Several writing friends tagged me in The Next Big Thing during the month of November and I declined on each occasion because I was busy marking essays. Today, my friend Jenn Ashworth tagged me (correction - she linked to me because she thought I'd already done it) so I decided it was about time I got on with it. All I had to do was answer the questions below:
It doesn’t have a working title. I’m not being coy, it really doesn’t have a working title. I am sort of worried about it, but it’s pretty far down my list to things to worry about – somewhere beneath climate change and the fact that I haven’t finished buying the children’s Christmas presents.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I think the idea came from the resurrection stories I heard as I was growing up, like the one below, written by a Mormon called Matthew Cowley.
I was called to a home in a little village in New Zealand one day. There the Relief Society sisters were preparing the body of one of our Saints. They had placed his body in front of the Big House as they call it, the house where the people came to wail and weep and mourn over the dead, when in rushed the dead man's brother.
He said, "Administer to him."
And the young natives said, "Why, you shouldn't do that; he's dead."
"You do it!"
This same old man that I had with me when his niece was so ill was there. The younger native got down on his knees, and he anointed the dead man. Then this great old sage got down and blessed him and commanded him to rise. You should have seen the Relief Society sisters scatter. And he sat up, and he said, "Send for the elders; I don't feel very well." Now, of course, all of that was just psychological effect on that dead man. Wonderful, isn't it--this psychological effect business? Well, we told him he had just been administered to, and he said: "Oh, that was it." He said, "I was dead. I could feel life coming back into me just like a blanket unrolling." Now, he outlived the brother that came in and told us to administer to him.
What genre does your book fall under?
I think it would probably be described as literary fiction. A chapter of the book was published as a stand-alone story in my collection Sweet Home – read it and find out!
What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh gosh, I have no idea... maybe Jude Law with slicked down hair and glasses for the dad and a bare-faced Kristin Scott Thomas for the mum – I don’t really see the character’s faces as I write, but I have an idea about the shapes of their bodies and the way they move. Hmm, that’s quite strange actually...
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Nooooo! This is the question people always ask when they find out I’m writing a novel and I squirm and prevaricate and avoid it at all costs. Erm, it's a story about family and about miracles that don't and do happen following the sudden death of a four year old girl.
That's terrible, but I've just got back from a midnight Christmas shopping trip so it will have to do.
Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?
I don’t plan to self publish, so I’m hoping someone else will want to publish it – fingers crossed.
How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
I’m just finishing it at the moment and I’m sorry to say that it has taken me more than eighteen months which is pretty slow.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I really don’t know. I hope someone will read it one day and make a comparison.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I don’t know – gosh, these are hard questions. Maybe it’s a grand farewell to my belief in the miraculous and a concession to it at the same time.
What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?
The book is about family and grief. It's horribly funny in parts (I hope) and horribly sad in others (that's definitely true - I can do horribly sad). Oh, and there's a handcart, some spoon-playing, a massive wad of cash and a secret box of dead insects.
I'm supposed to tag other people now but I'm not going to because it's nearly Christmas and I think almost everyone I know has already done this. What I'll do instead is link to all the writers who asked if I would join in (hope I remember everyone).
P.S. The picture at the top of this post is of Southport beach where some of the important scenes in the book take place.