Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Next Big Thing (aka Third Time's a Charm)

I was tagged in this blog by Mina Vaughn and Darci Cole and I'm pretty sure Kelsey Macke may have tagged me awhile back as well, but I can't be sure if it was her or someone else*. Either way, Kelsey's blog is awesome, so you won't have wasted a trip there if you decide to take a peek!

I figured that after being tagged for this at least three times, (Maybe more! Who knows?! I'm terrible with the tagging things. It's like a chain letter! I was never able to keep up with that stuff either and I still don't have leprosy or a mummy's curse or anything like that, so I guess I'm good?)

Also, secretly, just between me and you... don't tell anyone... I've been putting this off because I'm kind of afraid of jinxing things, which doesn't make sense considering I escaped all that bad luck from the chain letter stuff. You'd think I'd be unjinxable right? But, still I'm worried. I don't even have an agent yet, so I don't want to be all like Yeah! I'm the next BIG THING! And then become an EPIC FAIL without even getting started, know what I mean?

Send good thoughts my way if you don't mind, please? Kthxluvya!

Here it is, without further ado....

What is the working title of your book?
The Shifting Darkness

Where did the idea come from for your book?
It was the strangest feeling really. I was sitting in my brand new house, where we barely had any furniture except a love seat upstairs in the "movie room" and this woman walked into my head, flashed a badge, and said, "What have we got?" And I was like...uhmmm... I don't know. Who are you? What are you doing? What's behind that yellow tape?

And that was how it all started. Sidney was a stranger who literally walked into my life one day.
I didn't even know her name until I drove past a sign on the way home from my friend's house. I'd passed it a hundred times before, but that one particular time I read it and something clicked. LAKE SIDNEY LANIER. I was like... Lake Sidney... Sidney Lanier... Sidney... Lake... SIDNEY LAKE THAT'S HER NAME IT'S SIDNEY LAKE!!!!

(*Side note* This is also why her name is spelled Sidney and not Sydney. So that's another little inside bit of info for when I become a Jeopardy answer.)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The short answer: 4 years.
Long answer: When Sidney made that entrance into my head, I wrote down the first chapter (most of which has been cut from the original version and re-written about five million times) and then I didn't do anything with it for over a year. I was a newlywed, just moved to a new house in a new city in a new state, and started a new job. So after all that settled down and I started to seriously have the desire to just FINISH WRITING A BOOK ALREADY. I took the time to go through all the first chapters I'd begun over the year, and Sidney felt like the one I really thought I had the best chance of finishing. It felt whole to me somehow, even though I didn't have it plotted out or anything. Once I actually started writing it in earnest, it took me about 2 1/2 years, mostly writing in summers when I wasn't teaching. But that was way back when I thought I had to be in "the zone" to write anything. Hahaha, now I know better. Write when you can. However you can. With whatever you can. That's the only way it's going to get done.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
A lot of different elements inspired me to write this book. First of all, I'd earned my Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee, and I sort of felt like I should probably put all that time and energy and money it cost to actually... I dunno... write a book. I also had a friend from my writing classes who really championed this idea from the very beginning. Roy is probably the only other person who knows this project from the terrible, terrible first drafts. He encouraged me to keep going with it when I thought it was dumb, and kept me focused when I wanted to drift away to work on other projects. I really don't think it would have happened without him. Oh, and he thought of the title. THANKS ROY!

What genre does your book fall under?
Adult Urban Fantasy

What is your book about?
Ugh. Isn't this the question every writer dreads? Being asked about this is the reason why I don't tell people right away that I'm a writer. They always ask this question and it makes me go into anaphylactic shock, where my palms get all sweaty and my throat closes up.

"My book is about people and things happen to them and there are monsters and lots of gore," is usually what I end up muttering. For some reason I find it terrifying to open up about this. It's more revealing than the annual exam at the Gyno.

But since this is a blog post, and I have the capability to copy and paste, here's the more rehearsed and polished version:

Twenty-four year old Sidney Lake doesn’t know if aliens or the Men in Black exist, but she does know the supernatural world is alive and kicking right under the noses of busy New Yorkers. For Sidney, hunting down the monsters with her partner Graham Williams is as commonplace as buying a cup of coffee and the morning newspaper from the cart on the corner. 

When a strange corpse is found on an abandoned subway platform and a board member conjures a demon he can’t control, it’s Sidney’s job to keep those caffeinated New Yorkers focused on their morning crossword puzzle instead of what’s going on around them.

While investigating the origins of the John Doe from the subway platform, Sidney gets attacked by two creatures that are supposed to have been extinct for centuries. Before she can manage to put a bullet through its head, one of the creatures sinks its teeth into her shoulder. Sidney wins the fight, but now her own humanity is called into question.

