starfish

Next Big Thing Meme

I've done this meme before, but when Helen Lowe asked if she could tag me for her Next Big Thing post I noticed several others who seemed to be having trouble getting volunteers.* So, I decided to help. Anyway, I was honored she'd asked. It's obvious that the meme is approaching the end of its usefulness. (I believe this is the third time I've been tagged, and I can't even count how many times I've heard authors asking for folks who wanted to be included.) Therefore, I'm going to alter things a bit to suit my current WIP. I'm also not tagging more authors because I'm not interested in annoying my friends and acquaintances by pushing on. (It's for the best, really.) But Helen is very cool, and did I mention she's a Gemmell "Morningstar" Award winner for Best Fantasy Newcomer? Anyway, this gives me an opportunity to talk about the new Fey and the Fallen story I'm almost finished with. By the way, I'm scheduled to do this post tomorrow, but I need to do it today since I'm going to be taking over the reins at Charlie Stross's blog for a week and I've a lot of homework to do to prep for that. (I'm a bit overwhelmed, but at the same time OMG, I can't wait!) 

1. What is the working title of your work in progress?
It's called Pomegranates Full and Fine. (That's a line stolen from Christina Rossetti's poem Goblin Market. Yes, there's a reason for that. For fun, I'll even let you in on the telling line... “We must not look at goblin men, we must not buy their fruits: Who knows upon what soil they fed their hungry thirsty roots?”) I suspect this is going to be a novella.

2. Where did the idea come from for the plot?
It's kind of a long story. Originally, the idea was used for a short story that eventually (if you follow the crazy trail of bread crumbs) was responsible for the whole Fey and the Fallen series. Frankly, the original isn't very good. It was written while I was still an awkward newbie writer -- long before I did all my Irish research, and therefore, I'd prefer it stay buried. But I've always liked the story premise, and as it turns out, that idea is a damned near perfect fit for Kathleen (Liam's mother) and Bran (Liam's real father.) I'm not the first author to cannibalize an early work. I'm most likely not going to be the last either.

Anyway, what came to me (my stories often start with images) was an image of a harried young man (a preternatural creature) who's duty it is to protect an unknowing but powerful young woman from herself. I kept seeing him dust himself off and then dash to the next near-disaster -- only to finally fail through no fault of his own and let the veil between the worlds slip. The only motivation for him to go through all that effort was love. (Normally, it would make sense for the preternatural in question to shrug and allow the mortal to die of ignorance. It neatly resolves the problem, and hey... fairies are infamous for that.) I just really liked the idea of him going through all that for someone he loves, for someone that doesn't even know he exists.

3. What genre does your story fall under?
Fantasy.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This one is tough. First, the characters are young and I don't follow young actors. Also, I've never really assigned anyone for Bran. I could see a young Cillian Murphy as young Bran. Mind you, I've always seen Cillian as Liam, and Liam is a dead ringer for his father. Bran is an ageless being, but he passes himself off as seventeen in this story for Kathleen. So, hell if I know what one should do for this. As for Kathleen... I've kind of always seen her as a scruffy Natascha McElhone, but the Kathleen in this story is sixteen. There you are.

5. What is the synopsis of your story?

Vivacious sixteen-year-old Kathleen O'Byrne feels trapped in small town Derry. She'll do anything to escape the mundane working class life that is set for her. She half-believes in fairies and wants very much to see one. So, she does everything in her power to do so. For Kathleen (a woman of power without knowing it) that means a great deal. Bad things start crossing into areas they shouldn't. And Bran almost kills himself, keeping her from her foolish wish. 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm not a big believer in self-publishing. Long term, it tends to run counter to an author's interests--particularly if the author in question isn't great at absolutely everything, and I'm simply not. I don't believe in a world where absolutely everyone lives in a bubble of absolute self-sufficiency. Real people don't work like that. Real civilization doesn't work that way either. People need people. We all live better that way. I have an agent. Agents are the unicorns of the literary world. If you're lucky enough to lasso a great one (and I did,) you let them do their damned job. Trust me, it's worth the 20% commission to have someone with the x-ray vision of an attorney, the loyalty of a close friend, and the tenacity of a great white shark looking after your best interests.

That said, this is a novella/short story. Those aren't usually handled by agents. I've no earthly idea what I'll do with this thing at this stage. I'm not a short story writer, but I can fake it from time to time. Short stories are good things for novelists to dabble with. They're like weight training or eating your veggies. It's good for you.

So the ultimate answer to this question is: (to quote Indiana Jones) "I don't know. I'm making this up as I go along." See? There's a reason I have an agent. I'm mostly rubbish at the business end of things. I also pay a professional accountant. And you know what? I'm so okay with that. My job, as I see it, is to be the best writer I can be. It works out for the best for everyone.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I'm still writing it. I'm a slow writer. Stories come to me in fits and starts. I have to stop and listen to what my subconscious is telling me when things get tangled up. Otherwise, the story suffers. A lot. That said, I've worked on this thing before and had to walk away from it. This time, I'm sure it's going to come together nicely. I feel it in my bones. The answer to that question is probably three months inter-spaced with years and years of not working on it at all.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is kind of pointless for me since the work in question is set in an established world, and it's being written for those who've already read those books. (Readers keep asking for Kathleen and Bran's story.) And really, I don't like this kind of question anyway. It hits me like a marketing question.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this story?
My readers, plain and simple. I'm doing it for them. I'm hoping it'll smooth things out a bit since I had to take a break from the Fey and the Fallen series in order to write something else. 

10. What else about the story might pique the reader’s interest?
Writing this story has actually dove-tailed nicely with things that happen in the next Fey and the Fallen novel. It explains Bran's actions a bit and Kathleen's too for that matter.

And there you are. I hope you enjoyed it. I hear Teresa Frohock is doing one of these this week too. (She's also hosting a give-away.) You should have a look when she does her Next Big Thing. I know I will.
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* Not Helen as originally posted. My bad. I suffered a brain fart, I'm terribly sorry.
Thank you for the poem! I don't think I'd read any Rosseti before.

16 year old characters probably means actors of at least 20. Maybe even 26.