The journal

The Next Big Thing

What is the next big thing? Well, it’s a way for writers to link up with other writers by answering a set of questions about their latest novel and  tagging other writers who will do the same on their websites the following week. I was tagged by  Sarah Mussi, author of Angel Dust (great book by the way) so now it’s my turn.

What is the working title of your book?

“Locked”. It’s about an abandoned house and a boy who unravels a forty year old secret so hopefully the title will work on several levels.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the real mystery of the disappearance of Lord Lucan and there is a similar vanishing at the heart of “Locked”.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a murder mystery with thriller elements

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

The central character is a 14 year old boy and it would be great to find a boy who had never acted before. There’s also a former sixties supermodel in it who could be played by Joanna Lumley or even Twiggy and some very nasty Russian gangsters who would probably need to be played by real Russians!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A car crash, a forty year old secret and a boy ready to risk everything to

find his mother’s killer.

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

Locked will be published by Chicken House in 2013 and I am represented by Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown

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

About six months but there have been lots of later drafts so the whole book will have taken about eighteen months

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

I’d love to think there were elements of Girl Missing by Sophie McKenzie and  maybe a touch of Charlie Higson’s Young Bond Series

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have always enjoyed reading thrillers and mysteries and I really wanted to write one that would appeal to teens.

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

There’s a scary scene at the beginning of Great Expectations where Pip’s encounter with a starving convict changes his life forever.  That  scene influenced a key moment  in Locked where my hero, Joe stumbles across an injured asylum seeker in an abandoned house.

and here’s a taster  from the opening chapter where Joe and his dog Oz break in to the abandoned house . . .

A huge claw yanked me off my feet, ripping terror through my guts but the knife pricking my throat, cut off my scream.  A pair of black, bloodshot eyes glared at me out of a filthy sunken face.  This guy was old but he was tall and strong. His head was shaved like a wrinkly nut, there was a scar running from his left eye to his cheek and he smelled like rotting meat. A swift jab from his boot sent Oz slithering into a growling, quivery crouch.

“What you do here?” the tramp’s voice was angry, ugly and foreign.

“I . . . nothing.” I could hardly spit out the word.

“Who with you?”

“No one, honest.”

“What your name?”

“J . . . Joe. I wasn’t going nick anything -.”

“Joe, who?”

“S . . . Slattery”

“Where you live?”

“L . . . laurel Cottage.”

I should have lied but terror had cut the connection between my mouth and brain.

“Empty your pockets.”

I shook out about fifty pence in coins, a square of gum and my phone.

It was a cheap old Nokia but  my mate Bailey was going to wet himself when he found out I’d been mugged by a stinking tramp old enough to be my grandad.  The tramp threw me against the wall and ripped back the tear in the leg of his filthy trousers. A deep gash ran from his knee to his boot, oozing a mess of blood and pus that had gone crusty round a strip of white that had to be bone.

“You help me,” he said.

I stared at the wound, trying not to puke.

He made a jab at me with the knife.

“OK.” I raised my hands. “I’ll r . . . ring . . . for a doctor.”

“No doctor! Get bandage, food, money.”

“I can’t . . . I . . . I live with my aunt . . . she won’t let me touch her stuff.”

He wasn’t up for a cosy chat about the tough time I was having at Doreen’s and just rattled out the list again.

“OK, OK, I’ll do my best. Come on Oz.”

With a low grunt, the tramp grabbed Oz by the scruff of his neck and waved the knife at his throat. Oz was so surprised he just hung there with his eyes popping out of his head.

“Go. You come back tonight or I kill dog.”

“What?” He was crazy. “Let him go! I swear I’ll come back.”

He jerked the knife under Oz’s collar.

“Alright! I’ll get the stuff. Just don’t hurt him.”

Oz gave me this look like I’d got be joking as I left him dangling and backed towards the door. I stopped. My voice came out in whimper.  “I can’t get over the wall.”

The tramp slipped the knife between his teeth and chucked me a bunch of keys.

“Door. By greenhouse.”

He lifted Ozzie higher and prodded his stomach, like some deranged TV cook testing a Christmas turkey.  “You don’t bring back keys I kill dog. You bring police, I kill dog. You tell anyone I here, I come Laurel cottage and I kill you, Joe Slattery.”


Check for the next big thing on these websites:

J.P. Buxton - award winning author of I am the Blade

Julie Day writes romance and magical realism .

Ian Harvey Brown  - working on a Young Adult novel called Shutdown.

| Posted on: October 24, 2012 | Filed under: News



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