I was tagged to take part in the Next Big Thing by the brilliant short story writer and all-round awesome chick Rebekah Clarkson. See Rebekah’s answers to the questions here:
Here’s how it goes. I answer 10 questions about my writing, then ask other great writers I know to do the same. Here are my answers.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
I don’t have one. I was going with The New Normal until a daft American TV show used that name. That’s the second time a daft American TV show has stolen a name I’d chosen for a book. Maybe I should be writing daft American TV shows…or rethinking my book titles.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
My book is a collection of short stories which are loosely connected by a gossamer strand that runs through most, though not all, of them. So it’s hard to say where the idea came from; there are simply too many ideas, not just one. I find each short story, no matter how tiny it is, needs at least three ideas for it to float. One idea forms the backbone of the narrative, the second idea gives it its crimp or climax and the third gives the story that unique piece of detail that seats it in reality. So if each of my stories have three ideas, and there are nearing sixty stories in the collection…that’s one heck of a lot of ideas. And they all come from life. So I guess that’s my long winded answer: the ideas come from life.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Well, I suppose it’s literature. And short stories. But don’t let that put you off. Really.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I have lots of characters so instead of thinking this through too much I’ll just be spontaneous and say Anne Hathaway (‘cause she’s awesome) and Noah Taylor or Ben Mendelsohn (‘cause I still love them both from The Year My Voice Broke and that’s a love that will never die).
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I don’t have one. Should I? Probably. It would go something like this:
Glimpse life through little windows, see the world in a slightly different shade and be surprised how long those moments stay with you.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
At this stage I do not know. One of the stories is being published by Spineless Wonders, in a collection of microfiction called Stoned Crows. I published another story on indie ebook publisher Smashwords last year. I found my little story about a faded rock star got buried under mountains of porn.
By the time I am finished my manuscript I believe self-publishing will be an honest competitor with mainstream publishing (many would argue it already is). But I’m not immune to the pull and drag of the old-fashioned side of the publishing fence.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m still doing it. I’m guessing all up it will be between three and sixty years. Give or take.
By the way, this notion of a first draft is a touch absurd. I rewrite a thousand times as I go and I edit over and over again, before I leave the story to percolate. Then I come back and rework it again. Where the first draft ends I have no idea.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I would say that my writing is inspired by other brilliant short story writers that I’ve read, but I can’t claim that my book will compare with any of them or their work. For the record, the writers I’ve been reading and aspiring to share air with are: Ryan O’Neill (for his play with form and ability to capture contemporary Australia), Alice Munro (for her special gift of mapping the human condition), Lydia Davis (for her microstories that challenge the very notion of what makes a story) and Etgar Keret (for his quirky-cool toying with reality).
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This book is inspired by the need to write in order to better understand the world. And also by music. Music is my muse and almost all of the stories in this collection have music at their heart.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Wow, talk about saving the toughest question for last…
Yes, I’m still thinking…OK.
I’ve been told that my stories are insightful, compassionate and real. Once, when I came runner up in a writing comp, the judge (Amanda Curtin) said Promise was ‘a sophisticated story that stitches together fragments to create a picture…of the fragility of hope…of the many forms of love. The language is sensory and musical, and there is an awareness of rhythm and cadence that makes this story a pleasure to read.’ That sounds kinda nice, so let’s go with that.
Below are the authors I’m tagging to answer these questions next. Check out their online platforms soon:
Kristin Martin, children’s author and poet
Caroline Reid, playwright, short story writer and curator of Spineless Wonders Presents
Helen Dinmore, whose first novel for children will be published this year
Tom Di Santo, who I’ve been known to refer to as ‘like Tim Winton, only maybe better’
Kezia Perry, who is currently working on a novel for young adults