THE NEXT BIG THING (La traduction en français est ICI)
I was tagged to be part of an internet meme (a viral sort of thing on the Internet) by the lovely and talented Rachel Ward, whose own version appeared here last Wednesday. It’s an opportunity to talk about a work in progress, and I’m really excited to be involved.
1- What is the title of your next book?
The Vertigo of the Rhombus.
2- Where did the idea come from for the book?
This book is the second volume of a trilogy entitled “The Masters of the Storm” – the first volume, The Mark of the Storm, was published in France in April 2012 and the last volume, The Voice of the Egregor, is due in 2014. It’s a trilogy that takes place on an imaginary and very mysterious island off the coast of Brittany during WW2 (from Volume 2 part of the story also takes place in 2012).
My childhood in Brittany lies at the heart of my imagination and of the inspiration for my trilogy. I was brought up surrounded by wild and atmospheric landscapes, Breton legends and family stories of the Second World War. All these form the core of my next book.
3- What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a bit of a mixture to be honest as it could be filed under quite a few labels: adventure, history, historical fantasy, magical realism, fantastic realism (a term I sort of made up for it!), Celtic legends, initiation, quest… I wrote it for teenagers (from age 12) but my French publisher loved it so much as an adult (I won’t post his age here!) that he thought other adults would love it too. So it’s published in France as a cross-over and I’ve had the joy of getting feedback from people of all ages (or to be more precise from ages 12 to 80 something!).
4- What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
My characters were born in my head and are reborn in the head of each of my readers so no actors immediately come to mind. If a director wanted to make my books into movies, he/she would have to do the casting for me. In an ideal world I’d love for my main characters to be played by unknowns who would take on their identity. Also I’d prefer the roles to be played by Europeans rather than Americans -- if possible!
Actually what sometimes happens is that I meet people in real life that have my characters’ features, which is each time an exhilarating experience. For instance, as I was looking around on the Internet to make the trailer for my first book, I found the photo of a German girl in 1940 who looked uncannily like Marwen, one of my main characters. Also, no later than last week while on holiday in Scotland, I met a pretty young woman who is exactly as I visualize the character of Marie-Louise in my book (see photos beneath).
5- What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Sorry, two sentences instead of one!
“In 1942 and 2012, on a mysterious island battered by fierce thunderstorms, two adolescents have to fight the darkest of evils in the shape of the Rhombus, an infernal machine created by Nazi scientists. Will they be able to survive the vertigo of the Rhombus and save their souls, as well as those of the other islanders?”
6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by my French publisher, Pascal Galodé, in May/June 2013. I don’t have an agent as it’s not done at all in France, where authors have to deal directly with publishers. I hope with all my heart that my trilogy will one day get translated into English and published in Britain – fingers crossed!
7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m still writing it at the moment! Overall it will be about a year to get it all done. I work in a way that means my finished first draft is pretty much the final product. I sort out problems as I go along, mainly in my head (a sometimes unnerving way of working as it means quite a few stops and starts!). Since I want the plot in this story to be as exciting and meaty in both time periods (1942 and 2012), it’s meant writing two parallel books in one, each with their own crises and climaxes. I have a detailed road map for my two plots but I also adapt to what inspiration and the characters throw into my path as I write the story. It can be a challenge but I love doing it!
8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a difficult question. I tend to read a massive amount of books for my research but they’re never similar to what I’m writing (i.e. the actual story is like nothing I’ve read before). I need to feel free in my imagination. So it’s from my readers that I get the answer to this question. I’ve been told that the first book reminded some of them of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s novels. Also, when I saw the movie “Pan’s Labyrinth” I was struck by the similarities with my trilogy.
9- Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Following on from my brief answer to Question 2!
Saint-Malo in Brittany, where I come from, was totally destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt lovingly by its inhabitants after the war. My great uncles, the youngest being 17 years old at the time, left Saint-Malo to join the free French forces in England in 1940 or stayed home and became members of the resistance. Their stories were like adventure yarns and affected me deeply when I was a child and a teenager.
As to the more supernatural / occult side to my story, that comes from the Celtic legends and the strange and wondrous world of my Catholic religious education (a strong influence on most Breton people). Magic is only a footstep away from everyday life for most children and it stays that way for adults who are ready to look for it in their heart. This sensitivity to magic is what has kept me fascinated by the wonderful and strange aspects of real life and by the stories and tales of our ancestors. So, as a conclusion, I could say that the inspiration for this book and trilogy comes from the eternal child in me.
10- What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Beyond the obvious pacey adventure story, I think the fact that many of the supernatural / magic / fantasy aspects in the story are actually deeply rooted in reality will interest the reader.
For instance Marwen’s gift of second sight is mentioned a lot in folk tales and, within the same tradition, is one of the gifts many modern witches and healers claim to have. What’s fascinating about it, however, is that the USA financed a big programme of what they called “remote viewing” (in fact second sight) during the Cold War years to spy on their enemies. About four years ago, when I was researching for my trilogy, I realized moreover that one of the most well-known current “remote viewers” lived in Bath, my town! How exciting is that?
11- My 5 (actually 4) writers for next Wednesday are:
They’re all very talented writers and lovely people too. I’m really looking forward to finding out what’s the next big thing from them…
PS: For those of you who can read French and would be interested, the first volume of my trilogy, La Marque de l'Orage, is available on Amazon UK here (postage free!).