A site for readers and writers

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

The Next Big Thing

Last week I was tagged by Laurie Gilbert to take part in The Next Big Thing. This is a viral blog chain which apparently you ignore on pain of death!! So here I go answering the questions …

1 What is the working title of your next book?

2 Where did the idea come from for the book?
It follows on from my previous three Lavender Road novels – the original idea was suggested by Rosemary Cheetham at Orion who to publish a wartime series set in London. We had a brief wrangle about where it was to be set (she wanted it to be in the East End of London, but I managed to convince her that Clapham in South London was an equally (or perhaps even more) interesting area!) She then commissioned me to write the three book series, which was great.

3 What genre does your book fall under?

4 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’d choose Dan Stevens (Mathew from Downton) for Ward Frazer, Dani Harmer (brilliant on Strictly) would make a great Molly Coogan, Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) would be perfect for Helen de Burrel, and I think Ryan Gosling could play André Cabillard. Emma Thompson would be fab as Celia Rutherford, Jenna-Louise Coleman (from Dr Who) would make a wonderful Jen Carter and how about challenging Meryl Streep to play Jen’s mother, Joyce?! Any other suggestions gratefully received!

5 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
As the war enters its fourth year the people of Lavender Road long for peace, but instead they find themselves right up against it, challenged by privation, love and unexpected danger.

6 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m not sure yet. Previously, for my physical books, I have been represented by an agent (A.M. Heath) and published by a big publisher (Orion). But when the digital revolution began I decided to set up a small publishing imprint (TSAP) to publish eBook versions of my novels myself. These have done so well I may well decide to go on down that route.

7 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I haven’t finished it. It will probably take at least six months.

8 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
William Boyd, Wendy Robertson, Freda Lightfoot, Sebastian Faulks and Jack Higgins have all written great Second World War novels / family sagas, they aren’t the same but if you like them you might like mine and vice versa!

9 Who or What inspired you to write this book?
When I was first thinking about writing the Lavender Road series I was living in South London and had got to know quite a few people who had lived through the war years there. I was fascinated by their stories of the courage and resilience that people showed during those difficult years and thought I could weave some of them into a wartime street saga. The success of the first three books in the series has encouraged me to write LONDON CALLING, set in 1943.

10 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My readers seem to love with my characters. I try to make them as ‘real’ as possible so the reader can engage with them and experience their highs and lows. Most of the old favourites will feature in this next novel – Jen Carter, Katy Parsons, Helen de Burrel, Joyce Carter (and of course the gorgeous Canadian Ward Frazer) – but I will also be taking up the story of the young nurse Molly Coogan who has only had a small role in the previous novels. Exhausted by her relentless wartime routine and compelled to live with an awful secret, she longs to get away, only to find when her wish is granted that she has jumped out of a very calm frying pan into a tumultuous and life threatening fire.

Thanks for reading! I am now passing The Next Big Thing baton onto my friend and up and coming writer Natalie Lloyd Evans … at http://www.wordyhood.com and her connected blog http://natmegevans.wordpress.com

Is your jam jar too full?

Do you feel time is running away with you? Are you frustrated that there are things you wanted/want to do that you never seem to have time for? A renovation project? A trip to Machu Picchu? Retraining as an acupuncturist? A puppy with your name on it at the rescue centre? A story waiting to be written?

If so I now have the answer!

Imagine you have an empty jam jar. Into it you put two or three largish stones, then some smaller pebbles. It now seems pretty full, but you can still add a handful of sand which will filter into the spaces, and there’s even room for you to top up the whole thing with water. Easy.

Now imagine filling the jar in a different way. Put the pebbles in first, then the sand and the water and … oh no… now there’s not enough room for the big stones to fit in.

Someone mentioned this jam jar concept to me at the weekend as a metaphor for life, or, rather, for living. The idea is that the jar holds the time available to us in our daily lives. The big stones represent our major aims/ ambitions /personal projects or, in my case, perhaps, my next (overdue) novel.

The pebbles are the other significant things we have (or want) to do – writing blog posts for example, teaching writing courses, other work commitments, giving talks, publicising previous books, caring for an elderly relative.

The sand represents ‘essential’ day to day tasks – email, FB, Twitter, designing an avatar, picking the kids up from school, shopping, paying bills, walking the dog, stocking up the Kindle, having friends to dinner, keeping fit, going to the latest James Bond film.

The water symbolises all those other insidious (sometimes even invidious) time consuming, unavoidable elements of life like cooking, eating, cleaning, laundry, TV, sleeping, being ill, being tired or mowing the lawn.

How you categorise the elements of your life is a matter of attitude and personal opinion, but the basic idea is that it is all too easy to fill up your jar with pebbles, sand and water, leaving no time/space for the big stones.

If you don’t have any pressing, ‘big stone’ projects then that’s fine, lucky you, but if you do then the moral of the jar is that you should install them into your life, protect their space and fill up the time around them, not instead of them.

Does it work? I don’t know, but it’s always good to acknowledge aims and ambitions and to visualise them working out. As mentioned in a previous post I am as guilty as the next person of falling back on displacement activity. So this afternoon I am going down to the beach to find a suitably large, ‘next novel’ stone, I’ll pop it into a jar, sprinkle in a few pebbles, add a modicum of sand and water and have it sitting on the kitchen table as a reminder of my priorities.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: