So what is My Next Big Thing? It’s a blog-chain for writers and the like, and last week it was the turn of Steven Davis. Steven is a writer, publisher, and bookseller in Reading, England. I met Steven on a conservation holiday to Estonia. Rather than the normal dormitory setup, we ended up sharing a small cabin-tent in the woods and learnt that both were a writer. I believe we hatched a plot to rewrite The Bible, retaining all the stories and allegories, but removing all reference to God. Nothing has come to that idea… yet. You can read his own blog-chain interview and find out more about his books here: www.tenebroustexts.com
What is the working title of your book?
My current book, now passed the three quarter mark, is Mr Tumnal. It’s the curious story of a man who marries his imaginary friend. And then fathers an imaginary child. Whilst it contains cameo appearances from characters in The End Of All Worlds it occupies a different ‘world’ and has nothing to do with the former.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
In the summer of 2006 I was car-sharing to work with Caroline Clamp neé Simms. One particular August day, it was my turn to drive, and I was driving away from her house having collected her, remarking on how autumnal it was. Confused, she asked me who Mr Tumnal was. We spent the rest of the 45 minute commute working out exactly who Mr Tumnal was. During the 45 minute return trip, we pieced out elements of the story.
What genre does your book fall under?
The genre I prefer most is one of my own creation: ‘Real-World Fantasy’ but I guess you could call it Magical Realism. It’s a story set clearly in the here and now albeit in a city that is almost but not quite entirely like Oxford (but an Oxford with trams and a metro system). There are distinct elements of fantasy in the story too, with very modern, very evil fairies, and the Fairy Queen herself making an appearance.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m hoping to finish this early next year, and I started it on my honeymoon in Scotland (on Eilean Shona, an island that inspired J.M.Barrie to write Peter Pan) in June 2009. That’s not been solid writing though. The day job has got in the way for much of the time, as has editing, production, publication, and marketing of The End Of All Worlds.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Have you read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. It’s one of the wonkiest books I’ve read. On a scale of 1 to 10 of wonkiness, its about an 8. Mr Tumnal would be a 15…
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
One of my favourite books ever, is the late, great, Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire & Hemlock. It was the first of her books I read, and has remained my absolute favourite ever since. Mr Tumnal is indebted to Jones’ book and uses many of the same source material and allegories. It’s also packed full of other pop-culture references that you might or might not get. There are lots of layers to unpick to get more understanding from the story.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Mr Tumnal is not, at all, autobiographical, but there is the most of Me in the book as anything I’ve ever written before. Mr Tumnal almost certain has, if to a mild degree, Aspergers, and the importance of being a different is a big thing about the story without actually being part of the story itself.
Well that’s enough of me – it’s now time to pass this blog-chain on.
The first of the authors I’m passing on to is Emily Mah. I met Emily through Twitter. Twitter recommended me to her, and we became friends. She has offered sackfuls of advice and encouragement about Indie publishing in the run up to, and post-publication of my own debut book. Emily Mah is the name under which she writes her science fiction and fantasy, but she is also the bestselling author of Somebody Else’s Fairytale, Castles on the Sand, and the forthcoming Nobody’s Damsel. You can find out more about Emily here: www.emilymah.com
The second author I’m passing on to is Angella Graff. I first met Angella when she reviewed my debut novel, The End Of All Worlds, and then subsequently agreed to interview me about my writing. She’s a writer too, and after the success of her debut novel, Moments Collide, her second is published tomorrow. The Awakening is an Urban Fantasy dealing with mythology, theology, and the supernatural. You can find out more about Angella here: angellagraffbooks.wordpress.com