Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Next Big Thing

Jennospot 89  Blog Hop Interview

Peter St John 'as gone an' done somefink daft; leastways, that's wot Oi reckon. 'Ee's accepted ter be interviewed by author Joan Szechtman, wot 'as got a noice blog at . 'Ee's doin' a sorta blog 'op idea called "The Next Big Thing". 'Ee's gotta answer ten questions about 'is writin' an' then pass on the questions ter five ovver writers. Yeah, well Oi s'pose that's all roight in its way, but the trouble is, 'ee wanted ter use moi blog ter write it all out! Well, when Oi 'ad come down off'n the ceilin', an' 'ad cooled off a bit, Oi said as 'ow 'ee c'd, seein' as 'ow Oi know 'im an' all, (an' jus' between yew an' me 'ee's doin' me a favour wiv a little book of moi own, so Oi owe 'im one) but Oi just 'ope 'ee ain't a-goin' ter make an 'abit of it.

Any'ow, 'ere are the questions wot come from Joan Szechtman, tergevver wiv Peter St John's answers. An' if yew fink I shouldn’t ‘ave gone flyin’ up ter the ceilin', yew c'n tell me about it later:

1) What is the working title of your next book, Peter St John?

Actually, my very next book, or perhaps I should say "our" next book because it's all Jenno's words, with my drawings, is called "Jenno's Face Book". But as it's no more than a small collection of her web posts, to be published free on Smashwords before Christmas, it hardly counts as a proper book. On the other hand, I do have a new novel in mind, and the provisional title is "Gang America".

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is to be the seventh novel in the "Gang" series. The series tell of the difficulties faced by an young lad bombed out from a London orphanage in 1940, in adapting to life in the English village of Widdlington. The children who live there divide the village into several gang territories which the orphan must navigate at his peril. The ongoing tale in the six novels has almost arrived at the point where the United States of America enters the war as a combatant in 1942. The arrival of the Americans brought many changes to Britain, not least to Widdlington, close to the site of a brand new American airfield.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

This question always gives me much difficulty. The novel will be fiction but, like the others in the series, it will be set in the historical context of the Second World War. My intention is to reflect in miniature, the issues and values at stake in this conflict. Although the narrator in the series is a child, and the principal actors are children, I do not write specifically for children. Even so, I believe children could follow the narrative with pleasure.  Let us say then that the genre is historical fiction with a certain biographical element, and that it is intended for readers from nine to ninety-nine.

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

I find myself incapable of answering this question as I rarely go to the cinema, and seldom watch a film on television. A number of my readers have suggested that the "Gang" series would be well suited for the cinema, perhaps along the lines of the hilarious "Our Gang" or "Hal Roach's Little Rascals", black and white films. The novels lend themselves readily to this idea because the story is told mainly through dialogue. Someone once said to me that they could see Judi Dench playing the villainous part of "Aunt". Beyond that I feel unable to go except to say that casting so many young characters (there are about 25 of them, never mind the numerous adults) might pose some problems.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of the new book you have in mind?

The consequences of the 1942 American invasion of Britain on social relationships in a English village seen from the viewpoint of the children.

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

Self published, including many illustrations.

7) How long does it take you to write the first draft of a manuscript?

It usually takes seven or eight weeks for me to write a first draft. This does not include preparing the plot and chapter outline, similar to a film story board, which might take a couple of weeks ahead of the first word of the draft. As for editing, that takes far more time than preparing and writing the text. In fact, as it is so easy to amend electronic books, editing can become a never-ending activity.

8) To what other books would you compare the stories within your genre?

I find any comparison with other books embarrassingly difficult, and prefer not to make such comparisons myself. However, in reply to your question, I can say that the "Gang" series has been compared by others with Robert Westall's "The Machine Gunners" and even Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mocking Bird".

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The "Gang" series grew out of an intention to create an anthology of short stories about life in an English village under the stress of World War II, but the initial short story got longer and longer until it finally turned into a full-length novel. The series was inspired, at least in part, by a wish to "get even", as it were, with a strict, pious aunt who in the finish became the principal "villain" of the series.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

It was with some misgiving that I began to use dialect for the speech of some of the characters in the "Gang" series. I tried out the idea by reading an extract to the local writers' group. They loved it, and so it became a feature. The principal dialect speaker is Jenno Bryce, who is becoming quite well known on the web. None of her Facebook friends seem to have problems with her way of speaking, or with the way she writes in her little publications. And with the mention of Jenno's booklets, I am brought back full circle to the beginning of this blog.

Next Week's Tagged Authors

Now I'd like to "tag" the authors who are to carry the torch of this blog hop into next week. They are:

Kate O'Hearn, who writes enchanting fantasy that I recommend most heartily.

Katherine Ashe, whose absorbing series about Simon de Montfort have drawn me into a keen interest in the Middle Ages.

Maggie Secara, whose historical novels I have not yet explored, but that pleasure will surely not be long delayed.

Marcus Ferrar, who's absorbing biographical novel "A Foot in Both camps", I have read recently with huge interest and pleasure.

It only remains for me to say now: "Thank you, Jenno. I hope that, in the event, you haven't found my ‘blog 'op idea’ as daft as all that."

S'orrite, Peter St John. It's jus' that Oi c'd see yew go a-blatherin' on an' on about nuffink in partic'lar, loike as 'ow yew do sometoimes. But Oi'm grateful, any'ow, fer yer 'elp wiv "Jenno's Face Book" wot's goin' ter go up soon fer free on Smashwords. Oi might even give yew a copy fer Christmas.

Any'ow, if any of yew wot reads this would loike ter know more about Peter St John's "Gang" books, yew c'd take a look at But only if'n yew really want to, that is. There's even a couple o' pictures there o' me, but yew gotta search fer 'em…