Jo Anderton tagged me last week on The Next Big Thing meme. So without further ado…
What is the working title of your next book?
My upcoming novella is called ELYORA. It is the name it was first born as a short story under and will go to print as.
Where did the idea come from for the novella?
It began with a dream in August last year while we were on holidays in the Bunya Mountains. The dream included a woman called Eylora, a very weird house and a malevolent river. I twisted the woman’s name, and christened the town, central to the novella, Elyora.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s definitely horror, with a smattering of mystery and erotica thrown in for good measure.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’d be asking my readers this once the novella is released. I’m not a visual person. I have no idea.
Having said that, I did vaguely model the character of Benny on Angus Stone, the musician. It’d be a nice touch of irony to have Angus play Benny in a film adaptation!
And speaking of movies, it is my plan to write a screenplay for ELYORA next year.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Revenge is timeless.
To find her missing band members and make it out of Elyora, Jo must remember who she is and how she came to be there, before they are all sung down to the river.
Will your novella be self-published or represented by an agency?
ELYORA is set for electronic publication in a few short weeks via The Review of Australian Fiction. The novella will be one part of the special Rabbit Hole edition and will be a free download. No reason not to download and enjoy it!
I’m still debating as to whether I submit it elsewhere for print publication or self publish the paperback.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft of ELYORA was never completed. Pressed by a tight deadline, I began the second draft revisions without an ending, in a hope that I’d have worked out how the narrative played out by the time I reached there on the second pass over.
That said, the first 5000 words were disgorged in less than three hours when I came home from holidays. Then it sat. And sat. I took it from 5000 to 19000 words across the Saturday afternoon and Sunday of The Rabbit Hole, then added another 5,000 words to bring me to the point where I wasn’t sure what happened next.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m not sure I can compare it. I’m only a recent convert to the horror genre, and I read mainly short stories. Reading Kirstyn McDermott’s Madigan Mine definitely had an influence on the way in which I rewrote Jo’s internal dialogue, though we deal with the issue of possession in very different ways.
My beta reader Dan Powell said the original draft had a creeping unease reminiscent of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, but as I have yet to read it, I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to compare ELYORA to it (especially as Dan tells me the set up is vastly different to mine).
My partner, Dave, maintains it all sounds like The Cars That Ate Paris, from what I’ve told him of it. Again, I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t say. They’re both horror, have cars and based in small country towns!
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As I said earlier, it was intended to be a short story but at 5,000 words I knew it was never going to be contained to even a long short story. When it was announced on the Saturday of The Rabbit Hole (June) that Review of Australian Fiction were interested in looking at any stories or novellas that came out of the three-day event in June I threw everything else aside and launched back into the world of Elyora.
New layers of ideas grew and melded to the existing narrative on each successive revision (of which there were far too many for the nutty deadlines I’ve been working under).
For example, I specified Ethan’s wife nationality as German on the 3rd rewrite, when I finally came across a folk tale and a monster that fit with the scenario I’d created. That in turned influenced what I named her (Eleanor). The German nationality also became a boon for the underlying premise of the story: ‘just what monster are you creating today’.
I have to give a tip of the hat to the 20-odd people who constituted The Elyora Brains Trust on Facebook. The Brains Trust gave the story Hal’s tattoo (and the accompanying story), the dashboard ornaments, the German terms of endearment and a bunch of encouragement at a time when I was flailing. My Dad helped me out with information on cars, clocks, fuel pumps and petroleum companies. My friend Susan gave me Fauna Bate as a band name when we were talking about it at school one afternoon. Last but not least, another friend, Kerryn, sent me a text message after a movie night we’d all had together saying: what if XYZ happened in your story… and gave me the ending I’d been looking for (but it meant a major rearrangement of the timeline).
What else about the novella might pique the reader’s interest?
ELYORA is set just off the New England Highway—between Armidale and Glenn Innes in New South Wales (the same road we take several times a year to visit my in-laws). If you’re travelling that way this Christmas period, or you know that road well, I dare you to look for the turn off to Elyora! You might want to think twice about taking it though.
UPDATE: ELYORA was released on the 21st December and is available now at Bookish–for free!
My blog feels like the place memes come to die. The idea is to tag five further people, but I am tagging just one (a combination to the age of the meme, the mess the last month has been for me–contributing to a lack of organisation and the time of year!)
Over to you S.G. Larner!