The Next Big Last Big Thing

Time to dust off the old blogging machine just (barely) in time to uphold a promise-to-participate in “The Next Big Thing”–a round-robin Q&A session which writers, apparently, have been passing around the Internet recently like a ceremonial goblet or H1N1. Maybe you’ve seen this elsewhere. The rules: answer 10 questions and pass ‘em on.

I was tapped for duty last week by hard-writing hero (and way-back brotherfriend) Brian Hodge. I’ve modified the prescribed opening question slightly (from “next big thing” to “last big thing”) just because it’s my website and dammit I do what I want.

At the end I’ll let you know who will be picking up the gauntlet on their own site(s) next Wendesday, December 12.

With thanks to Brian, here goes.

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

Lake Country. I think the working title was The Lake Country.

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

Utter desperation. The original nugget actually came from a newspaper article about quirky jail sentences. I expanded that nugget into a one-page pitch, which I sold to my publisher, then proceeded to fail for more than a year at turning that pitch into a readable novel. Finally, a month before deadline (which was an extension to an extension of the original deadline) I threw away everything—around 250 dishwater-dull pages. That night in the shower a pair of characters came to me (so to speak). Mike and Darryl. I started over from page 1 with those guys and seven months later had a finished manuscript.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Crime/suspense. More on the character-driven side of the spectrum than the action-thriller side, but blood does spill.

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

Whoever is gettable and could secure financing. But seriously, I have no idea. Sometimes I’ll picture an actor when writing a character, but generally not. I’ve had a very tangential observer’s experience with drumming up casting lists for another book of mine, and I’m always surprised at how the most unexpected suggestions for actors in certain roles end up being the most interesting. In the end I suspect it’s best for novelists to leave all their important casting decisions to the professionals.

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

A down-and-out young war vet races to derail his troubled combat buddy’s cockamamie kidnapping/revenge scheme before it’s too late.

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

Capably represented by long-time agent and friend David Hale Smith.

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

Oh, no. I relived that horror in Question 2.

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

Just this week resident crime fiction czar Scott Montgomery of BookPeople in Austin, Texas, posted this video comparing the book (kindly) to Elmore Leonard. That’s very flattering so I’ll claim that one.

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

I’m not sure if there was a specific source of inspiration beyond what inspires me generally to write anything:  the long, constantly expanding list of other writers and books I admire.

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

One reviewer called it “Fargo without the wood chipper.” I think a wood chipper improves any story but you can’t beat the Coen brothers at their own game.

Now, then. Of the handful of bright-eyed recruits I approached to advance this flag to the next hill, only one passed muster (agreed to do it).

That inglorious basterd is none other than Victor Gischler, another old friend, who runs a mean barbecue and hits 9-wood from tee to green when he’s not writing novels, comic books, screenplays, and unsolicited Disney travel guides.

December 12, Gischler.

Check him out.

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