The Next Big Thing

Kirstyn McDermott tagged me to take part in the Next Big Thing, a chain of Wednesday author & book recommendations. Not sure how and where it got started – everyone I know has cited Doctor Who & ‘comic gothic mystery’ writer Paul Magrs as the beginning of the chain, but if you pop back to that original post, you can see that he was also tagged by another writer, and so on. MAYBE IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN HERE.

Anyway, here are my answers to the questions:

What is the working title of your next book?
A Trifle Dead, which I am releasing under the new pen-name of Livia Day. It will be out in Feb/March 2013 which is not that far away at ALL.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The original idea is from so long ago it feels like a different person came up with it! Back in my late teens, I wanted to write a fun murder mystery which showed Hobart as a place of cafe culture, art, tourism, vintage boutiques and so on. The first version of the book, which I drafted when I was sixteen (the first manuscript I ever finished!), was mostly terrible, but the idea of it stuck with me until I was ready to try again.

I continued to feel that need for fun, awesome Hobart-based stories through my 20’s. Most of the fiction I ever found set in my home town didn’t feel remotely familiar to me, or relevant to the young people that I knew. Now, of course, we have MONA, Amanda Palmer & Lonely Planet all endorsing Hobart as a cool place to hang out. But when I was younger, most of the books about Tasmania I came across were Oh So Serious literature, ghost stories or “improving” children’s books.

Then there was the cafe itself, which popped into my head because there’s this gorgeous sandstone building in the middle of the city which was a beloved bookshop when I was little, but by my teens had been taken over by all kinds of boring businesses – a surf shop, then a legal firm for a while. A beautiful building like that needed something WONDERFUL in it, and I created “The Troubleshooter’s Cafe” (later “Cafe La Femme”) because of that. These days that building actually houses a gorgeous retro children’s boutique called Ruby’s Room, which makes me terribly happy. I think Tabitha would approve, even if they don’t serve salads.

What genre does your book fall under?
Crime! If it had come out ten years ago it would have been called chick lit crime, but I think the chick lit tag has fallen out of marketing favour. I’m going with ‘culinary crime’ because of the focus on the cafe as the centre of the action. And also the gratuitous use of trifle in the title as well as the story. There are a lot of sticky desserts. And recipes at the back…

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This one caused me more trouble than I first imagined! Most of the characters are in their 20’s, and I just don’t watch enough Australian drama featuring characters in that age group. Most of the actors I could even name are pushing 30 at the very least…

As long as they were all-Aussie (or New Zealanders), and there was a cute Scotsman imported to play Stewart, I’d be pretty happy. But if there was a time machine involved I would be attempting to snatch 20-something versions of Nadine Garner and Gia Carides out of their respective timelines to play Tabitha and Xanthippe. And maybe a baby-faced Ewan McGregor for Stewart while we were at it!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Murder is on the menu at Cafe La Femme – and Tabitha Darling is not happy about it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Twelfth Planet Press, and was an unagented sale.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Six months, eighteen years ago, but almost nothing of that original version survives except three character names and the cafe itself. This one has had a long journey to being a real book. I’m so happy it’s finally here! My sixteen-year-old self would be rolling her eyes at me for taking so long.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series has always been my inspiration when it comes to light-hearted crime fiction. I also love the culinary crime novels such as Earthly Delights, written by Kerry Greenwood.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Sixteen-year-old me wrote that original terrible first draft a million years ago for a college writing course, and after reading it my friend Isabel promptly threw all the entire history of detective novels at my head, to teach me how to write a half decent crime plot next time. She has still forgotten more about the crime genre than I will ever learn! Also, my Dad has been longing for this book to be available ever since he read the original (horrible plot) version. Patience really is rewarded… eventually.

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

It’s a fresh look at Hobart, Tasmania, a city that surprisingly few Australians have managed to visit. I would love A Trifle Dead to inspire more people to revisit their preconceptions about how great our city is. Having said that, I do feel I should confess that the ‘coffee festival’ which features in the book is entirely fictional. Sorry about that!

Check in with the blogs of the following people next Wednesday for their answers:
Narrelle M Harris, Karen Healey, Michael Thomas, Charles Tan

They will tag five (cough, or nearly five) authors/editors themselves the following Wednesday. AND IT WILL LIVE FOREVER.

If anyone wants the last tag from me, I am happy to give it to the first that asks. (I ran out of asking energy & time)

One reply

  1. […] winding its links around the Australian writing community lately. Tansy Rayner Roberts tagged me (read her contribution here) and here is my effort at answering the standard questions. I actually have two concurrent projects […]

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