Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

December 29, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Filed under: wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:41 pm

I thought that I might slip through the net of the latest meme doing the rounds of the writing community, seeing as I’m not a published author, self- or otherwise. But my buddies the Forgotten Planeteers, Dr Clam and Am&a, have leaped upon the technicality of my inclusion in the impending CSFG anthology to tag me in the online equivalent of a game of literary tiggy [1].

To be honest I didn’t really want to do it. It calls on me to answer ten questions about my current work in progress. I am notoriously shy about talking about my writing, especially the unfinished stuff. I’m not completely sure why – probably it’s equal parts not wanting to commit myself to finishing a project and not wanting to share my genius ideas. Both are bogus conceits, so I really have no excuse. I’m too far into this work not to see it through, and get it out into the world, so I should try get used to the idea that I might have to talk about it once in a while. If I declare my intentions here, I’m obliged to deliver them, right? Otherwise something on the internet would be wrong, and we can’t have that.


What is the working title of your next book?

It’s called “Ms Cole’s Arrangements”. I’m a terrible judge of what makes a good title, so I have no idea whether this one is brilliant or awful.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

This early in my career I think that getting agency representation would be a bit like fitting out my study as a day surgery before I enroll in first year medicine. That said, I do plan to shop the finished manuscript around to publishers and try my luck. Not that I consider self-publishing to be in any way inferior, but for my first shot at getting into print it will be the backup plan.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I can’t remember exactly. I’ve been collecting ideas for my rural fantasy setting in the fictional town of New Salisbury for more than a decade. This one started life in a notebook that I almost certainly don’t have any more.

What genre does your book fall under?

Australian urban fantasy, to the extent that the term can be reasonably applied to regional towns away from the coastal population centres.

How long does it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

How long is a piece of – I mean, it’s a hard question to answer. The first draft of the novel took about eight months, I think, but before that it was a short story that I rewrote three times. I’m now working on a complete rewrite which I think will take about five or six months.

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

I can’t think of anything in particular. I think it’s informed by the approach that Stephen King took to worldbuilding in his early days with his Castle Rock novels, of finding the stories that speak to a particular place in the world and of piecing together that setting one story after another. There is a lot of Stephen King in my writer DNA, though this work is absent any graphic horror elements and is probably not going to be as good as, say, “The Dead Zone”. (My story’s not like “The Dead Zone” either, just to be clear).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ah. I have vaguely cast a young Richard Roxburgh in the supporting role of Michael, but apart from that I’m not sure. If this were an Australian movie production it would be necessary to import a famous British or American actor in order to attract funding from overseas, in which case I would try to pick up veteran Spooks actor Rupert Penry-Jones for an unflattering but crucial minor character. I’ve got nothing for Nyssa and Rachel, the two leading ladies.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

A couple of things coincided to convince me to start writing regularly again after about twenty years of messing about and getting distracted. One was that I learned that a high school friend of mine, Andrea Höst, had started self-publishing novels (at an extremely boisterous rate, and very good ones, I might add), and it hit me like a good solid lump of wood to the forehead that other people might want to hear my stories too – but they’d only get the chance if I actually wrote them. It sounds absurd when I say it out loud (so to speak) but there it is. Apparently I needed that personal connection to remind me of what I want to be when I grow up. For the record, I categorically deny that I am insanely jealous of Andrea’s craft and dedication and that my writing career is wholly motivated by competitiveness and spite, and to prove it I recommend that you go and read all her books while you are waiting for mine to come out. (You’ll have time).

The other big push came when I became a big fan of US author Chuck Wendig, whose blog Terribleminds is a profanity-splashed treasure-house of fun, provocative and sometimes deranged writing advice. He periodically collects his whiskey-soaked, belligerent essays on writing and releases them as ebooks. I lapped those suckers up and still refer back to them if I’m stuck on a technical problem. They may not work for everyone (they sure as hell won’t work for anyone who gets offended by blue language and grotesque or suggestive imagery) but they speak to me just fine. And as cult gurus go, Chuck’s pretty laid back. His main dictum is “Finish your shit”, which is pretty hard advice to argue with.

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

Well, let’s see – it’s set in a place crawling with ghosts but it is not a ghost story. There are criminal bikers and drug dealers but it’s not a crime story. The whole setting is steeped in magic (sort of) but it’s mostly not about that either. It’s a fantasy about small towns and old feuds and…um, real estate? I dunno that I’ve quite grasped the essentials of this whole self-promotion thing.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a small town real estate agent who skims good luck from her clients discovers that ghosts are a source of untapped power, she upsets the balance of power in a murderous secret feud involving her family.


At this point one would normally tag another writer or two to answer these questions, like a chain letter of self-promotion (“Don’t break the chain or nobody will ever read your novel about the chorus-dancing stegosaurus!”). I won’t do that, if only because I cannot think of a single person who might want to that has not already done so. If you have somehow not already been tapped on the shoulder and instructed to do so, please feel free to call for the ball in the comments below. I will pass it in accordance with the ancient rites and rituals.


[1] Yes, that’s what we called it when I was a kid in north Queensland. “Tag” sounds wrong to me, like something that they would say in America or – worse still – in the southern states… [2]

[2] To expand on the parochial vernacular of the Sunshine State: the game is “Tiggy”, not “tag”; the designated chasing player is not “it” but “in”; and the fleeing players are “got” rather than “tagged”. These are the crucial points of difference that distinguish the Queensland species of the game from other, inferior forms. [3]

[3] I have no idea why I felt compelled to explain any of this.


  1. Disagree with you totally on tag v tiggy. That may be a family set of terms you’ve got going there.

    I’m actually super curious to read this book, so hurry the hell up with it!

    Comment by Andrea — December 30, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  2. I really want to read your novel now…


    Comment by Leife — December 30, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  3. Dave’s terms are the terms I vaguely remember. You may have grown up in that ‘Queensland-A’ they got rid of in the franchise re-boot, Andrea. Am&a says ‘Tiggy’ was universal in western NSW as well when she was a wee pipkin.

    And our devious plan for finding out more about Dave’s next novel has succeeded, muahahaha!

    Comment by Chris & Amanda — December 30, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

  4. Our version of tiggy was pretty close to the otherwise clearly inferior Queensland version.

    Comment by Ross H — December 30, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

  5. C&A – Man, that reboot was rough. Remember how in the previous continuity we all had our own personal jetbacks? I used to love those things.

    Andrea/Leife – I really wanna read it too. If only someone else would write it for me… /whines /sniffles /sighs /hurries

    Ross – I neglected to mention that the Queensland version uses only live ammunition, unlike wimpier iterations 🙂

    Comment by lexifab — December 30, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

  6. […] Dave Versace […]

    Pingback by Next Big Things « The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild — January 6, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

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