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The Next Big Thing

Thanks Michael Bryson for tagging me on this chain. To be honest, I have been tagged by other wonderful writerly types but wasn’t in the right space to participate. I am now, so apologies Phil Dwyer, Deepam Wadds and others who might have asked me to do this before. I recommend it as a wonderful opportunity to look at a work in progress and gain some insights into the work.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

“A Winter Project” (entirely apt at this time of year; it’s the end of December 2012 and outside the snow is already falling…)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Listening to As It Happens on CBC Radio several years ago, they interviewed a California mail order company about their biggest seller of DIY wood projects. Hands down, it was the plan to build a coffin. And just where and when were the highest points of sales for this set of plans? Canada…in the winter.

Go figure, thought I.

I’m Canadian and have survived more than 50 good old Canadian winters. But I don’t know a single soul who is building a coffin. So clearly I had to write about a person who is doing this just to figure out who would WANT to do this.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fiction. After that, it’s anyone guess. Set in tiny “Brigham Village” somewhere within a long north-easterly commute of Toronto, the narrative focuses on savvy union consultant Carl Booker and his off-kilter relationships with his disintegrating family and the “hicks” in his small community. I’d like to think I’m writing a literary fiction (at least a book that pays attention to language and form) but really, it’s just a story about a guy trying to figure out what he hasn’t understood for years: human connections.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Bruce Greenwood in “Dinner for Schmucks”

Ooh. Now that’s a good one. Well, Carl is smart, rather irascible but with some charm. And he is a bit useless in the workshop until carpenter-philosopher Joe Ducharme teaches him a thing or two about wood and life. Carl could be played by Bruce Greenwood or maybe Barry Pepper. And Joe? Donald Sutherland comes to mind. He does convey a sense of practical wisdom and a delight in puncturing those with an inflated sense of self importance. A good tutor-mentor figure for Carl.

Donald Sutherland in “Dawn Rider”

Truth be told, I have no idea really. Once you hand a book over to a production house, it is the same as once you publish to the book and put it into the hands and minds of readers. It no longer is “yours” and is experienced through the vision of the director and actors. Just have to hope for the best.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A savvy but jaded trade unionist rediscovers his place in the world after catastrophe tosses him into the jaws of small town village life, where a nod on the street can fuel gossip, guesswork and generosity.

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

Like most other writers, I live in hope. I have the interest of an agent and expect that, like my first novel Living Underground, “A Winter Project” will find a publishing home.

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

About 1 year to write the first draft. Ten or so years of cooking in and out of the drawer. And now, about to be revised and edited and refined one more time. Who knows how long THAT will take? tick, tick, tick…

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

It is still too in-progress to be nailed down like that. After all, some rewrites toss out much of what is already written and I may have to go that route to realize what I hope to here. So, I’ll reserve that answer until AFTER this latest draft is complete.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I worked for a union for a few years and I met many people there — most of whom were inspired in their work by social justice issues. They wanted to make a difference and worked tirelessly to achieve that noble end. But a few of my union colleagues were tired of fighting the good fight and had even moved beyond “jaded” in their sense of frustration. Union leaders are elected by their members and any kind of politics is indeed a strange animal that sometimes bites the hand that feeds it. Carl is a kind of amalgam of those I met who once longed to put the world right but lost patience and the heart that led them to social justice in the first place.

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

I am fascinated by people who struggle with fitting in and I think others are too. Because don’t we all, at various points in our lives, own that struggle?

Rural

I am also intrigued in urban vs rural interests. How is rural and small town life viewed by ‘the city’ and vice versa? And this considerationUrban exposes an important slice of modern reality. We rely on that rural community to fill the bellies of the nation but how often do city folks consider where that pound of beef and head of lettuce comes from? And all the human dramas that lie behind that question are worth exploring.

And what about “social justice” — is it the same thing to all of us? I don’t think so. Sometimes it encompasses simple things, like kindness to a neighbour or donating time to a community food bank. Sometimes, it’s fighting to keep a nursing home open and protecting the jobs of ordinary folks. Social justice can be found in any community effort when that effort aims to make better the life of others. And sometimes, social justice comes from uncovering self-interest and lies told to protect massive egos and big salaries…and not always in the corporate world.

And here, dear readers, are the blogs of other writers for you to visit and discover what is cooking in their ‘creative kitchens’.

Phil Dwyer is obsessed with books and stories and has been a journalist, editor, publisher and lay preacher. On the board of The Writers’ Community of Durham Region, Phil is working on his first novel, a love story in reverse.  http://phildwyer.wordpress.com/

Heather O’Connor is a freelance writer, editor, social media practitioner and creative writing instructor. Her first novel is a medieval fantasy, Twice a Ghost and is already attracting the interest of agents and publishers. http://www.merlinwrites.com/

Deborah Rankine is a national food writer, covering the food scene in Canada for 15 years. A.K.A. The Fridge Whisperer, “Chef Deb” allows us a tiny peek at “50 Shades of Eh!… truly tantalizing Canadian cuisine”, her next book. http://thefridgewhisperer.com/fridge/

Deepam Wadds is a poet and writer with work in acclaimed journals and anthologies. Deepam has been a therapeutic bodywork practitioner of Osho Rebalancing and leads writing retreats in Canada and Costa Rica. The last of 4 children, she swears she wasn’t an accident. http://deepamwadds.wordpress.com/

Dale Long is a blogger extraordinare and a writer with work in magazines, newspapers and anthologies. He is completing his second novel manuscript inspired by the complexity and twists found in the gothic horror genre. http://drlong67.wordpress.com/author/inkstr0kes/

And here’s another writer who has  already been tagged for the Next Big Thing by U.S. author Mary Glickman, Dennis Fleming author of the literary true crime memoirs She Had No Enemies and The Girl Who Had No Enemies and the serial memoir The Sex Life of Andy Ashling.  http://www.dpressingnews.blogspot.com (Thanks to Dennis for giving me the LinkedIn kick to answer Michael Bryson’s invitation.)

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Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

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