Brilliant YA Thriller writer Rachel Ward has kindly tagged me in the ‘Next Big Thing’ blog meme. You know, the one where you get asked all those questions about your current ‘work in progress’? Well, this was going to be my first chance to talk about my new full-length thriller – ‘The Sketchbook Keeper’ – which is dominating my thoughts at the moment, so hurray! Except…
…except, when it came to it, superstition and caffeine jitters have put me off that idea. I’m only a third of the way through a first draft, after all. So instead, here’s a little more about the sequel to my novella, Dan and the Dead, currently entitled ‘Dan and the Caverns of Bone’.
What is the title of your next book?
Er… Dan and the Caverns of Bone. If someone has something shorter to suggest, please do, as that’s a lot to squeeze onto a cover full of drawing.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I visited the catacombs in Paris a few years ago. Several times. It’s a gloomy and disturbing place, as you’ll know if you’ve ever been there. The things that have been done with the mortal remains of long-dead Parisians no doubt seemed tasteful at the time. Now, though, it’s all pretty creepy-kitsch and ghastly. In a keep-looking-over-your-shoulder sort of way.
But not every visitor to the catacombs is a tourist. There are other ways in, unofficial ways. And under the ground it is always night…
What genre does your book fall under?
Gothicky-comedy with drawings. Obviously.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I don’t know the names of any teenage actors. Whoever plays Dan would have to be very flexible in the eye-brow department. Is there someone who is a cross between Benedict Cumberbatch and the Fonz? Again, let me know.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I have an agent – the formidable Jodie Marsh at United Agents. The book will be published in 2013 by A&C Black (Bloomsbury).
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Nearly four months, off and on. This sounds short, but the manuscript is only 26,000 words, so it’s actually quite a long time. I had trouble in the middle and rewrote it several times. The crusty Parisian tour-guide with a wooden parrot on a stick is gone. As is the suspiciously generous pastry chef, the swarthy banker and the whole Eiffel Tower…
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Anything where the main character can see ghosts, I suppose, only Dan is rather more cynical about it than might usually be the case. Also, there’s a significant twist to the well-known ‘I see dead people’ thing, which takes Dan off into different territory. You’ll have to read the book to find out what that is though.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Childhood wonderings about imaginary friends and ghosts, fuelled by seeing grainy re-runs of Randal and Hopkirk (Deceased) at an impressionable age. Rentaghost is in there somewhere too.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I’m doing the cover and the chapter heading illustrations. Does that count? No? Well, I’ll just have to fall back on the twist I mentioned earlier, then, won’t I? Though there is a girl in it too, with something dark about her. And a gang of goths and emo-kids in a palatial squat in the centre of Paris. And the best paper aircraft ever to feature in children’s literature. And a slow-speed subterranean boat chase over an inky lake filled with white-eyed fish and twisted reflections. And there’s something lurking in the shadows, too. Something that shouldn’t be there, something that shouldn’t even exist.
But that’s enough of that. Now I have to pass the baton on to some other writers, so here they are:
Simon Kewin – SF/fantasy writer and poet. He blogs well too.
Kate Kelly – thriller writer with a debut novel – Red Rock — due out next year. Congratulations, Kate!
Julian Sedgwick – writer, thinker, and constant friend. He has a book out next year too: Black Dragon (Mysterium). It’s book one of a trilogy and sounds fantastic. Make a note of the name.
I hope you enjoy meeting them, if you haven’t already. Their own ‘Next Big Thing’ posts should be up a week today.