The Next Big Thing

So, the incredibly talented Ditmar award-winning Joanne Anderton just tagged me in this Next Big Thing thingy (thanks too Amanda Bridgeman and Amin Chehelnabi for also asking me), meaning I now have to answer ten questions about my current masterpiece in the making…

Thanks Jo!!

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

Towards White

Me in Iceland, 2001.

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

So many places! I’m a devourer of social experiments and inconclusive scientific theory. If there’s a gap in the communal knowledge of humanity, I’m there! I love ideas. I love chatting to anyone and everyone I can find (don’t let me corner you at a party!). And I absolutely adore travelling overseas, searching out unusual stories and uncommon sights. The idea for Towards White came from all of that, and more! Let’s just say that the conservation of energy theory states that one form of energy must always become another form of energy. So where do you think the electrical energy in your brain goes when you die…?

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Commercial fiction with speculative elements. I love reading close-to-reality books of the unexplained, ones that take us away from the everyday yet stay so close it’s only when we shut the book we realise we’ve been away at all. That’s this kind of book.

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

Ones that cost millions of dollars to hire (because of course it’s going to be an international blockbuster!). He he, only kidding! Um, I think I’d prefer for readers to come up with their own ideas as they read the novel. My protagonist Becky Dales doesn’t come to the story with a clean slate. Like most of us, she’s a puzzle – one of those beautiful pastel Impressionist puzzles that only becomes clear after you reach the end. She’d need to be played by an actress who’s excellent at portraying complexity and undisclosed personal secrets. I like to put my characters in extreme or unusual situations too, just to see how they’ll react. So my characters would all need professional stunt doubles!

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

When Becky Dales travels to Iceland to repatriate her brother’s dead body, she discovers where the electrical energy in our brains really goes when we die.

Me in Iceland, 2001.

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

Represented by an agency.

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

Years. When I first started writing Towards White, I was still finding my voice as a writer. It took several attempts before I could even settle on a first draft that reflected my style.

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

My beta readers have compared Towards White to many varied titles – some of which I haven’t read myself yet. So, here’s trusting to them

  • Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow by Peter Høeg (Rosinante)
  • The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg (HarperCollins)
  • Prey by Michael Crichton (HarperCollins)
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin (Ballantine Books/Random House)
  • Gene Thieves by Maria Quinn (Voyager)
  • The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell (Harvill Secker)
  • The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Diamond Eye by A A Bell (HarperCollins)
  • The Timestalker by Rhonda Roberts (HarperCollins)
  • The Stand by Stephen King (Anchor)

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

I visited Iceland in 2001 and fell in love with the country’s austere beauty. I’d already been playing around with theories about the afterlife and the electrical energy in our brains. But from the moment I landed in Reykjavík, I knew Iceland was the only country for my story. Inspiration simply poured into my brain from there.

Me in Iceland, 2001.

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

Murder, political intrigue, a particularly dangerous glacier, a car chase, a fistfight, a quest for truth, futuristic technology, a bit of the unexplained, a thought-experiment and a scientific theory guaranteed to get readers thinking – not that my characters have much time to dwell on anything too fantastical. Much like life, it just seeps inside them when they’re not looking…

Okay, so below are the five authors I’m tagging to answer these questions next. Check out their online platforms in a week, Wednesday, 5th December:

Ian Irvine – the author of 28 fantasy / thriller novels, including the bestselling Three Worlds fantasy sequence, an eco-thriller trilogy and 12 books for children

MJ Hearle – YA author of fantasy novels Winter’s Shadow and Winter’s Light

Kylie Scott – author of zombie erotica novels Flesh and Skin

Greg Barron – author of thrillers Rotten Gods and The Savage Tide

Aleesah Darlison – author of the YA fantasy Unicorn Riders series

Zena Shapter

I write from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. #Ditmar Award-winning author. Movie buff. Traveller. Wine lover. Story nerd. Book Creator & Mentor. Founder & leader of the award-winning Northern Beaches Writers' Group / ZF Kingbolt.


  1. Sounds amazing, Zena! Can’t wait to see it!

  2. Great post, Zena. Love the title ‘Towards White’ too!

  3. Sounds totally thrilling and I just wish the absolute best for you.

  4. Pingback: The Next Big Thing « News From Other Worlds

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