I’m thrilled now to be a part of a new network of bloggers reaching out to new readers, discussing their work. It’s called The Next Big Thing, and I get to introduce my readers to some fascinating writers, and also ramble on a bit about my own next big thing.

I was recruited by my blogging friend, Lynda Renham. Although we share a love of Cambodia, which is what drew us together, we write very different sorts of things, and that’s a big part of the fun for me. Lynda Renham is the bestselling author of Croissants and Jam. She has just released her third novel, Coconuts and Wonderbras. It’s a fun romance where diets are the order of the day and where love blossoms for literary agent Libby Holmes. Come with Libby on her romantic comedy adventure to see if love blossoms in the warm Cambodian sunshine or if, in the heat of the day, emotions get just too hot to handle. You can read more about Lynda and her work here. You can see her discussion of her work on her blog about the next big thing here.

Now, on to the questions:

What is the working title of your book?  Out of the Ruins: A Novel of Cambodia

Where did the idea come from for the book? Actually, after A Clash of Innocents came out, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. I had a character in my head who was pushing really hard to come to life, but I didn’t know what his story was. But once I decided to write a second book about modern day Cambodia, this character pushed his way in and the story then just popped into my head. Even though he’s Irish! It was one of those writerly-lightbulb moments.

What genre does your book fall under?  Like my other books, this one is literary fiction, but what does that mean? To me that means a novel with believable and compelling characters, a believable and compelling plot, which also pays attention to style and words. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Ooh…my new main character should definitely be Colin Farrell. Deborah from A Clash of Innocents appears again and it would be easy to see Meryl Streep in that part. But since we’re fantisizing, I’ll say I’d love to see the film sprinkled with some of the wonderful young actors I know here in London.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? I haven’t written the “official” one yet, but in 3 sentences it would be something like: “Out of the Ruins
,” the 2nd of 3 novels portraying lives within modern day Cambodia, looks at the problem of women’s health care and the sex trade. Western doctors arrive in Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, to set up a new clinic for women. So much good is accomplished, but can good and evil exist side by side?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? This book wrote itself very quickly, to be honest. The first draft was finished in about nine months. But I then sat on it for a good long while to let it “gestate” before turning it into a second draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? For anyone interested in what this new book might be like, they should, of course, read my first book in this series, A Clash of Innocents. But I should  note that, although the new book is part of an imagined trilogy, it is not a sequel. It is a companion to the first. You don’t need to read A Clash of Innocents in order to read Out of the Ruins. But it certainly would broaden the reading. 

Who or What inspired you to write this book? Cambodia itself and its amazing people have been a constant source of inspiration to me for over six years now.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? This is a book for people interested in traveling to new places and understanding the struggles of people trapped within difficult political situations. Readers who like to imagine new places and connect with new people while being immersed in vivid descriptions and a dramatic story will, I hope, enjoy this new novel. 

When and how will it be published? Watch this space, but I hope that Ward Wood Publishing will be publishing it sometime in the latter part of 2013 both in soft cover and ebook.

And now it’s time for me to pass the baton on to my other chosen writers whose own blogs about their “next big things” will appear on next Wednesday, 21 November:

Vanessa Gebbie: who will write about a secret here

Lauri Kubuitsile: Lauri’s “Next Big Thing” is a historical novel revolving around the genocide of the Herero people in Namibia and their fleeing to Botswana for refuge. Though it sounds very large and panoramic it is a close story about two people in love and how these events impact them. You can read about that here.

Shauna Gilligan: Shauna will be discussing where inspiration comes from and how it can come so suddenly and forcefully. As she told me, “I was in the process of editing my second novel set in Mexico and yet the idea for my third novel, set in Spain, came to me in such a flash that I had to start work on it.” You’ll be able to read more about it here.