|The author's toolbox|
"The Next Big Thing" Blog Series is like a cheery chain letter where writers chat about their upcoming projects by answering a series of 10 questions, before tagging other writers to discuss their projects. I was tagged by the lovely and talented Elissa Washuta, fellow Class of 2009 UW MFA graduate and author of the memoir My Body Is a Book of Rules, which will be published by Red Hen Press in 2014. Below, I tag other writers who will continue the chain on their blogs next week.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is the title of your book (or story)?
My novel, Biloxi Suite Trapeze--about acrobats on the Gulf Coast and the locals who love them--is dangerously close to completion. However, my actual Next Big Thing is my short story, The Hereafter Party, which I'm proud to say is not only fully complete, but will soon appear in print.
Where did the idea come from for the story?
The first sentence—which conveniently contained the narrative voice and complete story arc—popped into my head one day a few years ago. Much writing ensued.
What genre does your story fall under?
Um…Sherlockian Modern-Day Thriller?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This story might have to be animated to do it justice, in which case the voices would be Ewan McGregor for the protagonist Rafferty, and Alan Rickman as Braeburn. If the film version somehow found funding, I’d go with Richard E. Grant for Rafferty, and—in a shameless bit of stunt-casting—Dame Maggie Smith as Braeburn.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?
A decent, middle-aged chap enlists the services of a stellar suicide-agency, with fair-to-poor results.
Where will your story be published?
Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine Issue #9, Spring 2013
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Less than two weeks if I remember correctly, but it’s been (ahem) a few years.
What other works would you compare this story to within your genre?
I am not sure that I'm qualified to answer this question, since I just made up the "Sherlockian Modern-Day Thriller" genre, and I didn't even realize my story was a pastiche until it was accepted for publication. For comparison, I suppose anything else that’s…Sherlockian? Or, perhaps if Quentin Tarantino re-shot the 1982 pilot episode of “Remington Steele?”
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
I really don't remember, it was just fun. At the time, I was trying to write literary short stories (on deadline, no less) for MFA applications. A devout novel reader/writer, I’d read very few short stories in my life, of any genre, and I'm afraid it showed. I was miserably sure—every clock-ticking day—that graduate school wouldn’t happen for me yet again, when something just snapped and I did nothing but write this decidedly non-literary story for a week and a half, giggling at how much I imagined my high school BFF (and fellow Sherlock Holmes fan) Patricia Vonne would love it.
I was not accepted into an MFA program that year (or the next, if memory serves), but I have thrilled my fourteen-year-old self to no end by this story's association with Mr. Holmes' magazine. And I believe that's something.
What else about your story might pique the reader's interest?
I wish I could have officially made this story “steampunk” by any loose definition whatsoever, but fear it contains only whispers and tangs of that genre. While this is the only story I’ve written (so far) in a quasi-Victorian style, I believe readers will recognize its underlying humor in much of my more contemporary work. In fact...there are links to a couple freebie online stories/essays in my Bio to the right of this column, if one were interested.
Thanks so much for reading my interview! Now--there are several batons to pass, so let's to it:
Deborah Anderson is a dear friend and cohort whom I met in Artist Trust's 2012 EDGE program. An accomplished public speaker, she is also an organizational mastermind and self-described "woman of faith" who writes the highly entertaining (and yes, upbeat) "Positively Speaking" column for The Vashon Loop. Read her, hear her, love her: she is truly amazing, and I do try to only use that word once a month.
Kirsten Rue is a fellow UW MFA-er (from a different year, sigh) who writes beautiful fiction and essays, as well as a gorgeous blog that showcases her abiding interest in literature by and about women. Her work has been nominated for inclusion in the Best New American Voices anthology and has been featured in Quick Fiction, City Arts Magazine, and Hoarse Quarterly, among many others. She recently relocated to Wyoming, which sounds windswept and brave, and is sorely missed in Seattle.
Imani Sims is a poet, performer, and awesome force-of-nature I met via EDGE. She is a Board Member and teacher at Bent Writing Institute, and the founder of Split Six Productions in Seattle, WA. She is also a 2012 CD Forum Creation Artist and has featured in productions with Poetry + Motion, Generation Waking Up, Arts Corps, Seattle SPIT, Ladies First, Voices Rising, Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center, The Tribes Project, and Hampton University. She totally rocks, and her book Twisted Oak is available on Requiem Press.
Lydia Swartz is somehow able to update the Seattle Spoken Word Calendar daily, between frequent publications and spoken-word engagements; she spends the remaining minutes of her day just generally being fabulous, I assume. Lydia is yet another EDGE cohort, and a HUGE talent I am honored to have met this year.