Sandstone Press label-mate Zoe Venditozzi, whose just-published novel ANYWHERE’S BETTER THAN HERE you should definitely read (and whose surname I can never spell right the first time), tagged me in that Next Big Thing writers’ meme doing the rounds. About a month ago.

At the risk of giving everyone FOLDED MAN fatigue – no known cure – with five months still left before publication, I’ve only just got round to putting them up here. Sorry Zoe.

What’s the working title of your next book?

These days it’s called THE FOLDED MAN. Which I’ve rammed down enough throats already. But at one point it was called THE BRITTLE MERMAID, which was too obvious and made it all sound a bit Robert Rankin.

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

Not in rivers of inspiration, but in those drips you can hear from the bathroom tap at 3am.

I think I caught bits from one of those awful manipulative documentaries about a girl born with Sirenomelia (mermaid syndrome), which the novel’s main character has. A person I knew in real life who’d lived with his disabilities for a long time. And Manchester itself, its history and its characters, and all the little contradictions and quirks that you learn flitting between the hub-towns and the city centre itself. And then some dodgy fringe politics, conspiracies. Too much time on the internet.

What genre does your book fall under?

Well you know how when you carry an unprotected packed lunch and you end up with a big squished wet sandwich in your bag? It’s like one of those, but made out of ‘literary’, science fiction and crime. With a bag of smashed weird on the side. Garnished with body horror.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ricky Tomlinson would probably make a decent Brian. Paddy Considine for Noah. Actually, I wouldn’t mind if Paddy Considine scrubbed up on his Manc accent, played everyone including the women, and then married me.

It’s basically unfilmable though.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

In a dystopian near-future Manchester, a drug-addled mermaid called Brian gets all mixed up with some dodgy characters who try to use his condition for their own gains.

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

About twelve months, on and off. Including those three months where I hated every last word of it and pretended it wasn’t on my hard drive.

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

I’ve honestly no idea. It’s had all kinds of comparisons from others – Noon, Peace, Niall Griffiths. Depends who you ask. And how drunk they are.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Bitterness. Not mine, though. I’m not bitter about much, apart from the BBC canning Survivors (even though it was total rubbish).

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

Philip Pullman, one of the Dundee Prize judges, ferociously against writing in the present tense, didn’t get on with how it’s written. At. All. By which I mean hated. I would’ve minded more – but then Stephen Fry, one of the other Dundee Prize judges, wasn’t arsed. Good old Stephen.

Oh and you can totally pre-order it now.

Not too much point tagging anyone else – by now I’d imagine half the known publishing world has done it.


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