The Next Big Thing

Susan Price

          I don't know who first had the idea for this, but it's become a bit of craze among on-line writers.
         First, you answer the ten questions below about your work-in-progress.
        Then you link to the blogs of other writers, about their work in progress.
          So, here goes -   

Q1. What is the working title of your book?
          I usually call it ‘Sterkarm 3’ because it will be the third Sterkarm book. But its official working title, at the moment, is ‘A Sterkarm Embrace.’ It’s also been called, ‘A Sterkarm Cure’ and ‘A Sterkarm Potion’. The title’s in progress too.

Sterkarm Handshake and Sterkarm Kiss
Q2 where did the idea come from for the book?
          The second book in the Sterkarm series, ‘A Sterkarm Kiss’, ended in a cliff-hanger. This one takes the story on from there.

Q3 What genre does your book fall under?
          The time machine makes it science-fiction or fantasy, but the realistic scenes set in the 16thCentury Border Lands make it historical. The love between 21stCentury Andrea and 16th Century Per make it a romance. All the fighting makes it an adventure.
          Is there a Science-fictionish Historical Romantic Adventure genre?

Q4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
          That’s a poser.  I don’t think the film industry have it in them to cast my heroine, Andrea, because anyone in the film world would say, ‘She’s fat, so she can’t be a lead.’
          Andrea is a big, bonny lass, with child-bearing hips. It would kill the film industry to cast her properly. I doubt they’d even try – they’d go on auto-pilot and cast some tiny, bony waif. (I give my reasons for making Andrea big and bonny in this interview.) In character, she’s quite shy and gentle, but has a very strong sense of right and wrong, and is quite brave and determined in acting on it. I don’t know that she always gets it right.
          I’m equally clueless about who to cast as Per, the hero. He’s a tall, fair, blue-eyed Border Scot – his nickname is ‘The May’ or ‘The Girl’, so he is pretty, but there is nothing girly about his character. He has been raised since childhood to ride, fight and lead. He’s also been raised in the belief that it’s his family, the Sterkarms, against the world, and he recognises no authority except that of his family elders - and not always them. He thinks for himself. He has a lot of charm, but underneath the good looks and charm, I have to say, he is a dangerous thug. Don’t get on his wrong side.
Any suggestions for casting these two?

Q5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
          Love, war, poison and deer-hounds.

Q6 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
          At the moment I’m hoping that my agent will find it a publisher for the new book, and for the two older books. But I’m not ruling out the possibility of publishing it – and republishing the first two – myself.

Q7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
          Three years. I started working on it in 2009, about the time I was appointed Royal Literary Fellow at De Montfort University. Throughout my three years at DMU, I worked on ‘Sterkarm 3’. It’s still not finished. I daresay that even if my agent can find a publisher, there will be rewrites.

Q8. What other books would you compare the story to within your genre?
          I almost stopped writing the first book, The Sterkarm Handshake, when my brother lent me a story called, I think, ‘Mozart in Mirrorshades’ by, I think, William Gibson. It described – brilliantly - a time-travelling future society pulling out of the 18thCentury in much the same way as the Americans pulled out of Vietnam. Marie Antoinette, who’s become the mistress of an executive, and Mozart, whose music has been influenced by the music he’s heard from the future, are desperate to be taken to the future too. For a while, after reading this story, I thought there was little point in writing my book. But I recovered.

Q9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
          I was fascinated by the history of the Border Reivers – and I’d loved the ballads since my teens. I’ve loved folk-lore and legends for even longer. I wanted to write about the reivers, but didn’t want to write a straightforward historical novel. I thought about bringing time-travel into it, so I could have characters from the 21stand 16th centuries interacting. I liked that idea – but thelight-bulb above my head didn’t really light up until I thought that the 16thcentury characters would think the 21st century people were Elves from the Hollow Hills because of their ‘magical’ technology.

Q10 What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
          It features an unexpected use for plastic carrier bags!

          And here are the writers I'm linking to:-