The Next Big Thing Meme

Charles Tan, the Bibliophile Stalker, tagged me for the Next Big Thing meme. Every Wednesday, a different set of authors (and sometimes editors) talk about their upcoming work. I’ve answered the questions, but I’ve failed miserably at finding people to tag. You’ll find out by the end just how miserably, but for now … on to our questions!

What is the working title of your next book?

The title is The Best of All Possible Worlds.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

After the Boxing Day Tsunami, I was particularly moved by news articles on certain fishing communities that lost almost all of the women and children while the majority of the men survived because they were at sea. The reports of the individual and community reactions to this kind of crisis added to what I already knew about less dramatic (though still significant) instances of gender imbalance in contemporary and historical societies. I didn’t have a story in mind at the time, but that was the foundation.

There’s an accidental link to another disaster. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake and tsunami was a devastating event that provoked Voltaire to challenge the idea that this is ‘the best of all possible worlds’. That phrase and its associated theodicy are from Leibniz. But I did not have any of this in mind when I came up with the title. My brief mention of Leibniz in the book is also accidental and is entirely to do with calculus rather than philosophy.

What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction with some light background romance.

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

The story is carried by a core group of characters, so I’d need a great ensemble cast. For the leads, I think Angel Coulby would be perfect as Grace Delarua. Dllenahkh, the male protagonist, has been harder to cast. The ideal actor would be a middle-aged Pacific Islander who could convey a lot of gravitas with a hint of humour.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Refugee aliens on frontier planet seek genetically compatible brides for the purpose of post-genocide repopulation; bureaucracy, culture clash and hilarity ensue.

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

Sally Harding of the Cooke Agency sold the manuscript to Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus in the UK and Del Rey/Random House in the US.

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

Three months. A lot was changed in the third month, and there were significant additions about a year later.

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

The size of the mission team and their visits to small, rural communities as well as larger towns is reminiscent of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. The romance has been compared to Jane Eyre. The sociological and anthropological focus has been compared to the works of Ursula LeGuin.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

After the Star Trek reboot came out, I read a hypothesis that the Vulcans might now have a skewed demographic because their offplanet occupations appeared to be very male-dominated. That resurrected my earlier thoughts on gender imbalance in societies and further inspired me to use a sci-fi framing for my ideas.

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

There are Elves in it. Sort of.

I was supposed to tag five more people but a) it’s late in the meme and a lot of people have already been tagged, and b) it’s December and people are Christmas-busy as well as deadline-busy. But I did find one person: Karen Burnham. Look out for her blog post this time next week.

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