The "Next Big Thing" Blog Meme

DARK SATANIC MILLS

As part of the ongoing Next Big Thing blog meme, I’ve been tagged by my excellent brother, Julian Sedgwick, whose first novel, The Black Dragon, comes out July 2013 from Hodder Children’s Books.
I’ve got a few things on the go at the moment but I wanted to honour my brother by talking about a graphic novel we’ve written together. And at that point I must immediately talk about our superb illustrator: John Higgins

For John to be illustrating our work is more than a dream come true: Julian and I grew up reading 2000AD and the like, so we’re beyond pleased to have this legendary artist bringing our thoughts to life.

What is the title of your next book?
Dark Satanic Mills

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The title may be familiar to some readers; it’s a line from the verses now known as “Jerusalem” by William Blake. And was Jerusalem builded here, among these dark satanic mills.

But the real origin of the book lies in our wanting to say something about the perils of belief.
I have to pick my words carefully here: we’re not saying it’s wrong to believe in God, or Allah, or UFOs for that matter. We’re saying it’s a dangerous thing when you believe so devoutly in your chosen god that you allow the possibility of no others, that you are at risk of enforcing others to think the same way as you do.

We absolutely want to champion those who believe in a fair and free way, and often these people are those who do not follow orthodox religion, but find their own route to understanding.

And this brings us back to William Blake, because although his religion was nominally a Christian one, he made his own very unorthodox approach to it. People often mistake the “dark satanic mills” of those lines of his from the introduction to his edition of Milton as referring to the woollen mills of the industrial revolution. But he actually used the term to refer to the church. The orthodox church, which he saw as imprisoning our true nature and spirituality.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a graphic novel, about a dystopian future. Elements of sci-fi.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
For Christy, our heroine, I’d like someone young and interesting looking, like Bella Heathcote. She has to be believable on a motorbike though. For Thomas, her co-protagonist, we need someone with an honest face, and determined. Ewan McGregor’ll do nicely.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
V for Vendetta meets The Wizard of Oz, with a side-order of William Blake.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Our agent is the diligent Kirsty McLachlan at David Godwin Associates. It will be published by Walker Books in 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I have absolutely no idea. Writing a book is a strange process that goes through many stages, some of them less obvious than others, but all of them critical. How do you know how much of your time you’ve actually spent getting ready to put virtual pen to paper? I think we worked on it on and off for about a year, but that’s a total guess.

What other books of the same genre would you compare yours with?
As I mentioned above, V for Vendetta would be a good comparison. And I also think it bears some similarity to certain serials from 2000AD.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think I’ve covered that above, but it might be worth adding that having had those ideas about religion, it was necessary to find a world to place it in. The thought of a collapsing England, shrouded in darkness in a time of unrest and ecological disaster was too good to ignore. It’s been done before, but then, what hasn’t? And it seemed right and true to our concept, so that’s they way we went.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The titles of each of the seven chapters are the “last seven words of Christ”: his utterances from the cross. There’s elements of A Clockwork Orange and Quadrophenia. There’s the coolest Citroen DS ever. And did I mention that the illustrations are coming from the pen of John Higgins??

I hereby tag the following awesome writers:
Jacqui Brocker
Kevin Jackson
Annabel Pitcher
Philip Womack

Their answers should appear on Wednesday next week.

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