18 Dec

The Next Big Thing

Mayan's Next Big Thing
All this assumes that the Next Big Thing isn’t just the end of all the things.

Everyone prefaces these sorts of things with “I don’t do chain letters BUT . . .” So consider mine prefaced as well. Jeff LaSala was kind enough to tag me in this chain that I think was begun by Elaine Cunningham. (Chain letters always make me think of the telephone game that starts at one end of the classroom as “I’m finished with our big stone calendar” and ends on the other end as “The calendar has predicted the date humanity is finished!”)

The idea behind the Next Big Thing is to answer 10 questions about a work in progress, and then tag 5 more writers who do the same thing the following week. I like the idea of promoting some good people. And a little self-promotion never hurt anybody, I suppose. My lead project for 2013 is a novel. –gasp– I’m always working on multiple things, but this is receiving the lion’s share of my efforts.

My Next Big Thing

What is the working title of your book?

The file(s) currently live on my hard drive as the innocuous “the world we.scriv.” (I’m a (recent) Scrivener convert, thanks to Matt Forbeck’s advice at GenCon last year.) Titles rarely come first for me but I usually yank one out like a wisdom tooth when I first have to save a file. Although it may not survive to the end, that filename is truncated from the full working title, “The World as We Know It.”

Where did the idea for the book come from?

In part, the idea grew from the recent resurgence in “prepping” for various disasters. I enjoy taking a concept and drawing out its extremes, not in a made-for-TV fashion, but from a very personal perspective. I think extreme circumstances, especially isolation, brings out people’s true natures. Basically I ask, “What happens when these kind of people get exactly what they wanted? And what about the people forced into this circumstance? How do those perspectives (and expectations) meet?”

What genre does this fall under?

Moving away from my usual science fiction and fantasy writing, this novel is a suspense story. There aren’t any supernatural elements to it. Although I enjoy “damaged futures,” the story is set near enough in the future that it could easily be today. There’s no need for science fiction elements.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

Neko Case cleans a dear carcass.
I would never make Neko into a character of mine. She doesn’t deserve to be treated that badly.

Am I the only one that thinks this is a weird question that keeps cropping up in interviews and questionnaires? I just don’t think in those terms at all when devising a character. But I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to get someone on the set that I’d love to BS with. So . . . although I can’t fit in a scene that would allow one of my musesNeko Case, to fulfill her dream of cleaning a deer carcass in a slow panning shot, there IS a chance for her to gut a fish in the background. (Good enough? Have your people call me.)

What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

After a major disaster, a man and his family live in an old missile silo converted into a “luxury” survival shelter along with dozens of others, but he’s begun to question if the danger has passed and they are now just imprisoned by the shelter’s founder.

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

I plan to self-publish the book thanks to some inspiration (and reassurance) from those who have braved those waters before me. Obviously, by saying that, I intend for everyone who read that sentence to also read the subtext: “My friends and fans are going to need to recommend it to everyone they meet.” Also, I’m willing to sell the rights to Hollywood, as long as they agree to my previously mentioned “Neko Case fish-gutting” rider.

How long did it take you to write the first draft or your manuscript?

I certainly hope being able to call something a “work in progress” doesn’t happen until after the first draft because, work in progress!

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

This is another question, like the actor one above, that I don’t care for or do. I write the story that I intended. I’ll leave it to others to make comparisons and, instead, spend my time hoping that those comparisons are favorable.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wanted a vehicle to explore the idea of what people do when their society becomes a microcosm that they can directly and dramatically impact with their choices and behavior. When people attempt to change the world around them their efforts can get “lost in the noise.” When they are one of a very small number of people, and placed in a very limited world, there’s no “noise” and their actions, even minor ones, become pure “signal.”

Five Folks Whose Next Big Thing Has Me Excited

Because my interests are all over the place, so are the things I’m excited about. I want to point to projects beyond just straight-up novels.

Foreshadows CoverI don’t know if I’m breaking a rule (or risking some kind of world-jeopardizing paradox) by referencing the author who originally referenced me but: Jeff LaSala. This tarrasque-taming, gargoyle-photographing guy is one of the many minds who brought forth the short story and music collection Foreshadows (reviewed here) and continues to conjure forth Webshadows. I also witnessed a play-test board game at GenCon 2012. I wonder what that was about.

Alyssa Faden has transformed (Megatron-style) from cartography machine to buzz-generating machine as the Torn World prepares to sprout heads like a hydra. A blind-folded girl with a hatchet and an ominous box predicts an approaching Kickstarter, a miniatures line and a tactical wargame, plus their usual high-quality Pathfinder-compatible offerings. Come for the cartography, stay for the boundless (if occasionally terrifying) levels of enthusiasm.

HTRAMHThe novel How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J. C. Lillis is set to be my last read of 2012. This coveted spot (begin the coveting at your leisure) tends to set the tone for the coming year in terms of my reading and writing. Previous end-of-year books have included The Cold Six Thousand (Ellroy), Freakonomics (Levitt and Dubner), and
Treading on Hallowed Ground (Fair and Ganguly). Despite that scattered range, HTRAMH (as the kids are all calling it) is still outside my usual realm. Jen (as the people who drink too much at social gatherings call her) was one of those voices that told me I wasn’t crazy to pursue self-publishing. Her continued success reinforces that advice, so I’m looking forward to more already.

Finally, a former co-worker from my days in the “industry,” Harry Heckel was good at encouraging me to write when my job had positively nothing to do with writing. (I was on the industrial side of industry.) He’s been quietly amassing a body of work when I wasn’t looking, and under his own name, no less! Now I’m wondering what’s next in line.

some1lentmeagageEd. Haven, for want of a gauntlet, here is  A gage. There are many others like it, but this 01 is yours.

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