The Next Big Thing…

The idea of this is that a writer puts up a post on his or her own blog answering ten questions about his/her work in progress, and then “tags” three – or five, depending on which version you see – other writers to do the same. Then, the writer posts a link to his/her “tagger” and to the people he/she is “tagging” so that readers who are interested can visit those pages and perhaps discover some new authors whose work they’d like to read.

I was tagged by Tinney Heath, author of the soon-to-be-published novel A Thing Done. I have to say this novel is intriguing and set in a time I’m fascinated with (the time of Dante), so I look forward to its release.The writers I have tagged in my turn appear at the bottom of this post.

What is the working title for your book?

The Shifu Cloth. This may or may not change after I’ve talked with the editor. Its predecessor, A Thousand Glass Flowers, which is about things hidden in the confines of paperweights, began its life as The Millefiore Paperweights. But the thinking at the time was that the book might be considered an art book rather than a fantasy novel.

In the case of The Shifu Cloth, one wonders if the same problem might occur.

 Where did the idea come from for this book?

 It comes from a piece of fabric a paper-artist friend told me about.

The art of shifu is an ancient Japanese skill. Sheets of mulberry paper are marked and cut into strips as narrow as 2mm. They are shaken to separate the strands, then dampened between wet cloths whereupon the strips are rolled as if one is making pasta – flipped and rolled and flipped and rolled again, separating and softening the fibres. The ends of each strip are joined to make a long filament that is then spindle spun. The paper ‘yarn’ that results is woven on the weft with silk yarn on the warp to make the fine, very strong and unique fabric that is shifu. My research indicated that the fabric was used in the time of the samurai when messages needed to be passed secretly across the country.

This fact was begging to be turned on its head for a historical fantasy.

 What genre does your book fall under?

Historical fantasy/fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Nicholas, the half mortal/half Færan:  a younger Rufus Sewell, deliciously moody.

Isabella, Adelina’s daughter: Possibly Emma Watson, not sure. Or perhaps Jessica Brown-Findlay.

Phelim the half time mortal: Piers Brosnan with luscious silver wings in his hair.

Adelina the Traveller, Phelim’s mortal wife: an older Kate Winslet with rich auburn hair streaked with grey.

Gallivant the Hob, a gregarious and very loyal friend to Adelina, despite the fact she is mortal and he is Other: Paul Bettany as he played Geoffrey Chaucer but much better-dressed.

Gio Poli, a Venichese boatbuilder and Nicholas’s companion: Rupert Penry Jones with sense of humour.

Ming Xao, Imperial Son of the Han: Jet Li with glasses.

Moon Lady: Celestial spirit of Eirie: Helen Mirren as she is. Wonderful!

Kitsune, the Fox Lady, chief Celestial spirit of the Han: Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk just as she is.

Lady Chi Nü, Celestial Weaver: I have an image of a beautiful young Chinese actress, but haven’t been able to find out her name.

The unknown actress…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Good grief, one sentence? I have trouble with Twitter’s 140 characters! I guess this is what they call an elevator pitch so for better or worse here goes:

A young woman, a message woven into rare cloth made of paper and silk, a man who seeks not just the woman but his identity – for these cousins, only time will tell if what makes a curse, breaks a curse.


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

I am fortunate to be signed with an Australian independent publisher called Darlington Press.

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

 I began the novel in 2009 but became diverted by a twelfth century historical fiction, the first of the Gisborne Saga: Gisborne – Book of Pawns which is now e-book and print-published. I took up The Shifu Cloth again this year at the 70,000 word mark and it is currently being edited in the UK as I answer these questions. I believe my publisher hopes to have it digitally published by Christmas and print published some time next year.

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

I am not sure I can.

It is my hope that the world I have created (what some call ‘hauntingly like our own’) will be completely unique and yet desperately familiar.

It would be presumptuous to compare it with something like A Song of Ice and Fire but the Chronicles of Eirie have been compared to that kind of world creation. Some also say the Chronicles are like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and John Crowley’s Little Big, others compare my novels with those of Guy Gavriel Kay who is surely the most magnificently elegant storyteller.

In all honesty, in respect of the above question I much prefer to leave comparison to readers who have read my work.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When an idea seeds itself, I’m powerless to stop it developing until it blooms completely. The people I admire most are bards, storytellers of old. I just want to be a storyteller, someone who can entertain. That is more than enough inspiration.

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

1. The characters – men and women who are placed in heartbreaking situations that will make or break them.

2. The settings – based on the detail and dimension of Japan and China in the case of the Han and Ireland and Wales in the case of Trevallyn.

3. Intriguing legend and myth which weaves through the narrative.

 Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Tinney Heath. I first met Tinney through a historical fiction group when I was researching the second book of The Gisborne Saga and desperately seeking twelfth century maps of Genoa, Sicily and Cyprus. Her generosity knew no bounds.

The writers I am tagging are, in alphabetical order:

John Hudspith, author of Kimi’s Secret

Greg Johnston author of Consumption and The Skin of Water

SJA Turney, author of Marius’s MulesI-IV, Interregnum, Ironroot and Dark Empress

*** I would just like to add that I’ve read every book written by these three men and can’t recommend them highly enough which is exactly why I tagged them as worthy authors for The Next Big Thing.