Monday, 7 January 2013

Emily Castles: The Next Big Thing

I'm re-posting this because I have been tagged again in The Next Big Thing, this time by Deborah Lawrenson. I met her at BEA (Book Expo America) in New York in 2011. She's an English novelist who lives for part of the time in France. I love reading her blog – she often posts photos of her house and the surrounding area in Provence, as well as giving updates about the writing process. Her posts are thoughtful and interesting.

Deborah is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel The Lantern and is working on a new book called The Night Flight. You can read her answers to the Next Big Thing about her book here.

I was first tagged in this just before Christmas by Susanna Calkins. Here's some information about Susanna and her book, in case you missed it in the pre-Christmas madness. My answers to the Q&A follow at the bottom of the post. When I first answered them, it was last year, but now it's this year, the year that my first full-length Emily Castles novel will be published. I'm very excited about it!

 In October this year I went to Bouchercon, a convention for mystery writers and readers that is held annually in the US. It was the first time I had attended and it was so much fun I have already booked for next year. I met and made friends with lots of interesting people, including Susanna Calkins. Her historical crime novel, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate, will be published by St Martin's Press next year.

When her brother faces hanging for the murder of a fellow servant, Lucy Campion—a seventeenth-century English chambermaid—must interpret the clues hidden in miniature portraits, popular ballads, and a corpse’s pointing finger--to save his life, before the true murderer turns on her...

Sounds good, doesn't it! Susanna is a historian by day and has lived and worked in the UK so her research on the background to the story will be impeccable. I just love the idea of the clues hidden in portraits and ballads and can't wait to read it.

There's an internet meme going round called The Next Big Thing in which writers tag each other with questions about their work. Susanna recently tagged me. You can read her answers on her blog here. Mine are below.

1) What is the title of your next book?
Invitation to Die

2) Where did the idea come from?
Invitation to Die takes place at a romance authors’ convention in Bloomsbury, London. An American blogger is lured to her death and Emily steps in to solve the case. I loved the idea of bringing together some British novelists and casting suspicion on them when a murder takes place. Bloomsbury is an area of London that is rich in literary history. I hosted and curated an event called The Literary Cabaret at The Bloomsbury Festival this year and last year – I think that probably gave me the idea to write a book set in a hotel in the area.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a slightly surreal British mystery.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a lovely question – I think most writers like to fantasy-cast their books. Here are the actors I’d like to see in mine:
Carey Mulligan as twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth Emily Castles.
Miriam Margolyes as Dr Muriel, the eccentric philosophy professor who teams up with Emily to solve the case.
Emily Blunt as Polly Penham, the successful novelist who gets mixed up in the case.
Zoe Wanamaker as famous romance novelist Morgana Blakely who chairs the conference.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Emily Castles helps out at a romance authors’ convention in Bloomsbury, London, she’s soon mixed up in murder.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Invitation to Die will be published by Thomas & Mercer in 2013. I'm represented by David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management in New York.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About six months. I had already written two novellas featuring the two main characters, Emily and Dr Muriel, so I knew them - and the world the book is set in - quite well.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Invitation to Die has an old-fashioned sensibility that will appeal to readers who enjoy books by Dorothy L Sayers or Agatha Christie. However it’s set in the present day so I think it will also appeal to readers who enjoy the humour in Charlaine Harris’s books, the sweetness of Alexander McCall Smith’s characters and the Britishness of M C Beaton’s books.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a fun mystery series set in present-day England because I love reading mysteries and watching them on TV. Is there anything more enjoyable on a Sunday night than setting a log fire in the grate, lying on the sofa and watching a Marple? I’d like to inspire the same feeling of warm anticipation in readers of my books. And when Carey Mulligan and Miriam Margolyes star in the adaptation of the book, I shall open a box of chocolates and watch it straight through at least twice.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
I suppose it depends what most appeals to readers about a new book or a new author they have just discovered. I hope that people will be excited to learn that this is the first full-length book in a series, with two more to be published by Thomas & Mercer in 2013/2014, and more to follow after that. Maybe they’ll look forward to getting to know Emily as she grows and develops as the series progresses. Maybe they’ll just like Invitation to Die because it’s slightly camp and very British.

The designers and editors at Thomas & Mercer will start work on the book in 2013. I'll be revealing the new cover, the exact publication date and other book-related news here on my blog as I have it. But if you'd like to receive an email alert when the new book is published, please sign up below:


Deborah Lawrenson said...

Cheers, Helen, and thanks for the kind words. Emily Castles meets the London literary scene - can't wait!

Helen Smith said...

Thanks, Deborah. I'm getting excited about the publication of my book - and looking forward to reading yours, too.

Laura Anderson said...

The book sounds brilliant Helen - love the imaginary cast as well!

Helen Smith said...

Thank you!