I was invited to take part in “The Next Big Thing” – a blog hop for authors – by Fay Sampson who has written many wonderful books for children and adults arising from Celtic history, and also includes mystery, suspense and crime fiction in her output.
In her capacity as a manuscript editor for The Writer’s Workshop, Fay also read my novel “Mystical Circles” in draft form, appraised it and gave me guidelines for revision. I reworked it according to her suggestions, and she then read the novel again. It was Fay’s encouragement that led me forward to publication, and she kindly allowed me to print her testimonial on the cover. So thank you Fay!
And now for ten questions on my Next Big Thing:
1. What is the working title of your book?
A PASSIONATE SPIRIT
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
As this novel is set in an English retreat centre I’ve drawn upon my knowledge of these centres (several of which I’ve visited and stayed in over the years), & also any environment in which disparate people are drawn together for a period of time in an enclosed setting. I’ve drawn too upon my insights into human motivation and behaviour; chief among which is that “nothing should be taken at face value: people are often not what they seem”.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Zoe Blake, main protagonist, age 23: Amanda Seyfried
Theo, Zoe’s husband of 15 months, and Warden of the Centre: Bradley James
James Willoughby, unexpected guest: *Hugh Grant
Natasha, his sinister girlfriend: Talulah Riley
Llewellyn, Poet-in-Residence: Matt Baynton
Bernie, the House Manager: Mark Williams
Alice, Retreat Centre Secretary: Georgia Moffett
Jessica Leroy, Chair of Trustees: Sarah Lancashire
* As a postscript to this particular casting, may I say I’d love to see Hugh Grant play my character James Willoughby, because this is a role that would require Hugh to be sexy, villainous, very handsome, manipulative, double-dealing, charming and treacherous. Also, I ‘d love to see Working Title Productions do this film.
A Passionate Spirit has the potential to be a great British movie.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Inexperienced young woman finds herself running an English retreat centre in the teeth of intense opposition from two malevolent guests.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ll be seeking representation from a literary agent to win a contract of publication with a traditional publishing house.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
One month – I wrote it during November 2011’s National Novel Writing Month.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
My story has elements you may find in books by Susan Howatch, Barbara Erskine and Phil Rickman.
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Various people I’ve met over the years have inspired me for the characters of Zoe, Theo and James. I’ve also been inspired by characters and themes in my favourite films and TV dramas. Additionally, I interviewed a retired Anglican parish priest who told me several stories from his own experience around the subject of the deliverance ministry; one of his stories in particular not only forms the basis of a scene in my novel, but also inspired my character Natasha.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The exploration of the psyche of a dysfunctional person holds a fascination for today’s novel reader, and therefore a strong place in the fiction market. Alongside this runs a deep interest in mental health issues and in spirituality, the supernatural and paranormal. These are in high demand, and extremely popular subcategories within today’s market. A Passionate Spirit contains elements of all these.
This is my vision:
to offer readers everywhere stories that delight and entertain, capturing their imaginations and touching their hearts with powerful universal themes that affect us all.
The themes that most engage me are these: love, loyalty and bravery; intrigue, longing and desire; redemption, reconciliation and forgiveness.
I am tagging Meg Harper
Their posts about their new projects will be live on or around 19 December.
6 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing: A Passionate Spirit”
This sounds like a great read! I was especially impressed with your thought process of actors and the film production company.
Thank you! I loved casting my characters – I admit I had some help from my daughter who is a Creative Media student and budding film-maker, so has strong opinions of various actors and their suitability to certain roles!
Well done – sounds a good read! I’m wondering if the process of answering those questions might be helpful for those of us still at the first draft stage. Would help firm up characters especially. Might try this afternoon (this is my coffee break before I get back to the non-fiction work in progress.) argh. 11 already. Must go!
Thank you for your comment, Dorothy – I think the process of answering the 10 questions is ideal to focus your thoughts at any stage of writing a novel. In particular, deciding which actors would play your characters in the movie version is a wonderful exercise. It does help you to sharpen up your characters, and is also great fun!