The Next Big Thing

There’s a thing going round the internet and it’s called the Next Big Thing, in which writers answer a series of set questions and then tag five other writers to do the same. I was tagged by Paul Cornell, writer of comic books, novels, TV scripts and practically everything, which was very nice of him. It’s not called “Next Big Thing” because Paul considers me to be the next big thing, sadly, but because it’s about the next big thing each author is working on. Hey ho, here we go!

What is the working title of your next book?

Well, the next book to be released is Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl, which is published on May 28, 2013. That’s more or less done from my point of view, but I’ve just started revisions on the second book in the series, Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon, and am about a third of the way through the first draft of the third Gideon Smith novel, which is as yet untitled.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The dark horn’d god to whom all writers annually sacrifice small furry mammals gifted it to me in a dream one storm-tossed night. Either that or I wanted to write something that captured the spirit of pulp adventures but with a contemporary feel.

What genre does your book fall under?

File under fantasy/steampunk/alt.history/new pulp/thumping good read

What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie adaptation?

Getting out of the way that it’s never a good idea to give readers preconceptions about what characters should look like, and that we don’t write novels so they’ll be turned into films, we write them for the pure joy of literature, etc etc etc, here’s a fun dream cast for a handful of the main characters in the first book:

Gideon Smith – a young Johnny Depp, maybe a few years younger than he appears here in Don Juan DeMarco.

Maria, the Mechanical Girl of the title – Keira Knightley has a certain unreal quality...

Aloysius Bent, foul-mouthed, gin-soaked journalist – Mr Timothy Spall

Rowena Fanshawe – if she can dye her hair auburn, then the role of the Belle of the Airways could go to Michelle Williams

Captain Lucian Trigger, the Hero of the Empire: Ronald Pickup

Dr John Reed, constant companion of Captain Trigger – Keith Allen.

Elizabeth, about whom saying too much at this stage might be too spoilery. But Alex Kingston can have the part.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

In an alternative 1890, a young fisherman searching for heroes finds his idols have feet of clay… but can he step up to save the British Empire from the greatest threat it has faced when his dreams have been shattered? Or something like that.

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

I am represented by John Jarrold and all three books will be published by Tor Books in the US.

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

Hard to say… maybe a year? But it underwent several redraftings for various reasons, and from getting the initial idea to being accepted by Tor was a full two years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

If I was being particularly big-headed I might say Michael Moorcock’s Oswald Bastable books, but Moorcock and his fans would probably have something to say about that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My wife, Claire, and my children, Charlie and Alice. I did it in the hope they would think I was dead cool.

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

It comes with a free bottle of wine. No, not really. Um, it’s got Bram Stoker in it as a major character? There’s some really cool stuff in Egypt? Aloysius Bent swears a lot? It starts off in Whitby then the action heads to London? There’s a homage to Jaws buried in the middle?

As part of this thing, you’re supposed to tag five more writers. It’s been described previously as a thing for British authors working in the SF/fantasy/horror fields. I don’t know if those rules are fixed but I’m afraid I’m going to have to bust them wide open. Thus…




  1. Thoroughly worth resurrecting a WordPress account I didn’t know I had to say: huzzah! I accept the challenge and I’m glad you busted out of genre into … other genre!

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