What is the working title of your book?
A TALE OF JACKETS AND PHONES
From where did the idea for the book come?
Interesting story, actually: my school put on a ‘murder in the library’ research project, oh, four years ago, and I participated with my friends for the random fun of it. It was almost a waste of three lunchtimes, but good that it helped me cope with my depression at the time.
It also got me thinking…what if this murder had actually been real? How would everyone have reacted? I did very little on the spot, but when I went on holiday to Jordan that Easter, I befriended a girl slightly younger than me and started to talk about my ‘version of events’. When she said “you should turn it into a story,” history was sown.
What genre does your book fall under?
YA contemporary mystery.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I don’t know whether I’m allowed to elect myself for Agnetha King, main character, but, as a white, British teenage actress with blonde hair, I am eligible to play the part. Who better to play a character than someone who knows her best? I’ve been told that I can play younger, though there’s not much of an age-difference between us, and I would say that the greatest physical difference between us is that my hair is now darker, shorter and frizzier.
Eva Birthistle caught my eye when she played Rosaleen Cloade in Christie’s ‘Taken at the Flood’, but, researching her, I found that she’s also great at playing tough, changeable characters. Her short, blonde hair is how I had imagined Caroline Peterson, ex girlfriend to the deceased and key suspect in the police’s eyes. This actress needs to be flexible in her acting, as Caroline keeps changing herself, both voluntarily and involuntarily due to something mysterious. By the end of the novel, she’s almost a different person to the one Agnetha first meets.
It was more difficult for me to find an actor to play DCI George Leonard, simply because I don’t know the character enough yet (he only recently obtained a first name!). He’s a determined cop, but unsympathetic man when it comes to Agnetha’s feelings, so I needed someone with a stern attitude. I came across Adrian Lester. I’ve seen him play nice, but I think, after growing a moustache, he could also play a less friendly character.
Juno Temple rocks the teen look in a lot of films. That’s why I’d choose her to play the mysterious girl who turns up whenever Agnetha is in danger. Whilst her hair would have to be cut, it’s pale enough and I love the springiness of it – and, with a bit of makeup, she could have a real pallid physique. I’ve not seen Temple in many other films, but I know she can play straight roles well – and I’d love to see her play the weak girl who has strength hidden deep within her.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When her schoolteacher is murdered, Agnetha vows to solve the mystery and bring his killer to justice – for better or for worse, even when she and the only link to the truth are the next targets on the killer’s list.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ve always wanted to traditionally publish this set of books. Because Of Jackets and Phones was the first successful attempt I made at writing a full novel, there’s a lot of significance in having the Trilogy traditionally represented. Until then, however, I need to madly edit it.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A few months, though no longer than half a year. I know I started this time in 2009, writing everything longhand in notebook(s); I finished typing up the draft just before the Christmas of the same year.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Um, I guess Nancy Drew, though I’ve not read any, but it’s a similar idea of a teen detective, though Agnetha is lot ruder than Nancy. I’d not like to compare my writing to Agatha Christie’s works, but – as well as the fact that Agnetha makes allusions to Christie a few times – the style of ‘cosy’ mystery is very similar.
Oh, and it’s set in oxford, so I can say that you might be reminded of Morse/Lewis (I’ve seen all episdoes of Morse, though I’m too young to remember them when they were first shown, so I actually grew up watching Lewis). I’d love Agnetha to hunt murderers along DI Lewis and DS Hathaway!
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Three people/things (excluding myself) pop into mind:
1. Emily Beswick, the girl whom I met and told my story to in Jordan. I owe her big time!
2. ABBA music and dubbed Doctor Who stories that I listened to/watched on YouTube. I intended to, at one point, write a story about those Rhino aliens, but it got shelved.
3. The teacher who ended up being the victim in the library research project, in whose form Mr. Josh Craig was born (and subsequently died).
OJAP was my first finished novel, so I say that I helped, having the gall to do it.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Explosions! Megaphone weapons! Cucumber yoghurt! Agnetha gets herself into a fair few scrapes, but the worst is when she finds herself trapped in a science cupboard at school…and she’s claustrophobic! The same scene I twisted for inclusion in my short story in last year’s ebook ‘Scream For Charity’.
Also, it’s the first of a Trilogy that gets darker as Agnetha grows into an adult.
That’s me done! Anybody who feels inspired to write a Next Big Thing post, feel free to link back here. 🙂