The Next Big Thing week 15: Interview with an Author

The Next Big Thing is an author’s Work In Progress project  from SheWrites. When I read Jeri Walker-Bickett’s  blog last week,  I immediately thought what fantastic questions for any author to ask themselves. So I was thrilled that afternoon, when Jeri emailed, and invited me to participate. A Big Thank You to Jeri.

What is the working title of your book?

Under The Bed’. It comes from the phrase ‘Red’s Under the Bed’, used in 1950’s America.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was set to write the sequel to my first book Radio Echo, catching up with the characters a few years after the end of WWII, but I decided to spread my wings as a writer, switched countries and found a completely different voice. The 50’s anti-Communist era in America struck a chord with me as part of the backdrop. In doing my research and seeing how widespread the effect of McCarthyism was, I didn’t want to focus on the more publicized Hollywood Blacklist, so decided to move cross country and settle my characters in New York.


Cover to the propaganda comic book "Is Th...

Cover to the propaganda comic book “Is This Tomorrow”‘ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


What genre does your book fall under?

Literary fiction. Specifically mid-Century historical literary fiction. Set in both the early 50’s and late 60’s, makes it a tricky time frame, as some camps argue historical fiction has to be 50 years in the past. Other’s say it can be considered historical fiction if the time period – and its depiction – is at the core of the story. I think if the work involves major political or social events of the time and the character’s role in those events are interlinked, it’s historical.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ll let the two main characters in the novel comment on this.

Midge: “I know Izzie said I was a pissy mess the other week, but I’m trying darling, I really am. Putting on a few pounds wasn’t a crime the last time I looked, but pudgy is such an ugly word. And these Chanel suits don’t buy themselves. I was a very successful business woman before the shit hit the fan. Life Magazine was always doing some article on Boswell Designs. Seems a lifetime ago now… like someone else’s life…. Er,… where was I?  Oh yes… The actress would  have to play a younger me as well wouldn’t she?  To do both roles justice,  I think Sharon Stone  would be marvelous. She’s got the same coloring too, don’t you think?”

Izzie: “Do you think I give a shit who plays me in the film? How hard can it be to write some crap poetry, and take a few lousy photo’s in the East Village?  [Takes a hit on a joint]. OK, fine. So I do care. I bet that skinny-assed  Girl With a Dragon Tattoo actress would could make a stab at being meYeahRooney Mara. She’d be good.”

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Two women, a generation apart, each burdened by guilt regarding the death of a sibling, find their own lives in danger during the Vietnam era, when the older woman’s brush with McCarthyism emerges during their collaboration on her autobiography.


"A female demonstrator offers a flower to...

“A female demonstrator offers a flower to military police on guard at the Pentagon during an anti-Vietnam demonstration. Arlington, Virginia, USA” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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

I will definitely look for an agent to represent me.

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

 11 months.

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

I obviously wouldn’t dream of comparing myself to these authors, but I have certainly been inspired by them. These came to mind, each for different aspects of their content.

Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. This is one of my favorite novels and spans the narrators lifetime, who is in her 80’s as she is writing.The novel pays particular attention to the pre & post WWII years, but goes far beyond that in  encapsulating a number of different story lines as well as time lines.

Toby’s Room by Pat Barker. Well know for her incredible “Regeneration Trilogy” ,  this is a sequence to Life Class,  though it’s also a stand alone novel. Set during WWI, the novel is as much about the interpersonal relationships as it is about the era. However, the two are interchangeable and it is the societal times of the era on the life of the individual that, for me is the real correlation between this and Under the Bed.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. This is mid 20th century fiction, set during WWII. But Waters deals with the time frame in a very interesting way as she goes from finish to start.



Who or What inspired you to write this book?

After a friend told me about growing up with parents who were in the Communist Party in the UK, and what it was like as a teenager in the sixties to have your phone bugged, it made me think about the invasion of people’s privacy and what effect it has on them. Since 9/11 the invasion of privacy has became almost an accepted ‘right’ by Western governments in the quest to protect our freedom. CCTV tracks us constantly and emails are tagged continuously in the fight against terrorism. I questioned the end justifying the means. Eventually I decided to follow how anti-communist fervour has moulded certain key elements of American history, and chose to juxtapose the eras of the Vietnam War and McCarthyism, with 1969 being ‘present day’.

