Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The NEXT BIG THING blog hop

I was tagged to be a part of this meme by Kate Kelly at The Scribbling SeaSerpent, whose debut novel is called Red Rock and is going to be published next year. Her version appeared last Wednesday.

What is the title of your next book?
It’s called The Secrets Of Life And Death and will be published sometime next autumn, hopefully around October. I can’t say more than that as the publisher hasn’t announced anything yet officially, but I am signing contracts at the moment! I am terrible at titles (this one was invented by my clever agent) and so far the other books in the series are called—wait for it—book 2 and book 3.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My main character, Jackdaw Hammond, just started whispering to me after I was thinking about the idea of living on ‘borrowed time’. I was writing another book (creatively named ‘the B&B book’) and I started Secrets for fun. It eventually ended up in my MA dissertation.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s fantasy, but inserted into a real world setting, about three fifths is set now in rural Devon and about two fifths in sixteenth century Eastern Europe. Lots of yummy research. 

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
My professor, Felix Guichard, would be played by Rufus Sewell. Sorry, I’m distracted now.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
The Secrets of Life and Death is a supernatural mystery centred around Jackdaw Hammond, who lives on ‘Borrowed Time’; she has extended her natural life by sorcery designed in the sixteenth century. Jack has rescued fourteen year old Sadie, who barely has time to come to terms with her magical state before she comes under attack. Threaded through the events of the present, are the adventures of John Dee and Edward Kelley in 1585, as they attempt to push back death itself, under the sword of Istvan Báthory, uncle of the serial murderer Elizabeth Báthory…

I just can’t do one sentence, I really try. I can’t pitch for toffee either.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I was so lucky. I went in for a competition and was one of two runners up (the other, Nicola Vincent-Abnett is tagged below). One of the judges was Clare Alexander of Aitken Alexander Associates, who sent my book over to Charlotte Robertson, who took me on! 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About four months, but my first drafts are written in advanced cliché and consist almost entirely of loose ends. It took seven more drafts to have a single, coherent entity. I’d love to say I’ve learned my lesson, but I’ve done exactly the same with Book 2.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova inspired me, I also enjoyed Kate Mosse’s books but I think Kelley Armstrong’s series would possibly be in a similar vein too. It’s hard to look at books you love and imagine your own anywhere near them, to be honest.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My son, Carey, who loves Armstrong’s books so much. Talking ideas over with him, then with my husband when we drive out to a favourite restaurant once a week, developed the plot. Though the historical strand was all mine. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Did you know the Inquisition is alive and well? Knowing that, I introduced Stephen McNamara, inquisitor for the modern age, who becomes a kind of hero. I was fascinated by Elizabeth Báthory, a real character from history who murdered dozens if not hundreds of girls, and who plays a big part in both strands of the book.

Now it’s my turn! These are THE NEXT BIG THINGS you should be keeping an eye on, so you can tell all your friends to buy their books! Hopefully, they will answer the same questions next Wednesday - but if they are too busy, still check out their blogs and books!

v  NicolaVincent-Abnett, who I mentioned before, because she has written a book of heart-wrenching power and emotion about survival in the face of overwhelming challenges.  

v  Bethany Coombs, who writes second world fantasy series and needs encouragement to get an agent and get out there. I can’t wait for book 2 of her series!

v  TeresaStenson who has supported and encouraged so many other writers while honing her considerable craft. Not only a notable short story writer (shortlisted for the Bridport prize 2009, no less, among other competitions) but widely published. I’m waiting for that first collection or novel…

v  Liz Fenwick, whose first book, The Cornish House is delightful, and funny, and emotional, and I’m looking forward so much to the sequel. She has also shared her publishing journey, which has encouraged me.
v  And CallyTaylor, who so generously blogged the whole experience of becoming published and being a writer, and was personally supportive. I know I’m not the only one who wants to know more about the new book!


  1. Having read a draft of The Secrets, I have no doubt you will be the next big thing!

  2. Secrets sounds brilliant and I look forward to it coming out next year...I've been double tagged so I'll be blogging a week from today! Thanks for your kind words about The Cornish House!

  3. What an inspiring post, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing some insight into your next book, Secrets... it sounds intriguing.

    I wish you great success.


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