Today I am taking part in the networked blog interview, The Next Big Thing. I was nominated last week by British writer, Mark Morris. A preview of what skitters and scratches around behind next year’s novel, House of Small Shadows, can be found below …
What is the working title of your next book?
House of Small Shadows
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Quite a range of inspirations and also memories. For a story I’ve never dredged the most deep-seated fears of my childhood so thoroughly before. As a child I had quite a profound fear of puppets, mannequins in clothes shops, antique dolls, that sort of thing. An urban myth that another child told me, about a doll with four fingers that made four puncture marks on throats terrified me, and for about a year I could visualise one of my sister’s dolls slowly crawling down the hall towards my room at night. Doctor Who and The Talons of Weng Chiang left its mark too. Various TV programmes I remembered watching before I went to school, so I must have been four, also unnerved and enchanted me: Raggety in the Adventures of Rupert Bear, Hartley Hare (and friends) in The Pipkins. Quite rudimentary children’s string puppet shows really instilled some strange feelings in my generation.
But it’s not Puppet Master 10: Revenge of the Rag Dolls, or anything like that. It’s stranger and more enigmatic (at least for me). The ideas and themes are also incorporated into what I find affecting and disturbing in Elizabethan and Jacobean culture, British history in the middle ages, and sundry other things from British folklore. On a literary level, parts of the book are inspired by Thomas Ligotti’s vision and the Reggie Oliver story The Children of Monta Rosa.
The story is also woven out of other poignant seemingly innocent images from a seventies British childhood.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I could see Helena Bonham Carter in the lead role. If Tim Burton wants to adapt it into a film we’re ready to talk!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
They Watch You As You Sleep (publisher’s shoutline)
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Published by Pan Macmillan and represented by John Jarrold, my literary agent.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About eight months, with around another four months of rewriting. Mental preparation: a lifetime.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, both by Shirley Jackson. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
[see the first question]
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I defy anyone to second guess the ending, or is that endings? As my late and much missed friend, James Marriott remarked after reading the first draft, I’ve never put a shudder through reality like this before.
For next week’s NEXT BIG THING I nominate: Danie Ware, Sarah Pinborough, Wayne Simmons, David Moody and Thana Niveau
Please check out their interviews about their new books on Weds, November 7th.