Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tagged: The Next Big Thing

I was recently tagged by my friend, the talented Clark Perry, in a viral blog thread for writers called The Next Big Thing. Below are my answers to TNBT's ten questions -- I'll follow up soon with links to other participating writers' answers, so you can read about their cool upcoming projects.

1) What is the working title of your next book?

It's the second book in my Parish Mail series. Dead Letter Office is the first book, and is available now on Kindle, Nook, and Android devices.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Parish Mail is a series about a contemporary teenager in New Orleans who discovers a cache of centuries-old letters containing clues to crimes happening in the present day.

I’ve always been interested in urban history, cities where the very new and the very old exist side by side. In America we don’t have many of these places, but New Orleans is one, and is unique also in its cultural evolution and everyday acceptance of the supernatural.

I also love the related notion of history repeating itself: the ghosts of not just people but events tracking through time. In the Parish Mail series, when Celia, a thoroughly modern girl, finds these letters – or when they find her – she learns how the past and present can collide and gets a better appreciation for both.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult; a mashup of urban fantasy, mystery, and Southern Gothic.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm, good question... Post Mortem's characters are mostly teenagers so I'd have to do a little time-traveling to get some of the actors at the right age for a TV or movie version. But here goes:

Celia - Confession time. I actually never describe what Celia looks like, and this is intentional. Because the book is written in the first person, I like giving the reader the chance to see whomever they like, or themselves, as Celia. But imagine someone like Kristen Bell, Rosario Dawson, or Moon Bloodgood. Smart, resourceful, kind, a little tough.
Tilly - Naomie Harris
Donovan - Tom Hardy (Inception not Dark Knight Rises!)
Luc - Alexander Skarsgard
Sloan - Joel Kinnaman
Peyton - Anna Kendrick
Deanna, Celia's mom - Connie Britton, Jada Pinkett-Smith
Jane, Celia's grandmother - Jessica Lange, Phylicia Rashad
Robert, Celia's grandfather - Donald Sutherland, Denzel Washington

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a new friend goes missing right before Homecoming, Celia must battle a vengeful spirit and her own self-doubt to solve the mystery and its bizarre ties to a Civil War-era murder.

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

My publisher is the digital company Coliloquy

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

It's hard to say, since a lot of the writing was done on nights and weekends. About 4 months?

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There's a whole host of other paranormal YA books out there, of course, too many to list here. But Post Mortem and Parish Mail have even more in common with the TV shows Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

For Post Mortem, I wanted to follow up DLO by taking what Celia thinks she knows -- about herself, her place in the world, even her family -- and throw it all into question.

In DLO, Celia discovers the world of magic and spirits that exists alongside our own. In Post Mortem, I wanted to explore how Celia adjusts both to that world and her new home of New Orleans. Relationships with the boys in her life evolve, animosities at school grow, and Celia suddenly is struggling with self-doubt. She’s successfully solved one murder through a mysterious letter from the past, but her second case ends up being messier in pretty much every way.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

It's interactive: I use Coliloquy's technology platform to give the reader the opportunity to play detective along with Celia and to make emotional choices with her. At a few key points in the book you'll have a decision to make. Which clue should Celia follow as she investigates the mystery? Will she partner with Donovan or Luc to solve the case? Which suspect will she chase, knowing that the other one will get away? 

Think of it as the next generation of those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Every choice has consequences, both for the mystery and for the characters. It's challenging and exciting stuff to write, and I hope you'll check out and enjoy Post Mortem when it's released in January.

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