May-Lan Tan was kind enough to include me in the Next Big Thing Project, an interconnecting breadcrumb trail of young writers’ profiles.
What is the working title of the book?
It started as 388, which was the bus I was taking a lot when I returned to London after a long absence. Upon reflection, however, it’s a pretty boring bus route (I would get it from Bethnal Green Road to Blackfriars in an attempt to get to the Southbank Centre). Now I’m leaning towards Foley, for thematic reasons. The problem with this title is that when I hear it I think of Felicity actor Scott Foley, on whom I think I had a crush circa 1998. I should probably remember whether or not this was actually the case.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My friend once needed to get a bus up to Edinburgh. When some other friends and I realised we hadn’t heard from him in a couple of days, we remembered that he’d also taken a sleeping pill notorious for making people black out and act goofy before they actually fall asleep. We had this sort of fantasy about him wandering off the bus and going on a sleepwalk walkabout along the M6. I thought it would make a great premise for a story: one friend trying to track down another who’d been kidnapped by pharmacology. I’d been reading a lot of Waugh and Murdoch when this idea started to come together. I’d love to capture some of the meandering rhythm of Under The Net or Vile Bodies — people just moving through a city, searching for loved ones for reasons that aren’t totally clear to them.
Through that narrative vehicle, I found I could address other themes that had been on my mind: Being indigenous to nowhere, adulthood’s insistence on youth, the tendency aural sensitivity has to fall on people like viruses.
What genre does your book fall under?
As it stands, moody literary fiction.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
For the protagonist — I can’t think of any other way to put this — like, a Jewier Rooney Mara. Or Olivia Thirlby, as is.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Young prescription drug dealer physically retraces the last two years of her professional and personal life in order to find her missing friend AND there’s a sound stage AND there are a lot of buses AND there are a bunch of fantastic self-contained single sentences like this one.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Expected: seven months.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Everyone involved in my Masters programme at Goldsmiths.