Whenever a writer puts her or his work out into the world, there is a secret hope that the story or book might be next on the hot list. You know, the short story that is optioned for film or the book that wins Oprah’s praise. Often overlooked is the simple truth that the next big thing is often not an overnight success story. Along the journey to such acclaim, writers wrote hard, marketed harder and formed alliances that helped to get that book or story “out there.” The Next Big Thing Blog Hop bands together writers from across the globe in an effort to help readers discover new authors and their published books or a work-in-progress.
Follow the blog hop long enough and you’re bound to find books to add to your ‘must read list’ and a selection of authors you’ll want to keep your eye on. You’ll also discover writing secrets such as: Which actors does an author secretly wish would portray characters from their book? Where did an author get her story idea? You might even discover a book that ends up being The Next Big Thing.
Fellow author and publisher Harvey Stanbrough (Stone Thread Publishing) invited me to join the blog hop. Below you’ll find answers to a few questions about stories I’ve written and what I’m working on, now. At the end of my Q & A, you’ll find a short list of the authors coming up next in the blog hop.
In a Halloween-themed resort town, the undertaker's twin sons, Preston and Donald, search for their father in the moorlands, assisted by an odd and strikingly-familiar detective.
Where did you get the idea for this story?
My grandparents' house sits on top of a hill; whenever I went over there to play in the backyard, I got a big old view of the cemetery right below. I couldn't reach the cemetery from the backyard - unless I wanted to get scratched up by an unstable fence - but I used to poke my nose through the chain-links and imagine what kinds of body parts must surely be hidden in the grass or how many vampires slept inside the lion-guarded mausoleum.
I've always been a fan of creepy things; Halloween is my favorite holiday. I thought it would be fun to write about a town that's dependent on tourists, a place where people come to get scared, stomp through tacky haunted houses, and say hello to the local handsome undertaker. Pierre Frohock, and his twin sons, Preston and Donald, followed quickly after that. I had to tell their story.
If your story was optioned for film, what actors would play the main characters and why?
Wow, I hadn't really thought about that.
*walks off to think about it*
I'm not sure who would play the twins, but the adults are easier to picture as actors / actresses. I think Maggie Gyllenhaal would made a great Hildegarde, the mysterious detective. When I think of tragic and romantic Pierre, Blake Ritson comes to mind. And Christopher Lee would make a charming, if not eerie, Mr. Biddix.
Who are your favorite writers? Why?
Mervyn Peake and Francesca Lia Block. Peake creates these fantastic, expansive worlds filled with oddball characters that grow on you - his words are like paintbrush on the page, and I love the subtle humor he works into his stories. I grew up reading Block; what I love most about her writing is that she's able to bring magic into her stories through her use of language and imagery.
What else about this story will enthrall readers? The mystery behind Hildegarde, hopefully. There's something interesting about a detective who may be in more need of help than her clients.
What are you working on now?
Since I'm in my last year of graduate school, I'm putting the finishing touches on my thesis - a novel - as well as sending another finished manuscript out into the world to be considered. And there's always another strange short story to write, just waiting in the wings.
Authors on the Blog Hop, Up Ahead
Check out some of the blogs and Blog Hop posts from other writers featured in the new anthology:
Since I live in Florida, this terrifying hurricane has been everywhere. Not that, you know, I'm scared of hurricanes. We get them all the time, especially during the summer season. What worried me was that yesterday, Monday 27th, was supposed to be the first day of school. Would we get the day off because of the storm or did everyone have to drive through the wind, rain, and RNC traffic to reach campus?
Well, at the last minute, the schools closed. Monday had become a day off.
If you want to know the proper procedure for protecting yourself during a hurricane, you'd better read another blog. Because, like most hurricanes that hit here, the weather is bad enough that you shouldn't be driving, but it's nothing to really worry about. Stay inside. Have some fun. And that's what I did.
Here's how I spent my hurricane day:
1. Watch Dr. Who
When Dr. Who aired on the SyFy Channel a few years ago, I saw a smattering of episodes. Time travel, funny aliens, a lot of running and screaming - Dr. Who was very exciting, but it didn't quite grip me at the time.
I consider myself a fantasy girl. Give me swords over space ships any day. I have trouble engaging in - and sometimes even understanding - the technical aspects of science fiction. So when I was a little high schooler, watching Dr. Who for the first time, I thought it was just like the other sci-fi shows I'd watched growing up (like Farscape). I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything when I stopped watching.
However, I've since changed my tune.
