The Next Big Thing Round Robin Invitational Embloggening Continues

Someone (I believe it was one of my literary idols, John Skipp) had an idea to create an exponentially growing meme-style interview to get writers talking about their works in progress, i.e., their “Next Big Thing.” He tagged five writers and they each tagged five more and so on until professional fire-cracker and Canadian Olympic Liver-abuser, Mandy DeGeit, tagged me (mere seconds before the kick-ass Jan Kozlowski also made an attempt). So here we go.

Although I’m going to be talking about a book that I haven’t sold yet, I promise I’ll also talk about a couple of other projects I have coming up that you’ll be able to find at your friendly neighborhood bookst… who am I kidding? Your local bookstore isn’t carrying anything of mine (although they SHOULD!). You’ll have to look me up at Amazon.

Let’s start the insanity!

1. What is the working title of your book?

I’m horrible with titles. I love poetic, pretentious, literary-sounding word salads. Having said that, this book, however, shall hopefully find a home under the simple, punchy working title MOUNTAIN HOME.

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

I was struggling with a previous work and I felt like I needed to take a step back from it and try something completely different. Something that came straight at the reader, started strong and didn’t let up until the final scene. And I had nothing. Then, I had a nightmare that I was in a roadside cafe with my wife and son when someone came in and started shooting up the place. I wasn’t able to shake the anxiety from that dream until I worked a little of it out on the page. Thus, the idea for Mountain Home was born.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I hate genre titles, but I understand their relevance when a reader is looking for a particular kind of experience.  I like to think of this as a horror-thriller. Although I suspect it’ll just be thought of/marketed as a dark-thriller.  Whatever gets it in front of people’s eyes.

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

I don’t usually cast things in my head when I write them, but this book was different. The protagonist in Mountain Home is modeled on Lyn Lowry’s character in David Cronenberg’s “Shivers,” although in terms of age, Danielle Harris would be decent casting. I guess for the other big roles in the book, I’d like to see Naomi Watts, Mos Def, and Walton Goggins. You know, on the off-chance world-class actors might like to go slumming in my story.

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

When a sniper’s bullets begin tearing through a lonely roadside diner, a young waitress must make the choice to stand up to her own figurative and literal demons, or lie down permanently.

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

I don’t think that a legacy publisher is going to want to take a crack at this. It’s perfect for a smaller, indie press willing to try something different, so I’m trying to find a home for it there before I even consider self-pub. Nothing against it, but I’m most excited by the work the indies are doing these days–the books I’ve loved the most in the last few years have all come from places like ChiZine, Ravenous Shadows, and Shock Totem.  Those are my aspirational publishers.

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

I finished the first draft of the book in six weeks. I spent the next year after that editing, sending out to beta readers, rewriting, and editing more before I sent it to a single publisher.

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

That’s a hard one. In terms of action and pacing I’d say this book would nestle real snugly against “Cover” by Jack Ketchum or “Money Shot” by Christa Faust. In terms of tone, “Shoebox Train Wreck” by John Mantooth.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

There’s the dream. And then I feel like I got permission to write something like this from a couple of great workshops I took at the Grub Street writers program in Boston. They have really incredible instructors there like KL Pereira and Adrian Van Young who both challenged me to find a distinctive voice and streamline the way I tell stories. Also, I’d say that reading work like Michael Rowe‘s “Enter, Night,” John Mantooth'”s Shoebox Train Wreck,” and Kealan Patrick Burke‘s “Kin” forced me to try to step up my game as well. As a horror writer, you can’t read those books and not feel like you need to work twice as hard if you want to be half as good as those guys.

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

I’m weary of the same action heroes in the same story doing the same “heroic” things without ever getting hurt or feeling dirty. I want to subvert the idea of what an action hero is, so I cast a skinny nineteen-year-old waitress stuck in a dead end job in the middle of nowhere as my hero. She’s got no training, no experience, and no idea what she’s capable of because she’s afraid to pull the trigger on her life. But if she wants to survive, she has to break free from inertia and figure it out. I’m much more interested in stories of ordinary people rising to the occasion than I am of people with supernatural powers or well-trained super-soldiers getting thrust into circumstances that–while unexpected–they have all the tools necessary to come out on top of (although, when it’s well-done–like Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger–I love it). Mountain Home is an action story, but at its core it is character-driven and I hope that’s the point of connection any future reader has with it.

