The next big thing

What better way to start the New Year than with something I ought to have done over a month ago.  My excuse is whooping cough, chest infection (me) and then something called Christmas followed by tonsillitis and glandular fever (Runner2).  It has been rather busy.

Jackie Buxton invited me to expose all and so I shall …… as part of a blogfest no less.  Fear not, all I am exposing is my current work in progress.  The Next Big Thing is inviting writers around the world to share their work, and here is mine

 What is the working title of your book?
 Timesmudger.  I once went on a half day course intended to help you find the perfect title for your novel.  I ended up with “The Boy in the Laundry”.  I’m sticking with the gut feeling and Timesmudger.  (If you are interested, the course was a sort of literary equivalent of painting by numbers and though the tea and biscuits were good I’ll pass on the rest of the series).

– Where did the idea for your book come from?
The Amazing Mr Blunden by Antonia Barber and then made into a film starring Lionel Jeffries.   I loved the film as a child and was fascinated by the idea of children going back in time to right a wrong.

– What genre does your book fall under?
Young adult thriller/mystery

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

All the children must be unknowns.  I don’t want any preconceptions with their characters.

Please can I have Alan Rickman for Ambrose.  He is just the look I had in mind as I was writing him, tall, dark and just a little bit ambiguous.  And if it ever got made into a film I could spend days on end on set swooning in the corner.

For his wife Agnes I would like Julia Sawalha the soft and bouncy contrast to her husband.

For Poppy’s eccentric parents, Miranda Richardson and Jim Broadbent no question there!


Carmen du Sautoy for Helen’s mother, she needs an air of mystery that isn’t explained until the end of the book.

Finally Julia’s mother, this was hard, as though she isn’t a large character she is absolutely essential to the story and is in the background all the way through.  After much thought I’m plumping for Emily Watson please.

Emily Watson in Anna Karenina


– What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Be careful what you wish for.

– Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
That’s rather up to fate I think!  I have had two professional assessments, one the closest thing to a full blown edit I am ever going to get without a real editor.  Both were invaluable.  After the first assessment I am ashamed that I ever sent it out to any agents and am hardly surprised they rejected it.  It has had a full re-write and I’m on the final edits now and it’s a far better book which has had positive feedback from the second editor.  So once the edits are over I’m going to start sending it out again and see what happens.

– How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
From start to finish about 3 years.  But I started it and then left it for two years so when I picked it up again I had to start pretty much from scratch.  So about a year.

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

Although my book is for children and young adults I think it is a story which would resonate with adults as well.  It takes a similar theme to The Time Traveller’s Wife and looks at the effect that moving backwards and forwards in time (and sideways in my case as well) can have on those who are not moving around.

Inevitably as it is set in a boarding school it will be compared to Harry Potter but I don’t think there is much else other than the setting to compare it.

– Who or what inspired you to write this book (story)?
As above, the initial inspiration came from The Amazing Mr Blunden.  But I also wanted to concentrate much more on the relationship between the two key characters of Poppy and Edwin.  I hope that this will be the first of a trilogy, ending with Edwin going to war in 1915.  That is a key part of the story, even though it is the end and the final chapter of Noel Streatfield’s autobiography “A Vicarage Family” when John returns from the Front has haunted me all my life and the personal horror of the war is something I wanted to focus on as the final scene is played out.

– What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Timesmudger is not so much about time travel, though of course that is essential to the story, but about the fragility of our existence.  Things are not always what we perceive them to be and our failure to see the truth can have a devastating effect when we are least expecting it.

Now it’s my turn to choose five writers for the next stage in the Next Big Thing’s journey and I haven’t got a clue who to ask.  Do you have any suggestions?




5 responses to “The next big thing

  1. I used to be an author’s agent, and one of the people I represented was Antonia Barber! Good book,huh? Have you read her picture book,The Mousehole Cat? It is one of the best picture books ever written! No matter your age!

  2. What a great idea for a blog post – I enjoyed reading this!

  3. Phew! I sweated enough choosing my own five, Gillie (I always panic I’ll miss someone really obvious and deserving) so I’m afraid you’re on your own! Great post, though, love your choice of actors and your one sentence description is quite chilling. Sounds great, keep us posted.

  4. Well I’d read it Gillian! I think it is so very hard to pigeonhole books. Most children’s books are more beloved by adults and classifying anything as YA means they’ll leave it alone and go for something more grown up that isn’t pure porn. Thank you so much for inviting me – I’d be delighted but like you I may have to take out advertisements to get any takers on people to whom I can pass the baton.

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