The Next Big Thing was started to help female authors promote their current work in progress by answering ten questions and then "tagging" a few other women writers inviting them to share the status of their own current works-in-progress.
JMR's Next Big Thing
1. What is the working title of your book?
Ding Dong Bell (the title of the short story from which the novel emerged; it will change.)
|English village in the Somerset countryside|
I love English villages, or rather more accurately, I love "literary" English villages, the ones that exist in books, but not necessarily in real life. I delight in unusual and/or eccentric characters of the sort you'd find in stories by Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Caroline Graham, Susan Cooper, Louise Doughty, and Susan Hill. I'm also fascinated by unusual, bizarre, or shall we say "unique" methods of murder. So, in order to please myself, I created the kind of English village that I'd like to live in; developed the kind people/characters who would live in such a place; and worked in a bizarre method of murder that I came across some years ago in a book about the history of Jack Russell terriers.
3. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A Detective Chief Inspector and his Sergeant are dispatched to a picturesque village in Southwest England to investigate the murder of a despised rag and bone man whose brutally beaten and mutilated body has been discovered on the property of the wealthiest woman in the village.
4. What genre does your book fall under?
Ding Dong Bell is a rural, as in village and countryside, Britcrime, as in a crime committed in the UK, in this case England, police procedural.
I've always thought of Russell Crowe for my Detective Chief Inspector. And the other characters could be played by the many wonderful British character actors who populate the series programs seen on the BBC.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I hope to be represented by an agency.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote the first draft of Ding Dong Bell in 30 days during National Novel Writing Month in 2009. I let the manuscript sit for year as I was working on other projects. In 2011, I began restructuring and rewriting.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Killings at Badgers Drift by Caroline Graham.
An English Murder by Louise Doughty
A Place of Execution by Val McDermid
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration has always been to write stories that I want to read.
10. What else about your book might pique readers interest?
I've been a student of English village life, ancient and modern, for more than ten years and of English village mystery and crime stories for much longer. My book has all the elements that readers look for in an English village mystery -- an idyllic rural village with secrets going back generations, a close, tightly knit community, everyday true to life characters abounding with quirkiness, eccentricity and charm, depictions of authentic village life, an appalling murder, a passel of suspects to be sorted through, a twisty-turny but believable plot, and a handsome, sharp-witted, somewhat heroic protagonist with a personal tragedy in his past that drives him to uncover truth and seek justice -- with a twist of midnight throughout (I must confess, readers witness the murder). And for cat lovers ... there are cats! (For those, like myself, who want to know: No cats are harmed in this story.)