I was originally asked to participate in this meme by the talented E. J. Swift, and while I rarely say no to these kinds of things, E. J.'s request came at a rather bad time, so I was forced to decline. Life settled down as it often does, and over the weekend, I got a second request to participate in The Next Big Thing, this time from Alex Bledsoe.
And here is what you can expect from me next:
What is the working title of your book? The working title was The Garden, but I have since changed that to Garden in Umber. It is also the title to a poem, which bears no relation to the novel other than it has the word "garden" in the title, but the imagery of a garden dressed in shades of umber fit very nicely, so there. We'll see if I get to keep it.
Where did you get the idea for the book? I built the story around a character I imagined. His name was Guillermo and he was a werewolf. That was all I knew when I started. I've always loved Beauty and the Beast and wanted to do a story where the "beauty" was the man and the "beast" was the woman. As the story progressed, I found it was less about my beauty and beast and more about the relationship between three men.
As I researched sexuality in the Middle Ages and the attitudes toward gay men, I realized that this story was about how one man allowed societal mores to destroy his relationship with a close friend.
What genre does your book fall under? Fantasy.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This question usually stumps me, but for Garden, I actually had some inspiration:
Javier Bardem as Guillermo--not because of his looks, but he has the personality that I always associated with Guillermo;
Gael Garcia Bernal as Diago--from his eyes down to his mannerisms, he is just perfect; and
I don't really have an actor picked out for Miquel, but Brazilian model Carlos Freire when he was 18 is right in line with my mental image for Miquel. I don't know if he can act or not. But he sure is pretty.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? It's complicated and really awesome.
Okay, for real:
Guillermo, Diago, and Miquel struggle to remember their first-born lives and the secret of a song that will send the Daimon Ashmedai to the final death and free them from the mad angel Belita's ruined garden.
I hate those one-sentence synopses like the plague. Just saying ...
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Garden in Umber will be placed on submission in 2013. I'm represented by Marlene Stringer of The Stringer Literary Agency.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Once I got the story on track, it took me a little over a year to produce a rough first draft. This one felt longer, because I had a lot of research on the front end of the novel and also had to split my time between Garden and promoting Miserere.
I also tried to produce a polished first draft and wasted a lot of time trying to fit the story into my idea of what the story should be, rather than letting the themes emerge. I hope not to make that mistake a second time.
I've found for me, it's great to start with a firm synopsis, then write the first draft from beginning to end. Once written, it's easy to polish, edit, add, bend, fold, staple, and mutilate ...
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? None. I set trends, I don't follow them.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? I think one thing that inspired this tale to take shape the way it did was my research. I read about men who were accused of homosexuality and how they were burned at the stake along with their papers and personal effects. I read another case about two young men who went to the stake together and professed their love for one another right up until the end--their behavior totally baffled the priests, but I admired their courage. All of these stories had a deep effect on me, and I tried to imagine living in such an atmosphere of hate and fear, not because someone was a bad person, but simply because of who they chose to love.
I also wanted to write a novel about the intimacy that men often share with one another, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. It's not so much about fathers and sons as it is about how we often find our closest brothers and sisters are those who stand outside our blood lines.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? The angels and daimons in Garden aren't the Biblical good vs. evil sort like I had in Miserere. In Garden, I wanted to toy with the idea that angels and daimons (old gods) were different species of beings and what would happen if these different species mated with mortals.
And they had a war.
And the Nephilim could change into lynxes and wolves.
And you could work magic with a song.
And lots of other cool shit.
Reincarnation also intrigues me and I use that theme in Garden. I wound the men's past lives into their present lives, so we can see how Ithiel, Asaph, and Benaiah were in their first-born lives, then we see how some aspects of their personalities remain the same, yet other aspects are completely different, when they are reborn as Guillermo, Diago, and Miquel.
And if you just followed that sentence, you're going to love this book.
Next up, I've tagged five authors to participate and tell you about their Next Big Things:
Leah Raeder -- who is just too cool for words and is currently shopping her novel, The Feral. She is the Borges to my Garcia Lorca and is an all around interesting person to boot. That and we share a passionate love for our boy, Carlos.
Lindsay Smith -- who has been see hanging out with Leah Raeder and myself (please don't hold that against her) is the author of Sekret, which is coming from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children’s in Winter 2014.
Kendra Highley -- author of Matt Archer: Monster Hunter. Kendra and I go back to my days at the Online Writing Workshop where we bonded and still mete out the occasional crit. Check in and say hi to see her talk about her newest novel.
Gabi Stevens -- is a new agency-mate of mine at Stringer Lit. Gabi is an award winning author, who is working on the publication of the backlist that she wrote as Gabriella Anderson. Her latest work is The Falcon and the Wolf.
Wende Dikec -- Wende is also a new agency-mate of mine, and she writes YA with a science fiction edge. Her next big thing is a novel called So Pretty. Head over to see what she has to say about it.
And THAT ... is all the big things for now.