The Next Big Thing

I was tagged to be a part of this meme by the lovely Rachel Ward, whose own version appeared last Wednesday. It’s an opportunity to talk about a work in progress and I really would encourage anyone reading this to follow the tags. There are some amazing writers working in children’s literature today and a lot of very exciting stuff is coming out in the next year. I feel very privileged to be counted as their colleague. So follow the bread crumbs – who knows what surprises the trail has in store for you?

What is the title of your next book?

The Unicorn Hunter

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It is actually the second book in my Feral Child trilogy, which is based on Celtic mythology and Irish faerie tales, brought up to date for the 21st century. The first book, the Feral Child, started when a girl called Maddy is sent to live with her grandparents in the village of Blarney, Co Cork when her parents die. When a young child goes missing one night, she discovers the village has a dark secret. At its heart, in the medieval Blareny castle, is a faerie mound. The mound is the entrance to Tír na nÓg, the land of youth. Tír na nÓg is the world of the Tuatha de Dannan, a powerful race of faeries that once ruled Ireland. They want out but are trapped beneath the mound except for one night of the year, Halloween, when the barrier between the mortal and faerie worlds weaken. Maddy discovers that children have been taken by the faeries before but the adults of Blarney are too frightened to go into the mound to get them back. Furious, she sets out to rescue the child with the help of her two cousins and her dog.

What genre does your book fall under?

I would say the whole trilogy could be described as an urban fantasy.

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

The characters are very young, so the children in the book would have to be played by unknown actors. But I think Tilda Swinton would be brilliant as one of the villains, Fachtna, and Angelina Jolie would be ideal for Queen Meabh, a cunning and ruthless opponent.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

The last time there was a fight this big it meant war.

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

The Raven Queen will be published by Quercus January 31, 2013. So not long to go now!

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

It took about a year, on and off. It was a LOT harder to write than the first book or the third, which I am finishing up now. The middle of a story is always the hardest part to write so as you can imagine, writing a whole book in the middle of three had me tearing my hair out!

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

Most of the books I would compare this too would be aimed at older readers and the ones that really stand out for me would be Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and Sally Prue’s Cold Tom and The Ice Maiden. I loved the way the world of faerie impacts on the mundane, some times boring, real world we all live in and the savagery and the beauty they portrayed.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I loved Irish mythology when I was growing up but what I really wanted to know was – what happened next? According to the old stories the Tuatha de Dannan ruled Ireland until the ancient Celts rose up and drove them under the hills of Ireland. They became the Sithe, the people of the hill and that is why people believe that faerie mounds are the entrances to Tír na nÓg. So are the Tuatha still there, trapped in a land where no one ages, their white, cold faces turned up beneath our feet as we go about our every day lives, longing for the feel of the mortal world again, a breeze in their hair, a warm sun bathing their faces? And what would happen if they did get loose? Would such a war-like race be able to co-exist peacefully with humans?

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

I think the main character, Maddy, the feral child of the title, is some thing a bit different. She is a very flawed hero, a child that battles with the hatred and the rage that live inside her. While adults might not like her very much, she is a strong and principled person and she cannot help but do the right thing. She needs to be strong. Maddy endures cold, starvation and pain to bring the lost child home but her biggest battle is with herself. A child of the Irish diaspora, Maddy has no sense of place. If you are lost, how can you find your way home when you do not know where it is?


My two writers for next Wednesday are:

Catherine Johnson

Marie-Louise Jenson.

Marie-Louise will be guest writing on this blog so please check back on this site next Wednesday to read all about her Next Big Thing!

They are both fantastic writers and I can’t wait to hear what’s next from them…