My good friend and fellow writer T.G. Arsenault (Tim-ay!) tagged me in his The Next Big Thing blog, a kind of viral round robin thingy where we get to talk about a current work in progress. I, in turn, was to tag another five writers to keep it going next Wednesday. I was only able to dig up three who were interested, had a blog, and haven’t already participated. Seems this thing is a bit like the flu, it’s making the rounds very quickly, and it seems everyone already got it.
The three suckers who allowed me to tag them are listed below, so be sure to check them out!
Here are my answers to the ten questions.
Q: What is the working title of your book?
A: I have a few irons on the fire right now, but the one that’s closest to being finished is the second book in my new YA Fantasy series, The Phoenix Girls, Book 2 – The Crimson Brand. That is only a working title. As I get through the second draft a better one might occur to me.
Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
A: This book is only a smaller part of a larger idea which came to me about half-formed in a moment of epiphany so strong it almost stunned me. I remember exactly where I was when I had it, a passenger in my wife’s suv, instead of a driver which was usually the case. Probably a good thing too. I might have driven us straight off the road.
Where it came from … that’s a question I can’t really answer. I have no idea where it came from. I had toyed with the idea of writing something I could let my daughters read, they were younger back then, 14 and 11, and thought YA Fantasy would be a lot of fun. I wasn’t looking for that kind of story idea though. It found me, and I was happy to take ownership when it did, but that moment of epiphany wasn’t where the idea was born, just when it presented itself. I think ideas like that one either come from a lifetime of accumulated experiences, from everything that made me who I am and how I am, or from nowhere at all.
Q: What genre does your book fall under?
A: Young Adult Fantasy, though it has hints of other genres in the story to spice it up. There’s mystery, adventure, and just a dash of horror. I also want to point out that I don’t think a good YA story needs to be written down to a certain level or age group. I certainly wrote it with younger readers in mind, but I won’t insult them by suggesting in either word or deed that a story has to be simplistic or unchallenging for young readers to grasp it. A good YA story, and I do think my Phoenix Girls stories are good or I wouldn’t be writing them, and certainly not committing myself to an entire series, is just as complex and challenging as its adult oriented counterpart. Good YA stories are certainly capable of supporting complex characters, relationships, emotions, and ideas, and very capable of engaging adult readers.
Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A: Unfortunately, all of the actors and actresses I can see playing the lead rolls are already too old. If I could go back a few years and recruit some of my favorites … Bonnie Write as Penny, Saoirse Ronan or Dakota Fanning as Katie, and well, can’t really think of anyone for Zoe.
Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A: A young orphaned girls loses everything she has, family, friends, home, and finds them all again in a most extraordinary, and magical, way.
Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
A: I will not self-publish. I flatly refuse to self-publish. I wouldn’t be able to do it properly for one, and more importantly, if no one is willing to take a chance on it, then maybe it’s not worth taking a chance on. Luckily that is not the case with The Phoenix Girls.
No agency though. Agents … just don’t get me started.
Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A: Around a year, though a majority of the 90,000 words were done in a few month of marathon writing. It was simply the most fun I’ve ever had. Ever!
Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A: The Harry Potter books (yeah, I flatter myself) and the Narnia books (more flattery) come first to mind. It’s really not like either of them. I think The Phoenix Girls is pretty unique. Or I like to think it is. You read it and let me know.
Q: Who or What inspired you to write this book?
A: My daughters, and the idea itself. Once the idea hit me, it was too good not to write.
Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A: Magic, monsters, bullies, and bad guys, and most importantly, I think anyway, sympathetic young protagonists who any young reader, or every reader who remembers some of the difficulties of being young, can relate to and love.
Well, that’s it I suppose. There’s a lot more I’d like to say about this book, and series, but if I ramble too long, I’m likely to start throwing out spoilers.
Here are the writerly people I suckered into participating.
Mark Allan Gunnells