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“The Next Big Thing”

08 Jan

(Reposted from my old blog, but revised for this new venue. I’ve removed the blog hop’s rules, but included the list of fellow writers that I tagged.)

B. Morris Allen, fellow writer and blogger, has tagged me and few others for The Next Big Thing: “a blog hop initiated six months ago by Toby Neal, who tagged five other writers.”

I became acquainted with Morris via e-mail and the slushpile over at Ray Gun Revivalmagazine (in hiatus), when he submitted what became a three-part story, published near the end of RGR’s run. He was easy to work with, which–as Overseer and freelance editor–I appreciated.

1) What is the title of your next book?black dragon Dragon’s Bane, second in a projected five-book cycle

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The kernel was a short story: a young woman comes home ill from work, and lies down on the sofa near the fire while her roommate primps for a night out on the town. The main character falls asleep, and dreams that the chess board on the table beside her is transformed into a mythic topography where she meets new friends, frightening foes, and has adventures before waking once more in her cramped apartment.

Not as exciting or feasible as I had envisioned, the story was set aside but wouldn’t leave me alone. That was about twenty years ago. Since then, it’s grown into a novel, then a trilogy, and now a five-book cycle. Only the barest bits of the original tale remain, but the landscape remains largely the same.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
The older designation might be “high fantasy”, but I view it more as “adventure fantasy”, with battles and journeys and such.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one. Haven’t thought about it before. Let’s see–Chris Hemsworth would be good as the legendary but mysterious Captain Gaerbith, because Hemsworth looks a lot like the captain, and has portrayed characters I like (the Huntsman, for instance, though I was disappointed in the movie; and Thor).

Tom Hardy is a good stand-in for Kieran Smith, the blacksmith with the shadowy past and the blue lightening in his hands. In his thirties, Hardy is about ten years older than Kieran, but it’s more about the character than the age. Just watched Lawless, and was impressed. Hardy seems to fill the screen, and Kieran’s nickname is “the giant”.

If the tall, dark-haired Lady of Skarda wouldn’t be compared to a certain famous elf, I could seeLiv Tyler in the role of Yanamari, daughter of an evil king and longing to be free.

As for the other lead female role in this imaginary movie, the short, crippled healer accused of murder, Maggie Finney, might be played by–well, I honestly don’t know. It’d have to be an actress who could portray a quiet control over a seething mass of emotions and secrets, yet still show humor and a sense of inner strength. Maggie’s been through hell, but she’s full of hope.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A weary soldier running from his destiny and a young blacksmith in search of his identity join forces on a quest for a lost sword, a lost people, and freedom.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Well, I submitted the first book directly to a publisher this past autumn, during a brief “open submissions” window (no agented manuscripts allowed). It’ll be a while before I know anything. If the book’s rejected, I hope to at least receive a letter to that effect, rather than being left hanging, as another publisher did after requesting to see the entire manuscript.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Dragon’s Rook took about ten years, off and on. I’m an ADD writer, going from one project to the next and back again. I don’t recommend this process.

As for Dragon’s Bane, the first draft is still about a third incomplete. However, one of my goals for 2013 is to finish the book by June. June-ish.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Zoiks! Is it terrible that I have no clue about this one? Because I haven’t wanted to be influenced by what’s out there already, I haven’t been reading much in the adventure fantasy realm. (Turns out, though, that stuff I’d included in the story years ago has been used by other writers or filmmakers in more recent fantasies. Just goes to show how difficult it is to be truly original. And how total strangers can come up with similar ideas.)

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Difficulties in my own life drove me to create the world and the characters, and as I read back through certain scenes or dialogues, I can track my doubts and troubles. There’s violence, but there’s quietness, too. Confusion, but clarity. Foolishness, but wisdom. Isolation, but love. Despair, but hope. Although none of the characters are me simply inserted into the story, nor are any of the conflicts merely masked events from my own life, the struggles the characters experience are inspired by the twists and turns of my journey.

I’ve often set these books aside, thinking that everything I’d written was crap, that no one wanted to read that drivel, and that I’d better just stick to writing in other genres, but then someone would come along, ask to read the first book, then whatever was completed of the second, and then tell me they wanted to know more of the story. If they wanted to know more, that must mean they were invested in the characters and the outcome. That, more than anything, has kept me writing this story.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
There’s a bit of magic among the villains, and some special abilities among the heroes, but no elves or dwarves or mythical critters aside from dragons.

And even dragons weren’t supposed to be there. Then one shows up and causes trouble, and I figured, why not make dragons beasts of burden and of war? Kind of remote-controlled soldiers, if you will. Then he laughs. When he laughed, I knew he could speak. As soon as he spoke, the story blew wide open, and had a structure I hadn’t considered earlier.

But the focus is still on the human characters–their hatred, bitterness, prejudice, longing, love, hope–and on their search for a past that will help them build a better future.

The next next big thing
* cue evil laughter *
Suzan Troutt
Dave Farney
Lyn Perry
L.S. King
Jeff Chapman

The torch has been passed. Whither it goes from these five fists, who knows? That’s the fun in the journey.

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