Next Big Thing

Posted on 5 December 2012


There’s this blogger chain project thing going around the internet at the moment called Next Big Thing. Last week I was tagged by Patrick O’Duffy and now it’s my turn.

What you do is, answer 10 standard questions about your next major writing project (usually a book), post it the Wednesday after you were tagged, and then tag five more writers who will post the week after.

Here we go.

What is the working title of your next book?

Cedar Chest. A cedar chest is a hope chest, where girls would get their linens and napery ready against the day they married. When I first thought of the idea, I was going to use ‘Glory Box’ but a quick Google revealed that that’s slang for vagina.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I was 18, I asked my grandmother to tell me her life story. She started by telling me the story of her grandmother – which I thought was interesting because it showed how important her ancestors were in her self-conception. The story of this great-great-grandmother stuck in my mind until I finally decided to novelise it.

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical fiction.

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

Hopefully some hardly-known French Canadian actors. But actors that I like are Laura Linney, Allison Janney, Glenn Close, Peter Sarsgaard, Ewan McGregor, Gillian Anderson, Alan Rickman, Sarah Polley, Martha Plimpton

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The adventures of Alphonsine Pelletier from when she leaves her family farm in rural Québec as a fifteen-year-old to work in a New England mill town, until her forties when she decides to marry her second husband. There’s a proper synopsis on the book’s website.

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

I’m not sure yet – the research and writing is completely consuming my thinking about it. At this point, self-publishing sounds like way too much work. I’d really like a professional to do that for me. If I did self-publish, I’d be hiring a team: editor, typesetter, designer, publicist etc. Does that still count as self-publishing?

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

I’m still working on it. Hopefully I’ll finish it while I’m away on a big writing trip early next year.

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

Eek. Hopefully something fantastic like Alias Grace or Fortune’s Rocks.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The story itself. Alphonsine’s life was both completely ordinary and really dramatic.

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

Hopefully the detail of everyday life for a working class woman a century ago. What it was like living as a truly second-class citizen as a woman unable to own property if she was married, not guaranteed guardianship of her own children after the death of her husband; and also as a French Catholic in a newish country run by English Protestants who had thrashed your grandparents in a series of wars and were still making you pay for it.

Next Wednesday, you’ll be able to see responses from these writers I hereby tag:

Rachel Hills

Krissy Kneen

Rebecca Bloomer

Leena van Deventer

Sophie Benjamin