Last week the supremely talented Sarah Pinborough tagged me in The Next Big Thing blog series. It’s basically a gang of writers helping to spread the word about their upcoming titles. My answers to the standard ten questions are below, I’ll then be passing the baton to the authors listed at the bottom. So here goes…
1. What is the working title of your next book?
HAUNTED (the working title was GHOST MACHINE). It comes out September 2013.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
HAUNTED is part of a loose series of books, each with different characters and settings but with the connecting theme of supernatural objects. I wanted each object to be a little left-field (not the overly-familiar Ark of the Covenant, Spear of Destiny stuff) and have space within its established history/mythology for me to play about, for example by introducing ‘celebrity’ historical cameos. I also wanted each object to have an emotional and thematic relevance for the characters rather than just be a cool MacGuffin.
In HAUNTED we are presented with the Ghost Machine, a device for communicating with the dead created by inventor Thomas Edison. Edison claimed in several magazine articles in 1920 that he was on the brink of creating such a device. He was, however, a notorious practical joker, especially with journalists, and so, after his death, the claims were dismissed as yet more tall tales.
In my story the mystic telephone was indeed created by Edison, but his horrific experiences with it led to a cover-up. At the start of the book, the machine turns up in the small English town of Milton Lake, where an unidentified necromancer begins using it to call the souls of the dead back to our world. It is then the task of Emma Rhodes, our hero, to locate the Ghost Machine before it goes it overdrive and the dead of Milton Lake overwhelm the living.
The theme of the book is the destructive power of isolation and the inability to communicate, emphasized by the object being a tool of communication and community.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Tricky one. The short answer is Young Adult thriller, but really it’s a supernatural whodunnit with elements of romance and historical adventure.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
The main character is a young girl who feels responsible for the tragic death of her baby brother. Someone very soulful like Saoirse Ronan would be brilliant. The lead male character is this American kid – very dark and brooding. Ezra Miller, maybe? He was terrific in ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When the dead rise, a haunted girl rediscovers her reason for living.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Represented by the very talented Veronique Baxter of David Higham Associates, published by Oxford University Press.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Research aside (about 2 months on that), the first draft was completed in three months. Then the real work began!
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I was aiming for the haunting quality of Cliff McNish’s excellent ghost story ‘Breathe’ coupled with the town-in-jeopardy excitement of Michael Grant’s GONE series. I’m particularly pleased that Mr Grant has read HAUNTED and has given the book a fantastic cover quote: ‘A nail-biting chiller, which will leave readers begging for more. Be prepared for some sleepless nights.’
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I love science and history and had read a fantastic (and exhaustive!) biography of Edison by the scholar Paul Israel. By some strange temporal alchemy, which every author relies on, I then saw an article about the Ghost Machine online. I had also wanted to write a book from a teenage girl’s point of view (I needed a challenge!), and this seemed the ideal subject matter.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Let’s see, we have: a theme park haunted by its mass-murdering owner; a haunted house cleansed by ‘soul-catchers’; a Byron-esque hero with some jaw-dropping secrets; an exorcism in a forest; an antique store called the Phantasmagorium full of supernatural curios; a couple of major plot twists; a chapter or two where we meet THE Thomas Edison; and, oh yeah, a town overrun by the ravenous dead!
And so to next week’s authors – 3 phenomenal talents who will be telling you all about their fascinating forthcoming projects on Wednesday 21st November: