The next big thing Part 2 (CJ Skuse)

When I did my last next big thing post, one of the writers I tagged to write about her work in progress was CJ Ckuse, who’s a fellow writer of mine at Chicken House.

CJ has done a post about her fascinating WIP (It’s about dead bodies. In bits. Being used to make the perfect boyfriend. Woo!) but she doesn’t yet have a website of her very own, so I’ve offered to host it for her.

Take it away, CJ …

 

What is the title of your next book?

Dead Romantic

 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Several places really. One was me walking to work one day and passing a graveyard and the phrase ‘teen grave robbers’ just leapt into my brain and clung on until I threw it a rope and forced it into a story. And then I started to think about these two teenagers who build the perfect boyfriend using corpses; a female take on the John Hughes movie ‘Weird Science,’ which was one of my favourite movies as a kid. The writers who got there first with the idea of corpse reanimation though were of course Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stephenson and H.P. Lovecraft. I’m merely piggy backing on their ideas and having a bloody good laugh as I do it.

 

What genre does your book fall under?

YA black comedy fiction for sick minds, I would say.

 

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

The same actors who I imagined playing them initially when I started writing them really. Camille and Damian are pretty much Pandora and Cook from Skins (S3/4) (Lisa Backwell and Jack O’Connell), Damian’s best mate Louis is Josh Hutcherson and Zoe is Frances Bean Cobain.

 

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Two teenage girls attempt to build the perfect boyfriend using dead body parts.

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

Neither, it’ll just be published by The Chicken House, as my previous two books were.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

All memories of that first draft have had to be electronically lasered from my spotless mind as they were too traumatic to recall, but I would hazard a guess at six months. That’s usually the amount of time it takes me to get my scribbles together and do my research which, this time around, included leaving a raw pork chop in the garage for two weeks to see what a dead body smelled like. And take it from me, it smells RANK!

 

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

I have absolutely no idea who else writes like me. I have a sick, sick, sick sense of humour. I’m not proud of myself.

 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Having high expectations of guys, having high expectations of friends, wanting to know what a pork chop would smell like if I left it in the garage for two weeks.

 

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

I think it’ll teach you a lot about what not to do when looking for love, when choosing your friends, or when trying to secretly transport severed limbs around the British countryside.

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The next big thing

I was tagged to be a part of this meme by the totally lovely Keris Stainton, whose own version appeared last Wednesday. (It’s a Wednesday thing.) It’s an opportunity to talk about a work in progress – which is what’s been distracting me from blogging recently, sorry. So here’s a little bit about what I’m writing at the moment …

What is the title of your next book?

A bit of an exclusive, this, but we recently agreed on the title of this book – and it will be ‘You Don’t Know Me’.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s about four girls in a girl band who enter an online talent show, and what happens when they’re encouraged to drop their most talented singer, who happens to be ‘not just large but large‘. What follows involves cyber bullying, but not in the way you might think. I guess it’s pretty clear where the idea came from: I spend a lot of time online and watch too much TV. I also have teenagers who are practically surgically attached to their phones.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA contemporary. It’s taken me four years of writing to know that ‘YA contemporary’ is a thing – but it is, and I’m currently writing in it.

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

At the moment they’re too embedded in my imagination for me to picture real actors playing them. But one of them has more than a hint of Adele.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

One mistake … A million haters.

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

Funnily enough, neither. I don’t currently have an agent, but I have a great relationship with my publisher at Chicken House, Barry Cunningham. He kind of bought the idea before I officially offered it to him. Very nice man, Barry.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

About six months of hard work, after a couple of months of not really being able to get into it. Sometimes, you just have to believe in the idea and keep going.

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

I haven’t read any quite like it – which doesn’t mean to say they’re not out there. One of the writers I admire, and have in mind when I’m writing the characters, is Ally Carter, who writes the Gallagher Girls spy series. Not that you’d necessarily guess when you read the stories side by side.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

We’re constantly surrounded by talent shows, online bullying problems and body image issues. They just all came together in one story for me. (People may think the story was partly inspired by Little Mix, but actually, it wasn’t – I didn’t really watch that particular series of X Factor. However, a lot of the issues are there.)

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

Sasha, the narrator, does a mean impression of Kate Bush singing ‘Wuthering Heights’. The girls’ good luck phrase is ‘seminal leotards’. It features not one, but two iPhones, and a video of some of the girls being chased by Star Wars Lego Clone Troopers. I mean, how could it not be interesting?

My five (actually three) writers for next Wednesday are:

Rachel Ward

CJ Skuse

Sarah Webb

Thanks, guys, for agreeing to do this. Look out for them on their blogs next week!