Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing

This week I’m taking part in The Next Big Thing series of networked author blog interviews. I’ve been tagged by CaroleJohnstone and next week I’ll be revealing who I tagged in to do the next round of interviews.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Reflections in the Mind’s Eye.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
It was a carefully planned project to produce a range of stories all linked thematically by their examinations of reality and human consciousness. Or to put it another way, I had a bunch of short stories lying about the place and lumped them all together in a collection.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
SF/fantasy/horror/crime; all mixed up in the same stories like a literary bouillabaisse. Bookstores will have no idea where to stock it – they’ll have to put a few pages in one section of the shop and a few pages in another and at least a few pages locked away in the basement so they don’t scare away the customers.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
While I was writing the novelette that makes up the bulk of the book I had a vague idea of the protagonist being a Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis type – handsome and athletic in their prime, but a bit more craggy and creaky nowadays. I wasn’t thinking of their action roles so much as their performances in Signs or The Sixth Sense where they’re in Look-I’m-extending-my-range-(but-still-hoping-to-score-a-box-office-hit) mode.

I also think that Mila Kunis should play one of my characters. Doesn’t matter which one, just so long as I get to canoodle with her on the casting couch.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A desperate attempt to allow me to shag Mila Kunis.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’ll be published by Pendragon Press, an independent publisher owned by Christopher Teague.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The stories were all written separately over the course of several years as individual projects. The earliest was written in 2001, the most recent in 2010.

8)8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
By some crazy coincidence it shares qualities with all my other books – hallucinations, disillusionment, dysfunctional relationships and all that other fun stuff.  Damaged minds, damaged souls, damaged realities; that seems to be my literary territory.

As for books by other authors, well, that’s just a minefield, isn’t it? If I compare myself to some literary heavyweight like Shakespeare or Dickens then I come across an egotistical moron. And even if I aim for someone a bit lower down the scale whoever I pick will get all upset -- “Oh God, my books are being compared to the ones by that hack Stuart Young! My reputation’s ruined!” This is the kind of thing that can lead to cease and desist letters.

Anyway, at the risk of provoking future legal action there’s probably some sort of resemblance between Reflections and Greg Egan’s Axiomatic collection, which contains beautiful, emotionally charged stories about the nature of consciousness and reality. Although my grasp of science is nowhere near as good as Egan’s. He writes hard SF but my SF is much softer; my SF is so soft it could be used to stuff pillows, if it was any softer it would be practically liquid. There’s also Michael Marshall Smith’s What You Make It with its mixture of tenderness, biting humour and world-weariness. And although I didn’t really read much Charles L Grant until after Reflections was already finished I like to think there’s some similarity in the prose style, as well as the use of characterisation and quiet horror. (NB The horror in Reflections is fairly quiet but some of the SF is in THX surround sound and is viewed in HD, 3-D and even fiddle-de-dee.)

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The title story came about due to reading John Horgan’s non-fiction book The Undiscovered Mind, which featured some scary stuff about brain surgery.

With ‘Crashes’, which appeared in the Catastrophia anthology from PS Publishing, I tried to write something very silly but refrain from turning it into a comedy, instead keeping it dramatically satisfying. To the reader the events of the story are completely absurd but to the characters they’re happening to the events are terrifying, which will hopefully communicate itself back to the reader and the resulting cognitive dissonance will somehow be hugely entertaining. Or at least more entertaining than the pretentious twaddle of those last couple of sentences. I’d been reading some Harlan Ellison stories and he really didn’t seem to care whether the tone in his stories was consistent throughout so I thought I’d have a crack at that. Grant Morrison was also an influence on that story, partly through inspiring one of the key images, and partly through the fact that his comics, although arch and amusing and often filled with preposterous situations, never quite make the transition from drama to comedy.

With ‘Heartache’, which originally appeared in The Mammoth Book of Future Cops, I was trying to write something in the Jim Thompson/Andrew Vachss/Frank Miller noir mould, but with an SF twist. I was particularly interested in exploring the kind of femme fatale Miller tends to feature in Sin City and see if I could add some motivation and psychological depth.

I’m drawing a blank on what exactly inspired the other stories offhand, but I’m sure that whatever the different inspirations were they would make for wonderfully amusing anecdotes.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Each copy comes with a fifty pound note attached to the front cover, courtesy of the publisher.

That thudding sound you just heard was Christopher Teague’s jaw hitting the ground.


Matt Cardin said...

Nice! I enjoyed this glimpse into your next project, Stu, not to mention your psyche.

Stuart Young said...

Cheers, Matt. I'm looking forward to your Next Big Thing interview.