My thanks go out to the ever-awesome Cliff Garstang, who tagged me to participate in The Next Big Thing. It's a self-interview where writers talk about their upcoming projects. Learn what Cliff is working on over at his blog. In addition to what he's working on next, you'll see what writers tagged him, and which ones he's tagged to participate in this blog series.
As for me...
What is your working title of your book (or story)?
Ashes will be published in March of 2013.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
A theme I often visit in my fiction is what happens to ordinary people when they have their lives up-ended. Jennifer, the female protagonist of Ashes, is a very ordinary person – she’s an admin at a federal building that’s bombed in a domestic terrorism attack. Not only is her life in upheaval because of that, but because she escapes at the last minute, she finds herself becoming the icon of the event. I wanted to explore how an ordinary person would struggle not just with living through such an incident, but the attention and expectation placed on her by being seen as a symbol rather than as a person.
This led to my male protagonist: Sean is a former covert ops agent, who’s been in forced retirement for several years at the time the book’s narrative begins. He sees the event and Jennifer’s escape on TV, and wants to return to active duty to find the perpetrators. When that request is denied, he goes rogue. His plan is to not just find those responsible but to bring them to Jennifer so she can take personal revenge; she knows nothing about Sean or his mission until the two characters meet, near the end of the book.
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s in the suspense genre, the first in a two-book series.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
For Jennifer, I’d definitely look for a girl-next-door quality. I think Alison Lohman would be a good choice. As for Sean, I’ve toyed with a number of different actors in my mind, including Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Spacey. But in the end my choice is Gary Oldman. He’s got a chameleonic quality that he shares with the character, whose specialty is deep-cover infiltration. He’s also an actor who can communicate a great deal in very subtle ways, which is also very suitable to the character.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The whole world is watching when Jennifer Thomson escapes at the last minute from a bombed federal building; while she tries to put her life back together, Sean Kincaid, a retired covert ops agent, goes rogue with the intention of finding those responsible, and bringing them to Jennifer so she can mete out justice.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published through my Smite Publications imprint.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took about six months. Because I used a structure of alternating chapters between Jennifer and Sean, I needed to ensure that the events in their respective narrative timelines were in synch. I also worked to make sure that their character arcs were in parallel
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The comparison that springs to mind is that of Sean’s character with that of the Matt Helm character created by Donald Hamilton in the 1960s. Not the Matt Helm from the Dean Martin movies, mind you! Starting with Death of a Citizen, the Matt Helm character was sort of the anti-James Bond. He drove an old truck, many of his missions weren’t in glamorous locations, and he never had any fancy weaponry; he also had doubts and crises of conscience that Bond never seemed to have. It seemed much more realistic, and was a big inspiration to me for Sean Kincaid’s character.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’m blessed to have a circle of friends I call my Constant Reader Brigade. They were invaluable to me for their critique of the story, plotting, and characters; they always encourage me when my energy’s flagging or if I’m having any doubts. Every writer should have such a Brigade!
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
What I wanted to focus on was that it’s people who are affected by events like these. And not just the victims – those hunting down the perpetrators and even the perpetrators themselves aren’t ciphers. They’re human beings, and the fun for me – and, I hope, for the readers – is getting into the characters’ heads and seeing the world through their eyes.
Once again, thanks to Cliff Garstang for giving me the chance to participate!
Who's got the Next Big Thing?
On December 24, Steve Ryfle will tell you about his upcoming biography of director Ishiro Honda.