The Next ‘Big’ Thing

The Next Big Thing is a chain of book and author recommendations. Sandy Fussell, author-extraordinaire tagged me on her blog and even though Christmas got in the way and I missed my due blogging date, I’m finally organised. Will endeavour to tag some of my writerly friends when the crazy festive season is over. Okay, here goes!

My ‘Next Big Thing’ is a little chapter book – they’re short stories written for children in the first few years of independent reading – a most important task for an author.

What is the title of your next book?
Ali Berber and the Forty Grains of Salt is a chapter book for 9-10 year olds. It will be published by an educational publishing house (details next year). This particular one will be part of a pack combining science with literature – two of my favourite topics. 

Sufi, the camel. Thank you to John Danalis for the inspiration of his camel image from Oman.
Sufi, the camel. Thank you to John Danalis for the inspiration of his camel image from Oman.


Where did the idea come from for the book?

The brief was a story dealing with the Properties of Matter. Yep, not something that most people would think you could write fiction about. But hey, I’m an author, give me a topic and I could probably write a story about it. 🙂 As you can see from the title, the matter I chose is salt. And what an interesting thing is salt!

What genre does your book fall under?

A folktale set somewhere in Arabia, some time in the far distant past.

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

The Life of Pi actor
Inspiration for my character, Ali.

That’s easy! My main character, Ali Berber is the spitting image (in my head) of that handsome, young Indian actor playing the main character in the movie version of The Life of Pi. His name is Suraj Sharma.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

How a young merchant, Ali Berber parts with a treasure, gains a prize, solves a problem with science, wins the heart and mind of Princess Portia and avoids the head-lopping habit of her father, King Aloysius.

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

This is where I grin widely. Usually a book takes a LONG, LONG time to write – this one, I thought about for a week, wrote the chapter overview in a day and wrote the story in a weekend. It’s 3400 words. And it was a joy to write … kept me grinning all the way through, which is a very good sign. 🙂

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love how the educational publishers here in Australia ensure they come up with the very best publications. And I really like how they like to integrate the curriculum with literature; and that what matters the most are THE WORDS. E.g. I’ve never been asked to take out longer, unusual words! No dumbing down here!

Also, I’m lucky to have two scientists in my family – one a Geo-physicist and one a Physicist working on climate change research in the Antarctic. How lucky is that, considering I didn’t study science myself – only an amateur, observing and curious type of scientist, am I. Probably a good thing for an author.

PS I’m working with a wonderful editor, an ex-teacher who believes that all books for children, even those being used as part of the curriculum should be fun, interesting, well written and most of all, be a great read!

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