The Next Big Thing!

My friend and great writer Roy Gill tagged me in his blog last week as part of an ongoing chain of book/writer recommendations asking and answering questions about their work. This week I’m in the sticky black leather seat answering the questions and passing the baton onto some more great writers.

• What is the working title of your next book?

It’s shuttling backwards and forwards between two titles at the moment – ‘Wider than the Sky’ or ‘The Falling Sky’.

• Where did the idea come from for the book?

I really wanted to write a novel about astronomy – and about what it’s actually like to be a scientist, excited about trying to understand the Universe and getting things wrong.

• What genre does your book fall under?

Generally, literary fiction. More precisely, ‘lablit’ which is literature about real science, not made up stuff. See for more examples.

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

I can’t yet visualise any actors inhabiting my characters.  Apart from maybe Michael Gambon as the Death Star, the boss of the main character.

• What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Jeanette finds evidence that contradicts the Big Bang theory. Will this make her career or destroy her universe? (whoops – two sentences)

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

It’ll be published by Freight, who have already published an excerpt from it in Gutter.

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

I wrote it on and off over a period of about two years. Currently on the fourth and hopefully final draft.

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

‘Intuition’ by Allegra Goodman, or ‘Brazzaville Beach’ by William Boyd. Two of my favourite books; both are complex tales about scientists’ lives.

• Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was partly inspired by a fantastic book by Jane Gardam called ‘A Long Way from Verona’, about a twelve year old girl who realises she is a writer. I read this when I was the same age as the protagonist and it made me think about becoming a writer. I’ve tried to emulate its freshness and wit in my book.  Also, I wanted to write a book that I wanted to read, about science.

• What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s set in Edinburgh at the real-life Royal Observatory, a fabulous Victorian gothic pile where I did my PhD. And also partly in Chile – one of the best countries in the world for astronomy.

That’s it from me! I’m handing over to the next bunch of writers, who’ll be answering these questions on their sites next week:

Zoe Venditozzi whose darkly funny debut novel, Anywhere’s Better Than Here, has been described as “an understated literary champ” and “funny, believable and all too human”.

John Ward is the author of 4 books of young adult fantasy fiction, and is currently working on an adult novel (but not an ‘adult’ one – no shades of grey, just black & white)

Anne Strathie is the biographer of Henry ‘Birdie’ Bowers, one of the five men who reached the South Pole with Captain Scott in 1912. I’ll be hosting Anne’s Next Big Thing on my blog next week.

Russell Jones is a poet and editor of Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poems from the UK, which is out 15th November 2012.

Kate Tough’s latest short story is on exhibit in London. She’s working with Ayrshire teens on sea-themed poetry and thereafter will be submerged in editing her first novel (due out in 2013).

Tracey S. Rosenberg is the author of the forthcoming chapbook  ‘Lipstick is always a plus’; a poetry collection tracing a path from emptiness to joy, with stops along the way for hot chocolate and lipstick. “Through varied subject matter and fresh perspective, Rosenberg’s crystalline poems confront and entertain readers with the unexpected.” – Sarah Ream, editor of

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  1. Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Hello Fellow Next Big Thing-er! I really enjoyed reading your answers, and I’m now very keen to read the finished book – if it’s about Edinburgh, Chile and physics it’s already drawing me in… (I live in one, was born in another, and have a passion for well written books about maths and science.) I hope the fourth draft goes well!

  2. Posted November 8, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I’d never heard of lablit before and look forward to reading some as soon as your book is out. Sounds so interesting!

  3. Posted November 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m sooo excited about your Next Big Thing, can’t wait! All that yummy science…

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