The Next Big Thing has been going around the web for quite some time. I’ve chickened out before, but since this meme keeps cropping up, I finally decided to have a go at it. Thanks to Lydia Sharp at The Sharp Angle (a resourceful blog for writers, by the way), for her invitation to talk about my next big thing!
1. What is the title of your book?
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
This book has its roots in autobiographical sources, based partly on a story my grandmother told about her father’s death. He was shot and killed in a hunting accident, but she always believed he was murdered. The main character, Leona, derives from a young woman I vaguely knew growing up. She had an illegitimate son, and she and the boy lived with her mother just down the street from us. They were shunned in our little community, and as a child, I was both curious and bothered by their circumstances.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Spirit Lamp is set during World War I in rural north Mississippi, so it’s historical fiction. Whether it’s “literary” or not depends, I suppose, on readers’ perceptions of it. I recently read Donald Maass‘s book, Writing 21st Century Fiction. He describes the “new” fiction as a hybrid, combining the best of commercial/genre fiction (great plot) with strong characters and beautiful writing (what we generally think of as “literary”). I hope Spirit Lamp is that kind of book.
4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, this one is fun, although, as Lydia Sharp says in her “next big thing” post, there’s some danger in choosing actors at this point. Actors could grow old (or worse) before the agent/publisher/book-sitting-on-the-bookstore-shelf (or on iPads or Kindles or whatever) scenario plays out! But I’ll do it anyway: Amanda Seyfried (Cosette in Les Miserables) is perfect for Leona–do you think she can do a Southern accent?—and I’d want Morgan Freeman to play Luther. Nobody else would do. There’ll be a few other crucial role choices, but I’ll settle for these two at the moment.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In Spirit Lamp, a historical novel set in rural Mississippi during World War I, an outcast white girl and an elderly black sharecropper share a rare and tender bond, drawn together by a deadly secret.
6. How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About a year and a half; about a year for revision.
7. Who or what inspired you to write the book?
I’m fascinated by family stories and the place where I grew up. Both inform my fiction. I was drawn to this particular era because so many things were happening: on a grand scale, the Great War and the influenza epidemic; closer to home, my grandfather’s service in the war and my grandmother growing up in poverty and the festering prejudices of a small community.
8. Is your book published, upcoming, and/or represented by an agency?
I don’t have an agent, but I’m querying!
Here’s where I’m supposed to tag people to do their own “next big thing.” I know a lot of folks with works in progress, so I won’t single out anyone. If you see this post, please consider yourself tagged and tell us about your “next big thing”!