Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Next Big Thing

So, this week I'm taking part in the Next Big Thing meme which has been going around various writer's blogs..and very interesting they've been too. I was tagged by Keris Stainton and Ruth Eastham and you can read their posts by clicking on their names.

The idea is that we share a bit about the book we're working on, by answering some questions, which was actually quite hard for me. The thing is that I've written one book -  first draft anyway -  but now set it aside to work on another one, for which I have a looming deadline. And then there's the musical for Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery which is taking quite a bit of my time. But this is the one I'm working on now, and this is the one I have a publication date for -  all being well, January 2014.

What is the working title of your book?

Salvage. I got the idea when I lost my kindle at a shopping centre and it was found by someone whose husband tracked me down by looking at the list of books and working out that Keren's kindle was probably something to do with the Keren David whose books were listed there. He owns something called the Salvage Shop in north London.  The name chimed with my latest idea.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I read a news story ages ago about birth families contacting adopted children through Facebook, and then a social worker friend of mine said 'I know what you ought to write a book about!' and it turned out to be the same idea.

What genre does your book fall under?

You could call it contemporary realism, but I like BritGrit.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
Robert Sheehan who played Nathan in Misfits would be good for Aidan, as long as he can lose his Irish accent and Kaya Scodelario who was Effie in Skins could work as Cass, his sister. Will, Cass's friend  could be John Boyega who was in Attack the Block (lovely smile), but he'd have to grow his hair.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When siblings Aidan and Cass are reunited through Facebook, painful memories can't be repressed.

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

It is represented by my agent, Jenny Savill of Andrew Nurnberg Associates and will be published in the UK by Atom Books.

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

I'm still writing it! My deadline is December 15! Eek!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It's a bit different from my other books -  more of an emotional family story. Maybe Katie Dale's Someone Else's Life.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My friend the social worker, and another friend who  talked to me about her experience of adoption.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It's possibly the darkest book I've written so far.

Now it's my turn to tag some other writers who'll be posting about their work in progress on their blogs next Wednesday.  And they are:

Sara Grant - I can't wait to find out what Sara's working on, her Dark Parties is one of the best teen dystopias around.

Savita Kalhan - a writer prepared to go darker and deeper than most, her The Long Weekend was one of the most terrifying teen thrillers I've read.

Dave Cousins -  author of the brilliant Fifteen Days without a Head,  BritGrit at its finest

Bryony Pearce  - who isn't scared to tackle the most difficult emotions and themes, as proved by her nail-biting debut Angel's Fury

Saturday, 27 October 2012

A musical interlude...

I was always being told off as a child for day-dreaming. It's not an activity that's valued, especially at school.
How wrong they were. It turns out that day-dreaming is one of the most important elements in writing fiction. The more I can lose myself in my latest story, persuade myself that I am writing about real people, the better the writing goes. It's a strange process though -  persuading yourself that imaginary people are real, capturing them on the page and then letting go of them again.
So just think how surreal it was for me last week to find myself in a room surrounded by characters that I had invented. What's more, they were singing lyrics based on the words I'd written, and instead of the London accents I'd imagined they were speaking in broad Lancastrian/Scottish/Yorkshire. There were moments when I felt as though I'd strayed into a dream.
In fact, I was in Carlisle, working with students on the University fo Cumbria's  musical theatre course to develop the musical of my book Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery,  alongside director John Brant, choreographer Cressida Carre and Musical Director Harriet Oughton,  and Andy and Wendy Barnes from Perfect Pitch, the organisation which is developing the musical.
It was something completely new for me -  I've never been involved in the theatre at all -  but it's actually the culmination of an ambition that I'd completely forgotten about. When I was a teenager I loved musicals, and I longed to write a musical - but I had no idea how to go about it, and so -  typically -  never even gave it a go.
We started with thedialogue from the book, and part of the week's work was to identify which characters translated quite easily to the stage -  Jack, Lia's laddish friend, for example -  and which ones needed considerable rewriting -  Raf, Lia's mysterious crush. For me that involved a certain amount of analysis -  what had I hoped to achieve by writing something in that way? How could I create the affect I wanted?
I spent most of Tuesday in the Travelodge in Carlisle (a fantastic place for writing, by the way, large light rooms, no internet in the bedrooms and peace and quiet. If I ever disappear near deadline time that's where you'll find me). re-writing Act One. I had to leave before the end of the week, but it was a complete joy to watch John, Harriet and Cress working with the students, creating scenes based on the book and helping them develop their ideas and skills. As for the students -  I can't wait to come up to Carlisle again and see how you've got on, you achieved so much in only three days.
I'm writing two books at the moment -  that's why you haven't heard much from me on this blog. One book is due mid-December. Another is finished  -  the first draft anyway -  and I am itching to rework it second time around. Add to that the work I need to do on the musical, and organising my lovely son's barmitzvah (January), and you can understand why I feel a little stressed and occasionally overwhelmed.
But there's something about musicals that lift your spirits and inject you with energy. The music for Lia's Guide that I've heard so far (composed by the very talented Paul Herbert) is gorgeous. I've been humming it all week. I can't wait to share it with more people.
I haven't won the lottery yet. But this week I felt as though I had.