The Next Big Thing is a blog chain where writers answer ten questions about their writing, then tag other writers to do the same. I was tagged by Lisa Heidke, the author of four wonderfully witty novels including her latest, ‘Stella Makes Good’. You can read her post here. My answers follow.
1. What is the title of your current book?
‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’
2. Where did the idea come from?
I had the idea that I wanted to write a story about a girl who was incredibly inept at social situations and felt like an outsider in her own town. It grew from there.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
It’s been called Chick Lit, zany romance, romantic comedy, romance with social commentary and a comedy of beach-town manners. I’m fine with any or all of the above.
The protagonist, Edie, says that she’d like to be played by Scarlett Johansen in the movie of her life, so I’ll have to go with that or risk offending her (but imagine Scarlett Johansen looking slightly daggy with red hair, rather than blonde and va va voom.)
The male protagonist needs to be played by someone who does good ‘angsty dark-haired musician’. Is there a younger version of Eric Bana or Alex Demetriades around? I’m sure there is.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Dumped by text-message, Edie flees Sydney for the refuge of her childhood home taking only a wilting bonsai to remind her of her failure.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is published by HarperCollins and I am fortunate to be represented by Sophie Hamley at Camerons Literary Management.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About six months (but then another year to polish).
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a hard question, but my editor compared it to ‘The Other Side of the Story’ by Marian Keyes and that’s pretty hot stuff, so I’ll take it. I must also admit to being influenced by ‘Zigzag Street’ by Nick Earls, which probably falls into the ‘zany romance with social commentary’ genre.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for Edie’s story came from a few different places. One of these was seeing the way that surfing was so much a part of life in the town where I live, I wondered what it would be like to be an outsider – a girl who is scared of the water. While I am a surfer myself, my kids are fairly apathetic about it. In a town with such a strong surfing culture, whether you do or don’t surf becomes an important part of who you are.
Another source of inspiration came from a job I held a long time ago. In the book, Edie gets a part-time job drawing crab larvae at the local university and, in an effort to supplement her income, also takes up erotic writing. Way back when I was studying zoology, I actually had a job drawing crab larvae for one of the professors at the university. It is very intricate and quite boring work and unfortunately I didn’t have a sexy boss like Edie does to take my mind off things.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Darling Head, where the story is set, is a fictionalised version of my hometown, Lennox Head. Edie’s anxiety about being outed as an erotic writer in her town stems in part from my own feelings about having my first novel ‘Liar Bird’ accepted for publication. I immediately imagined everyone I knew poring through its pages, trying to recognise the characters. Eventually I realised, as Edie does, that it’s actually not all that bad.
I would now like to introduce you to three very exciting writers – Susanna Freymark (formerly from Byron Bay, now Sydney), Jennifer St George (from Byron Bay) and Inga Simpson (from the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane).
Susanna’s debut novel, ‘Losing February – a story of love, lust and longing,’ is released, most appropriately, on the first of February. It has been described in The Hoopla as ‘un-put-downable’. Could be a few late nights coming up with that one…
Jennifer St George’s second sexy romance, ‘Seducing the Secret Heiress’ has just been released – congratulations Jennifer! Her first novel, ‘The Convenient Bride’ got rave reviews for its characters and blazing hot passion. Whew…
Inga’s novel ‘Mr Wigg’ will be released in July. Having read a little bit about it, all I can say is that I’ll be making sure my diary’s clear for that one… It sounds wonderful.
Susanna , Jennifer and Inga will be posting their answers to The Next Big Thing next week so head on over to their blogs to check them out.