The Next Big Thing

by M.J. Hearle

One of the coolest aspects of my new writing career has been the chance to meet a whole bunch of lovely and talented people in the blogging community. People like Zena Shapter, an Aussie author who is soon to take the speculative fiction world by storm with her novel, Towards White. Recently, Zena asked me to take part in The Next Big Thing blogging initiative. The idea is to answer the below questions and then tag five other authors to follow suit.

Here are the questions –

1) What is the working title of your next book? 

Claudette in the Shadows.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Claudette was a supporting character in my first novel, Winter’s Shadow. Sister to Blake Duchamp, the romantic interest, she spends most of the novel as a demonic force intent on destroying Winter. Claudette wasn’t always like that though and I was eager to write about the time before she became a monster. Sometimes particular characters, like Claudette, resonate with you more than others. They take up residence in your thoughts and refuse to budge until you pay them attention.

3) What genre does your book fall under?


4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Deborah Ann Woll from True Blood is age appropriate and has the acting chops to pull off the role of Claudette. She’d have to dye her hair black though and apply some fake tan. Ariman (and Blake) could be played by Taylor Kitsch. Despite his lack of success in Hollywood (I’m looking at you Battleship and John Carter) I think he’s got the looks and the charisma to be a big star. There’s a darkness in his eyes that isn’t easily faked.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A girl on the threshold of womanhood discovers a key within herself that unlocks the doorway to another world.

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

The novella is still a couple of drafts off being ready for submission, but once it is I have a publisher who has expressed interest in reading it. We’ve worked together in the past so I’m hopeful. However, Claudette in the Shadows was always intended as an ebook, so if I can’t get it published through conventional methods, I’ll happily release it myself.

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

Longer than it should have. Usually a first draft takes me about 2 months. I’ve been writing this story for nearly 5 due to one major unavoidable obstacle – my wedding. Weddings take up a lot of mental real estate. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to multi-task.

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

Anne Rice’s work in the Vampire Chronicles is an inspiration. I love the melodrama of her books and the wry humour. Rice’s paranormal aspects never overwhelm her characterisations, a balance I try to emulate. Lovecraft’s Chthulu mythology is also deeply influential when it comes to my description of the The Dead Lands and Krypthia. Nobody could write creeping dread like Lovecraft.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A conversation with my publisher at Pan Macmillan is responsible for Claudette in the Shadows. We were chatting about the new digital publisher Momentum and how e-publishing offered writers of short fiction the chance to get their work more widely read. I’d been knocking around the idea for a novella about Claudette for some time but had resisted putting pen to paper because I didn’t know what I would do with it once finished. Novellas are traditionally a tricky sell with the publishers. Not so e-publishers it seems. Discovering I could conceivably write and publish a short novel digitally was enormously liberating.

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

For those, who haven’t read the Winter novels, Claudette in the Shadows works as a self-contained story. However, fans will hopefully be excited to learn that story features not only Claudette, but Blake, Ariman and Madeleine. The mythology of The Dead Lands is expanded upon as are the Demori, Malfaerie, and Skivers. Being a novella, I didn’t have to worry about some of the narrative heavy lifting I have to do with a full length book so the story hits the ground running and doesn’t let up until the end. It’s spooky, romantic and – if it works as intended – should be one hell of a page-turner.

Thanks to Zena for forwarding those questions through. Here are the five other authors I’ve tagged to take part in the next round –

Jessica Shirvington (The Violet Eden Chapters)

Claire Corbett (When We Have Wings)

Rebecca James (Beautiful Malice)

Lara Morgan (The Rosie Black Chronicles)

Rebecca Lim (Fury)