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

The novel blends the struggle of the individual with that of the bigger picture of the political events of the time. Can we as both individuals or as nations, learn from our past? I believe we can, and yet, as we know, history repeats itself. ‘Under the Bed’ explores how an individual’s lack of control over their fate can be in the hands of the government, even a generation apart. But ultimately the fight for survival and coming to terms with past mistakes is up to the individual.

Washington Square arch peace sign

Washington Square arch peace sign (Photo credit: holycalamity)


Here are the authors I’ve tagged for the project. Check out their websites and you’ll be able see their interviews posted there next week.

Claire Cappetta

Doreen Pendgracs

Hemmie Martin

Susan Cooper

Bridget Whelan

Sally O’Reilly


I’d love  your feedback on the interview, so do leave a comment below. Or post this blog to your favourite social media.

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  1. This was great! I loved hearing about your new book. 🙂 Your having your characters answer the questions was a great idea. Gives us a glimpse in to what the book will be like.
    Geek Girl recently posted..Motivational Monday – 10/1My Profile

  2. I agree with Geek Girl and I love your characters. Good luck with this book, AK. It is very interesting.
    Lubna recently posted..Nebador series: Book six – Star stationMy Profile

  3. Sounds exciting AK!! Agree completely with Cheryl and Lubna. Go for Sharon Stone!! That would be a great choice:-)

  4. I absolutely loved this post! Thx so much, A.K., for sharing the info about yourself and your upcoming book. It sounds fascinating. And I’m not surprised, as it is coming from the mind of a very fascinating woman.

    Thanks, also, for asking me to participate in the is project. I’ll have my post done next week as promised, and must now find my 6 fascinating writers/bloggers to highlight in my post.

    By the way, your Comment Luv gave me a cURL error 7 for both my blogs! Not sure why that is. Cheers!

  5. Kate Wesson says

    This was great, Kathy. Just one question – when oh when do I get to read the whole thing?

  6. That is so cool. I am a huge SciFi fan and a history buff. So this is right up my alley. I also LOVE your characters and the books concept. Way to go my friend.

  7. Izzie and Midge seem like such great characters and I especially like how you had them answer the actor question in their own voices. I’ll be looking forward to this when it comes out.

  8. A.K. – This looks like it will be a great read! Like others have said, I too like the characters answering the “who would play you in a movie” question. As a history major in college, I am interested to read the entire finished project as Post WWII era was a favorite period of mine.
    Mark Brody recently posted..Morale and MotivationMy Profile

  9. I loved how you got the characters to answer – brilliant!!
    The book sounds fantastic and to have a first draft in 11 months – I think it would take me 11 years 🙂
    Becc recently posted..Liebster Award – Woo Hoo!!!My Profile

    • Really pleased you liked my characters answering Becc. You have to have fun with these things right?
      As to the first draft – that’s all well & good, and great to have it done, but now the real work starts. I’ve not put a deadline on myself so who knows when it ‘ll be “finished”. Thanks so much for your comment.
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..The Next Big Thing week 15: Interview with an AuthorMy Profile

  10. What a great interview! Thanks for sharing. Your book sounds very interesting, and I agree with it being historical fiction.
    Denise Baer recently posted..Featured Author – Deleyna MarrMy Profile

  11. So great to come by and check up on your site. This was a wonderful read and I also liked your last post about Pinterest. I think it’s just amazing to find someone who’s always open to new ideas and expanding and sharing. Especially in the writing community. So keep going!
    EJ Koh recently posted..Book Tour…or Bladder Wars?My Profile

    • Hi Angela – really good to see you here, and pleased you have enjoyed the last couple of posts. I’m very flattered by your comments I have to say. It’s definitely important to try new things I think, otherwise it’s hard to grow. Writers in general I’ve found to be very open to sharing and being supportive. It’s a wonderful community to be part of. 🙂
      A.K.Andrew recently posted..The Next Big Thing week 15: Interview with an AuthorMy Profile

  12. I’m so inspired by these authors and how they are now living their dream to have a book published. It’s one of those things I would love to do as well. Hopefully, by next year.
    Adeline Yuboco recently posted..An Intimate Affair with Spanish Wine at the ASEAN Merchants LaunchMy Profile

  13. Yes I hope it’ll be a dream of mine to that will happen one day. Just keep writing Adeline! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
    A.K.Andrew recently posted..PEN – Do You Have the Freedom to Write?My Profile

  14. What an interesting premise for a book and love where the inspiration came from, it is certain that something similar continues today, those strange calls where there is noone there. I hope the book finds a publisher and many readers.
    Claire ‘Word by Word’ recently posted..La petite fille de Monsieur LinhMy Profile


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