My Next Big Thing

Thank you, Fiona Joseph, for tagging me in the Next Big Thing meme. If you don’t know what this is, it’s an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. When you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same, thus spreading writerly joy all over the place.

First, I’d like to tell you about lovely and talented Fiona. She is the author of the biography Beatrice The Cadbury heiress who gave away her fortune. I first met Fiona on the Writing West Midlands Room 204 writer development scheme. She self-published ‘Beatrice’, so we  immediately had something in common. But her self-publishing was a lot more ambitious than mine! She set up her own publishing company Foxwell Press, which has also recently published a bio-fiction by Rob Ronsson. She is phenomenally successful – I’ve been at two events with her recently where people were clamouring to buy her book. Fiona was also one of the authors in the commissioned writers’ project run by West Midlands Readers’ Network, so we were both part of the wonderful event in Birmingham where we discussed our experience and read extracts from our stories in front of an audience of nearly 100. Fabulous event.

So, Lindsay, what’s your Next Big Thing?

I’ve got a number of different projects on the go. I’ve just finished the commissioned story for West Midlands Readers’ Network. My story was called ‘A Dream Job’, and the stories all feature in a free limited edition anthology ‘Six Stories’. I’ve edited A FLASH of FICTION – a selection of flash fiction stories from Worcestershire Literary Festival 2012’s first-ever flash fiction competition. The anthology will be launched on Sunday 9th December in Worcester. I’m writing a series of articles on the Room 204 experience for the Self Publishing magazine – oh, and I’m also trying to do some writing! Particularly on my next novel – working title THE WRONG WAY ROUND.

However, for this blog post, there’s only one topic in the forefront of my mind – my novel to be published October 2013 by Cinnamon Press.

1) What is the working title of your book?

The title of my book is THE PIANO PLAYER’S SON. It’s strange but I got the title almost before I started writing, and have remained committed to it. Sometimes titles are harder to get – my novel UNRAVELLING was originally called All That Remains, but somewhere along the way, I lost confidence in that.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

The main interest in my writing is the complexity and contradictions of personal relationships. I find families especially fascinating, where this complexity and contradiction are highlighted by the intensity and intimacy of the relationships. So, family is at the heart of the novel – as it is in UNRAVELLING, where we see three different generations of family, and the effect that one can have on another.

I also wanted to explore the impact of secrets. I’m always amazed when I read articles in newspapers about secrets that have been kept for years and their impact when they emerge. Because, more than not, they do emerge, and the events of the past collide with the present.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I know this is a key question in today’s market, but I find it a difficult one. It’s easier if your writing falls into an obvious genre – fantasy, thriller, romance – but my writing has been accused of being too literary to be commercial, and too commercial to be literary. A commercial literary novel sounds like a good bet to me, but apparently not! So, I suppose I’d have to fall back on the all-encompassing contemporary fiction.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

It’s important that a writer knows what their characters look like, but I think it’s better if the reader is given some information, but then can make the character look like whoever they want it to be.

However, if I’m having my arm twisted … I think Dominic West would be brilliant for Rick. That made me consider the other actors in The House, and I could definitely see Ben Wishaw as George, and perhaps Romola Garai for Grace.

Not sure about Isabel – Sarah Lancashire’s a possibility.

Oh dear, they’re all on the television rather than big screen, but that’s my provisional cast!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When Henry dies, leaving his beloved wife, Eva, desolate, and his four grown up children bereft, long-buried secrets emerge, and the perfect family starts to unravel.

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

Neither. This novel will be published by Cinnamon Press in 2013. Although I self-published UNRAVELLING and would consider self-publishing in the future, I’m delighted that I’m being published by Cinnamon, a small publishing company – with a big reputation – based in Wales.

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

The first draft was fairly quick – about eight months. Subsequent drafts – ah, that’s another story!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Carol Shields writes about families, and my writing has been compared to Anita Shreve and Anne Tyler.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This story was inspired by questions of inheritance. Do parents ‘own’ their children? Do children have a right to know everything about their parents’ lives, and inherit from them when they die?

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

To answer this, I’m going to pinch Jan Fortune’s (from Cinnamon Press) comments: In the best novels there is a sense not only of immense satisfaction, but also loss when we finish the book, as though we are parting from close friends. THE PIANO PLAYER’S SON achieves this by painting characters we care about; the sense of voice, well-controlled language, precise details and modulated dialogue draw the reader in. The novel is accessible, but not predictable; secrets pervade the story and are skilfully handled.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three of my writing chums to pick up the baton, so that you can check out their work: Christine Donovan, whose novel won the Rubery Book Award, the year mine came second (but I’m not bitter!); Caroline Davies, another Cinnamon Press author and Polly Robinson, whose poetry collection The Girl’s Got Rhythm was published recently.

Over to you guys – have fun!

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