Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Next Big Thing

 My Next Big Thing

Thank you to my neighbour and award-winning writer, Celeste AugĂ©, who has invited me to the on-line blogging chain called The Next Big Thing: a series of questions about a writer’s forthcoming project. I’m not sure where it started but the idea is great fun. As well as helping you to focus on work in progress it is also a way for readers to get a sense of your work. And you get to tag someone else. A worthwhile New Year’s resolution. My next big thing is my third short story collection. It's great to be another link in the literary chain.


What is the working title of your book? 
Hellkite.  It  encompasses the overall theme of the book as there are a number of cruel characters in it. It also picks up on the bird motif which flies in and out through the pages.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  
With a minimum of sixteen stories, ideas come from diverse places. They come unbidden, from an image, a foreign city, a chance encounter with a stranger or a dream fragment. These images hook into me and will not let go until I start to put flesh on them; they become a living thing; they take up their beds and walk.

What genre does your book fall under?
 I don’t think it will be found on the self-help shelf.  More like self-destruct.  These are character-driven stories so they would be in the literary fiction genre.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?     One of the stories called Frost Heave which was a winner in the Willesden Short Story Competition 2012 has a dark, laconic character called Folan. Night and the bitterness so much in his mouth that Folan could taste his own liver. I think after watching him in Taken, Liam Neeson would be my man. I have a really strong image of him holed up in the hen house with his shotgun cocked waiting for the mink to come slinking by to bloodlet his chickens. Folan is taking no more.  Poor Mink! 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The hearts of men

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  
This collection has been five years in the making. I published The Weight of Feathers in 2007 and have published two poetry collections in the meantime: An Urgency of Stars (Arlen House 2009) and my collaboration with Connecticut poet, Lisa C Taylor, The Other Side of Longing (Arlen House 2011).  It’s time these birds stretched their wings.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
 I have no idea. I will leave that up to the reader.

 Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The characters who keep turning up and knocking at the door of my imagination. That,  and my love of the short story genre.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  
Because most of the stories are from the male perspective, where few of the female hellkites end up smelling of roses, it was a particular challenge to write. 

When and how will it be published? 
Galway County Council has been very supportive of the collection over the last two years and has awarded me a grant and a residency to work on the stories to get them to this point. My publisher, Alan Hayes, one of the best publishers in the land, has been very patient with me and come hell or high water it will appear at the end of this year from Arlen House.

I’m delighted to be able to tag Jacqueline M Loring and Lisa C Taylor who will blog on 16th January.

Jacqueline M. Loring poet and screenwriter, New Mexico, who was winner of the Doire Press International Chapbook competition 2012 for her debut poetry collection: The History of Bearing Children.
Lisa C. Taylor, poet and teacher from Connecticut. Shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize and nominated for the L.L. Winship Pen New England Award, Lisa has four collections of poetry, her most recent, Necessary Silence, from Arlen House will be launched in the US in February 2012.