One of my summer goals had been to watch EVERY EPISODE starting with the 9th Doctor. But then the reality of completing my thesis hit me - and I didn't do a lot things I said I was going to do this summer, haha. So when Hurricane Issac gave me an extra day, I turned on Nettflix and started watching. I've seen about six episodes so far, and I'm really loving the show.
Maybe I had to grow up a bit to be able to enjoy it, or maybe now is just the right time for me to start. I already jumped the gun and bought a "Bow Ties are Cool" t-shirt (not because of the show, but more so... because I really believe that). I can't wait to get to the 11th Doctor, but I will take my time and watch in order. I promise, haha.
2. Read Literary Journals
I have a big reading list, but more often than not I cross novels off my list rather than literary journals. There are two journals that I thought would be fun to read and I finally snuggled up on my couch and read them. Weird Tales and Shimmer are both journals focused on publishing speculative stories that are, of course, weird, whimsical, and surprising.
Weird Tales #358
Weird Tales has a long history, having been founded in 1923 (cool, right? I'd love to read some of those really old issues). Issue #358's theme was Hell (I had no idea when I bought it, haha), so I ended up reading about renegade angels and contract-wielding demons. Although the theme wasn't my cup of tea, I enjoyed all of those stories. Another great aspect about Weird Tales is that they also publish academic / non-fiction articles too that have to do with weird or speculative tales. The articles in this issue included a study of "weird" in film and how McQueen's fashion aesthetic could be considered "weird." interesting stuff.
My favorite story from this issue had to be "A Beginner's Guide to Sandcastle Alchemy" by Nik Houser. A group of boys from a specialized school go to the beach during a storm and build sandcastles - all the with purpose of trying to attract the attention of the Mermaid Queen. However, the boys have no idea what the Mermaid Queen is really like and what they are risking by following through with their whimsical sand structures. This story gave me the chills but it was very well done.
This issue ofShimmer didn't seem to have a particular theme, but the stories were strange and wonderful. From mud creatures to eerie trash men, I was surprised by how creative and exciting each tale was. Almost every story has an illustration too, made by the artist who did the cover. Very cool.
My favorite story here is "This House was Never a Castle" by Aaron Polson about a boy and his two sisters Rosamond and Olivia (who is ghost, having been eaten by a wolf). They live in a house kind of like a nautilus in that there are many rooms with shut doors - but there's no way in or out of the house without using a bit of magic. The siblings only leave the house to get food because the world outside is a dangerous place, full of soldiers at war, wolves, and disease. The boy struggles with his desire to stay small and protected, but knowing that he has to step up one day and be a man. This story was creepy and I got attached very quickly to the boy and sisters. I want to read more about them!
3. Bake Macarons
Ever since my mom and I started baking macarons, it's become like an addiction! While the trees out back shivered in the rain, we made two new flavors: banana and lilac. They both are delicious.
A note about the lilac: we bought lilac in the hopes of coming close to a flavor like violet. It would be amazing to make violet macarons, but violet anything is expensive and hard to find. My mom and I trolled all the health food stores in the area, asking for violets, to no avail. But one shop had lilac and so we decided to take a chance on that flavor. Thank goodness - it's really good and it does taste a bit like violet.
These are the flavors we used. Left to Right: Banana for the cookie, chocolate for the whipped cream center, and lilac water for the other batch of cookies and whipped cream filling. The Watkins brand of extract is amazing! I highly recommend.
The lilac water is sweeter than rose water... I dunno, I kind of like the lilac better, haha. I wish that the food coloring had been darker - we have to play around with that some more.
4. Play with Misty
Done and Done!
5. Listen to The Midsummer Station
I love Owl City. It's a fact. frankly, the new album, The Midsummer Station, couldn't have come soon enough. I listened to it for the first time while driving to and from orientation, blowing out my eardrums because, you know, I have to turn up the volume in my car.
During the storm, this energetic, cheerful music washed away the worst of the thunder and lighting flashing outside.
This album is better than I expected; typical of any Owl City song, it's hard to choose a favorite. However, I'm singling out "Metropolis" because there's something mesmerizing about it. Every time this song comes up, I have to pause for a moment and daydream. Here's the song and part of the lyrics:
Oh oh, I can't even take it in
Oh oh, I can't even take it in
Oh oh, I left my heart in metropolis
So far apart, I checked but the coast was clear
I feel like a postcard
I wish you were here
Subway through the dark, carriage through the park
Taxi down the street, get out and use my feet
Don't matter much to me what it is that I do
As long as I'm coming home to you
Oh oh oh, as far as I can see
You're the only one, the only one who can get to me