The elegant and talented Dana M. Baird has tagged me to participate in a sort of chain letter of writers talking about their work in progress. Like all writers, I welcome any excuse to do this, though I wouldn’t dream of doing so uninvited. So, here are my answers to the standard set of questions.
What is the working title of your next book?
The Deep End is the title I’m probably going with.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The genesis was at a convention panel about villains, where someone remarked that “you don’t just wake up evil.” Contrary person that I am, I started thinking about ways that could happen. I’d already done some world-building on another project and had maps and descriptions of the cultures and so forth, and thought this story would also work in that setting, but 50 years later and in a different country. And once I start thinking of the milieu, I invent people in it. And it gets stuck in my head until I write it down.
What genre does your book fall under?
What is the synopsis or blurb for this book?
Marlee is suddenly thrown into a different body on an unfamiliar world, in the middle of someone else’s complicated and dangerous life. She’s hip-deep in plots and deceptions that she knows nothing about, with enemies both secret and public. If she lets on that she’s not who she appears to be, her piranha-like relatives will pounce. And the body’s previous inhabitant isn’t entirely gone; Marlee finds it all too easy to adopt her nasty ways. She struggles for her life and to define a new identity, trying to prove to herself that her old life isn’t just a fantasy, and to figure out how to get back to it.
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Since we’re talking hypothetically, I considered assuming I had a time machine, but I like the challenge of casting it with actors who are alive and the right age today.
- Marlee: I loved Jill Scott in No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I think she’d be good for the part and might enjoy being a bit evil for a change. She’s lost a lot of weight since then, but isn’t at all on the willowy side – and that’s exactly what I want.
- Marlee’s young maid Clora is initially the only person close enough to her to notice that she’s not who she seems to be. Clora helps out – for a price – and finds herself also out of her depth among Marlee’s devious, status-conscious family. Camille Winbush might work in this part, or Chitrangada Singh.
- Marlee’s main minion is Edsgar di Creza. Eddie is elegant and unscrupulous, but maybe not unscrupulous enough to carry out his role in Marlee’s schemes. Maybe Christian Bale. He can act, and looks good in sharp suits.
- Chalula, a torch singer of sorts and Marlee’s lesbian lover (a bit of a dilemma for Marlee who isn’t – well, wasn’t – lesbian): Freema Agyeman. I don’t know whether she can sing, but these things can be worked around, and yow! From seeing her in Doctor Who, I can well envision her dressed for battle, with a crossbow, straps, leather and stompin’ boots.
I’m getting into minor characters now, but when I came up with Miss Yrenn, Marlee’s fearsome dresser, I was picturing Octavia Butler. CCH Pounder could play the part. And Queen Latifah as Clora’s mom, a cook who takes out troublemakers with her rolling pin and, like her daughter, is ready to exploit any opportunity for advantage.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Are those the only choices? I follow kriswrites.com so I’m not trying to get an agent. I’ll try some publishers that take unagented submissions. I’m not a big fan of managing the entire production and marketing myself; I have limited time for writing and I’d prefer not to spend it on stuff that’s not fun for me. But I will if I have to.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I don’t really do drafts; I tend to do way too much editing as I go along. I’m trying to not do that. I’ve been working on it for more than a year and I think I’ll write “The End” in about 4 months. I haven’t been doing it without interruptions. I have too many projects.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Inspiration is for amateurs. I’m working.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’ve been enjoying the work of Martha Wells, and this probably shares some genetic material with her Ile-Rien books (The Wizard Hunters is the first). But I’ve been reading about the Borgias. And Lawrence of Arabia. And “The Idea of Poverty…”. It all goes into the hopper.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Lizard men make the best mathematicians. The mail glider to the capital fires off at 8 and 2 sharp, weather permitting. There’s magic, which is treated as a technology, so for instance, the steampunk computer has nine (nine!) enchanted registers. There are airships. Marlee “invents” pizza.
Who’s next in the Blog Hop?
- Gordon Bonnet, when he’s not puncturing the illusions of woo-woo believers or teaching critical thinking skills to the next generation, writes creepy little fantasies.
- Eli Effinger-Weintraub, because she has a classy hat and because I’m curious to know what is this novel she’s working on. She mostly does plays and short stories. Surprise, Eli!
- Conrad Zero, whose outlook is twisted, refreshing and dark. Conrad, if you like the Oxford comma, sorry.