When I first received an invitation to participate in The Next Big Thing blog chain from Alverdine Farley, my first reaction was to jump up and down, yelling at my computer screen: "Someone finally noticed me!" No joke! Then, she told me what it was all about: Answer questions on your novel, then pass along the baton to five other writers to keep the chain going. What a cool idea for aspiring authors trying to reach a bigger audience! So, I jumped at the chance to participate.
1. What is the working title of your next book?
The working title is 'Chasing Ghosts'. At first, it just looks like a play on the fact that all of my characters are ghosts. As the book progresses, the title becomes representative of what Michael, the protagonist, is doing. He's chasing an ideal, something that doesn't quite exist anymore.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
My writing group decided midway through the year that we wanted to participate in the August Camp NaNo, but that we wanted to throw a twist on it and give ourselves a challenge. We took Jim Butcher's 'Bad Idea Bet' and ran with it. For those that need a little background, Jim Butcher took a bet, wherein the other party did not believe that a good story could come from a bad idea. He raised that bet, took two bad ideas (Pokémon and the Lost Roman Legion), mashed them together, and created the Codex Alera series.
We put 50 random, cliché, bad ideas into a hat and drew, intending to mix up the ideas and run with them for August Camp NaNo. I pulled: 'The protagonist is already dead' and 'French Foreign Legion', then added 'Police Procedural' to give myself a challenge.
When I pulled those ideas out of the hat, there was no immediate light from the sky filling my brain with a story. In fact, I was at a loss. What was I going to do with those bad ideas? They didn't fall into place perfectly, and I had no idea what I was going to do with 'French Foreign Legion'. A few days later, my protagonist walked into my head, said, "I'm a ghost, he's a wraith, he's a psychic, and we're all at war. Oh, by the way, my name is Michael – don't call me Mike." And then story happened.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
It falls somewhere between Urban Fantasy and Supernatural, but it definitely isn't Horror. It's set in the afterlife, which in my universe, is sort of like another dimension. What can I say; the book defies the boundaries of convention. Though, most people would probably just call it Urban Fantasy.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I struggled with this question for days. Honestly, I would be happy with mostly anyone, provided they had the chops for the part.
My protagonist Michael would be played by Ben Whishaw. Now, Ben Whishaw is just too damn attractive to be Michael, but he does have the right bearing that I picture Michael having. The key thing here would be that Michael is very emotionally conflicted about things in the afterlife, and Ben would have to be able to switch gears in an instant. From what I've seen of him on screen, he can easily switch between lighthearted and happy to a darker and more serious personality.
Next is my antagonist, Parker. Parker is an extremely complex individual whose motivations aren't quite what the other characters believe. I have to stress that Parker is the antagonist but that he is no way, shape, or form the villain. For days, I toyed with the idea of James McAvoy playing the role, but I couldn't really decide. Part of me would say, "He just doesn't have the look, not quite" and another part would say, "But he has the talent". Then, I saw this picture:
And decided in that instant, James McAvoy is Parker. He's got the look, he's got the chops. And pulling a British accent for Parker is cake for him.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A ghost tries to solve his own murder as reality and truth crumble under a war brewing in the afterlife.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I would like it to be represented by an agency first. Though self-publishing isn't completely out of the picture, my heart really loves the traditional publishing route. Besides, I think that the story is right for representation by an agency.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It took me – hang on, maths – 76 days. I began the draft on August 1st, 2012 and didn't finish until October 15th, 2012. At first, it was a trial to write. Every word was painful. And then, somewhere in those weeks, I fell in love with the story like I had never fallen in love with my writing before. After the first of the year, I'm going to pick this one back up and start editing and getting ready for submission.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
You know, I really hesitate to compare my story to any other. Not because I believe it is different – and it is – but because all stories are unique. Why on earth would I want to compare it to something that is already out there?
That's a clever way of me saying that I don't actually read much in the Urban Fantasy or Supernatural genre, so I don't have any valid comparisons.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Beside my computer, right next to my mailbox full of pens and my basket filled with writing books and journals, I have a stack of novels. Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and C.S. Friedman watch me write, and encourage me to be the best that I can be. They tell me that someday, if I try hard enough, I can stack my book with theirs. For me, that's all the inspiration I need.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
There's a lot of afterlife urban fantasy out there. There are a lot of stories about monsters and ghosts and big cities. Most of them are dark comedy, with protagonists that are snarky and clever. My story is much darker in tone, and is much closer to being a tragedy than anything else.
Another thing that might pique the reader's interest is that it's a story about the afterlife, but not a traditional Judeo-Christian afterlife. The characters struggle with their beliefs and come to terms (or not) with the fact that everything they believed in life is a lie, and that the afterlife is essentially their second chance.
There you have it! The Next Big Thing! Next week, keep an eye on the blogs of my brilliant writer friends in the next round: Wasteland Nomad of his self named blog Wasteland Nomad, Western Wizard of Thoughts on Writing, Angela Goff, creator of the Visual Dare over at Anonymous Legacy, and Eddie Louise over on her webpage.