The Next Big Thing – Ten Questions in Ten Minutes

13 December 2012

Barry Forshaw has pointed the finger and thrown down the gauntlet for me to take part in the Next Big Thing, a blog phenomenon which will eventually spread across the world. The idea is that I answer the following questions about my work and point the finger at five other authors who answer the same questions and they recommend five more authors to do the same, until the whole thing runs out of blogging authors.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
It’s called Chilled to the Bone, and that was also the working title. I had originally attached the title to another project that didn’t work out as well as it should have done. But when I finally decided to shelve the previous doomed project, it seemed best to hang on to the title.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’m really not sure. The initial idea had been kicking around in my head for a long time and the opening chapters had been written a year or two ago. Part of it takes place in a hotel, and as I travel quite a bit (for my day job) and stay in dreary business hotels, the idea of using a smart on the outside but seedy on the inside hotel was tempting. The rest of it just flowed from there.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Let’s call it Gløømy Nordic Crime Fiction, but hopefully without too much of the gloom.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hard to say as I’m not a big movie or TV watcher and rarely remember actors’ names. In fact I’m hopeless when this question arises. I’d love to see an Icelandic production with Gunna played by one of the many talented actresses (Should I say that? Or are actresses referred to as actors these days?) that Iceland is awash with, such as Guðlaug Elísabet Ólafsdóttir or Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir.

In a UK production, maybe a bulkier Maxine Peake would fit Gunna? Helgi would be Warren Mitchell or maybe Lionel Jeffries as they were in their 40s, so that could be a tall order. Hmm, also showing my age here and a penchant for monochrome Ealing Comedies...

Baddó, the villain in Chilled to the Bone would be Keith Allen in über-menacing mode.

5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
If you don’t want your wife to find out you’re being blackmailed or wind up embarrassingly dead, mind where you put it to start with…

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s published in April by Constable & Robinson in the UK and by Soho Crime in the US. My agent is the excellent Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It was remarkably quick this time. I already had the opening chapters that I had tinkered with for some time. When it came to it, time was very much of the essence and it was written between April and September.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m not the right person to ask, as I’ll just end up giving you the names of books I admire and authors I wish I could write as well as. (Deep breath) I’d be very happy to be mentioned in the same breath as Simenon (one reviewer did just that, bless her) or Sjöwall & Wahlöo. I like my fiction atmospheric and character-driven, so that’s the stuff I try to write. While we’re on the subject, I really like the work of Dominique Manotti, Matti Joensuu, Benjamin Black, and a whole raft of others,not to mention that of the gentlemen mentioned below.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The bones of story that I’d been tinkering with for some time that suddenly started to gel, combined with a rapidly approaching deadline and an editor who expects results.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This one’s a bit ruder than the previous books, and a bit more hard-edged. That might sound like it contains more sex and violence, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. But it contains a villain who was a whole load of fun to write, a smidgen of bondage (but not so much that my mum will be offended), and a side of Iceland that a tourist would never get to see, plus a little political intrigue.

The deal is that I’m supposed to mass the meme on to a further five writers, but time is pressing and so here are just four worthy contenders I’m passing the baton to. First there’s James Thompson, an expat American who sets his fiction in Finland; then Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson, who will hopefully bring few of his compatriots into this to; art historian, writer and voracious reader Christine Poulson; and finally but by no means least, Damien Seaman whose The Killing of Emma Gross was one of the finest of the 2012 crop of new books.

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