The Next Big Thing

Ayelet Tsabari, author of the soon to be released The Best Place on Earth recently tagged me in The Next Big Thing, a virtual game of literary blog tag. In The Next Big Thing writers answer ten questions about their work-in-progress, and then link their post to other writers who then tag others on and on until infinity! Here are my answers:

What is the working title of your book?
Yours to Keep

Where did the idea for the book come from?
The idea came to me while I was living in Barcelona in a neighbourhood with a lot of crime.

What genre does your book fall under?
I would say it's a contemporary literary novel with a picaresque flavour.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I noticed someone else on this blog tag said Sarah Polley already, but she is definitely the person I've been picturing for the lead. (Apparently we need to expand our collective imagination when it comes to Canadian actresses!) To distinguish my 'casting vision' from that of other writers, I can specify that I am picturing my protagonist Nicole to be played by Sarah Polley as she appeared in the movieGo. For all of the other characters in my book, I've created a 'photo album' of them, but haven't matched them up with actors yet.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
This book is about a Canadian woman who loses love and heals herself through an immersive contemplation of thievery and impermanence on the streets of Barcelona.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I hope to publish my book in the traditional way. First step: to send it out in the spring!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took about a year and a half. I'm just finishing the fourth draft now and coming up on three years of work in total.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don't really like to make these kind of comparisons. There are some obvious superfluous similarities to Ben Lerner's Leaving the Atocha Station, but mostly just the North American in Spain element. His project is otherwise quite different than mine. Stylistically, I sometimes try to match the zinger-y-ness of Chris Cleave's writing. I also love expat literature from writers like Mavis Gallant, Hemingway, James Baldwin, Jean Genet. I like to pretend that my book is the grand-daughter of Jean Rhys' Good Morning, Midnight.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think this book owes a debt of gratitude to French cinema, and to three films in particular: Girl on the Bridge, directed by Patrice Leconte (1999), La Femme Nikita, directed by Luc Besson (1990), Lovers on the Bridge, directed by Leos Carax (1991) (which was influenced by Robert Bresson’s 1959 film Pickpocket). These are all stories of women with troubled pasts who journey towards wholeness while entering a new milieu. I like that the pasts of these women aren’t dealt with explicitly – I love French storytelling and all it leaves out.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A lot of things get broken in this book: laws, promises, people. I think there's something satisfying about broken things moving back towards wholeness, reconfiguring themselves in a new way. Plus the book has lots of sex, graffiti, squatter’s rights, and thieving.

And for now, I'm tagging Cass Beecham...visit her blog to check out her answers regarding her upcoming novel The Modern World. Tag, Cass, you're it!

Barcelona Graffiti

Barcelona Graffiti

Becky Blake