The Next Big Thing

I feel a bit of a fraud with this…I am nowhere near being a published author, I haven’t got an agent and have yet to self publish anything. (Though I do have a few short story credits to my name – see sidebar) However, my dear lovely twin sister Julia Williams who IS a best selling author (25th on the best seller list this week!) kindly tagged me in this game of The Next Big Thing. And since the questions she has given me are simply irresistible, I’m delighted to be joining in.

What is the title of your book?
Echo Hall.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I was living in a remote hamlet in Northamptonshire a few years ago. Our home was a converted schoolhouse next to the parish church and graveyard. We were several hundred feet from our nearest neighbour and a quarter of a mile from the rest of the village. I’m a townie by birth and by nature, and (unsurprisingly for a writer) I’m blessed with an over-active imagination. I used to wake up in the pitch black night and imagine I heard voices, much to my husband’s amusement.* It used to scare the beejeesus out of me. In fact, I was such a scaredy cat, if Chris was away, I used to bring my then one year old son into bed to protect me. And one day I thought, what if you came to a remote country house, woke up in the middle of the night and such voices were real? What would they say and why? And that’s how it began.

*Though to be fair we once did wake up at 3am and there really were voices. It was the local police who’d been called out because the sheep from a neighbouring farm had escaped down the road and were holed up in our car park. Country life eh?

What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not a huge fan of pigeon holing writing, mine or anyone else’s. However, I’d say this book is unashamedly gothic, with a political twist. So I’d like to think I’ve invented a new genre – political gothic.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooh good good question. Hmm. I have three generations of a family (so I suppose it’s a bit of a family saga as well, see how much I don’t like pigeon-holing?) Let me think now.

Ruth, who is the 1990’s heroine is very calm and restrained. I think Carey Mulligan would be good. Her husband, Adam, is a little bit unreliable, Tom Felton, perhaps? Elsie in 1940’s is passionate and lively, and auburn, so definitely Karen Gilligan . Her husband Jack, as a young man could be Harry Lloyd. Jack is 76 in the 1990’s so the older version would have to be um Michael Gambon?  Jack’s cousin Daniel could be Daniel Radcliffe, though he’d wear a curly wig. I think Bonnie Wright would make a good Rachel in the previous generation, with maybe Benedict Cumberbatch as her husband Joseph (he too would need curly hair). Her sister Leah would be Emma Watson maybe, and Leah’s husband Jacob would be Skandar Keynes. And maybe their older versions would be Kate Winslet and David Morrisey?

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

The aim is to get an agent and go the traditional route. However, if that fails I’ll definitely self-publish,

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

Erm…dare I say 7.5 years? In my defence, for three of those years I was looking after pre-school kids. For the next 4.5 I was back at work with children aged 3-7. The kids are a lot older now, so the second draft has only taken just over a year. I’m optimistic I might finish a third draft in less time!

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

I don’t dare do that. I would say I’ve definitely given a nod to Rebecca and Wuthering Heights. But I’ve been avoiding books like  The Little Stranger, or The Thirteenth Tale for fear of being influenced by them.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Well the original inspiration was imaginary ghosts, but after that I had to think about who the characters were and what they were doing in the house. And it quickly became about people living in times of war, so it is infused with the spirit of my grandmothers, my aunts and my mother who all lived during World War 1 and World War 2. My 1940’s character Elsie shares a Liverpool background with my paternal grandmother, and like her, she was denied an education. It’s only a minor part of her story, but important to me none the less.

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

My central theme is that unresolved conflicts spill over into the next generation and I have deliberately set family conflicts in times of war. So I hope it will appeal to anyone who is interested both in relationships and politics. I have a particular take on these issues, but  I hope that readers will be able to make their own minds up and disagree with me if they want.

I’ll be tagging the following writers for the Next Big Thing on their blogs next week….

Anne Booth, who is one of my oldest friends and who like me is unpublished. She’s a fine writer and I hope this will be rectified soon. She’s written a brilliant (as yet unpublished) novel about nuns, and just completed her first young adult novel. The Hidden Hours is a great story about a young girl, her relationship with her grandma and Nazi Germany. And because she doesn’t have a blog, I’m giving her space to come here next week and tell you all about it.

Marc Nash is one of my Friday Flash compadres. He  has written and self published three novels AB,and E,
Not in My Name and Time after Time and 2 collections of Flash Fiction 52FF and 16FF. Marc is experimental, challenging, entertaining and has the widest grasp of the English language of anyone I know…Marc blogs over at Sulci Collective.

John Wiswell is another one of my fellow Friday Flash writers. He is currently working on a fantasy novel. John has the most surreal and creative imagination and his regular Bathroom Monologues are an absolute delight. He seems capable of writing in any genre and he always always makes me think.

I think I’m supposed to have four writers but one of the other people I asked had already done it, and the other wasn’t ready to talk about her book. They’re both great writers though so do look up Icy Sedgwick and Shelley Harris

5 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing

  1. Political Gothic. LOVE IT. Can't wait to read it. Am sure it's going to be fabxx

    BTW for those who don't know. Ginia's twin here. I blog under the name of the self same granny she's talking about. She's a huge inspiration for me too.


  2. I'm so flattered by your description, Virginia! Thank you kindly for naming me. I'll hope to play along this Sunday.

    A Political Gothic is an interesting avenue. I don't know of any book quite like that, and was curious for why it brought Wuthering Heights to mind.


  3. Thanks Jules. You are such an enthusiast for me!

    It's a pleasure John, I love your work. I love Gothic novels and there are some very specific homages to Wuthering Heights and Rebecca in Echo Hall because of that…I suppose what I'm saying (lightheartedly) is that by bringing politics into the novel I'm “creating” a new genre!

    Oh and BTW it's supposed to be Wed, but I don't suppose it matters to much!


  4. Thanks Jules. You are such an enthusiast for me!

    It's a pleasure John, I love your work. I love Gothic novels and there are some very specific homages to Wuthering Heights and Rebecca in Echo Hall because of that…I suppose what I'm saying (lightheartedly) is that by bringing politics into the novel I'm “creating” a new genre!

    Oh and BTW it's supposed to be Wed, but I don't suppose it matters to much!


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