Happy New Year everyone! Don't worry, I haven't succumbed to a bout of rampant egomania; the title of this blogpost is taken from an internet meme called the #NextBigThing that I've been invited to take part in. The charming Piers Torday who I met at the CWIG conference in Reading last year tagged me to take part in this back in December, but due to a flurry of last-minute deadlines and pre-Christmas preparations, I'm only now getting round to posting this up. Piers's debut novel The Last Wild which has been described by one reader as a 'sci-fi Roald Dahl' is one of my most eagerly-awaited reads of 2013 and you can find out more about it by reading Piers's #NextBigThing post here.
Anyway, here are my answers to the #NextBigThing questions:
What's the title of your next book?
Where did the idea come from?
When I finished writing Twelve Minutes to Midnight, I knew there were more stories I wanted to tell about Penelope, Alfie and Monty and even stranger mysteries for them to solve. Shadows of the Silver Screen is set at the dawn of the twentieth century: a time when the new-fangled world of moving pictures was taking its first steps from the fairground to the cinema screen, whilst spirit photographers and charlatans claimed to be able to photograph the dead. I've always loved haunted house stories and when I had the idea of a mysterious filmmaker approaching The Penny Dreadful to turn one of Montgomery Flinch's stories into a motion picture, I saw the chance to combine these two strands into a haunted house story with a twist...
What genre does your book fall under?
Mystery and adventure with a touch of the supernatural.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?
I think I'd have to scour the country, holding a series of Harry Potter-style open auditions to cast the part of Penelope Tredwell, but I'd love to see Mark Gatiss play the part of Montgomery Flinch. I'm a huge fan of his work in Crooked House, The First Men in the Moon and the remarkable Sherlock, so if he wanted to adapt, produce and direct it too, he'd be more than welcome!
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
What if the camera could capture more than just memories of the past - would you dare to watch the shadows of the silver screen?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It took me about a year to finish the first draft of Shadows of the Silver Screen. Moving house in the middle of writing and having to scribble away in an unfinished office whilst builders, plumbers and electricians knocked the house down around my ears probably didn't help my productivity!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
One of the highlights of 2012 for me was appearing on stage alongside Philip Pullman at the Oxford Literary Festival. Although I wouldn't dare to compare my books to Phililp Pullman's, several reviewers of Twelve Minutes to Midnight said that it would appeal to fans of his Sally Lockhart series which was a comparison I was delighted by.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think every book I write takes inspiration in some way from the stories I have read and seen. Shadows of the Silver Screen has its roots entwined with classic ghost stories such as The Ash Tree by M.R. James and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
If you want to find out what happened to the man who invented cinema but who history forgot, you should read Shadows of the Silver Screen.
Who are you passing the baton to for next week's Next Big Thing?
Two fantastic authors who I share a roost with at the Nosy Crow nest. Helen Peters, author of the critically-acclaimed The Secret Hen House Theatre, who tweets as @farmgirlwriter, and Paula Harrison, author of the fabulous Rescue Princesses series and the forthcoming Faerie Tribes.