The Next Big Thing – I answer ten questions


The Next Big Thing is a blog chain where writers answer ten questions about their writing, then tag other writers to do the same. I was tagged by Lisa Walker, the fabulous author of the funny yet heartwarming Sex, Lies & Bonsai and Liar Bird.


1. What is the title of your current book?

Mr Wigg


2. Where did the idea come from?

The name, Wigg, came from an ancestor, a French journalist who fled to England because of some sort of persecution, and then emigrated to New South Wales when things got too hot in London. Initially I had wanted to do something with his story, paralleling it with that of a present-day descendant. I spent some time in rural France, and the village gardens, walled orchards, and whole way of life (based around good fresh food) reminded me of the way my paternal grandfather – a quarter French (Wigg) – tried to live his life in rural NSW, even though he had never been to Europe – as if from genetic memory. ‘Slow food’ and organic gardening was peaking at the time I was travelling, too, and it dawned on me that none of that was really new. The character  of another Mr Wigg altogether began to take shape.


3. What genre does your book fall under?

Literary realism, I guess. Though there is a magical element to the story.


4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s a bit tough, especially for Mr Wigg himself. Leo McKern would have been good. What about  Peter Cundall – he can act, surely? Or perhaps he wouldn’t need to. Robyn Nevin for Mrs Wigg, and for Mr Wigg’s son, maybe Sam Worthington.


5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Mr Wigg is the story of the final year in one man’s life.


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

Mr Wigg will be published by Hachette in July 2013.


7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

About a year.  Another year to edit and polish.


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

Perhaps Bracelet Honeymyrtle by Judith Fox. It’s most like – and partly inspired by, now that I think of it –  a short story by Anna Tambour about a man retreating to the country to grow an orchard of medlar apples, called ‘Valley of the Sugars of Salt’ from Monterra’s Deliciosa & Other Tales &. I had Tim Winton’s Blueback in mind, too, a kind of contemporary fable, but mine’s a long way from the ocean.


9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Nostalgia for my grandfather’s home-grown peaches.


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

It’s set in rural NSW during the early 1970s, and manages to encompass cooking, cricket, blacksmithing, winegrowing, a magical orchard, and … the colour aqua.


I would now like to introduce you to three talented writers to watch:

Melissa Ashley, author of  the luscious The Hospital for Dolls (2003), is considered “one of the most promising of a new generation of Australian poets.” Melissa is currently working on a fictional memoir of Elizabeth Gould (bird man John Gould’s undercredited wife), the research for which includes studying taxidermy.

Ellen van Neerven-Currie is an emerging Brisbane writer. Her novel, Hard, was shortlisted for the 2012 Unaipon Award, and her story, ‘S&J’, published in McSweeny’s 41.

Bec Jessen was the winner of the 2012 State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award. Her writing has been published in Voiceworks, Stilts and Rex. She is currently working on a verse novel (inviting comparisons to Dotty Porter!) titled Gap.

Melissa, Bec and Ellen will be posting their answers to The Next Big Thing next week!

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