Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Next Big Thing

Right before Christmas I was tagged by author Jeff Salyards for "The Next Big Thing" Meme. For those not familiar with memes they are (according to oracle Wikipedia) "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena." As Malcolm Gladwell wrote, "A meme is an idea that behaves like a virus—that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects."
In other words, it’s the phrase epic fail, or I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow to the knee. It’s videos like the honey badger, and Leroy Jenkins. Songs like Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give you Up, and…well…anything with cats.

In the case of  The Next Big Thing it is a mechanism for authors to let others know of future writing projects. I'm not sure who started it—perhaps one day there will be a branch of science, like anthropology, devoted to discovering the genesis of such things—but the idea is that each author who is “tagged” (asked to participate) answers ten questions. I had the knee-jerk impulse to respond, “African or European?” (Old school meme.) Then each author tags another five to do the same, which makes it a lot like one of those chain letters but without The sword of Damocles, (really old school meme,) threat of impending doom.

I've been very busy editing three (yes three) books over the holiday season. My wife and I spent New Year’s Eve debating the proper spelling of T-shirt (more on that in another post.) So I've not done all my tagging, but I will get to that soon.  One tag I did get around to was R.T. Kaelin because I wanted to bring more attention to the great work he is doing with his anthology Triumph Over Tragedy which is raising money to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  I'll update this post as I add other authors.
So here goes my contribution to The Next Big Thing...

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Gah, this should be easy...but isn't.  My next "traditionally published" book will be The Crown Tower (coming Aug 1, 2013) from Orbit books, but I really want to join the ranks of hybrid authors so the current plan is to release a self-published novel before the end of March 2013.  The problem is I have two finished novels: Antithesis (which needs more editing) and Hollow World (which might be picked up by Orbit). So all I can say with 100% certainty is it will be one of those three.

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

The Crown Tower has its seeds from a short story I wrote during the time that my self-published titles were removed from the market, but my new books were not yet available. It goes back in time to the early days of the forming of Riyria, an enterprise created by the two main characters of my larger series. The idea of Antithesis came to me more than two decades ago, and was written before my ten-year hiatus. It came from my pondering about what I would do, or how I would behave, if I had unlimited magical power. Hollow World came from a short story I wrote for an anthology. It explores a story set in the far future where mankind has moved underground and the surface of the earth has been restored to its natural state.

3) What genre does your book fall under?  
The Crown Tower is traditional classic fantasy and follows characters already well known to my Riyria Revelations series. That being said, it is designed so it can be its own entry point and no prior knowledge of the other series is required. Antithesis is urban fantasy. It is set in modern day America.  Hollow World is a time-traveling science fantasy, where the invention of three very important technologies has completely revolutionized society.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
 This is a question that I've been asked often...and I'm going to keep toeing my party line of not answering. I think one of the great things about the written word is that each person can conjure their own "mind's eye" impression of the characters they are reading about, and I don't want to prejudice or bias my reader's own creations. While my publisher has selected actors for the book's covers (which I have no control over), I won't comment about if they align with my own impressions of the pair.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  
The Crown Tower: Two men who hate each other must perform a task impossible to achieve, and if they don't kill each other first, they just might make a legendary team. Antithesis: An unexpected death transfers limitless power to an unsuspecting bystander who is clueless of the consequences of his new found abilities. Hollow World: Is a world without hunger, want, or war a utopia, or does it come with a price too heavy to pay?

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Crown Tower will be released through Orbit, the fantasy imprint of big-six publisher Hachette Book Group.  Antithesis will be self-published.  Hollow World could go either way. It's just too soon to know at this point.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
With all projects, it depends on when you start counting. Most of my books are "incubated" for years (and sometimes decades), but once I sit down to actually start the writing it generally takes 3 - 4 months and each of these books fell within those timelines.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Crown Tower is obviously very similar to my Riyria Revelations series which is often compared favorably to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and works by Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, and Brent Weeks. Antithesis is similar to Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles or Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. As for Hollow World, it actually has a multitude of themes including the effects of technology, time-travel, romance, and a murder mystery and as such I really don't know any other works to compare it to.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?  
The Crown Tower was written to perpetuate my wife's love affair with Hadrian Blackwater, one of my fictional characters. Antithesis was just a really cool idea of exploring the old-age conflict between good and evil. Hollow World was never a book I had planned to write, but I got such a positive response from writer friends that read the short story which preceded it that I was excited to put other projects aside to write it.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Anyone who is a big fan of Royce and Hadrian and found they were missing that team at the end of The Riyria Revelations will enjoy The Crown Tower.  The two are much different in this book, and really don't like one another, so seeing how their friendship comes about is quite entetaining. Antithesis has a bit of a comic-book ordinary man who gets extraordinary power and how he deals with that transition. While some of my fantasy work can be thought of as light fun adventures, Hollow World explores serious questions about love, individuality, and how one person's perspective of heaven may be someone else's hell. Despite it's serious nature it still has my trademark humor and characters that people genuinely connect with that makes it entertaining as well as thought provoking.