The Next Big Thing Blogroll project is a cool initiative that gives writers a chance to share the passion they feel for their work and readers a chance to place talented new writers on their literary radar. I'm honored to participate.
1. What is the working title of your book?
Somewhere in Between (or, The Last Porkchop)
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
When I wrote the first draft of this book, I was working as a bookseller at a large independent bookstore. I started my first shift when I was 22 years old. All I had to my name was a brand-new, seemingly useless, and incredibly expensive psychology degree, $3 in my pocket, and a tiny apartment that the landlord shockingly refused to let me live in for free. By the time I left the bookselling business for The Great Beyond, I was 27 years old with a seemingly useless and incredibly expensive master's degree, $3 in my pocket, and a husband who worked at the same bookstore (and consequently who also had only about $3 in his pocket).
During that span, I made friends I will keep for the rest of my life. I read--oh, I read, like a greedy, swollen tick glutting myself on the sweet (free!) blood of Advance Reader's Copies. I met authors whom I admired and picked their delicious brains. Most importantly, I grew up and began to fit into my own skin like I belonged to it.
When I started this novel, my aim was to take a character whose way of looking at the world was not so different from my own, and to show the complexities of early adulthood against a backdrop which was familiar to me--a bookstore.
During the process, I walked around the bookstore with my ears wide open and a notebook in my back pocket. Every crazy, frustrating, funny, endearing, enraging, outlandish, and wonderful thing I encountered got scribbled into that notebook so that I could rush home after closing (and cleaning the kids' section...*shudder*) to pour it into the novel.
That was the jumping off place. It was fun and cathartic, but from that first draft it was clear that my characters had minds of their own. I began to realize that I was forcing them into shapes that cramped them up and that I was putting words in their mouths which stuck in their teeth. Basically, I wasn't writing the novel I thought I was, and my poor characters were trying to tell me all along.
I'm a different writer now and the novel is a different animal. It has much tighter focus on the protagonist, who is running her life on a treadmill. She's always running away from something she can't escape and toward something she can't quite seem to reach. It is what I had been trying to say all along, but as I was still on my own treadmill at the time, I didn't realize it.
3. What genre does your book come under?
Good question. It is character-based and deeply introspective with themes of self-discovery, romance, and family drama.
Or literary fiction. Whichever.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a tough one. I've chosen people that somehow strike a chord that reminds me of my characters, even if they don't look exactly like they're written.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Uh........ Why isn't this multiple choice? C!
Here goes: *squints eyes and grimmaces*
Following a devastating broken engagement, twenty-six year old Ali Forde struggles to navigate the terrain of her independence, tripping over every stone in her path: life, love, and the heartbreaking unreality of daydreams.
6. Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
None yet. I plan to seek agent representation whenever I get through spit-dabbing its poor little face.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Oh, you know, a month. Or four years. Who's counting?
I wrote it as a Nanowrimo novel in 2008. By the early days of December I had a 110,000 word first draft that I effectively trashed.
I pocketed only the prettiest bones to flavor the "New Improved Not Really Like the Original at All" version, which has taken me about 4 years and half a bookcase full of notebooks to bring to life.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'd say, for various and sundry reasons, that anyone who has enjoyed gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson, The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn would recognize in my work dawning self-understanding, the relentless unskeletoning of closets, and a crooked dark streak that is tempered with good dollop of humor and a unique descriptive style.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I gave the mushy answer in question #2, so now I'll tell the truth.
I was lazy.
I was doing Nanowrimo. I worked in a bookstore. I wrote down things that happened to me at work, then I went home and typed them as if they happened to another person.
Somewhere along the line, the characters started gnashing their little teeth and trying to tell their real story. Eventually, I listened.
I am no longer lazy.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
One of the emerging hallmarks of my style is that all of my fiction contains at least one fantastical element--except for this one. That said, I've been straining at the bit to make it feel like it does, mostly through the protagonist's (read: my) potent and peculiar imagination. Anyone who likes a novel that is not afraid to take both feet off the ground for a second will find something for them here.
Because of the setting and background of the protagonist, I would say that this is also a novel for dreamy book lovers and anyone who is familiar with the words "quarterlife" and "crisis." They will see themselves in Ali.
Also: Spongebob does not actually appear in the text. Now there is no reason NOT to read it.
Passing the Torch
If you're still reading this, you are a brave soul indeed, and I thank you for your patience. Next Wednesday, 3/13/13 (Whoa...triskaidekaphobics beware!), two of my writing partners and closest friends will be sharing some insights into their work. Be sure to check them out!
Laura is a modern-day Wonder Woman. I've known her since college, and ever since then she has been astounding me with her enterprising spirit, drive, creativity, and talent. She's a career woman, a great wife and mom, and she has an incredible natural affinity for storytelling, especially stories with a romantic twist. She has quite a few wonderful projects stored away in boxes and bags, so I'm eager to see which one she will pull out to share with us.
I've mentioned Stacey on the blog before as one of the most creatively talented people walking the earth. Of course that means she's a writer as well, and an amazing one at that. Stacey has a knack for pacing and plot that I would cut off an appendage to borrow. She is a fantasy lover, and her work benefits from her ability to think outside not only the box, but the planet. She's a meticulous, ambitious creator and has amassed a solid body of work. I'm looking forward to finding out which one we will get a peek at.