My mate and fellow novelist, Julian Moore, has tagged me in a blogging chain called The Next Big Thing. I have to answer ten questions about my book and then pose the questions to another five authors.
My tags are at the bottom of the post – talented writers one and all – so I’m excited to see how they choose to answer the questions next. Consider the baton officially passed.
Here goes …
1. What is the working title of your book?
The Psychic Detective’s Daughter. It’s a sequel to The Psychic Detective Agency and the second in a planned series.
2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
There was no single ‘lightbulb’ moment that denoted the birth of the series; in fact many of the ideas came to me once I’d already started writing. Ola’s voice initially started me off. I could hear her ranting about the unfairness of her name and the weirdness of her life dictated by her mother’s eccentric beliefs, so I wrote it down literally as a rough monologue. This ovum eventually became a tiny section of chapter one of the first book.
Many people have asked whether it’s based on my life, but the answer to that is, ‘no’. My childhood was utterly different from Ola’s. If anything, I was the one away with the faeries rather than my mum. Like Blossom, I did travel around India years ago where I met some people with extremely colourful ideas about why the world is the way it is. But Blossom isn’t based on any one of them; she’s probably a mixture of all of them, actually. As to her new-age outlook, the closest I would venture now is, ‘curious skeptic’. And despite loving dancing barefoot in a summer field as much as the next free spirit, I eat too much steak to be a proper hippie.
Relationships and the lottery of parenthood also feature heavily and these fascinate me. So Ola’s turbulent relationship with her mother, based on the binary opposition of their personalities was an early inspiration, as was her desperate need to find her absent father.
The idea for the plot of the second book was born during the writing of the first.
3. What genre does it fall under?
Genres, really: young adult, female fiction, paranormal and mystery.
4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a toughie. I have faces in mind but they are not the faces of well-known actors. I made them up. Because it’s such a quintessentially English story, the actors should probably be English, but if I had to go purely on looks: Ola – Chloe Moretz, Blossom – Molly Ringwald, Cali – Emily Blunt (with blonde hair), John – David Wenham.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Psychic Detective’s Daughter
When Ola is drawn into a mystery dating back to WW2 that could tear the village apart, she must seek help from the one person her secret psychic powers could hurt the most.
6. Will your book be self-published or be represented by an agency?
The first book was self-published so I’m happy to follow the same path with this one. Always open to offers though.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It’s still being written. From experience, the first draft is the easiest bit, once you’re clear on where the plot is going. It’s the re-writes and fine-tuning that take the time. Basing this book on the last, I aim to finish the first draft in June (6 months) and then expect to spend at least a year knocking it into shape.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Paranormal stories are popular with the young adult audience at the moment, so there are a few featuring teenage psychics, particularly in the US market – Parallel Visions by Cheryl Rainfield and Dreaming Dangerously by Kathleen Harsch, for instance. But these tend to verge towards horror and The Psychic Detective series isn’t very dark. It’s as much about Ola’s wry view of the world as her powers, so there’s a healthy splat of fun in there too.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
It was a timing thing rather than a who or a what. I’d always wanted to write fiction but never been able to fit such an all-consuming project around life. Once my kids were at school full-time and I’d got my freelance writing work established and stable, I realised that with a bit of night-oil burning and creative use of time, I might just be able to realise my dream.
For the two years it took me to write the first book, I had my laptop with me everywhere. While my kids did Kung-Fu, I wrote. During long motorway journeys, my man drove and I wrote. I slept with my increasingly ragged-looking laptop beside my bed and only bought handbags large enough to cram it in to.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
As the series progresses and Ola’s powers develop, she is drawn into mysteries she feels compelled to solve. But she’s embarrassed by her powers because she can’t explain them with logic and science. So she hides her abilities behind Blossom’s psychic detective agency and makes sure her mother takes the credit.
The stories are poignant rather than scary and touch on historical fact, while Ola’s scientific theories are juxtaposed with Blossom’s new-age alternatives. As she grows up from precocious eleven-year old through her teens into womanhood, Ola’s views of the world, her friendships and personal journey are just as important to the stories as how she uses her unexplainable abilities.
My tagged authors are people I’ve recently had the pleasure of sharing work with on Authonomy, a website owned and managed by Harper Collins.