The Next Big Thing


Thanks to the voice of South Queensferry, Brendan Gisby, for inviting me to take part in something called The Next Big Thing. It’s a promotional device by which an author is invited to answer ten set questions about his or her latest work-in-progress and then to tag three more authors who are also working on a new book. A bit like a chain letter, I suppose, but with the nicest of motives.

So here goes…

What’s the working title of your book?

Edina Street.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s a sequel to the novel Countries of the World. When a friend asked me if there would be a follow up I said “No” rightaway. I’d never thought about it, but then I began to wonder… why not?

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary Fiction I’d say. It could be of interest to music fans, especially those who like the sort of stuff John Peel or college radio might have played in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Those who appear in the type of films directed by Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows or Ken Loach. I could have seen Robert Carlyle as biker The Claw, but Bob’s getting on a bit now. I really like Paddy Considine as an actor but I’m not sure for which part. Eddie Marsden, who appeared in Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur, would be excellent to play a slimy and opportunistic Edinburgh landlord.

In Countries of the World, the female character Eileen was described as looking a bit like Dee Hepburn in Gregory’s Girl. But Eileen has outgrown the flick fringe hairstyle now.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Breogan boys hit Auld Reekie and get lost in music.

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

I’d like to find a small independent publisher because I’m a writer with an artistic mentality. Self-promotion and marketing are not my strong points. But I think I’ve learned a few things from Countries of the World experience. This novel will be more focused than ‘Countries’, which branched out into so many areas. In Edina Street, the story will take place in Edinburgh (with occasional trips up north) and will only cover a year or two in the early 90’s.

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

I’m still writing and am nowhere near finished to be honest. Depending on other commitments, I’d hope to have it ready to send to publishers before the end of 2013.

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

I guess there could be a comparison with Nick Hornby in that he moved from the football theme in Fever Pitch to music with High Fidelity. I think my main characters are rougher and readier, although one or two might set their sights higher than Edina Street as time goes on.

And Trainspotting always seems to raise its head now whenever you set a novel in Edinburgh featuring a crowd of youths or twenty somethings. I don’t think my characters are quite so desperate and my stuff is generally lighter than that, without being escapist. So it may be somewhere between these two novels. I’m not a huge fan of either writer really, although I did enjoy Trainspotting and High Fidelity.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As in much of my work, the ending in Countries of the World was open and there was a lot of scope to continue developing characters, provided I shifted the main vehicle away from football. It’s an opportunity to examine one of my other main loves: music. And perhaps look at how commerce, formats and attitudes to music have changed in the last 20 years or so.

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

Those who’ve read ‘Countries’ will be familiar with some of the characters and the story up to this point. But I hope to write it in such a way that those who haven’t, won’t miss out on anything important. Edina Street is a sequel of sorts, but I would like to think new readers of my work will understand it and, perhaps, be tempted to go back and read ‘Countries’ as a prequel.

My Next Big Thing nominees are:

Zack Wilson lives in Sheffield and is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and some journalism. Debut novel Stumbles and Half Slips is available from Epic Rites Press of Canada. He works as a Rugby League correspondent and is an Anglo-Scottish follower of the Scotland football team for his sins.

Ian Ayris from Essex is the author of the excellent debut novel Abide with Me, which he has recently followed up with One Day in the Life of Jason Dean.

Bill Robertson lives in Blackburn… Aberdeenshire, that is. He is an active member of the Lemon Tree Writers group in the Granite City. His short stories have appeared in anthologies and won awards and he has some books available on Kindle including the novella When the Revolution Comes and something you might just about be in the mood for at this time of year: the cracking Christmas story Reindeer Dust.

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