The Next Big Thing

Next Big Thing

The following ten questions (and my stab at answering them) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.

Its my turn to answer and then tag three other writing friends – so advance apologies to Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali.

I was tagged by Richard Lakin. Richard is a tremendous writer with a love of pugilism and rail travel. You can check out Richard’s knock out work Richard Lakin

So, Garrie, what’s your next big thing?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m sending to the BBC’s Writers Room as part of their Opening Lines competition, it has to be in by Friday so I really shouldn’t be doing this now. Prior to that I sent a short story off to Cinnamon Press and another to the Stroke Association for their celebratory publication around the theme of 20 as they’ve been around for, yes, you guessed it, twenty years. I just had two poems published in the Offa’s Press anthology, ‘We’re All In This Together’ and I’ve another in the Earth Love anthology this Spring. Twisted between all this are bursts of keyboard activity as I try to finish my novel.


1) What is the working title of your book?

The book has had a number of titles since I started it including, Here Come the Lobsters, (the very title of this blog) Spoon Squad and currently Going Underground. Going Underground was a reference to the classic Jam song but also a reference to a series of tunnels that had a prime position in the narrative. I’ve since filled in the tunnels so the title could change again.

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

It came from me head! Like, straight out from between me ears and onto the page. Ugh, that sounds messy which is apt as it came from what can be a messy profession. In the early 90’s I was working in a care home in Northampton, my home town. It was a real eye opener. Not just because of the people that lived there, who were challenging, frightening and wonderful but also because of the people who worked with them. I worked in a number of places during the 90’s in Northampton and Birmingham but it was the thought of setting something in my home town that dealt with these people that live on the edges of society that really excited me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I’m not sure. Its dark with light touches of humour and very urban. Literary fiction sounds a bit pompous to me. It’s just a cracking tale of unrequited love, with psychotic Polish gangsters and large doses of piss stained laundry thrown in for good measure. I find genres quite hard to pin down sometimes and not altogether useful. I’ve just finished Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, which is set in the near future in a fictional west coast Irish city. Now you might class it as science fiction but your average sci-fi enthusiast wouldn’t be best pleased if they took it home (no spaceships or gadgetry,) or you could call it speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be called historical fiction (this makes sense if you’ve read it.) I think I’d best get it finished first before I start worrying about genres.

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

There are three main characters: Miles who’s in his early twenties and struggling with being unemployable as a photographer despite four years of studying; Sophia, a gorgeous Polish volunteer trying to lay her grandfather’s ghost to rest and Vince a twisted mass of muscle and hatred trying to kill his past. Miles would be played by Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Red Riding fame as he has emotional depth, gobbyness and isn’t too pretty. I’d have Jelka van Houten play Sophia, she’s possibly not young enough but I thought she was marvellous in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. You’d need a very physical actor to play Vince, someone with a brutal physique ( or the ability to bulk up ) and commanding voice, with that in mind I’d go for Tom Hardy from this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, you’d never think he was the same guy who started out in Band of Brothers.

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

High Fidelity meets Shallow Grave. No, that’s the elevator pitch. Let’s see. Spencer House is home to the broken souls that slip through the cracks; the troubled, the violent, but they shouldn’t worry you; the people who work there should.

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

I want to go down the traditional route with this. I want it to be good enough for someone to put their own backing behind it. That said I’ve seen some really good self published books out there so I wouldn’t discount it out of hand.

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

Too long.

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

Tough question. When I started writing it I was heavily influenced by David Peace’s Red Riding books but I’ve moved away from that and found a voice of my own. I’d like it to be comparable with a good Kevin Barry short story, but obviously longer, or Irvine Welsh with less drugs and Scottish accents.

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

When I worked in care I found that despite the residents, or service users as we now call them, unique range of disabilities, syndromes and behaviours that the people who worked with them were often more interesting and harder to understand. One person in particular stayed with me years after I’d left and I wondered what it was that lead him to work with such vulnerable people. So I took him as a starting point and then mutated it into a twisted story of unrequited love and Polish gangsters.

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

Ah but surely the promise of urine drenched bed sheets is enough? My book will offer an insight into the world of private care. The less than honourable dealings of some of the people that run these homes and the transient characters that work there. Its filled with romance, angst, brutal violence, a quest for the truth and a butt clenching climax. Nuff said.

It’s tag time:

I’m tagging three fellow writers: Ryan Davis, Andy Winter and Yasmin Ali. Three very different writers and very busy people, so I hope they don’t mind. Cheers in advance guys.

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