The next big thing

Each Wednesday, invited authors answer a set of questions about their writing-in-progress, then go on to invite further authors to continue the discussion the following week. Thank you, Mike Horwood (of for tagging me. I in turn, propose a number of exciting authors for you to discover at the end of this post.


1. What is the working title of your next book?

Verses Nature. There’s a deliberate word-play in there; verses/versus, as I will explain later in answer to Question 3.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

I’ve had this really ‘big’ novel in me for a long time. The thought – fear – of not being able to rise to the occasion made sure it remained just a dream for more years than I care to remember. I’d say for well over a decade, actually. It was supposed to be some kind of all-encompassing cosmic/philosophical/theological/erotic opus, but I hadn’t a clue where to start. And with hindsight I think I was far too young.

I suppose the idea, to put it succinctly, came from the close observation of my social environment; the tensions I witnessed everywhere in human dealings with one another, the extent to which assumptions may cripple understanding. So I guess I could say I took a good look at myself, at my world, and thought: what does any of this mean?

As a plurilingual person, writer and researcher, I have long had a bone to pick with language, with the way it enslaves us. Two words to be handled with extreme care: ‘science’, ‘is’…Thinking about all of this, sucking words clean and finding them tasteless, meaningless, has led me to question the whole business of naming and defining (up pops the verses/versus word-play again).

3. What genre does your book fall under?

My answer to this question is a continuation of the question above. I don’t want Verses Nature to be immediately identifiable as belonging to any specific genre, since these, too, are part of the naming process I take issue with.

If you think about any word for long enough, try to track it back to some starting point – and fail – the word loses its meaning. In its own right, what is a word but mere noise? We have to look backward and forward, to culturally situate it, for it to yield any sense whatsoever. And this sense may always be contested. I’ve often heard: that’s not a novel/poem/add-any-other-name-to this-list. And I then think: why not? And so we come back to our assumptions about what is (not) permissible, do-able, and I don’t like that. If you stay within such endorsed frames, you’ll never break them down. What I try to do is to put such terms to the test.

One thing Verses Nature is not: chick lit.

4. Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie version?

Funny you should ask that question. Various people have flashed across my mind. I need a white male, late-middle-aged, overweight, overbearing, greasy-yet-seductive. Jack Nicholson? Robert de Niro? I need a smart, beautiful black woman, late forties. Halle Berry? Maybe a singer who can also act? Lauren Hill, perhaps? I don’t even know if she can act, but I like her aura. I need an equally smart German (looking) female, same age. No idea who’d play that role for now. One of my favourite actresses: Glenn Close, Meryl Streep?  Kate Winslet, perhaps? Maybe it would be better to have an entire cast of newcomers. Could be their big break. And mine!

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Now-now-you-just-heard-what-I-said-about-labeling-I-guess-the-title-says-it-all-VERSES-NATURE-(new/ly-ordered-being)-it’s-unlike-anything-(could-say-intellectual-erotic-maelstrom?)-so-just-keep-a-track-of-it-here-and-on-my-site-(I’ll-be-tweeting-bits-too)-and-buy-it-when-it’s-out. (There’s only one full stop so that makes one sentence…)

6. Will your book be published or represented by an agent?

It will definitely be published.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

A draft assumes there is, was, a cutting-off point. There is no first draft of Verses Nature. I keep a logbook of every idea I have that is related to the work. The first draft, if you will, was the inspirational moment the idea for the book was born. I had a pre-linguistic flash/insight, which then had to be tamed (should I have said ‘elaborated’?) via language. This flash contained everything and it was perfect, to my eyes. The tricky task is now to make it reality. The minute you start, it’s no longer the same. Language, as art and like art, sequential to the original, insightful moment, is always too late…

8. Which other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Which genre??? My book is promiscuous as far as genre is concerned, and in such promiscuity lies a deeper message; an appeal for tolerance as we acknowledge multiplicity. I like to combine the intellectual, the social and the erotic and to do so via a mixed-genre approach. I don’t want to be ‘bookish’, and I don’t want to write a ‘dirty book’. I honestly don’t know whom I would compare myself to (we all believe we’re writing something original, right?). There are authors I admire, and who have no doubt influenced me; people who dare to do it differently. It is not important for you to know who these people are. The reader will establish her/his own intertextual references and probably compare me to authors I may never have read. It’s your book, at the end of the day. Not mine.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Excuse me, isn’t this Question 2 in a new frock?

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

Verses Nature is all about questioning assumptions, about questioning our relation to reality. I have a male protagonist mouthing off all the time: ‘Some people think I’m stuck up. Think I think I’m something special. Well, I am. I’ll leave the rest of you to be ordinary’. He was supposed to be despicable, but guess what? He grows on you. I was shocked to discover how much I enjoyed developing him. I kept thinking: you can’t do that; the women in this world could lapidate you for that! Then I thought; what was that about not bowing to cultural expectations? I’m not letting the ‘side down’. To have a side is to have a boundary, a wall. I’m climbing that wall. Then I’m going to take a hammer to it. So I’ve got this man that any self-respecting woman would claim not to (want to) have anything to do with, but are you so sure you’ll be able to, or even have to, resist?

So, enough about me. Now I’d like to draw to your attention a number of authors definitely worth following.


Jessica Patient:
Short story writer, novelist and reviewer, Jessica’s self-written biography is so delightful, there’s no need for me to try to pen something better (see link below):

In 2008 she won the WorldSkills Gold Award for her short story, Jasper’s Betrayal. Extracts were exhibited at the IMAX in London.

I love her website:


Anthony Howarth:
Writer, poet, reader, speaker, photographer, Oscar and Golden Globe nominated filmmaker… the list goes on. Anthony has published several books. His writing can be refreshingly honest, hard, angry, indignant, as it can be erotic, tender, and emotional. For your delight and reflection, Peace:


Absolute peace

Is lunch on your own

Tinned tuna

Stolen canteen bread

Alone in your cell

Sitting on your bed

The day before your release

Sentence is complete

The end of strife

Everything is done

With tomorrow will come

The complexities of life

This is the moment

To savour and retain

Tonight is another lifetime


I may never be

So peaceful again

(Copyright © Anthony Howarth 1997, 2012)

for more:


Federica Bianco:
Of Italian nationality and temperament.

Wishing that the sea were nearer than its own distant memory, that its freshness were closer to her feet so that one eager step would suffice to overcome muteness, knowing that indecisions are loaded but time is not, thus driven to ‘distrust flawlessly’, Federica has published an amazing volume of poetry, A Night in Gale, available at amazon (why, pray, shouldn’t the Next Big Thing be a poet??). Here’s an appetizer:

whose warmth of solace
those arms of shelter…

when longed memories of skin
are caught under the spell of slumber
awoken by waterfalls of sorrow
emotions trigger the silly shiver
in the heart of night, when slowly
fallen deep down loathed sadness
the crawling, choking sounds of silence
remind one of that love, rusted and stoned

For more:


That makes four, not five, I know, but as you also know; it’s the quality that counts.  Take the time to revisit these sites.  I’ll say goodbye and good read!

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