Here's the latest in The Next Big Thing thing - a visit from Erica Blaney!
What is the title of your new book?
I'm working on two. One might or might not be called 'The Song of the Magic Harp'. I don't think I've quite got that right yet, and am interested to see what the editorial team comes up with. The other is 'The Charmed Life of Danny Mars', which I think is absolutely spot on, and don't want any editorial team to get anywhere near!
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Most of my writing ideas come from a mixture of People Watching, asking 'What if ...?' and Time On My Hands. Never underestimate the power of boredom.
The germ of 'The Magic Harp' came on a seven hour coach journey, when I wrote a whole chapter set in a comically twisted medieval world. It led to me thinking about the medieval way of sacrificing maidens to monsters, and asking What If a maiden made her money as a sort of professional sacrificial victim. The characters have changed, the chapter changed, but that was how it all started.
'Danny Mars' began life as a short story for adults. I think I was interested in the idea of the multiverse at the time, and one What If led to another.
What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy, and a tiny bit of Science Fiction. Very tiny, small on the science, Big On The Fiction.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
'The Magic Harp': After stealing a magic harp, The Bard becomes entangled in the lives of a newly hatched phoenix, a unicorn (without a horn) and three runaway sisters, on his way to using the harp to save a baby's life.
'Danny Mars': Danny inherits a marvellous machine, by which he can use all the luck in the multiverse.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am represented by the wonderful Fraser and Ross, who do all the things I don't have a chance of doing myself.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Much longer than you would have thought. I've been struggling with a long-term illness the last few years, and everything takes ten times longer than it used to. Also my memory is terrible. I think I began 'The Magic Harp' three or four years ago. 'Danny' appeared in short story form over ten years ago, and I took him out and dusted him down in the last six months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Lloyd Alexander's 'Chronicles of Prydian' for 'The Magic Harp', and possibly Anthony Horowitz's Diamond Brother books for 'Danny Mars'.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My youngest son asked me for a book with a phoenix in. I was in the middle of Cybernation/Solarnation at the time, but the seed was planted for 'The Magic Harp'.
As for 'Danny Mars', I think I was interested in the multiverse, and all the fictional possibilities that could happen. I then heard a radio documentary about Astrid Lingen's 'Pippi Longstocking', and remembered reading her in my childhood. Pippi seemed to have resources to do whatever she liked, and I thought that since most characters I've written have been poor or restricted in some way, it would be different to write about a boy who had uncountable riches and the luck of a multitude of lives available to do whatever he wanted.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
I would like to write more books in the same setting as 'The Magic Harp'. In fact, I'm already half way through 'The Ballad of the Dragon Tooth Dagger'.
Thanks, Erica - looking forward to those!