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The Next Big Thing


In a change from our usual schedule of fun and unusual words and their meanings, this week I’m taking part in The Next Big Thing.

Last month Kimberly Sullivan invited me to take part in The Next Big Thing. Kimberly is a novelist and short fiction writer living in Rome, but originally from Boston and New York. She’s currently revising her novel Dark Blue Waves (set in Jane Austen’s Bath and modern times), with feedback from me amongst others, querying her Abruzzo novel, and working on Italian Tales a short fiction collection about women in Italy. She is a shameless travel-addict and blogs about that and writing.

The Next Big Thing is a way to connect with fellow writers and their current writing. The idea is simple. The author answers ten question about writing on their blog and ask five other authors (who they think could be the Next Big Thing) to answer the same questions and pass it on.

So here goes for me…

Cover Image for HookedWhat is the title of your next book?

Hooked – when six strangers aged 7 to 67 form a knitting group in a small village in Ireland, they don’t realise that their seventh member is the ghost owner of the shop where they meet. She can’t “move on” until her huge collection of yarn is used. As friendships form and secrets are revealed, the group pulls together to transform their lives, their village and find romance on the way.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I crochet myself and am a member of a knitting group where I am constantly amazed by the strength of the cross-generational friendships formed through craft. We’ve had granddaughter, mother, and grandmother from one family in the group. I have no idea where Cassie, the ghost, came from as I don’t believe in ghosts. She just turned up and started bossing me around.

What genre does your book fall under?

Women’s fiction. I see it as a village saga because of the large cast of seven narrating characters.

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

I love this question as I’m a huge movie fan.

  • Cassie the ghost – Zoe Wannamaker (Madam Hooch in Hogwarts and lead female in My Family, a BBC sitcom)
  • Rose the grandmother – Sorcha Cusack
  • Jeff the wool shop owner – Alan Rickman (brilliant actor – Love Actually, Harry Potter, Truly Madly Deeply)
  • Kitty the young mum – Anne Hathaway
  • Malachy the gardener love interest for Kitty – Liam Neeson (aged 30).
  • Beth the teenage art student and Cian the 7 year old  – hopefully some new youth actors
  • Claudine, Cian’s French mother – Juliette Binoche (my favourite French actress, ever)
  • Mick the motor-cycling gardener – John, an acting friend of my husband’s
  • The village gossip – Pauline McLynn (a novelist herself and also the infamous Mrs Doyle in Father Ted)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Seven people hooked together by wool – their village will never be the same again.

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

I’m currently querying agents for my first novel The Morning After Service (Hangover cures, love, business, and friendship – it’s a heady mix at The Morning After Service) so I hope Hooked will follow the same route.

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

I wrote the first 75,000 words during NaNoWriMo 2010 (I’m the organiser for Ireland North East) and it took me another three months to finish the first draft. That’s pretty fast but revision is a much longer process for me.

What other books would you compare Hooked to within the genre?

Some very kind critique partners on CritiqueCircle have compared it to Meave Binchy, probably because of the Irish setting. I’d like to think Hooked is similar to Joanna Trollope’s novels – the way she brings in the entire cast of a village and shows the interactions of their lives.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My friends in my own knitting group, especially Linda whose attic is full of yarn her husband doesn’t even know she has bought! A village called Naul near my home provided inspiration for the fictional setting and my own family tree helped form the ghost’s back-story.

Meeting great kids and teens while working on the Growing Up In Ireland survey pushed me to include Cian (7) and Beth (17) because sometimes younger characters are just scenery in books for adults. They were great fun to write about because their perspective is so different.

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

Although Ravelry (facebook for knitters) has more than a million members and crafting has been surging recently, you don’t have to be a knitter to enjoy the story. The cross-generational friendships amongst the group draw you into the lives and struggles of the characters until you feel like you know them as well as your own next-door neighbours.

the-next-big-thingNow let me introduce you to five Next Big Things…

Nessa Toale: Author of “The Secret Beneath Bleeker Avenue” and Pursuit of A Crawling Baby Blog. Nessa has had great success with her writing this year, being featured on The Irish Times and Journal.ie. I was lucky enough to mentor Nessa on Nano 2012.

Alex Sheridan: Author of “Treasure Life” – a thrilling tale of treasure hunters. She’s a fellow member of the women’s lit queue on CritiqueCircle.

Ashley Lynn Willis: Ashley and I became friends when she was revising “Killing Abel” – an amazing story, packed with drama, featuring a cast of immortals on CC. I quickly became addicted to her chapters each week and can’t wait to see her on the bestseller lists. Her current release is “The Calling”.

Hope C Clark: Hope is well-known for her brilliant Funds for Writers newsletters which have helped me on every step of my writing journey. I’ve even been lucky enough to write features for her. So when she published “Low Country Bribe” to critical success and reader acclaim I knew I had to get myself a copy and I wasn’t disappointed. A true lady and a great writer.

Trish Byrne: Also known as AccentMonkey (I’m not entirely sure why?). I was lucky enough to meet Trish in 2009 when I nervously began mentoring writers in NaNoWriMo. She’d been doing the 50,000-words-in-one-month challenge longer than I had and was very supportive. Meanwhile I was intrigued by her novel that year – a zombie thriller set on a fishing trawler. A unique writer and massive advocate for rescued dogs, I’m not sure what she’s writing at the minute but would love to know. Over to you Trish!

I can’t wait to see everyone’s answers and thanks again to Kimberly for tagging me.

Until next time, happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,