She turns to her boss, mentor, and sometimes lover, Mitch Harris for help and comfort. Mitch doesn’t have all the answers, but he knows someone who might. Mr. Dimitrius has information about what and who Sidney is, but it’s vastly different from anything she could have imagined. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This is the jinxy part. Cross your fingers, eyes, toes, anything you can cross!
I really would like to get an agent. I'm in the middle of the query trenches, with dirt and shrapnel raining down on my head as we speak.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition?
I finally got dragged into the world of Pinterest when I found out people were using it to create idea boards and muse boards for their books. Since I've been doing this with printed out photos taped into notebooks for years already, I thought it was a pretty neat idea. You can find all my boards on my Pinterest profile here.

For Sidney, I would cast Amelia Warner. I've loved her ever since I saw her in Quills. I originally had her cast for another character in the Vampire Book That Would Never End. I spent years writing ALL THE SCENES and it never went anywhere. But, she's absolutely perfect for Sidney. Intense, haunted, sexy. I love her.

For Sidney's partner Williams, I'd cast Brendan Hines. Williams was actually the last person I picked out a muse for. I always saw him inside my head, but it was sort of blurry. His personality was stronger than his looks. Then one night I watched Lie to Me and it was like Williams walked right onto the screen. It kind of freaked me out. This is Williams:

Mitch Harris was the very first person I cast in my head. He's blatantly based on Mitch Pileggi who played Assistant Director Skinner on The X-Files. This is why he's named Mitch. I also wouldn't be heartbroken if Ed Harris was cast... Wait. Woah. I seriously didn't plan Harris. I LITERALLY just realized the last name was the same. Wow. The unconscious mind is an amazing thing.

I've had a crush on Eduardo Verastegui ever since he danced as a sexy gypsy in that J. Lo music video way back in 199whatever. I had my television on MTV (Back when they played music. No, seriously, the M used to stand for Music. I don't know what it stands for now, but it used to be music. Seriously.) and I randomly caught a glimpse of him and nearly tripped flat on my face right in the living room. We had mauve colored berber carpet, so it would have given me some killer rug burn, but the couch saved me.
Here's the video. The actual song sucks, so skip to 1:30 and put it on mute. Also make sure you're sitting down and have a cold shower accessible, because... just watch: 

You see why my adoring Twitter followers and beta readers have nicknamed him Steamy D, right?!

Feast your eyes on this delicious man flesh...

See that outfit he's wearing in this pic? Take note of the pendant and the thin leather strap around his neck. I'm not even kidding. I wrote this description of Dimitrius before that photo even existed:

At first glance, his shoulder length hair was jet black, but when he stepped into the light of the fire it picked up gold and orange tones and she saw that it was actually a very dark brown. It reminded her of pure chocolate and fell in loose waves around his square face, ending in stark contrast with the edge of his pristine, white collar.

The top two buttons of his shirt were undone, as if he intended to draw her gaze downward. He wasn’t wearing an undershirt, so it was easy to see the outline of his well-toned chest. A tarnished silver pendant rested right below the dip of his collarbone, tied to his neck with a narrow leather strap. She didn’t recognize exactly what it was, maybe an old coin or a stamped crest of some kind.

IT'S LIKE HE GOT DRESSED UP JUST FOR ME!!!! So, clearly, Eduardo is my Dimitrius. There will be a film version of THE SHIFTING DARKNESS and he will be Steamy D. Just you wait. It's meant to be.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Like Steamy D isn't enough?!
Okay, okay... I've always been fascinated by magic and the supernatural. I've also always been interested in science as it relates to humans, like genetics, forensics, pathology, that kind of stuff. I wasn't planning to do it, but the way things worked out with THE SHIFTING DARKNESS, I was able to sort of blend the two ideas, and examine what happens when the line between magic and science gets blurry.

And there you have it! My Next Big Thing blog post!

*I've been informed that my dear pal Sarah Henning invited me to do this post and I totally didn't respond. This could be due to
1) Peanut eating the email (he puts EVERYTHING in his mouth these days)
2) My complete inability to function as a human being
3) I was abducted by aliens
4) All of the above.
I'm sorry Sarey. You know I love you and when I see you I will smoosh your sweet face. You are AWESOME and I adore you!

I'd tag other people, but pretty much everyone I know has done it already. Yeah, yeah, that's a total cop out, I KNOW. But here are some awesome blogs you should check out because these peeps are SUPERTASTIC:

Angi Black
Megan Whitmer
Leigh Ann Kopans
Sarah Fox
Laura Oliva
Stephanie Funk
Jessa Russo
Jenny Kaczorowski
Chris Savino
J. Hewitt
The Writer Diaries