I wish I could give a time-table for when the book will be available, but I just don’t know. In the meantime, anyone who wants a taste of my work can find it in “The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes” and “Anthology: Year One” on Amazon or at the other links in my sidebar. If you want more after that, keep an eye on the Amazon link. Next month I’ll have a new story called “Some Other Time” premiering in an anthology titled, “Femme Fatale: Erotic Tales of Dangerous Women” from Go Deeper Press, I’ll be reprinting an old story called “Conscience of a Camera” as a Kindle short in January, and after that my piece, “The Most Incredible Thing,” will be in Chaosium’s “Once Upon An Apocalypse, Vol. 2.”

And now the hand off to five other writers I think you should be looking out for:

The above-mentioned John Mantooth wrote one of my absolute favorite books of 2012, “Shoebox Train Wreck.” If you don’t own it already, what are you waiting for?

Monica O’Rourke is a friend of mine from NECON and a writer who’ll make you squirm in your chair for sure. If you think you’ve got the guts, check out her novel, “Suffer the Flesh.” The first line of her Next Big Thing is “Manhattan Died” (I know because she’s a bad ass and got it tattooed on her arm).

John Dixon is another good NECON and Thrillerfest friend with some great news to share. Also, he and I will soon be having a no-holds-barred-except-all-holds-barred hot pepper cage match at a writers conference to be determined. He’s a hell of a boxer, so expect me to look a lot prettier afterward.

Amanda Downum is a friend from way back in my LiveJournal days and someone whose family I’ll be helping sneak out of Austin when Texas secedes. She’s written a wonderful series of fantasy novels following the exploits of necromancer and spy, Isyllt Iskaldur.

And finally, one of my creative partners, and a hell of a writer you should be reading: Christopher L. Irvin. I’d tell you more about him, but I think I might be extraordinarily rendered to an undisclosed detention facility if I did. Still, you need to check out his work in Weird Noir and  The Rusty Nail Magazine.

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~ by poǝןɔɐɯ uǝʞɔɐɹq on 28/11/2012.

6 Responses to “The Next Big Thing Round Robin Invitational Embloggening Continues”

  1. Wow, your one-sentence synopsis sounds intense – I normally read YA these days, but if I saw that blurb I would pick this story up. I enjoy things like Die Hard as much as the next girl, but I definitely agree that it’s much more interesting when it’s an ordinary person who has to rise up against the odds. Not only are those characters more relatable, but there’s more tension because they might actually fail.

    Great post! Good luck finding the right home for your book!

  2. As you know, I love your stories about female heroes. “Mountain Home” is no exception. These are the stories that should be mandatory reading for any girl or woman who has delusions of princessery. This is what real women do, they fight back. Your characters are so well developed that I feel like they are old friends. That is difficult to do in a short story but you do it beautifully. “Mountain Home” gives the reader a chance to spend time with two women facing different directions but ultimately on the same side. They are each trying to survive in a world that isn’t doing them any favors. (Note: I did make up the word “princessery” describing women who aspire to be cuddled and cared for.)

  3. GREAT post, Bracken! Loved what you had to say here, start to finish, and MOUNTAIN HOME sounds like a killer read. You’re targeting some awesome presses, too. CHIZINE blew out my brains and ripped out my heart with Rio Yeours’s book-of-the-year, WESTLAKE SOUL. Can’t wait to put MOUNTAIN HOME up on the shelf next to it.

  4. Thanks everyone. This was a lot of fun to write and I hope I can get the chance to get Mountain Home out before the sun runs out of hydrogen to burn.

  5. Thanks, Bracken…and I’m voting for NECON as the location for that cage match! 🙂

  6. […] Bracken MacLeod (28 November 2012) […]

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