I’ve been tagged by my friend, British author Clare Ashton for the 26th week of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. The idea is to hop from blog to blog to discover books and authors we might not know about or that are still works in progress. Each author will answer the same ten questions, then tag authors who will answer the questions on their blogs next time around.
What is the working title of your book?
The title seems to pop out first – like the baby alien from John Hurt’s stomach, although neither painful nor messy. If I said “working title” it would mean “in case you don’t like it”, but the truth is I don’t mean that. I’ve published two in the past – both through Naiad Press – and they were Heart on Fire and Forty Love. Bella Books have reissued them and were nice enough to let me do a tidy up and fix the ending of Forty Love, which was always lame and never intended for publication. The new one – also with Bella Books – is called Silver Lining and it’s due out in 2013.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
So many people lost their jobs and their everyday lives because of the global financial crisis of 2008-onwards and I was attracted by the idea of anchoring a romance to a real-world event, with real consequences. It’s the “what if..?” question. In this case: what if a young, gorgeous hotshot banker is suddenly dumped on her ass and at the same time meets someone a bit older and wiser (and also gorgeous of course) who isn’t even slightly impressed by her. Meanwhile, western civilisation is creaking and “Occupy Wall Street” hasn’t happened yet. Hmmm…
What genre does your book fall under?
Romance. I love the twists and turns and wriggles that happen within the classic traditions of girl meets girl, then it’s all too difficult and life and other lovers intervene and just when you think it’s never going to happen – ta da!
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I don’t like pre-empting those choices because half the fun for a reader is imagining each character for herself. At the same time for Heart on Fire I had very clear image in my mind for the country star Jodie: she looked like Ellen and as Jodie was created in 1996, that isn’t as cheesy as it would be now. Her lover, Grace, was very Julia Louis Dreyfus, especially the hair and cute spunkiness.
In Forty Love the Wimbledon champion Julia is actually described as looking like Gabriela Sabatini and playing like Martina Navratilova; that combination is still my ideal tennis player! Her love interest, the painter Eliot Bancroft, has always looked like Kelly McGillis to me – serene, lovely and a bit mysterious.
Silver Lining is different again; I’ve chosen to have two blonde heroines and neither has green eyes, which makes them very unusual in the world of romance. Amanda looks rather like Portia de Generes – or the 60s model Twiggy, as is mentioned in the book; and Clancy is a dead ringer for Victoria Smurfit (star of Trial and Retribution, the UK cop-thriller series). But who knows…
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Follow the flawed but loveable Amanda from Wall Street across the world to see if she can keep her undies on long enough to avoid the thunderclouds and find her silver lining .
What is the longer synopsis of your book?
Amanda McIntyre is queen of the world, making millions on Wall Street with women falling in her lap. But quicker than you can say “Lehman Brothers” she is fired, finds her girlfriend up to her neck in another woman and has nothing better on offer than a trip to Australia with her best friend Malcolm.
Unfortunately, that means reconnecting with his big sister Clancy, a woman who knows more about global finance than Amanda and wasn’t impressed by her when they first met. It starts out all wrong, but there was that one time when it felt so right…
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Bella Books are such a great bunch of women; when you have help and encouragement from women such as Linda Hill, Katherine V Forrest and Karin Kallmaker, why would you try to do it yourself?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It was going along nicely but suddenly stalled: then I got really, really sick. In retrospect the two things were probably connected. For the first time in my life I missed a deadline. A heart attack will do that. It was an interesting experience but I didn’t realise for some time – months – that it had really messed with my mind. Katherine V Forrest read the half-cooked manuscript and gave me some great encouragement and advice. I plodded on, but wasn’t really enjoying myself, which has never happened before. I thought “maybe this is a sign – maybe you don’t want to write any more” and that was quite a shock as I’ve identified as a writer – a wordsmith – for so long.
A cyber-meeting with Clare (After Mrs Hamilton) Ashton was the game-changer. She was having a fight with Mrs Hamilton (one of the great characters in modern lesbian romance, in my opinion) and I was tussling with Amanda and Clancy. We swapped manuscripts and promises of honesty – no matter how painful – and that was that. Suddenly the energy and enthusiasm returned and I finished Silver Lining in a flurry of drafts and re-drafts.
Long answer to a short question, but the correct answer is: I don’t really know, I lost track.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When Linda Hill got in touch to ask if Bella Books could re-issue Heart on Fire and Forty Love I had given up the idea of more romantic adventures (as in novels). But Linda’s approach was so friendly, professional and encouraging I was immediately won over. And when she asked if I was writing anything else, I realised Silver Lining was already in the back of my mind. If you’ve read the answer above you’ll know it turned out to be a bit more complicated, but that’s how it happened.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Clare Ashton has said I write with “ease, wit and flair”. By that I think she means I find it hard to be serious, even when I’m being serious, so there is a lot to smile at along the way. And the way is New York City to the south coast of New South Wales – two places I know well and love. Clancy and Amanda are also interesting women and they’re surrounded by some odd and fun people; they don’t live in a totally gay universe, which I have to admit to finding rather unreal.
I’ve been fascinated to watch the progress of various world economies after the 2008 Wall Street collapse; in particular, the way “experts” didn’t have a clue what was going to happen; then when it did happen: what to do about it. How did ordinary (non-expert) people cope with getting on with their lives?
I like the main characters too. (I know this is controversial, but it’s a bit like whether or not you laugh at your own jokes: if you don’t find them funny, why would anyone else? Of course you laugh at your own jokes.) Amanda is a real pain in the ass, but she learns and changes – and I really enjoy that. Clancy is enigmatic and is someone I’d like to know and of course, if she actually looks like Victoria Smurfit, then I’d really like to know her!
Next Wednesday check these far-flung authors for the next big thing:
I’m thrilled that two of my favourite and most amazing, award-winning and prolific authors have said they’d be in on this fun and informative Q&A.
Radclyffe is one of the undisputed queens of lesbian fiction and her novels, such as the First Responder series, the Honor series and Provincetown Tales, are constant bestsellers as new generations of readers discover them. I’ve just finished her latest hospital drama/romance, Crossroads, which is depressing as it means waiting; and I hate waiting. Her imprint Bold Strokes Books is also one of the best-known in the USA and you should check it out if you don’t know it already.
Karin Kallmaker is another of the queens of lesbian fiction (this is an unusual empire – there can be more than one monarch) and her backlist and new work are to be found at Bella Books. Like Radclyffe, she is blessedly prolific and she really knows what she’s doing.
I enjoy these two in particular because they write well, have a fabulous grasp of what they’re doing and can spin exciting and erotic yarns as easily and fatally as a spider spins a web – venture too close and you’re done for.