the next big thing: “hope street”

Lance Tooks drawing from Sketches from Spain
Fellow-writer Karin Bachmann has asked me to join in “The Next Big Thing”, an internet project where authors from different countries, different ways of life and different writing backgrounds answer the same ten questions about a work in progress.

For her own contribution, Karin talked about Mord in Switzerland, an anthology of crime stories from around Switzerland; you can read about it on her stories47277 blog in the post The Next Big Thing.

As part of the project, I, too, will invite five fellow-writers to write their own TNBT page and will link to them on this page below my own answers. As Karin put it: “It’s like a chain letter, only that no bad luck will come out of your not participating ;-)”

So, here are my answers about an up-coming poetry book:

  • What is the working title of your book?
  • The full book title is Around the corner from Hope Street – a phrase lifted from one of the poem titles – but as that’s a bit of a mouthful, it’s usually referred to as Hope Street.

  • Where did the idea come from for the book?
  • I moved to Madrid in the late Eighties and many of the poems are inspired by different situations and experiences of an English woman living in Spain.

  • What genre does your book fall under?
  • It’s a poetry collection where the poems can be read sequentially to tell a story. So it’s a sort of novella in poetry. And, quite definitely, it’s a love story.

  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
  • Hope Street would make a very strange movie: the sort where you never see the face of the narrator/main protagonist, but the camera shows it all from her point of view. So I suppose the voice would be the important thing: a very normal middle-aged British voice.

  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
  • Happy endings are possible in any language.

  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
  • It’s going to be published by Tantamount.

  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
  • I think the collection had largely gelled by about 2007, although since then it’s been re-jigged and individual pieces have been replaced or redrafted. But the earliest piece dates from around the year 2000, and there are experiences referenced that probably took place ten years before that. So it was a very long process even to get a complete draft, and a long process since then, too.

  • What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
  • A great deal of traditional poetry is narrative – individual poems that tell a story, and a lot of collections are grouped around a single location, situation or time in the writer’s life. I’m not sure, though, how many poets have written narrative collections.

  • Who or What inspired you to write this book?
  • When I came to look back over the poems I had lying around, I found that by omitting some and ignoring the sequence they’d been written in, this subset could be arranged to tell a story; this struck me as an interesting take on the more traditional poetry collection.

    (At this point there’s the obligatory word of caution: the poems were mostly inspired by things that happened to me, but the story isn’t mine – “don’t confuse the narrator with the writer!”)

  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
  • Around the corner from Hope Street will be an enhanced eBook, so it will include sound files of each poem – read by me.
  • It’s also going to be illustrated by graphic artist Lance Tooks. Just to give an idea of what that might mean, the picture at the top of this page is one of his.
    So, that’s a bit about Around the Corner from Hope Street; now I’ll be adding links to the writers who follow on from me in The Next Big Thing.

    Watch this space!

    (And if you aren’t on my list, and want to post a link to your own “Next Big Thing”, why not comment here and tell us about it?)

    Edits & updates:

    Elizabeth Hopkinson: Cage of Nightingales

    Monday February 11th, and the first of the writers I have asked to join The Next Big Thing has already responded. You can read about Cage of Nightingales over on Elizabeth Hopkinson‘s Hidden Grove blog. I know Elizabeth from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and was already looking forward to reading Silver Hands when it comes out at the end of April. Now Cage of Nightingales has also been added to the list of novels I’m waiting to read.

    Daniela Norris: On Dragonfly Wings – a journey to mediumship

    Monday February 18th and we’ve been joined on The Next Big Thing by Daniela Norris, who writes about her upcoming book On Dragonfly Wings – a journey to mediumship. Daniela is another Swanwicker and also a fellow member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. During her research into this spiritual journey book, Daniela has trained as a hypnotist and past life regression therapist, which is not necessarily what one would expect for a former diplomat – I think it’s clear that she’s not one to be pigeon-holed.


    I’m hoping that Sue Burke and Lance Tooks will be joining The Next Big Thing writers’ chain later on, although I know Sue won’t be with us for a few months yet. Both are American writers – Lance, is perhaps best known as a graphic artist – and friends from the Madrid Writers Critique Group and the Madrid Poets. While we wait for their company here, you can check out their blogs via the links on their names.

    Author: don't confuse the narrator

    Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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