Nov 28

The Next Big Thing… thing

So, Mr Alan Baxter (and then Catherine Knutsson) tagged me in this Next Big Thing thing, and knowing better than to argue with either of them, I’m here to play along. And I’m going to talk about something new!

1) What is the working title of your next book?

It’s currently titled The Bone Gardens. I kinda like that title, and I think it might stick. At this stage I’m not sure whether it’s a stand-alone or a trilogy, but if it is a trilogy the next two books could be titled: The Acid Sea and The Fiery Skies. Just sayn’.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book grew out of a short story called ‘Flowers in the Shadow of the Garden’ published in the Hope anthology from Kayelle Press (http://www.kayellepress.com/shop/hope-anthology/). I call ‘Flowers in the Shadow of the Garden’ the little story that could, because it was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award and the WSFA small press award.

The initial idea came from saffron, and the people who harvest it. Except in the book and the story, the tiny stigmas are even more precious than spice.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a little bit fantasy, a little bit science fiction, and — I think — it’s young adult.

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

Oh I’m hopeless at this game. And anyway, I don’t think in real-life actors, I tend to think in animation. If I were to think of this book as a movie, it’d be made by studio Ghibli. Epic deserts, lush valleys, impossible cities and underground wonderlands, all animated in beautiful detail. The two main characters are classic Ghibli: Asfar is an independent female lead, strong but slightly odd; Edward is grounded, noble and altogether human.

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

In a world on the brink of ecological disaster, two people from opposite sides of a dangerous clash of cultures must learn to trust each other to survive.

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

Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

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

Still going, actually, but getting close to the end now! For one reason or another I haven’t been able to focus solely on this book the way I’d have liked to. As a result I’d say it’s taken about six months, off and on. We’ll be finished before Christmas though!

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

Books, you say… Well, you know how I mentioned studio Ghibli above? That’s what I’d compare it to. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke. Haven’t seen these movies? Go do that! Now! I’ll wait here.

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

I wrote the initial short story specifically for the Hope anthology. Once it was published, a few folks told me they’d like to see more set in its world, and the next minute my story writing brain was obsessed. You don’t argue with the story brain.

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

Giant flying gardens of bone tangled with powerful, toxic flowers. Mutant Ifrit roaming the desert. Armies of valve-powered mecha. Cities built into mountains and prisons beneath the sand. Space ships. Genetic experimentation, and ancient conspiracies. Two main characters just trying to understand each other, and survive.

Sound like fun?


Now it’s my turn to do the tagging! Bwahaha the power! So, I tag Rabia Gale, Zena Shapter, Ian TregillisJodi Cleghorn, and Colin Taber. Have fun guys!



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  1. Jodi Cleghorn

    Thanks for tagging me Jo.

    The Bone Garden sounds fabulous and the references to Studio Ghibli films makes it easy to evoke the landscape and imagery you’re playing in. (You’ve listed one of my all time favourite movies in there (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind!))

    Like all the comments on Facebook, I too am hanging to read it.

    1. Joanne

      You’re very welcome, looking forward to reading your own!

      Isn’t Nausicaa wonderful? What about ‘Princess Mononoke’? Have you seen that one too? I think Mononoke is my favourite…

      1. Jodi Cleghorn

        We saw Princess Mononoke earlier this year and I liked it but not fav material. Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away are my other Myzaki favourites. Have lost track the number of times I’ve seen those. Was glad to wean Mr D off Disney and onto anime. Mr D’s fav is Totoro.

        I am enamoured with Studio Ghibli’s portrayal of strong but flawed women and the Baba Yaga archetype.

        1. Joanne

          Fair enough. Oh I love Totoro too! If you have a bad day, there’s nothing better for getting you in a good mood :)

          We went to the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo a few months ago and saw a beautiful short film called ‘Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess’. More Baba Yaga. Also a magic egg in a dress, and a man made of dough. *LOVES*

  2. Ian

    I cannot wait to read this book, Jo. Scratch that — the entire trilogy! i can easily see your writing being a great vehicle for a Studio Ghibli project. It sounds like a perfect combination.

    Thanks for the tag!

    1. Joanne

      Aww thanks Ian :)

      Can’t wait to read about yours!

  3. Rabia

    Thanks for the tag.

    I’m looking forward to reading THE BONE GARDENS! *squeak!* *bounce*

    1. Joanne

      So *cough* beta-read? *cough*


      1. Rabia

        YES! yes yes yes!


        1. Joanne

          YAY 😀

  4. Miquela

    That does indeed sound like fun. 😀

    1. Joanne

      I hope so! :)

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