Thank you to Anouska Huggins for tagging me in ‘The Next Big Thing,’ blog chain. Anouska is a a gifted writer and Twitter friend who gets up at 5.00a.m. in the morning to write before going to work. Anyone with that kind of determination deserves positive attention and lots of success! Read about her wonderfully titled book, ‘Apple Trees and Dapper Cats’ here.
What is the working title of your next book?
‘A Bit of Sparkle’
Where did the idea come from for the book?
One of my hobbies is belly dancing and I have a background in textile design which I studied at Goldsmiths college. I am a compulsive hoarder of sparkly, Indian fabric. The idea of combining the life of a cruise ship dancer, who wears glittery costumes, with that of a child in a Bangladeshi clothing sweatshop, came to me after watching a documentary series on BBC four called, ‘Blood Sweat and T-shirts.’ It placed some pampered English teenagers in sweatshops in third world countries to see how they’d cope. This doesn’t happen in my novel but parallels are drawn between the two main characters and a third character is the catalyst for their paths crossing in an unexpected way.
As well as the above, by a serendipitous chance I discovered my hairdresser worked on a cruise ship so she has a lot of insider’s knowledge of on-ship life. I’m also working with former cruise ship dancer, Karina Teran.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s either going to be a young adults novel or come under popular fiction.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
As the story is dance related it would be important to have the lead character played by a professional dancer. Lee Mead could play the Italian waiter love interest. A few cameo appearances from the Strictly Come Dancing crew might boost viewers!
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Two women; one from Tiger Bay in cardiff, one from the slums in Bangladesh, connected by an exotic bolt of cloth.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This project is in far too early stages to make a decision like that.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote the first draft during Nano 2012, so it took me exactly 28 days.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
‘The Kashmir Shawl’ by Rosie Thomas is a bit similar because it uses the metaphor of cloth to connect women’s lives.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When the Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, sunk earlier this year I was inspired by the story of one of the dancers who helped to rescue the passengers from the ship. Also, a quote from TV presenter Stacey Doolman about how we all love ‘A Bit of Sparkle,’ despite the human misery of exploited workers behind it, gave me the title of a piece of flash fiction I wrote earlier this year. Like a piece of woven fabric, there are many threads that connect this story and brought it into being. The cruise ship itinerary gave me structure for the novel.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Well, ahem, according to my hairdresser there are a lot of on-board shenanigans between staff members on a cruise ship. Relationships with the guests however are an absolute no-no. Dancers have to be weighed weekly on port days to check they aren’t gaining or losing weight.
I’d like to tag two writers, both expats or ex-expats, whom I admire and like very much although I have not yet been fortunate enough to meet either of them in the flesh!
Vanessa Couchman is a British freelance writer living in France. she started writing short stories and flash fiction in early 2010. She has had some early successes and has won, been placed and shortlisted in several competitions. A number of her short stories have been published in anthologies. In 2012 she took part in and successfully completed her first Nanowrimo. She is a fellow member of Writers Abroad.
Gail Aldwin has been placed in competitions including, Unbound Press and the Winchester Writers’ Conference. Her work appears in on-line publications such as Paragraph Planet, Five Stop Story and CafeLit. She is currently redrafting her latest manuscript titled ‘Mistrust’ which considers the friendship and rivalry between three urban mothers.