the-next-big-thing1Thanks to the kindly C.B. McCullough (still not sure if a distant relation!) Pan Spectrum Analyzer has been nominated for a blog-hop: The Next Big Thing.  I’m a bit too humble for my own good, so writing something like this feels rather weird to me, but here we go.

What is the title of your book?

And we’re off to the hard questions already.  It actually doesn’t have a name yet, so I’ve been forced to resort to “Pan Spectrum Analyzer” or just PSA to tag it.  Its not even really finished, but it is kinda. I have no idea what it might finally be called.

What is the genre of your book?

Considering the specification of what science fiction is, I’ll have to say Sci-Fi, as the novel itself isn’t based on a scientific notion. It is slathered with science-fiction tropes though, with nods of space opera through and through.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Young girl follows love and dreams after boy, but gets lost in the continuum of space then slums it with strange aliens and in the process learns about herself, her people and ultimately life.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

More than one place, really. It emerged from a variety of sources, but mostly from me wanting to do a story in the vein of Alan Moore’s comic “The Ballad of Halo Jones” and Chris Foss’ art collection “Diary of a Spaceperson”, but the story really didn’t kick into gear until one of my friends left for a vacation/sabbatical in the Far East, suddenly and without any personal notification to me (not that I needed to be informed) and it got me thinking.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Cold reality, I guess. When I lost my job last July, I really felt that there was no other recourse: I had been wanting to become a full-time novelist and suddenly needed a novel to sell, soooo, I got typing. But, yeah, its not looking like its going to take up the slack from the UI payments.

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

Another tough one! Erm, well, I’m still writing it. The first words were breathed out sometime around 2008, after I bashed out a short story for the main character and felt like I needed to continue writing, so I went back to the beginning and wrote a prologue (which is really the middle, so may be misnamed). Then it sat there for a few years. When I joined the ranks of the illustrious unemployed, so I bashed out 80,000 words over the next few months, taking a break from it during NaNoWriMo, where I wrote a full length novel “The Vale of Odin” and when that was done, came back to PSA.  But the first part of PSA which was only supposed to be a few chapters, grew into a story of its own and novel length.  To answer the question: five months, including rewrites, but is still going on in part (book?) two.

What other books would you compare this story with in your genre?

It shares a lot in common with Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the road trip feel, a protagonist well out of their depth, scattered encounters with strange species and so on, but it isn’t a comedy, so perhaps that comparison is a little too leading.  In terms of atmosphere, I’d like to say its a little bit of Harry Harrison, but beyond that I’m not sure.

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

By grud, I have no idea. I’m not sure it would be film-able, he says, trying to sidestep the question. There would be a lot of CG after the first part is over, since when Karyss (the protagonist) is in “deep space” there aren’t any humans about at all. I can see Thandie Newton playing her though casting an ideal match would be rather difficult I think. When I was trying to draw Karyss, I tried to find suitable reference to draw from – someone of West African and Asian descent – and my web-searches found frighteningly few results.  By the time the book is finished and (dreaming) popular enough to warrant a movie (heheh) I’m thinking the whole thing will be probably be CG anyway and casting becomes trivial, and perhaps unnecessary. 🙂

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

Still undecided, but ideally represented by an agency. Self-publishing generally hasn’t worked well for me so far, though that’s more to do with my lack of marketing skills, knowledge and general inability to sell myself (see aforementioned humility).  The task of even finding an agent seems daunting to me though, so self-publishing is always considered.

What else about your book might pique your readers’ interest?

I wanted to write a science-fiction story that wasn’t centered on someone extraordinary – scientists, ship captains, prince/princesses, special agents, heirs to thrones, criminals, mercenaries, etc. So I chose an ordinary girl, disenfranchised from her life and looking for a new one – so I gave her one she couldn’t handle easily and now I feel bad for her. Still, as a normal person, she ends up doing extraordinary things and that’s what stories are about, right?  (and it has an alien monkey in it… yes, monkeys, hey, are you still reading this?)  If anything, she’s extraordinary for being “her”, rather than what everyone (and everything!) else wants her to be.

That about wraps up the questions, so all that’s left to do is present my nominations for the Next Big Thing:

Candace Knoebel (because she was actually the first to follow this blog)

Cheryl Moore  (because of her passion to illustrate her own books, a tradition close to my own heart)

Craig Stone  (for his interesting outlook on life and writing)