The Next Big Thing: Work in Progress

I wouldn't normally put up another blog this week, but I've been tagged on Richard Wright's blog in the Next Big Thing.  Richard is a fellow member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes dark fantasy and horror (be afraid - be very afraid!) - and he's currently writing about Burke and Hare.

The object of the Next Big Thing is that authors answer ten set questions about their new work in progress and then link to three more authors who are also working on a new book.  That way, as many people as possible get to find out what's going on and maybe discover some new authors!  So, here's my attempt to answer the questions.

What is the title of your work in progress?

The Centauress.  This refers to the subject of the book, which is the life of a painter who was born in the first decades of the 20th century, of indeterminate gender, (about one in every 2,000 babies born has some kind of gender anomaly).   The image of the Centauress - half horse/half human - becomes the symbol of her dual identity.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

In the 1950s one of my aunts ran off with a woman who was rumoured in the village to be a hermaphrodite - later I knew two other people who were born 'inter-sex' as it's sometimes called, and I've known several transexuals.  The business of gender identity has always fascinated me.

What genre does your book fall under?

I suppose it would have to be Literary Fiction, because of the subject matter. It's a serious book, that deals with gender and identity, and also how we deal (or don't deal) with difference in society.

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

I'd have to choose Tilda Swinton I think, to play the aging painter, because she's such a superb character actor and has such a gloriously androgenous face.

 For the second female lead, the biographer Alex Forbes, it would have to be Emily Watson, because that's how I imagine Alex to look.   Alex is recovering from depression and trying to find some meaning in her life again after the person she loved most is killed in a terrorist attack.

And for the Italian jazz musician she falls in love with, it has to be Raoul Bova (anyone see Under the Tuscan Sun?)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Biographer Alex Forbes, bereaved in a terrorist attack, goes to Istria to interview celebrity artist and transexual Zenobia de Braganza, who is dying, and wants to tell her tragic and scandalous story, opposed by predatory relatives and protective friends.

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

I have an agent, but on this occasion I'm self-publishing.

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

Two long years.  And I'm still scribbling!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'm not sure there are other stories like this.  It's a love story, the story of someone's life, a mystery, family secrets, the struggle to find an identity, how we deal with tragedy - like most other novels I suppose.   Michael Foucault's 'Herculine Barbin' perhaps, although that's the memoir of a 19th century hermaphrodite with editorial commentary.  Maggie O'Farrell's 'The Hand that First Held Mine' has some similar themes of family secrecy and the unpicking of a story, weaving two stories together in time.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A very remarkable woman who died some years ago - courageous and charismatic and a superb artist.

What else about your book may pique the readers' interest?

It's set in one of the most beautiful parts of Croatia - Istria - once owned by Venice, and the novel is set in the aftermath of the Croatian/Serbian war.  An interesting time historically.

My current novel (also historical) on Amazon and Kobo is  The Sun's Companion.

My Selected authors are:

Sue Millard
Sue is an expert on horses and carriage-driving as well as a prolific author.  Her recent historical novel Coachman, set in London and Cumbria at the time when the 19th C coaching industry was being overtaken by the railway, has been getting excellent reviews.  Another recent publication is a comic fantasy novel 'Dragonbait', published by Jackdaw E Books.  This is her standard Blurb.

'I am a published author, currently freelancing in web management, and previously employed by the University of Cumbria as a lecturer in computing. My first degree is in English Literature, and I gained my Masters degree in Multimedia Computing while working full time. I am well known in the Fell Pony Society. I judge ponies, serve on its Council, manage its website and edit its twice-yearly Magazine. I’ve had poetry published by The Interpreter’s House, Pennine Platform, Prole, Snakeskin, Lighten Up Online and Candlestick Press. I give talks to local organisations and make sales of my books that way as well as via the trade. I moderate an online writers’ forum, Great Writing, and enjoy meetings of a local writers’ group that I started in 2008.'


Cally Phillips

Cally Phillips (1963-) has had a writing career spanning 20 years. Stage plays and screenworks formed the bulk of her professional career, and she has been broadcast on BBC and ITV as well as on radio. She was dramatist in residence in Dumfries and Galloway 2002-2004 as well as holding other residencies and facilitation posts. She was founding director of Bamboo Grove Theatre Company from 2002 -2006.
She is in the process of publishing her back catalogue of stage plays for ebook format through HoAmPresst Publishing. She also publishes 'advocacy' work through the Guerrilla Midgie Press imprint including A WEEK WITH NO LABELS(2012)
She has also written short stories in Scots including the collections IT WISNAE ME and VOICES IN MA HEID.
Latterly novels have taken precedence in her writing portfolio. Her first novel THE THREADS OF TIME (2003) was followed by ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE (2007) and BRAND LOYALTY (2010) continues her unique and individualistic contribution to the literary genre. She is currently working on several adaptations from her stage works and a new 'trilogy in four parts'.
It has been said that Cally 'thinks her way through life' and certainly her writing reflects this characteristic. It is idioscyncratic, challenging, open and revealing, exploring difficult concepts such as identity and the nature of reality, employing a range of literary styles but engaging the reader through compellingly believable characters and stories that keep you thinking long after the final page.

Allan Russell
Allan lives in Australia and published his first indie historical novel, Veiled in Shadows, two years ago and is now working on another.  Allan blogs at Publish or Perish

If avant garde is your thing you might also like Dan Holloway - poet and experimental fiction author who has several blogs - including the Cynical Self-publisher and The Man who Painted Agnieska's Shoes. 


  1. Kathy, Thanks for tagging me!

    I'll have to put something together!


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