The Next Big Thing

On 19th December one of my writing heroes tagged me in her own blog. This made a “blog tag” – a self-sustaining conversation about the novels we are each working on; a chain letter for the social media generation.

So I read Shahla Haque’s interview about “VamPR”, eagerly:-

and with great pleasure, for it created all the tingly, magical excitement I find when reading the first page of a good book.

I name Shahla a hero along with all my Moniack Mhor and Sir John Deane colleagues and tutors.

This is an opportunity to catch my breath and to expose my writing to a few more friends and acquaintances.  My first draft sits by me, at my desk, waiting for 7th January when I shall take it out.  Out of the house, out of its folder, out of my head and begin the process of redrafting.

I am looking forward to making it real.  My plan is to have a reader’s draft complete by the end of March.

1.         What is the working title of your book?

The working title is “Treason”.  It rests lightly on this quote:-

Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason?
For if it prosper none dare call it treason

– Ovid

How far will you go to defend what you believe in?  And when you’ve finished, lost or won, who are you?  What have you sacrificed or gained?

The stakes are high.  Our awareness of violence seems higher than ever.  The state and its machinery are more highly regulated, more closely defined than they have ever been.

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

It is the story of one woman: a hero. Our world is the world that she changes.  It is also her journey into what frightens her.

She and I have crossed paths in our lives many times.  There are things that we share although she is not me: our training in law, a love of Scotland and a certain defiance of convention.

I admire her and she scares me a little.  I say this because I know that if it came to it I would follow her.  She would think me a coward.

3.         What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not one for labels very much; I don’t think that they are overly helpful.  But if I must – it’s science fiction; though not in a ray guns and techno babble way.  It inhabits our reality though you might be surprised at some of the things that change over the next year or so.

We are human; my novel is about taking responsibility for our liberties.

4.         What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?

I’m a writer, reader, music fan and part time petrol head.  I’m also mother to two small children – I see small screen kids TV much more often than anything designed for the big screen.

So my knowledge in this area is patchy and ancient.  My female lead remains uncast.  I keep looking.  Laurence Fox and Martin Freeman would make it onto any wish list together with a thirty something version of Rutger Hauer.

5.         What is the one sentence (or two) synopsis of your book?

Our humanity, our creativity and desire to be free, are things not easily suppressed.

6.         Is your book represented by an agency?

Yes – in my wilder, more futuristic fantasies. Along with where I’d hold a launch party, who I’d invite and who might write the music to the film.

And the best fantasy of all: holding a proper, paper, copy of my book.

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

I’m a planner.  I write lists about lists.  Answering a list of questions like this is a prison I relish whilst still desiring to be free.  I’ve been planning my novel, on and off, for two years.

I’ve had much fine writing advice; there are many people whose names I murmur like prayers on occasion.  In the end the first draft took about 10 weeks, because someone pointed out that the only person stopping me was me.

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

I’d like to compare it with any science fiction work that you tend not to think of as being genre SF.  So two extremes then: George Orwell’s “1984” and Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

Then I’m going to step outside the question to think about style and form and compare the writing in “Treason” to that in Edmund White’s “Jack Holmes and his Friend”

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

It’s a long held ambition so probably everyone I ever met has a hand in it, somewhere.

But I have three unfulfilled ideals, and this seemed the easiest.

(To walk on the moon, to write a novel, to swim in the dark)

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

“The walls were patterned with life.  Feral pigeons sought refuge here from the hands that fed them and drove them out.  Late at night she had seen rats move up from the canal.  They sought out remains from the days’ invading tourists, perhaps pigeon eggs too.  Waste and decay carpeted the ground.”

Rain at Alexander’s

Evaporation conspired with cold to leave water on the glass
Each drop in the dark becomes a point source of light

A near infinity of stars, pointing to this stage
To this place more real than imagined

A bar: just bricks and mortar, structured and useful
A shelter from the day; life reduced to physical sustenance

You remove your coat, and here begins the reveal,
That smile, a conversation; each action lays a trace

We are not first here, others will follow
Each hungry to share; to offer a small piece of memory

And you are beautiful; delicate, dangerous, dreamers
Recklessly stepping outside the man-made view

Our dying sun, ever distant, allowing in the dark that
Forces from us this overflowing incandescence

It is an abstract part of you that remains; a glad payment
An element that belongs here, knows its place in complexity

Many together, myriad spheres of influence; both cause and effect
An unfathomable reservoir in which I am happy lost

We have danced here, barefoot, in a crowd, saturated in a fantasy
Where permanence is something fleeting, locked away

Only in exhaustion, mortal and chilled do we rest
The exit reflected in the mirror shows us our selves, waiting.

© Rebecca Sowray 29th November 2012