Next Big Thing


…if only!

I was tagged by Stephen Bacon, a UK horror writer on the ascendant, who has been fantastically supportive of my writing efforts, for the Next Big Thing networked blog interviews series Here’s what I had to say:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

I haven’t really sat down to think about the title of the book I’ve written. At the moment, the placeholder name is The Desert Kingdoms. Since it’s a very, very rough completed first draft, an actual title at this time might be a bit too fancy!

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

The Eastern Roman Empire has fascinated me since I read Lord Norwich’s three-volume popular history of it during the 1990s. The setting – roughly analogous to the regions around Palestine – gives plenty of scope for a different type of fantasy, away from the almost clichéd medieval European setting (which I love, I have to say). I wanted a story of contrasts, of different, clashing cultures forced to work together against a common enemy. My two protagonists are at opposite ends of the spectrum, emblematic of their two peoples, and having to overcome prejudice to work for the common good. Plus I wanted to have lots of fights with swords!

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’ll be a fantasy. I wrote the book without many fantastical elements, because I wanted to get the story down. Adding in these elements will change the story somewhat, but the overall shape of the book will remain the same.

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

Angelina Jolie for the female lead – dark, smouldering looks. As for the male, I’ve based him on a footballer named Jay Schulz who plays in the main league here in Australia, the AFL. Tall, rangy, with a short beard and knows is way around a sword…err, football!

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

At the crossroads of Empire, an exiled son is forced to work with his father’s sworn enemy and topple a conspiracy that threatens to enslave all who live in the City.

That’s more or less accurate (and actually sounds better than the actual novel!)

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

The book is still in a very rough shape. I’d love to get it published as a physical book, but to be frank, it’s likely never to see the light of day.

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

About four months – I wrote every day, except for a three-week period towards the end when my enthusiasm started to wane. At 72000 words, it’s the longest story I’ve ever written.

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

At the moment, it’s more historical than fantasy, so in some ways, it’s inspired by what Guy Kay has done with his fantasy tinged pseudo historicals. There have been some recent fantasy novels taking advantage of a Middle Eastern setting, like Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon – that’s more fantasy than mine is at the moment. By the way, his is a great book and well worth reading.

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

Ego. Pure and simple. I’ve always wanted to do so, been too lazy, then finally got my act together and just did it. Remarkably, it worked!

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

Clash of personalities, a hint of romance, political intrigue, power politics, lots of sword fighting, and an exotic setting all mashed into 72000 words.

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