The Next Big Thing

 I’ve been tagged in The Next Big Thing by fellow writer David Ebsworth (website: www.davidebsworth.com and main blog on Goodreads  whose first novel, The Jacobites’ Apprentice, was nominated UK Indie Editor’s Choice for the Historical Novel Society Indie Review.
When I was tagged I didn’t know what NBT was about. Is it like a chain letter – if I don’t participate, a curse will come knocking on my door? Or is it a pyramid scheme where only the first tranche find the pot of gold? David described it as a way to reach another audience through blogging.  That is always a plus so I decided I would give it a crack.

I’m instructed by David to tell you all about my next book by answering these questions and then I tag some other authors to talk about their Next Big Thing. So here goes.
What is the working title of your next book?
The working title is The Mongrel.  I don’t know if that will stick. I will need to see how the later drafts develop.  The Mongrel will be the first of a trilogy.  I have a name for the trilogy too but I’m keeping that to myself just yet.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The story came to me in a feature length, high definition dream. I originally wrote it in short story form but it didn’t work because the theme was too vast. It is set in Scotland, in the future and I had to create a whole new society. The dream became a story, which grew into a novel and is now a trilogy. It wasn’t the type of book I planned to write, but now I am immersed in my new world I am relishing the freedom it has given me.

What genre does your book fall under?
I hate slotting my work into genre, but the publishing world and booksellers demand it.  My last book The Incomers didn’t fit anywhere and was eventually classed as Scottish Literary Fiction.  That would also fit The Mongrel but because it is set in the future I have no doubt it will be labeled Sci-Fi or Futuristic.  I think this is misleading because it is a very political book and imagines a Scottish/European society that could develop if things go unchecked.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
It’s funny this question is asked.  Early on in the project, to help with the characterizations, I printed off some internet images to fit the characters and pinned them on my study wall.  Only three are famous actors and they are a very youthful, fresh faced Nicole Kidman, Robert Carlyle and Sheila Hancock.  The main character Sorlie’s face is that of a young Scottish actor whose face fits perfectly, but I don’t know his name.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a world divided into three enemy super-powers and two class systems, a young orphan boy fights to save an underclass from dilution and in doing so discovers his own horrific heritage.  1984 has been and happened – let’s now worry about 2089.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My last book The Incomers was published by Fledgling, a small Scottish independent publisher without the aid of an agent. The Incomers was well received and is shortlisted for The Saltire Society First Book Award.  I feel the time might be right to seek an agent to widen the options for The Mongrel, but I may also submit to publishers.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I used the discipline of National Novel Writing Month to brainstorm the original dream story. By the end of the month I had forty five thousand words written in long hand in two notebooks.  I stuck them in a drawer until I was ready to start another novel. When they resurfaced the first full draft took a year – I am a very slow writer!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are many themes going on in the book so it is hard to pin down similarities with any other books.  I suppose it is a combination of Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), Generation A (Douglas Coupland), Kidnapped(Robert Louis Stevenson) and a terrific non-fiction book about clandestine Naval operation in Shetland during WWII called The Shetland Bus (David Howarth).  Different genres for different reasons.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I studied Sociology at University and have always been enraged by inequalities in all societies. After the financial crisis there was lots of talk in this country of “all being in it together and yet the gulf between rich and poor is growing daily.  And despite government spin on environmental targets being met we are continuing to destroy the planet. If things go unchecked we will be in a mess.  For The Mongrel I took the state of the world today and extrapolated (my favorite word) the conditions and created a Scotland in 2089. It is very frightening.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Although the book sounds grim and all the scenarios I have created are plausible, it is still a hopeful read. I feel the adventure story mixed up with the gritty message will attract readers of all ages. And as in all Shakespearean tragedies, there is a joker in the pack. My joker is called Scud.
Here are some lovely authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing …..

Nikki Magennis (http://nikkimagennis.com) is currently working on many projects, novels, short stories and poems.  Her short stories have appeared in over two dozen print anthologies and her first two novels are published by Virgin Black Lace.  She edits FeatherLit, a journal of literary erotica.
Carol Mckay (http://www.carolmckay.co.uk) writes fiction, life writing and some poetry and teaches creative writing.  Her publications include As I lay me down to sleep, a biography co-written with Eileen Munro; Ordinary Domestic: Collected Short Stories and Creative Writing Prompts to Feed the Imagination.  
Uuganaa Purevdori Ramsay 
(http://www.guuye.com http://billybuuz.blogspot.co.uk) was born and grew up in Mongolia. She now lives in Scotland with her husband and children. After she lost her son Billy she started writing a non-fiction book on her childhood in Mongolia and life in Britain. The title of the book is Mongol.
Sue Reid Sexton 
http://suereidsexton.wix.com/sueweb-2#!) is the author of Mavis’s Shoe, a novel about the Clydebank Blitz. She does other stuff too, writes plays, poetry, short stories, more novels, runs workshops and edits other people’s work.
Many thanks to David Ebsworth for tagging me. This has been an enriching experience.

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