Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Next Big Thing by Zoë Sharp

Screenwriter and novelist Stephen Gallagher collared me last week for this, The Next Big Thing blog hop. He breezily explained that all I had to do was answer ten questions on my next or latest project, then tag five other willing victims—erm, esteemed authors—to do the same. Stephen likened it to grains of rice on a chessboard, and that within a few weeks there would not be an untagged writer left on the planet. While there’s still time, here are my answers to the ten burning questions:

Q1) What is the title of your book?

A1) The latest new book out is DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten. It finds ex-army turned bodyguard, Charlie Fox, working close protection at a celebrity fundraising event in New Orleans. But all the glitter attracts entirely the wrong kind of attention, and Charlie soon finds herself outnumbered, unarmed, and unable to rely on the one person she should be able to trust with her life.

Q2) Where did the idea come from?

A2) I’ve always loved the old Bruce Willis classic, ‘Die Hard’, and I wanted to do my own take on that movie, giving Charlie some kind of ‘bare feet’ handicap as she battles the bad guys. And after visiting New Orleans post-Katrina, I knew I wanted to set a book there. The two ideas came together and what else could I call Die Hard meets The Big Easy but DIE EASY?

Q3) What genre best defines your book?

A3) I usually say it’s a crime thriller. Charlie isn’t a detective, and she’s more likely to shoot the bad guy than drag him off to jail, but she’s fighting for what she believes is right, to protect those who can’t protect themselves, to see justice of a sort done, and to bring order to things.

Q4) What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

A4) Long list. Somebody like Gina Carano, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel or Natalia Tena would be great as Charlie Fox herself. For Sean Meyer, Sam Worthington, or Max Beesley, or maybe even Alex O’Loughlin. After Charlie and Sean move to New York to work for Parker Armstrong, I saw him as Mark Harmon. For Charlie’s sometimes cold and clinical consultant surgeon father, Michael Kitchen or Ian Richardson would be perfect, and Dame Judi Dench for her fussy but ultimately strong mother. Why not aim high?

Q5) What is the one-sentence synopsis?

A5) ‘Die Hard’ in the Big Easy

Q6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

A6) In the States, DIE EASY is taking the conventional publication route, via Pegasus Books in New York. For other territories, however, I’m going the indie route.

Q7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

A7) Probably about four months, then edits after that. I plan it out beforehand and try to stick to that plan, summarizing as I go. It’s a nice theory, but it doesn’t always quite work out that way …

Q8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A8) That’s a good question. Charlie has been likened to other people—Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Thomas Perry’s Jane Whitefield, even Ian Fleming’s James Bond. I just set out to write the kind of character I wanted to read about. If other people like her, that’s a terrific bonus.

Q9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A9) I’m always looking for a new challenge for Charlie. I’m constantly pressure-testing her to see how she reacts. This was another test. I threw in old loyalties, old rivalries, a blood feud, and lost love and betrayal—both of the characters and of the city in which they find themselves. I threw RPGs, downed helicopters, pirates and gangbangers at her. I stripped her of weapons and backup, then told her to get in there and do her job. She did, with her usual nerve and skill, even if this time not everybody’s going to come out of it alive.

Q10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

A10) You mean that’s not enough? Sheesh, you guys are a tough crowd. OK, how about this praise from Harlan Coben—“Zoë Sharp is one of the sharpest, coolest, and most intriguing writers I know. She delivers dramatic, action-packed novels with characters we really care about. And once again, in DIE EASY, Zoë Sharp is at the top of her game."

One of the ideas of The Next Big Thing is that I put another five victims in my sights for next week. For this I’ve chosen some names you may not know, but really ought to:

CJ Ellisson is the author of four wicked and witty paranormal suspense novels in the VV Inn series about a 580-year-old vampire who attracts trouble as readily as she attracts men.

Danuta Reah, who also writes as Carla Banks, is the author of psychological mysteries set as far afield as Saudi Arabia and Eastern Europe, as well as in her native Sheffield.

Sheila Quigley is based in the northeast of England and is the bestselling author of seven books, with the eighth, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, due in December, which is the last in a trilogy featuring DI Mike Yorke and set around Holy Island.

Graham Smith has been a fan of fiction since being given Enid Blyton’s Famous Fiv e books when he was eight. Since then he’s been writing his Harry Charters chronicles and short stories, and reviewing for Crimesquad.com.

Andrew Peters was born in the swamps of Glamorgan but has since hastened to Spain, where he spends his time gloating about the weather and penning tales of Otis King, Memphis’ number one Welsh Blues Detective, and some cuttingly funny short stories.

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