The Next Big Thing: Writers Discuss New Work

cropped-hands.jpgTagged! I’m it. My pal, JD Glass, artist, musician, and writer — my god, doesn’t she make me feel envious — has tagged me as the author of #29 in a series of blog posts designed to draw attention to our work and maybe sell a few books. I certainly don’t object to that! So, thanks to JD and to all who blogged before me, and I’ll do my best to answer the questions asked of me without excessive rambling.

The rules are simple. I talk about my newest release (Shaken and Stirred, Bywater Books, 2011) or about a work-in-progress (The Folly, no release date yet). Then, at the end of the post, I’ll tag another author, who will do the same thing in her blog on Wednesday, January 16th, 2013.

What is the working title of your book?

The Folly. I’ve been in the drafting stage for a couple of years now, but that’s not unusual. I dink around for ages, taking notes and filling journals, and then, I’m overwhelmed by the urge to sit down and actually write. I shut myself away like a nun in a convent and type, type, type until I’ve got a complete first draft. Then it all slows down again and I spend another age rewriting and editing.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This will make me sound like Coleridge, but I had a dream. It was about a red-headed woman standing at a gate, and I didn’t know why, but I knew it was important that she not get in. She was dangerous, not in a physical way, but psychically, spiritually. Now, typically, I’m not afraid of women — quite the opposite — and I harbor no superstitions about redheads. But things were a bit different in pre-Christian Britain, and that’s where this book is headed.

What genre does your book fall under?

Supernatural, I think, though everything I write has elements of romance, comedy, and tragedy. I don’t think it’s possible for me to write in just one genre. The world is too interesting and too complex to be confined.

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

What fun! And I can’t resist taking the chance here to talk about my earlier books. In Idaho Code and From Hell to Breakfast, which feature the same characters, I would have Kathy Bates play Emma. As for my young lesbian couple, Bil and Sylvie, I’d like Rashida Jones to play Bil and Amber Benson to play Sylvie. The actresses are a bit older than Bil and Sylvie, but who in the world cares? They’re awesome. For Shaken and Stirred, I want Jennifer Garner for Poppy and Queen Latifah for Abby. I’m thinking Garner could do butch if she tried. The right haircut, the right flannel shirt, the right coaching from me — okay, now I can hear that song from Mulan in my head, “I’ll make a man out of you.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sometimes we put a window where we need to put a door.

What is the longer synopsis of your book?

The divisions between worlds, between realities, between living and dead are paper thin, and there are places where these divisions are thinner even than that. Tansy is only 13, but she has a talent for finding the thin spots, and an even more remarkable ability to open them for a time. There are some who want to use her, some who want to protect her, and others who want to destroy her. Her last guardian, her father, is dead. Now, she must rely on Sigrid, an aunt she barely knows and her aunt’s partner, Clare. And then, of course, there’s the dog — a true force to be reckoned with.

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

I hope it will be published by Bywater Books, but of course they’ll need to see it first. They’ve published two of my books, Shaken and Stirred and Idaho Code, but they have no way of knowing if this time I’ve lost my marbles.

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

Are we counting procrastination time? Walking around time? Muttering to myself time? Because that’s usually about five years. Actual writing time is one to two months. I wrote Shaken and Stirred in two weeks, though it took me another year to edit it. I write very fast, but then I suspect that’s because my brain has been working on the story for a much longer time.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I studied Anglo-Saxon with Judith Ferster at North Carolina State and with Nick Howe at The Ohio State University. That got me interested in Anglo-Saxon riddles and folklore, and then I got interested in Viking sagas and pre-Christian religion in Northern Europe. That’s the academic answer. What really got me going on this was an interest I’ve had since childhood in bog bodies. I’m including a link here because they’re fascinating — incredibly well-preserved bodies from the ancient and medieval world. Oldcroghan Man, Meenybradden Woman, Lindow Man — they’re just amazing. They’re not like Egyptian mummies in that they look more alive, for lack of a better word. They look like they’re sleeping. Anyhow, The Folly brings all of these interests together along with strange goings on, psychic phenomena, one really weird kid, and a lesbian couple trying to sort it all out.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

My goal in The Folly is to make you laugh and scare your pants off. Who wouldn’t want to be giggling and naked?

Next Wednesday check out Bett Norris’ blog to find out about her Next Big Thing:

One response to “The Next Big Thing: Writers Discuss New Work

  1. I’m a bit slow here, but just found this blog. I have been fascinated with ‘bog bodies’, too for a long time. The first pics I saw were fascinating for their detail and the science of how the bodies were preserved. Wonder if there are more to be found?
    But I digress. Hope The Folly will be making it out to stores soon. It sounds fascinating and if it can make me giggle and naked, or giggling while naked, that’s a plus.

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