The Next Big Thing by Mark Chisnell

Our regular blogger on the third, Sheridan Winn, is unwell, so Mark Chisnell has worked overtime! We all send good wishes to Sheridan and hope that she can rejoin us soon.
A blog hop. It’s called The Next Big Thing (as you probably guessed) and if you haven’t come across one before (and I hadn’t) then the idea is straightforward - and not dissimilar to a chain letter.

I was tagged by the wonderful Nina Sankovitch, who’s a friend of one of my oldest university buddies, but also - and more importantly in this context - the reader of hundreds of books that she reviews on her website, Read All Day. Nina’s also a writer and her 2010 book,  Tolstoy and The Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading was published by HarperCollins. It tells the story of her lifetime of reading, and of one magical year when she read a book a day to rediscover how to live after the death of her oldest sister. Read about Nina's next big thing right hereIt’s a delight to be tagged by Nina.

So much for the preliminaries, onto The Next Big Thing, which in my case, is the soon-to-be-released (April 3rd) novel, Powder Burn.

What is the working title of your book?
Doh – just gave that away, Powder Burn! It’s the first of a new series of Burn books featuring Sam Blackett, a Vermont backcountry girl and wannabe investigative journalist.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’d always wanted to write a book with a kick-ass female hero, and when I saw Kill Bill I realised it was time to get on with it. I started well, but then life intervened - that was about ten years ago.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a suspense thriller.

Which actors would you choose to play the hero in a movie rendition?
A kick ass female hero? I guess Angelina Jolie virtually made that role her own for a while, but right now I’d take Jennifer Lawrence.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
If Dragon Tattoo’s Mikael Blomkvist and the Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen could have a love-child, she’d probably be a lot like Sam Blackett.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published. I’ve had some great agents in the past, but as something of a control freak, I get along a lot better now that it’s all my fault when it goes belly up. Or not.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About six months – and then another ten years for the next six drafts.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I guess you can probably tell from the one line synopsis that I’m hoping fans of The Hunger Games and the Millennium Trilogy will like the books – although those books set a very high bar for comparisons.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I took four sources of inspiration for this book, the movie Kill Bill got me going, so that’s one. I love the way Lee Child’s Jack Reacher moves around the USA and happens into an adventure wherever he lands up. I see the Burn series with Sam Blackett in the same light, she’s travelling, researching and looking for stories, and some of them are going to land her in a world of trouble. Thirdly, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (Dragon Tattoo etc) had a strength, independence and crusade-for-truth aspect to the investigations of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist that I wanted to capture. And finally, I think the first book in Suzanne Collins trilogy, The Hunger Games is possibly the best genre book I’ve ever read. The writing is so smooth, the action, characterisation, plotting and theme are all just so perfectly realised. I think it’s a model for how good genre books can be, and the one I look up to every day I sit down at the computer.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The movie rights of an earlier draft of the novel were optioned by Working Title Films - Les MisĂ©rables, Love Actually, Billy Elliot etc. – but now they’re available again, if anyone’s interested... 

And now I get the huge pleasure of passing the torch to four of my favourite writers.  Here they are (in alphabetical order) - go check 'em out!

Rachel Abbott has spent the majority of her working life running an interactive media company, designing and building software and websites, mainly for education. Her company was sold in 2000, and although she continued working for another 5 years, she also fulfilled a lifelong ambition of buying a property in Italy, and then found the time to fulfil her second ambition of writing a novel.

The book proved very successful, and by February 2012 it had reached #1 in the Amazon charts (all genres). It remained there for four weeks. It also hit the top spot on the Waterstones ebook charts, and remained there throughout August, September and most of October 2012. Rachel now has a publishing deal in the US and Canada, and the foreign rights in Only the Innocent have been sold in several countries, including France, Germany, Brazil and Russia. An audio version of the book is also in development.

Debbie Bennett has worked in law enforcement for over 25 years, in a variety of different roles (on the front-line and back in the office), which may be why the darker side of life tends to emerge in her writing. In 2005, she was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award, which gave her the push to independently-publish the psychological thriller Hamelin’s Child, closely followed by a young adult fantasy novel and a collection of previously-print-published short stories. 

The sequel to Hamelin's Child was published in January 2013. At present Debbie plays with police computers during the day. The rest of the time she’s working on a couple of other novels and several short stories. 

Ruth Harris is a 1,000,000 copy New York Times and Amazon bestselling author and a Romantic Times award winner. Ruth’s highly praised fiction has "been called brilliant," "steamy," "stylishly written," "richly plotted," "first-class entertainment" and "a sure thing" and been translated into 19 languages, sold in 30 countries, and honoured by the Literary Guild and the Book Of The Month Club. In their e-book editions, Ruth's novels have risen to #1 on the Movers And Shakers List and been featured on Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink and Kindle Nation Daily.

With her husband, Michael, Ruth indulges her wild side and writes bestselling thrillers with vivid characters, international backgrounds and compelling plots. Their thrillers have made numerous appearances in the top 3 of Kindle’s Movers & Shakers list. Publisher’s Weekly called Ruth's and Michael's thrillers "Slick and sexy with all the sure elements of a big seller written by pros who know how to tell a story.”

Scott Nicholson has written 15 thrillers, 60 short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, successfully eludes stalkers, and generally lives the dream. Entering the digital era with a vengeance, Nicholson is releasing original titles and collections while conspiring to release interactive books in the near future, building audio files, video, and collaborative fiction projects. 

Nicholson won the grand prize in the international Writers of the Future contest in 1999. That same year, he was first runner-up for the Darrell Award. He studied Creative Writing at Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. He has been an officer of Mystery Writers of America and Horror Writers Association and is a member of International Thriller Writers and inaugural member of the Killer Thriller Band.

Find Mark Chisnell online at:      


julia jones said…
Looking forward to it!
I very much like the sound of this slow-cooking method: "six drafts in ten years"...
Sounds like the world of re-drafting I've spent so many years in too!
glitter noir said…
Now I'm really curious, since I too belong to the good ole 6/10 club: recently, the prodigious Russell Blake launched a new series called JET--featuring a kick-ass female protagonist, inspired by Kill Bill. Russ writes with frightening speed--he's turned out three or four of these in only a couple of months. Your own project was, obviously, a long time in development. This sort of thing happens all the time in the film world, I know. Can you tell us a little more about what sets your new series apart from RB's? Nobody can do 6/10 without having some really cool tricks up his/her sleeve.
Mark Chisnell said…
Six drafts in ten years wasn't out of choice, to be honest...!

The original book was a different genre, maybe 'Adventure Chic Lit'. It was much heavier on Sam's relationship problems, and the action was toned down. Working Title took a film option on that book, but publishers wouldn't touch it.

Why? I guess 'Romancing the Stone' shows you how it might have worked as a film, but there was no pigeon hole on the shelves for a book like that, so no one wanted it.

All the rest of the drafts were down to me trying to find a viable way to make it a thriller. I put in CIA agents. I took out CIA agents. I put in a Big Fight Scene. I took out a Big Fight Scene. And so on, you get the idea.

I think Russell Blake writes so fast partly because he has nothing else to do, but also because he has a very clear sense of the type of writer he is, and the type of books he writes.

My four finished novels have taken about 30 drafts, and I think I finally have that same clear sense of what I'm doing and where I'm going. I'm hoping that not only will this make it easier to write the next one - but it will also make it easier for readers to decide if they want to read it!

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