Next Big Thing Blog Hop–Work in Progress

This week I’m participating in a “blog hop,” which basically consists of one writer linking to me on her blog and then me linking to another writer on his blog. The point is for us to connect our audiences while talking about the projects we’re working on. The writer who linked to me, Marissa James, is my editor at Portland State University’s student newspaper. She writes speculative fiction. The writer I’m linking to is Sean Davis, who is a veteran and author. His memoir, The Wax Bullet War, will come out next year from Ooligan Press, the student-staffed publishing house I’ve had the pleasure of working at the last two years while earning my master’s in publishing. One of these writers is speculative fiction and the other is memoir, and even though I’m a short story writer/occasional novelist, I’ve had the great pleasure of being linked to both thanks to the connecting power of writing.

Now, on to my current project. I’ve written about it a few times in previous posts, so hopefully any loyal readers of mine are not tired of it yet…

1. What is the working title of your next book?
In the Land of Girls

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I am a big fan of the noir film genre, so I thought it would be fun to apply it to a book. I’m also a sucker for movies or television shows with a lot of teen drama (I love you Degrassi) probably because I had a fairly drama-free adolescence. So I thought the noir genre would work well in a high school setting because teens’ emotions are so heightened and even the smallest thing can become dramatic at that age.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Young adult mystery

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
When I write short stories, I don’t spend much time mulling over a character’s appearance because I am more focused on the small moments. When you only have a few pages to tell a story, you can’t waste too many words describing someone’s hair color, for instance. But with a book, I felt required to do so. My trick for working my way into developing physical descriptions is to start with a real person already in mind. A lot of the characters in this book are an amalgamation of people I’ve known. But a few of them are famous people. My protagonist, Peyton Blake, is Emma Watson. Emma was a good choice because she has a great look: pixie haircut, tall, and attractive features. She screams unique leading lady to me. Of course, she’s twenty-three in real life, which makes her six years older than my character. But older actors are often cast in younger roles (as in Emma’s upcoming movie Bling Ring).

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Peyton Blake, daughter of newly successful crime author Richard Blake, relocates to Seattle, Washington following the passing of her mother, and while attending an all-girls private high school, she falls into the underbelly of the school in a youthful twist on classic noir.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I won’t self-publish, so that means I’ve got to start hustling to find an agent.

7. How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m a couple of scenes away from finishing the manuscript, and when I do finish this draft, it will have taken two months. I consider that a quick turnaround, but I owe that partially to NaNoWriMo. I wrote the first 50,000 words of this book during April’s NaNoWriMo. During the month of May, without the pressure of NaNoWriMo’s deadline, I’ve written an additional 15,000 words. I did want to keep up with this project, though, so I told myself I had to finish it by the end of May. I think it’s important to have deadlines like these to keep me from getting lazy.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
When looking at comparative titles, I stumbled across the author Megan Abbott. Her books The End of Everything and Dare Me are the closest I could find to the teen noir genre. I’d have to say that the closest comparisons would be the movie Brick and the television show Veronica Mars.

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve never written YA before, but after talking to two authors with interesting insights into the genre, I was curious to try it. Kerry Cohen, who has written YA, said she wished more good writers would write in the genre. Lidia Yuknavitch, who doesn’t write YA, said she doesn’t like how all YA books seem to be about a girl trying to find a boyfriend. I decided I wanted to write YA and that the book, while it has a semi-romantic sub-plot, is not focused ultimately on a dating relationship (and certainly not with a boy since my protagonist is a lesbian).

Also, I wrote this book for my niece Raven. I wanted to create something she would (hopefully) enjoy.

10.What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Roller derby! Lesbians! Murder?!?

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