central setting of the book, the fictional village of Lynnwood, without giving too much else away – except perhaps the importance of the village itself to the story.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The book is born from a frustration with the materialism, properness and pretentiousness that have become our society. LYNNWOOD explores a setting in which these hollow traits are forgone in favour of our more primal, primitive instincts, and the effects this change has on both society and the individuals that make it. It is a book about living, and whilst I don’t expect readers to abandon their material possessions, drop to all fours and race like dogs into the woods on finishing it, I hope it challenges some of their priorities and their preconceptions about life.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What an interesting question! If the story ever found its way on screen, I would love for the characters to be played by aspiring British actors and actresses early into their careers. Fresh faces are important, in my opinion. The likes of Nicholas Anscombe spring to mind. One day, Nick!
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“The unthinkable is happening in Lynnwood – a village with centuries of guilt on its conscience.”
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book is being published next year by Sparkling Books and represents my first traditionally-published novel.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took around seven months. It then received endless rounds of editing before I was finally satisfied, and confident enough to send it away for consideration. When I had the time, whole days were dedicated to writing it. Other times I could manage only an hour or two, depending on work and other commitments. I can’t recount a single moment when I lost enthusiasm or interest for the project – for me, the journey towards the finished product (the long hours, exploring the characters, the editing and rewriting) is half the pleasure.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I think the story is quite original! In terms of atmosphere and description, I would mention the English translations of Andrei Makine’s writing. His deeply atmospheric and engaging descriptions of Russian taigas, and his characters’ interactions with their surroundings, strongly influenced my own attention to setting and tone. There are a number of scenes that I would liken to Adam Nevill’s writing, too, who in turn reminds of M. R. James. This is with respect to peripheral figures, shapes glimpsed but not seen, faces and shadows at the windows. . .
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I would answer this in much the same way I answered the second question. I wouldn’t call the process inspiration as much as I would call it therapy! Working in retail, I am constantly surrounded – and involved in – the materialism, greed and false sense of propriety that I described earlier. I think I lived a little in writing of the primitive urges experienced throughout the book. Frustration drove me to write, and to feel what I was writing. I like to think this (desperate) passion, this anxiety with life, and the subsequent euphoria found in the release from these, will carry to my readers. As I mentioned earlier, the book does not suggest practical philosophies, but it is enough to read them, to realise and to feel, I think.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The sense of mystery, the atmosphere, the macabre suggestions, but most of all the emotional honesty of the characters. They are terribly earnest – emphasis on terribly – and I think this frankness is both endearing and absorbing. As the readers are drawn in, the village begins to fall apart, until they too find themselves lost in Lynnwood, and the Forest that surrounds it…