Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Next Big Thing

This has been a difficult holiday season for me and mine.

My father has late-stage larynx cancer, which prompted an emergency run by me from Columbus to Phoenix the week before Christmas. I had a connecting flight in Chicago during the winter storm that tore across the Midwest and turned my scheduled 6-hour trip turn into a 14-hour one.

I plan on writing about this in depth one day, but here is the short of it: I was able to get dad back to Columbus where he will probably stay until the end. You don’t know the meaning of the word melancholy until you watch your kids—who are wholly ignorant of his prognosis—climb over their Grandpa during his last Christmas.

But that’s another post for another time. Through it all, I am learning to focus on the good things, to find the happy amidst the overabundance of sad. Which is why, in the middle of all this, I was incredibly grateful when author of The Riyria Revelations, Michael J. Sullivan, tagged me for The Next Big Thing meme.

First off, let me explain what a meme is. Actually…no, I won’t. I had originally intended to do so, but as Michael’s explanation in his The Next Big Thing post is so thorough, I invite you to hop over there, read it, and then come back.

Go ahead. I’ll wait. Just make sure you come back.

*** humming Gangnam Style ***

Oh, thank goodness you’re back. I was thiiiiiiis close to dancing.

Now, the idea behind The Next Big Thing meme is pretty simple: another author tags you, you answer ten standard questions, and then you tag five other authors, propagating the meme through the intertubes like some sort of virus.

So, without further ado, I will continue to pass along the infection and answer the ten questions:


1) What is the working title of your next book?

Book 3.

Sorry. That’s all you get. The real title is a secret. Although I will say an astute reader of Progeny and Prophecy will probably be able to guess it.

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

As it’s part of series, I’ve had the basic idea of what happens in book 3 since I conceived the series. Granted, some storylines that I had not anticipated wove their way into the book, but the ‘soul’ of the book has been clear for a long time. I wanted it to be where lines were blurred, where characters and readers alike began to question who is on what side, who can be trusted and who cannot.

I’m halfway through writing it and I’m happy to say I’m succeeding.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy for sure.

On Amazon, it’s listed under both Epic Fantasy and Historical Fantasy. ‘Epic’ because the story…well, is epic. Lots of moving pieces, lots of characters, lots of things going on. ‘Historical’ because anything not ‘Urban’ fantasy sort of falls under the ‘Historical’ designation.

I actually think it might be a YA title, too. It satisfies the largest YA criteria: protagonists are in their teens (at least when the series starts). But as I have received email form readers ranging from 11 to 92, I think the book has broad appeal. I rather expect my readership looks a lot like Christopher Paolini’s, the author of the Inheritance Cycle series, albeit much, much smaller. Imagine that Paolini is the Sun. Me? I’m Mercury: a tiny speck of rock lost against his brilliance.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it before. Now, I’m no casting director, but here are my choices for a few:

Nikalys: Taylor Kitsch. He could easily pull off the brooding Nikalys of Progeny, as well as the more mature Nikalys of Prophecy. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2018237/)

Kenders: Chloe Grace Moretz. She’s not huge. Yet. She’d need hazel contacts, though. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1631269/)

Jak: Mark Salling. Best known as Noah Puckerman on Glee. I just picture Jak looking like him but with longer hair. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0758597/)

Sergeant Trell: Tom Hardy. The dude can pull off a beard. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0362766/)

Broedi: Chris Hemsworth. Most people know him as Thor in The Avengers. Movie magic would be necessary to make him seven-feet tall, but he’d be perfect for Broedi’s strong, mysterious, taciturn style.

Nundle: I have no idea. None.

Zecus: Michael B. Jordan. I liked him on Friday Night Lights. I think he could pull Zecus’ character off well. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0430107/)

As far as the director: Joss Whedon, please.

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

As the war spreads, consuming the duchies, the question of who is friend and who is foe grows increasingly difficult to answer.

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

Not sure.

I have a couple offers of representation based on Progeny, which was self-published. I have yet to choose an agent, however, as I am holding out hope for one in particular who has the manuscript under consideration.

I will choose an agent eventually, and what happens with book 3 rather depends on what happens with said agent finding a traditional publisher for Progeny and, hopefully, Prophecy.

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

Still writing it. I’m 130k words in and probably a little less than 60% done. It’s taken me about 3 months to get this far. But remember, I’m indie and have a day job. All my writing is done in the evening.

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

I don’t much like to make comparisons of myself to other authors. I feel presumptuous doing so. Therefore, I will list a couple review snippets and let the reviewers do the comparisons:

"For me, Progeny is in league with both The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings and far better than Harry Potter - Progeny has a wealth of depth to it that I haven't seen in many books."
- Clover Hill Book Reviews

"Robert Jordan. George R. R. Martin. Stephen Donaldson. Brandon Sanderson. These are the masters of fantasy and readers of Progeny will be able to discover a new voice that is destined to match those authors."
- Booksie Blog

"I would favorably compare his writing with Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, Robert Jordan and even a bit of David Eddings flavor mixed in."
- LuxuryReading.com


Eek. Even reposting those reviews makes me feel like a braggart.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ll answer this in regards to the series.

When I get asked this question, my answer is always the same: my kids and bad books. Let me explain.

When I was younger, I read a lot. Tolkien, of course. T.H. White, too, and others. When I was in high school, I read Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist and really enjoyed it (along with the other three books of that series).

As time passed—I went to college, graduated, got a job, got married, had kids—my free time evaporated and I stopped reading. A few years back, my family and I were going on vacation, and I went to the book store to get something to read for the trip. I stumbled over Magician by Feist, remembered liking it when I was younger, and bought it. I breezed through it (and the other three books of the series, again), and then discovered that Feist had written numerous more books set in the world of Midkemia. I made time in my life to read again (farewell, television) and read them all, after which I moved onto some other authors. Some I liked, some I did not.

After three bad books in a row—predictable plots, stereotypical characters—I commented to myself that “I could do better than that.” I challenged myself to try, and here we go. It’s been a learning experience, I’ve made a lot of mistakes (if anyone finds a first edition of Progeny, you’ll see them all), but I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.

Now, where do my kids come in?

I wanted to write something my kids would love and enjoy for years. The two main characters in the series, Nikalys and Kenders, are named after my own children, Nikalys and Kennedy.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

There’s a pie hidden in every one.

Nah…

Actually, one thing that might be of interest: I’ve written the books in such a way that they will mean something totally different on a second read through. I’ve dropped hints about things here and there that a reader who has already read the series will note as they read it again.

Now, as to the authors I am infecting—er, tagging—here they are in a very particular order, ranked by number of letters in their name. Every person below has proven to be both a good writer and very nice guy. I am glad I have gotten the opportunity to know them all.

Bryan Young www.bryanyoungfiction.com
Erik Scott de Bie http://erikscottdebie.com/
Bryan Thomas Schmidt http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/
Maxwell Alexander Drake http://www.maxwellalexanderdrake.com/