Next Big Thing
The following ten questions (and my attempts at reasonable answers) form part of The Next Big Thing. If you don’t know what this is, it’s simply an opportunity to tell the world about your current writing project. And when you’ve finished answering the ten questions below you get to tag other people, who do the same.
So I get to answer, while trying not to sound like Alan Partridge pitching TV show ideas, and then tag three other writing friends – advance apologies to Garrie Fletcher, Maeve Clarke and Anna Lawrence-Pietroni.
I was tagged by Fiona Joseph. Fiona has had a tremendous year and is increasingly busy as a writer and publisher. Check out Fiona’s work here.
So, Richard, what’s your next big thing?
I’ve just finished a short story commission. It was very exciting to give a reading in Birmingham last Tuesday (November 20). Tonight I’m reading at JQ Bookwormers’ group in Birmingham. I spend most of my writing time hammering my laptop on trains and trying to avoid stinky cheeseburgers, spilt coffee and Jessie J hissing from iPods….perhaps this is why I’m a bit of a butterfly going from idea to idea. At any one time I’m fiddling about with several projects, mainly short stories and travel or moaning about the difficulties of writing the great Midlands novel. I’ve just sent out entries for the Guardian and Bradt travel competitions and on December 4 I’m attending the Cheshire Prize for Literature. …I’m also tinkering with a novel.
1) What is the working title of your book?
I’m always writing short stories, but I’m midway through the first draft of a book about a fighter – Blood has the Last Word is the provisional title. I’m a huge fan of Hugh McIlvanney’s sports writing (he’s particularly good on boxing) and it’s a phrase taken from one of his boxing columns. I have another title in mind, but won’t share it just yet…
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Also see answer to 9 ! I wanted to write a book about a fighter and that’s what I’m trying to do. Boxing is portrayed as glamorous as most people only see fights from Vegas or NY on TV. Most people have no idea what goes on or what it’s like to experience the undercard in a near-empty leisure centre in Widnes. That’s more a true reflection of the business. I spent a number of years reporting on fights from ringside and I’m a keen follower of boxing. I was lucky enough to interview world champions including Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe. But I was always more interested in the guys trying to make a living on the undercard.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
I don’t know. It may find itself in crime. We’ll see when it’s done.
4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Playing a fighter is a pretty demanding role for an actor. I thought Daniel Day Lewis did OK – he trained with Barry McGuigan at a gym I used in Lambeth for his lead role in The Boxer. I’ll say Paddy Considine (a fine actor and now a director of films). He’d get the accent pretty much spot on as he’s from Staffordshire and I once sat ringside with him at Burton-on-Trent!
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Fading fighter Henry Cole has to return home and settle a score when his former coach is murdered on the cobbles…(no monkey tennis or arm-wrestling with Chas n Dave yet)
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still writing it and approaching halfway, give or take. Three months so far. But, as I mentioned, I’m a butterfly (albeit one that’s never likely to get off the ground due to eating too many bourbon creams….or see middleweight again).
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Not sure. I admire Hemingway’s writing on boxing and Joyce Carol Oates. And, of course the journalism of McIlvanney. His piece on the last fight of Johnny Owen should be a course text….
9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?
A fighter past his best who should have quit. I was writing at ringside and he looked up at me when he was taking a count on one knee. His eyes were glassy, sweat dripped from his chin. What am I doing here? he was asking. I didn’t want to see him after and was glad he left before I could. He glared at my notebook and pen.
10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s an insight into boxing and it’s set in the West Midlands. I wouldn’t suggest someone buy a book just because of location but compare our region with London and Scotland and it’s under-represented, despite the talent here…
I’m away now….I should get on with writing it.
It’s tag time: