Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by Kirsten Irving, part of the team behind Sidekick Books, and the poet behind the very, very wonderful Never, Never, Never Come Back, to part in an expanding blog project called The Next Big Thing. Basically, each participant answers the same questions about their latest book, posts the results to their blog, then tags four more writers to do the same a week later.

Where did the idea for the book come from?
I’d been putting together poems for a possible second collection, and found them falling into three different strands – personal, historical, and those rooted in the natural world, although I hope there’s a fair amount of overlap between the three. I also wanted it to be a bit sprawling, something like an old-fashioned, self-indulgent double album. Hopefully, if you’re not enjoying a particular section, you can skip on and quickly find something you like.

What genre does your book fall in?
Poetry. As I’ve mentioned, there’s a certain amount of history in there too, but it certainly shouldn’t be relied on as such.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
That is difficult! I do sometimes find myself visualising certain characters in poems that I’m writing as actors – I definitely saw Roger Godberd, the embittered proto-Robin Hood figure in one of the pieces, as Bernard Hill, for instance (although more in his Boys From The Blackstuff guise than his Lord of the Rings role), and for some reason I saw Stanislav Petrov as Pete Postlethwaite with a Russian accent. As well as the poem directly inspired by the singer/songwriter David McComb (‘Unquiet’),there are a few others, generally the lovelorn ones, in which I kept seeing him as the main character – he’d have made a good actor, I always thought.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A tune playing somewhere in the house as you wake, just loud enough to find its way into your head instantly, just quietly enough to make singing it back a difficult proposition.

How long did it take to write the first draft of the manuscript?
A couple of years, I suppose, although there are poems in there that date back, in one form or another, to 2002-2003, well before the publication of my first chapbook. Before I’d had any poems published in magazines, in fact.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
One of the main motivations was exploring the tensions and strains between the thirst for knowledge and the appeals of blissful ignorance – the glass harmonica poems in there touch on that I think, because the music that the instrument created was thought to be psychically harmful, despite its beauty.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There are an awful lot of birds winging their way through it, and I hope there’s also fun to be had picking out the invented histories from the facts.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither –it’s published by Nine Arches Press, of Rugby. It’s been a pleasure working with a Midlands-based press which has already developed a national profile, because it’s opened up opportunities for readings, workshops and other events around it.

My writers to tag are:
Roy Marshall, Leicestershire poet.
Emma Lee, Leicestershire poet and writer of fiction.
Mark Burnhope, Salt poet and blogger on literature, faith and disability.
Maria Taylor, another Leicester poet, and a fellow Nine Arches writer.

1 comment:

Caroline Gill said...

Thank you for this, Matt. The Next Big Thing is making a fair sized ripple around the poetry world at present, which I find exciting. One or two poets I encountered felt that it was more suited as a meme to novelists, but much worthwhile information is surfacing from the poets who are taking part. I particularly liked your synopsis. I look forward to the next round - and will add my congratulations in advance to Mark Burnhope for his listing as a 'poet to watch' in the Huffington Post.