Friday, 12 April 2013

The Next Big Thing ...

Friends in the Forest (eCollage by Anu)

Within the past few days, a friend asked me to participate in an micro-interview.  He proceeded to nominate me on his blog 'A Thing for Words', which is normally a haven of story telling poetry.  Before I go on, let me say a few things about him.

His name is Joe Hesch. He is an Albany man, living in upstate New York.  He has been a writer in various guises, all his life, but four or so years ago, a life threatening experience gave him new insights and prompted one of his friends to suggest he write some poetry, to express his deepest feelings about this experience and a whole load of other stuff.  To cut the story short, he started and never stopped writing the most extraordinarily good poetry, which is in the process of taking him to bigger things.

So my feelings lay somewhere between delight and surprise, when he asked me to be his 'Next Big Thing' in this blog hop, which I gladly accepted because it is very timely for me to talk about something that is brewing ...


So, without further ado, here is our conversation:

What is the working title of your book?

"Petrichor Rising".

Where did the idea come from for the book?

That'll take a little longer to explain.  It came out of a deeply engaging and fairly long process between eleven people, who met on Twitter two years ago.  It was one, but I think an important one, of several sparks that welded us together as a group and spawned this project.  Suffice to say it represents the essence of what we are.  If you look up the derivation of the word 'Petrichor', it tells us that it means 'the scent of rain on dry earth' and is comprised of the Greek word 'Petra' - a stone - and 'ichor' - the fluid that flows in the veins of the Greek mythological Gods.  What a word!  But it also has a lot to do with grass roots, both literal and literary.  In this respect, it also has a great deal to do with one of those eleven people, Craig Morris, Grassland Scientist, who also happens to have written poetry.  Primarily, he proved to be the one, whose left field humour was always (and continues to be) the catalyst either for some fun or, as is often the case, remarkable creative interaction.  It also, undoubtedly, came from a shared, common sense of humour and a passion for poetry.

What genre does the book fall under?

An anthology of poetry, which presents the work of nine of us.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Each poet would, of course, be played by a different actor.  Given that the 'plot' is rather more difficult to define than it would be for a novel, I asked each of them who they would like to be played by and here is the result:

Matt Damon, Colin Firth, Carey Mulligan, Christina Hendricks, Audrey Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, Juliette Binoche, Emily Browning, Jane Horrocks and Sophia Loren ... if that doesn't give you a hint of the diversity of characters in this group, I suppose nothing will!

I will leave it to you to decide who has chosen to be played by which actor ...

In no particular order, the contributing Poets (characters) are: Abigail Baker, Peter Wilkin, Louise Hastings, Shan Ellis-Williams, Quirina Roode-Gutzmer, Joseph Hesch, Jacqueline Dick, Marsha Berry and myself. The Catalyst, Grassland Scientist, alternating Poet, is Craig Morris, who also wrote the introduction.  The eleventh member, who designed the "Collage of Culprits", is Mystery Man himself. Known simply as 'Anu', he has offered to design the book cover as well, should that be needed, and has contributed in all sorts of ways to other design aspects.  So, there you have it.  P.S. Note there are four men and six women, but three actors and seven actresses ... hmmm!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It is a product of the work of ten poets (one of whom declined to submit any poetry), who may not have won any significant awards yet, all of whom are already published, and all of whom have proved they are capable of writing remarkably moving and thought provoking material.

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

Although it contains the work of only nine poets, it is not all the same kind of poetry.  It is redolent and sometimes reeks with character from a diverse range of personalities, who are from different parts of the world, that you wouldn't normally expect to find in a small group of friends.  For many reasons, quite frankly, I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe that we actually got here; but here is where we are, with a final draft ready to submit!

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

We have options.  Self publishing has become an increasingly valid choice for writers these days, but there are three possible publishers, one of whom already expressed an interest in the book.  So we shall be pursuing this first.

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

For ever!  Hah, you know, the rigours of producing books of the written word should never be underestimated.  Developing a theme, a title, the content and layout and, of course, the editing, has taken time and 'other life stuff' has from time to time intervened to delay the project, but, in answer to the question, from inception to where we are now, it has taken eighteen months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This question takes me back to where we began.  It all started in May or June of 2011, with some harmless, always well meaning but often amusing banter.  The conversations seemed to centre on food, art, music, poetry (of course) and random silliness!  We shared a common sense of humour and a passion for poetry.  Every now and then our resident Grassland Scientist, Ecologist and, though he would deny it, poet, Craig Morris, would move the conversation in another direction and inject some form of poetic inspiration, or introduce us to the mysterious underworld of the rhizosphere.  By August, it occurred to me to ask them all if they fancied making a book! It seemed such a natural thing to do.  I was a little surprised when they all responded with an unqualified "yes"!

It has been a great adventure, supported by great friends.


Watch this space for announcement of the writer, who will be publishing an interview on their 'Next Big Thing' ...