A Virtual LoveThere was a thing going around on the internet late last year called The Next Big Thing, in which writers answered questions about their next books.

I was kindly tagged not once but twice – by Ruth Dugdall and Marva Gregorio De Souza – but I am so absurdly late in answering that it’s probably called The Last Big Thing by now. In any case, here are my answers:

What is the working title of your book?

A Virtual Love. It’s out in April, and now has a cover design which I am showing for the first time.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book is concerned with the theme of identity, and how such an apparently simple, fixed concept as “who we really are” is quite contingent and subject to change. The idea came about as I thought about how modern technology helps us to shape our identities in quite different ways and change them at will, while putting extra pressure on us to make those identities acceptable to the watching world.

What genre does your book fall under?

Literary fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is going to sound like a copout, but I’m not going to name any. The reason is that I have a very clear image of the main characters in my head, and any real-life actors I tried to shoehorn into the roles just didn’t seem quite right. It’s like when you’ve read a book, and then watch the movie version later – often the actors seem wrong, because they’re displacing the images you’ve created yourself. Because I spent years writing this book, the problem is acute.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

What happens when you spend so long manufacturing identities for the outside world that you lose track of who you really are?

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

Iโ€™m represented by James Wills at Watson Little, and the book will be published by Legend Press.

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

About a year and a half or a couple of years, I think. It was quite a long time ago now, as I’ve been through several more drafts since then!

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

My aim was to write a book that is different from books already written.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My inspiration for writing this book was the same as my inspiration for writing in general – I write because I want to express my view of the world. For me a novel is an unparalleled opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another person. I hope that my ideas are interesting to others, and that I have shaped them into a compelling story that people will enjoy and find thought-provoking.

What else about your book might pique the readerโ€™s interest?

I made the narrative structure reflect the plot and characters. For example, the book is narrated by several characters but we never hear from the main character, for reasons which become clear in the final stages…

Next up

So now I have to tag five other writers to complete the same exercise. Here they are, in no particular order:

That’s it! Thanks again to Ruth and Marva, and hope it was interesting. If there’s anything else you’d like to know about the book or the writing of it, please ask!


  1. Michelle Davidson Argyle 4 January 2013 at 7:19 pm

    You have NO idea how excited I am to read your book! I love the cover too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 5 January 2013 at 10:49 am

      Ah, thanks Michelle!! I’m excited too. I remember you’d asked for a review copy – will check with the publisher and make sure it gets to you as soon as it’s ready.

  2. Nivedita 5 January 2013 at 4:21 am

    I am totally intrigued by the cover and the description of the book. I am sure it is going to be an awesome read. Best wishes!

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 5 January 2013 at 10:49 am

      Hi Nivedita,
      Thanks very much. Saw you just added me as a friend on Goodreads – good to see you on there as well! Hope all’s well.

  3. litlove 5 January 2013 at 6:39 am

    I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing it!

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 5 January 2013 at 10:50 am

      Thanks litlove! I’m told review copies should be ready soon – will keep you posted. Happy New Year!

  4. Caroline 5 January 2013 at 10:16 am

    I’m also looking forward to reading it. The idea sounds very interesting.

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 5 January 2013 at 10:54 am

      Hi Caroline
      Thanks a lot! Hope all’s well, and sorry I haven’t been in touch lately. A busy time!

  5. Charles Anasco 5 January 2013 at 10:34 am

    Your response about the movie adaptation of the book is an interesting one. I guess I’m not an imaginative reader because I’ve rarely if really ever attached a visual image to a character. I am usually lost in the language of the book. Even when they painstakingly describe the character I just sort of file those details away and don’t really think about them. If there is a film adaptation later I might notice something like oh… the protagonist and the antagonist hair color was reversed. That isn’t to say that character isn’t important either because it certainly is. If a character or characters are flat than the writing won’t hold my attention for long.

    I’m very much looking forward to reading the book. I might venture to write a review but don’t expect me to help cast the movie ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 5 January 2013 at 10:59 am

      Hi Charles

      I wouldn’t say you’re not an imaginative reader – just that you have a different type of imagination! From what you said about your reaction to my first book, I know you were busy imagining the characters and their lives, even if not in a physical way.

      I’m the same as you about skipping over detailed physical descriptions, by the way. But I do form an image myself, and certainly as I was writing this book I did. Interesting how the process of reading and imagining can be so different for different readers!

  6. Brian Joseph 5 January 2013 at 11:41 am

    I too am very excited about reading this when it comes out.

    The theme of identity sounds like the kind of musing that fascinates me!

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 5 January 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks very much, Brian! Good to hear from you. Hope you have a great 2013!

  7. Delia (Postcards from Asia) 5 January 2013 at 10:00 pm

    That’s great news Andrew, April isn’t that far off. I wish I could read your book but I’m not sure if I’ll get to do it, I never order from the net and if it’s not in the bookstores here chances are I won’t read it. But like somebody dear to me always says, there’s always a way. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Welcome back!

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 7 January 2013 at 5:13 pm

      I know, it’s hard if you don’t order online. No worries if you can’t track it down. Thanks for the best wishes!

  8. Roz Morris @ByRozMorris 6 January 2013 at 6:46 am

    Hi Andrew! I was about to leave a comment anyway when I saw you’d tagged me! I agree about the movie version – my characters have become too much themselves to be played by anyone else. I’d hope this happened for the reader too.
    I applaud your aim to write a book that’s different from those written before and look forward to the release of A Virtual Love! Now can I tag you? Is there an Undercover Soundtrack waiting to be written?

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 7 January 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks Roz. Ah yes, that sounds good – I’ll get scribbling! Would it be OK to do it close to release date (1st April) so that people can buy the book if they’re inspired by my musical musings?

  9. Geoffrey Philp 6 January 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Dear Andrew,

    I’m looking forward to reading A Virtual Love and thank you for tagging me.

    One Love,

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 7 January 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks Geoffrey! Look forward to reading your own responses!

  10. Charlie 7 January 2013 at 7:40 am

    Sounds brilliant, Andrew, and definitely original. I’m looking forward to reading it, bookshop in April here I come.

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 7 January 2013 at 5:17 pm

      Cool, thanks very much Charlie. If you’re near London, please come to the launch as well if you’d like! Will send out details nearer the time.

  11. Emma 16 January 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    You know I already ordered A Virtual Love and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    1. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 16 January 2013 at 6:47 pm

      I know, I saw that on your blog. Thank you thank you! You are probably the first person in the world to buy a copy. Something to boast about if I ever make it big ๐Ÿ™‚


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