The Next Big Thing Blog Trail

The Next Big Thing is a blog chain for writers and artists linking together and talking about their current projects.  It gives you a chance to discover new writers and blogs but also brings together writers across different genres.  Each creator is required to answer a set series of questions and then pass the baton to someone else. Click back and forward through the links to follow the trail. 

Last week children’s author Katrina Roe shared about her upcoming picture book ‘Emily the Energetic Elephant’, illustrated by Leigh Hedstrom, which will be published later this year by Wombat Books. I've read Marty's Nut Free Party so I can tell you that Emily will be a great little story. Katrina kindly asked me to follow her in the chain.  So here’s my contribution.

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

Invisible. It was supposed to be something lame like 'Feeling Invisible' but my 13 year old daughter has an eye for what works and what doesn't, so she deleted the unnecessary words.

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

I knew I was going to write a YA novel - I just needed a plot starter. It came in the form of Mollie, my friend's daughter who told me she wanted to be an actress. At the time she was a very quiet, shy person and I was a bit surprised when her mum said that she came to life on the stage. "That's my story" I thought. From there I just had to work out the conflicts and characters, but that was the basic theme. 

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It's a young adult novel which you'd probably characterise as drama or realistic fiction. No vampires, ghosties or other paranormal critters. It's also for the younger YA readers - girls ages 11-14.

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

My daughter picks beautiful, melancholy 'everygirl' Birdy to play Jazmine and her fave boy actor Logan Lerman to play Liam. 

The inimitable Toni Collette would do a great job as Jazmine's mum.

Kristen Stewart could play the bully Shalini pretty well and Elle Fanning would make an enthusiastic Gabby.

My first pick for Miss Fraser was Tina Fey and my daughter agreed. But she might be on the older side. Tina Fey ten years ago would be perfect.

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

13 year old Jazmine comes out of her shell when she's forced to be in the school play, but can she stand up to the jealous bully, and is she strong enough to face the truth about what really happened to her dad?

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

I've just self-published it, which took a lot of getting over my own pride about not 'doing it properly' but I have the consolation that an editor from Penguin really did like it - she just said it wasn't right for their list at the moment. State of publishing at the moment, yada yada yada. So I've joined the ranks of the 'indie' publishers.

Just for a little treat, I'm giving it away for FREE as an ebook. You can find it at, on itunes or on Amazon (soon). If you must have a paper copy, you can order from soon but you'll pay for postage and paper.

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

About four or five months I think. Then I did a second draft and a third draft. All in all from start to finish it was about a year and a half from idea to publication. 

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

The closest writer is probably Jacqueline Wilson, who writes for young teen girls with lots of great characters as well as strong issues. 

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

I've been inspired since I was 8 years old and won the 'White Essay Cup' at my primary school, the British Overseas School in Karachi, Pakistan, beating out all the 9, 10 and 11 year olds in the school to the prize (which was one of those impressive looking perpetual trophies. If they still have it, my name is on it twice.) Until I was 35 though, I didn't feel ready to write. I knew I needed more life experience. Finally I'm old enough and I've honed down my ambitions, which are to write great, realistic early teen YA novels.

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

Let's see: references to classic book The Secret Garden, some baboons, a chocolate loving, handball playing hero called Liam, painted ceilings, nose hair, a suicide and some pretty cool costumes in the drama production.

Just for something new, the heroine Jazmine wears a hearing aid (it's important for the plot) and in the final chapters there's a whole lot of ripping up paper and destroying stuff.

Plus, the cover is pretty fantastic. My graphic designer friend Jo put it together. Everytime I look at it I get goose bumps.

I've also got a website dedicated to this area of my writing. You can take a look here


Coming up on The Next Big Thing Blog Trail: next week on Wednesday Feb 6, YA author Rosanne Hawke will tell all about her upcoming novel Shahana on her website and writer Kristen Young will blog about her work in progress.