Georgina Bruce

The Next Big Thing

Last week I was tagged for the “Next Big Thing” meme by Ilan Lerman and Georgina Bruce. Both are hugely talented writers, and if I could reverse tag them I would. The idea of “The Next Big Thing” is to answer ten standard questions and then tag more writers in turn, who answer the same questions on their blogs a week after, etc.

So here are the questions, and my answers:

1) What is the working title of your next book/short story/project?

It’s a novel. The current working title is “Heptatheon”.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s basically a continuation, a sequel to my first novel. I know there’s a lot of sensible advice out there saying you shouldn’t write a sequel to your first novel unless it has proven successful, but I just couldn’t resist returning to see how the story and characters developed. The setting — a constructed world — is designed to be a writer’s playground, so it’s difficult for me to stay away from it too long.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction, definitely. Although the reader probably wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from epic fantasy in most cases.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The protagonist, Urek, by Jake Gyllenhaal. Hudomek, his reluctant sidekick, by some unholy genespliced hybrid of Yul Brynner and James Gandolfini. In the first novel the villain would have been played by Tom Cruise, but in this one, I think I’ve got Ed Norton in mind. Their co-stars would be Meryl Streep, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johanssen. Yes, it would be an expensive film to produce.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is the most difficult question to answer, especially as I’ve only just begun serious work on the WIP. Still, it’s always good to have a vague idea of what you’re trying to achieve.

Uh, how about this line for Voiceover Man:

“The fate of the world will be decided at the heart of the Heptatheon, where our hero will choose whether humanity or the gods triumph.”

Gosh, nobody has written about that before.

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

I honestly don’t know.

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

The last novel took just over four years. I’d like to think this one will take much less, but real life is pretty busy with a young family and a very full time job. I’ve really only just started it, so there’s a long way to go yet.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

…The good ones?

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The original story was inspired by a tree that towers outside my work office. I imagined someone climbing up it, trying to escape from an imminent threat. What were they escaping from? And what were they escaping to? Urek’s story all stems from that.

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

The first novel was essentially about the narrator coming to terms with the fact he wasn’t as human as he hoped, a journey of self-discovery. In “Heptatheon” the journey continues, but with the stakes and scale cranked up. Thematically, I’m attempting to touch upon the corrupting effects of power; plot-wise there will be intrigue, betrayal, struggle against impossible odds, giant monsters, massed battles and who knows what else. Although I know the ending (more or less), I’m a complete pantser at heart, so anything could happen on the way and probably will.

It will be interesting to read this post again in a few years time and see how the result matches up with my original intentions and expectations.

Now to hand on the baton.

To Erin Stocks a writer, musician, and graduate of the 2011 Clarion Writer’s Workshop. Her fiction can be found in the anthology Anywhere but Earth by Coeur de Lion, Flash Fiction Online, the Hadley Rille anthology Destination: Future, The Colored Lens, and Polluto Magazine.

And to Cécile Cristofari, an aspiring young writer who has so far had a couple of articles published by Strange Horizons and who I’m sure has a bright future ahead of her.

I can’t wait to see what their answers will be.



On Tuesday September 11, Daily Science Fiction will be sending my flash story “Mortless” out via e-mail to their 5,000+ subscribers. A week later it goes live on their website for the whole world to see. (The whole world with Internet access, that is.)

Not a subscriber to DSF? Why not? It’s free, and you get a new story in your inbox every weekday — stories from authors such as Hugo and Nebula Award winner Ken Liu to complete newbies like myself.

A few notes and an acknowledgement regarding “Mortless”. This story was the result of one of the regular prompts set by the writing group I’m a member of, the Self-Forging Fragments. (It’s sekrit, so don’t ask about it!) On this occasion it was a musical prompt, set by the insanely talented Georgina Bruce. Without that prompt, this story would not exist — so a big public thanks to Georgina!

The music was by an artist I had never heard of, but the track was soon on constant replay. Here it is, “Singing Under The Rainbow,” by World’s End Girlfriend.

For me, it evoked images of an awakening, a gradual disintegration, of eventual loss. (And the word “bird”.) On repeated listens, the impressions from and of the music changed, but I stuck with those original thoughts. I was reminded of the Hans Christian Anderson story “The Nightingale”, about the mechanical nightingale that eventually runs down, and about love and death. And, incongruously, how I had recently overhead someone being called “River” and what an unusual name that was.

The original working title was “The Wrong Nightingale”, one which still works well, but in the end I decided on “Mortless”. I think it better reflects the emergent themes, a play on the words “deathless”, “remorseless”, “merciless”, etc. I’m really looking forward to it being out in the big wide world and finding out what readers make of it.

PS. And just a note on the publish date. Next Tuesday will be eleven years since I stood in a conference room in Philadelphia and watched on a hastily commandeered and barely functional TV set the first grainy pictures of the World Trade Centre towers collapsing. The world has turned, and turned again, since then, but it will still be with very mixed emotions that I will greet next Tuesday.