October 24, 2012

Week 20: The Next Big Thing

    Through serendipitous circumstances (and by that I mean me cruising Facebook to kill time a couple of weeks ago) I was asked by the talented Rachele Alpine to participate in The Next Big Thing: a game of blog-tag for writerly type bloggers with manuscripts-in-progress. Rachele's contemporary YA, Canary, debuts next fall, so that makes her a real-live author which, by extension, includes her in a group of people I'd like to be in someday. So, of course, I jumped on the word-nerd bandwagon.
      The rules are simple: Last week, Rachele wrote a post on her blog answering the interview questions below about her work in progress and linking the post to the writer who tagged her and five (plus a couple) others for this week. I play the same game. You get to read my enthralling answers and then hold on to your hats until next Wednesday to check out the thought processes of five other aspiring authors, and, in one case, amazing author-illustrator. 
     I know I've mentioned my love of books, writing, and all things etymological here before, but I haven't maintained this as strictly a "writing" blog, so here's a whole new side of this Mamma for some of you blogland beauties to see. :-) Here we go:

Q1. What is the working title of your book?

     The working title of my novel is THE CHRONICLES OF GIDEON HOLBROOK: BOOK 1. I've been through a few titles...The Taffy Family Chronicles, Gideon Holbrook and the Legend of the Black Lake...but I think I like what I'm working with now best.

Q2. Where did the idea for the book originate?

     I have loved writing for...well, ever. I've written hundreds of poems, scads of essays and short stories, dozens of children's picture book manuscripts, but I had never even thought about writing a novel until one day when my daughter was four years old. She has always been very articulate and advanced in her vocabulary and we were playing a story-telling game we call Fortunately/Unfortunately. I would start a story with one sentence, beginning with either the word 'fortunately' or 'unfortunately,' and she would continue with the next sentence, starting with the opposite word. For example: "Fortunately, the alligator was on a leash." "Unfortunately, the leash was plastic." And then chaotic storytelling ensues. This particular day, however, I started the story, "Fortunately for the little girl standing on the rocky shore, she had remembered to wear her raincoat and hat." Then Laurelei continued, "Unfortunately, her brother standing next to her had not." 
      And then I had a vision. I know that sounds very purple-prosish and melodramatic but I kid you not. The little girl in the rain on the rocky shore and her brother, soaked to the skin next to her became, suddenly, full-fledged characters in my mind. We exchanged a few more sentences and I told Laurelei I loved this story and I needed to write it down. I asked her what else she wanted to have happen and she answered, "Hmmm...the boy and the girl visit their grandparents...and there are pirates." Okay! I spent the next two days writing what would eventually, after much poking and prodding and molding and shaping, become the first five chapters of THE CHRONICLES OF GIDEON HOLBROOK (a.k.a.: the boy without a raincoat). 

Q3. What genre does your book fall under?*

*Alright, this game's 20 weeks old so I hope I'm not offending the creator of  these questions by unleashing my inner grammarian and rephrasing them a bit (the last one originally said "Where did the idea come from for your book?" Not incorrect, technically, but clunky). In my not-so-humble opinion, this one should say: What genre does your book fall into

     Why, thanks for asking. My WIP ("work in progress" for you non-writerly types) features main characters of middle school age and would most likely be publisher-classified as an Upper Middle Grade Fantasy/Adventure. I hope, however, that it has cross-over appeal to both the YA and Adult markets. 

Q4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

     I won't pretend I haven't thought about it. I'm a very visual person and an imagery-loving writer. Sometimes, the only way I can work through a scene is by "seeing" the movie in my head. That said, the only one of my characters for whom I have selected a definite, perfect-fit actor counterpart is my villain. I would loooove to see Helena Bonham-Carter in that role.

Q5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ugh! That's a hard question. Okay, one shot, off the top of my head, here goes:
     When Gideon Holbrook's parents receive a mysterious letter and set off on a secret ocean journey leaving Gid and his sister with their grandmother on an island off the coast of Oregon, Gideon discovers a secret about his family's ancestry that has him wondering who he really is, and racing to save his parents' lives. 

Q6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

     I am seeking agent representation (hello? any agents reading?).

Q7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

     I started over three or four times before completing a single draft. It's a complicated plot. I think it took me three years to finally come to a draft.

Q8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?*
*or To what other books within your genre would you compare your story?

     Avi's CRISPIN AND THE CROSS OF LEAD comes to mind, and maybe...smack me for my arrogance here...J.M. Barrie's PETER PAN? I don't know. I hate comparing my work to others'. 

Q9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

     After my little girl's spark of magic set a fire under me, my thoughts turned to my ancestors and my love of mythology and folk tales. I am a mixed bag of national heritages, but, for some reason, the vague knowledge of some unnamed Welsh progenitors stood out in my mind. I began to interweave my story with one from traditional Welsh mythology, pulling in historical figures and letting my fictional characters grow around them. My own, semi-romanticized ideas of the old-world Welsh culture and landscapes, combined with the newness of a turn-of-the-century, melting-pot-of-cultures, North-Western American town inspired me to push and develop the story.  

Q10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

     Pirates. As requested by Laurelei, the villains of the tale are of the seafaring variety, and they come with their own back stories, side stories, and surprises. Making up pirates may have been the most entertaining part of writing this story for me. A couple of my favorites: Birdie, a Jamaican with dread-locked hair and a sinsister-sweet voice, and Dead Danby, a Cockney Brit whose skin hangs loose on his frame like melted wax and who has died at least nine times. 

     And there you have it! I hope to share it with all of you--via your local bookseller, of course--one day very soon. You can check out Rachele Alpine's Q&A on her current WIP here, and don't forget to look for more authorial ramblings of the fabulous variety from these bloggers next Wednesday:

J. Larkin
Erin Shakespeare
Liesel Bendio Potter
Jessica Lorene
Madison LaFond
( I'll post the links to those last two as soon as I have 'em).

Thanks for stopping in, lovelies, and remember: faithful blog readers get cuts in line at my book signing someday.



  1. I am quite fond of the title "Gideon Holbrook and the Legend of the Black Lake". Very compelling and mysterious. Though your current title is awesome too. I for one cannot wait for you to finish. Not just so I can finish reading it, but so everybody else can! You are an amazing writer!

  2. Thanks for participating, Amber! Your book sounds great! Fingers crossed it finds a home with an agent (and then publishing house!).