I’ve been tagged by my friend Alison for The Next Big Thing. At first I wasn’t sure what this meant until a little digging told me it’s also called the Work In Progress Challenge, where you’re asked a few questions about the book you’re writing.
Sounds like fun, so here we go!
What is the working title of your book?
Taboos. It’s Book 1 of 7 in the Malaysian Dark series, but self-contained. I just completed the outline, and am now halfway editing/polishing Book 1.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It happened one night around 2008, when I was driving home and shedding my secret identity as a journalist. The idea beamed into my head: “Saaay, Malaysia has a ton of ghost stories. What if we had a team to deal with these cases? They could be experts in supernatural folklore from every race. That sounds cool! Like Malaysian Ghostbusters.” Little did I know I would soon be buried under an avalanche of research
What genre does your book fall under?
Urban fantasy. Someone once described it as “supernatural thriller noir”.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I have three major characters. The main character, Arshad, would have to be someone who can fluidly speak two to three languages and basically kick ass.
Looks-wise, I would love to have him look like the hunky Bollywood actor, Arjun Rampal. Hey, I can dream, right?
(Photos courtesy of http://www.beritaduniaku.com/ and http://www.cinemamalaysia.com.my/artist/gallery/?id=Ida_Nerina_Hussain_3254)
The dear late Yasmin Ahmad, an amazing woman and talented director, would have been perfect for my other major character, Salmah. As it is, an older version of the super hot Ida Nerina works too!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“A cursed man must save the world, threatened by demons and ghosts, by conquering his greatest enemy: himself.”
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Preferably through an agency, but I’m open to releasing it as an ebook if I cannot find representation!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Three loooong years. I was also doing my MA in between, tackling a massive amount of research and planning out the characters, plot and settings for the whole series. Oh, and generally trying to survive and earn a living. I felt better when I heard it apparently took J.K. Rowling five years to write the first Harry Potter, as she was sorting out the other books. (Not that I’m saying I’m J.K. Rowling ;D )
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden File series. I was already working on the concept for my story when I picked up the very entertaining first book in his series, but Mr Butcher was definitely an influence. I would also compare my book to Vertigo’s graphic novel title Hellblazer, famous for its character John Constantine. (I still insist I enjoy Keanu Reeves’ portrayal of him in the Constantine movie. Hellblazer fans, don’t flame me)
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I set out at first to create a fun, fantasy-filled adventure set in Malaysia. As I was writing, I also realised there were a number of socio-political issues playing in the background. You can’t help but notice them when the characters move around, trying to get things done. I love my country, but there are things about it that bother the heck out of me. However, the last thing I want is to hit readers on the head with a political message.
Instead the problems will rarely be addressed as I focus on telling a (hopefully) Damn Good Story. It helps that I have a main character who might represent the apathy, the silence, of many Malaysians about these issues. If you know what Malaysia is like, you’d understand there are a lot of things the authorities don’t want you to bring up as it might offend the so-called “sensitivities and feelings of the other races”. And so a number of us has grown up, I believe, tolerating the way things are, simply because we don’t know any better.
To be honest (or long story short) I would never have finished the book if not for my friends and the lecturers of my Creative Writing MA programme. They actually believe I had something to my crazy story!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s got kickassery. Banter and bumblings. Malaysia. Characters I will put through the meat grinder. Gangsters and goons. Malaysia. Spooky shacks and haunted highways. Ghosts and scares. Did I mention Malaysia?
Anyway it’s time to tag others and pass on the Luurv…
…Actually, I was supposed to find five people to tag about their Next Big Thing, but could only find the awesome bloke Jon Jon Fagan at http://deadsaukko.wordpress.com/
I ran out of time before having to rush off to Europe (I wrote this post early and set it to post on Wednesday. Sort of like writing a love note to Marty McFly in the past… or was it Back to the Future?
Anyway, tag, Jon, you’re it!