Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Next Big Thing

First off: I'm never going to post about New York City, obviously. I went to work the day after I got back and it's seriously been non-stop ever since. My suitcase is only partially unpacked. I've yet to transfer my photos to my Mac. (This might not happen, in fact, until I get a new computer, which heaven willing will be sometime in the next few weeks.) I have basically spent my time working, sleeping, writing a grand total of six or so sentences, and eating yummy vegan curry while simultaneously dreaming of pizza loaded with bacon and tomatoes.

I also went to Toronto earlier this week to meet my publicist. Her name is Jenna and she is wonderful. We had a delicious brunch (three cheers for Fran's!), and she was very patient with all of my undoubtedly idiotic questions about the publishing/publicity process. I also said I would be comfortable on the radio, so here's hoping I don't choke if/when I'm on air and destroy her delicate faith in me.

Anyway. A few weeks ago Ayelet Tsabari invited me into a fun little game of blog tag. It's called The Next Big Thing, and if you're a writer on the Internet in some capacity chances are you've probably heard of it, or had an invitation (or three). In The Next Big Thing writers answer ten questions about their work-in-progress, and then link their post to five other writers who then tag five more writers. From Ayelet's blog: This never-ending chain of literary awesomeness gives writers an opportunity to discuss their upcoming projects and be exposed to new readers. It also gives readers a glimpse into writers’ process while introducing them to new writers. In other words: everyone wins!

I should say, of course, that as per usual I am deviating somewhat from the plan. I won't be talking about my Next Big Thing, except to say right here and now that I'm about 200 or so pages in to my new novel and it's an awful mess. So you don't get to hear about that, at least not right now, and you should THANK ME. Instead, I'll be talking about my current novel, which (as you might know) is being released on May 1 of next year. Oh, and you can pre-order it here.And here. And here.  Just, you know, saying. 

I also had the slight misfortune of learning about The Next Big Thing a bit later in the game, the result being that many of the writers I contacted about continuing the chain had already either done it, were about to do it, or had already been asked and declined. So instead of passing the literary torch on to five other writers, I am passing it on to two. But what a two! After reading my entry you'll get to go on over to the websites of the lovely Liz Harmer and the krazy Kris Bertin (see what I did there?) and wait with bated breath for their own fascinating entries.

Until then, though, you get me. So here goes ...

1)  What is the working title of your book?
The book has an actual title now. Which is a good thing, because for a while I was pretty darned sure it never would. My agent and I went through a succession of titles from the beginning of 2009 up until the end of 2011, and finally we settled on one that we both kind of liked. This ("The Raptured") was the working title for the book up until the summer of 2012, when I was doodling in my notebook one day and suddenly something jumped out of my pen that was seriously THE GREATEST TITLE EVER.

Well, perhaps not the greatest title ever, but definitely something that got me going moreso than the title I've referenced above. The FINALLY final title of my latest novel, slated to arrive in a bookstore near you on May 1, 2013 (suddenly I feel a strange wash of deja vu), is The Miracles of Ordinary Men.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?
The novel grew out of two short stories I'd written years ago -- I penned the first story, about a man visited by an angel of God, when I was sixteen. It went through numerous drafts and revisions when I was in my twenties. Then, when I was completing my Master's degree in Writing, I tried to rewrite the story from the angel's point of view. That story, "Evolution", was named First Runner Up in PRISM International's 2008 Short Fiction Contest. By the time I finished it I knew that I wanted to learn more about the main character, and so I decided to embark on a novel, and the short story eventually became the first chapter in the book. (If you like, you can read the much, much, muuuuuucccccch longer version of this path-to-novel business here, in this post.)

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Hmm. I'm not quite sure. Literary fiction? Spiritual(esque) thriller? Oh, and the Amazon listing  (there's that pesky deja vu again) has it tagged under erotica, which tickles my funny bone in all kinds of ways.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
OMG. Favourite question! Not that I have any say in this kind of thing, but you know ... just in case it ever happens ... the producers better pick these people OR ELSE ...

Sam = Edward Norton
Delilah = Naomi Watts
Timothy = Matthew Gray Gubler
Israel = Demian Bichir (If different actors than the above are picked but they follow my excellent judgment in JUST THIS ONE THING, I will die a happy woman. Demian Bichir. He's it, folks. I swear to God.)

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A novel about a man with wings, a woman searching for her lost brother, and the transformations--spiritual, physical, and otherwise--that shatter and electrify them both. 

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book is being published by Toronto's ECW Press. My wonderful and very patient agent, Samantha Haywood, will hopefully represent me until the end of time. Or until she gets sick of me, which hopefully won't be for many years yet.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Two years -- from the beginning of 2008 through to the end of 2009. Revisions and whatnot took another year.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Another hmmm question. Some of the titles that have been bandied about are The Angel's Game and The Violent Bear It Away. I'm particularly chuffed by that last one, as I've always been a huge fan of Flannery O'Connor.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
It's been such a long process from that original short story (of fourteen years ago) to now that it's hard to pinpoint a specific thing or person that inspired/encouraged the writing of it. (Again, for more on this question, go here.) I've always liked re-visioning well-known tales, so I guess that's part of it; I'm also fascinated by the darkness that pervades most of our spiritual stories. I wanted to write something that was dark and messy and horrible but also uplifting, in its way. And I had this character, this man who was turning into an angel-of-sorts, and I didn't want to leave him hanging. He just wouldn't go away.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a cat named Chickenhead in the book. She's all kinds of awesome.

And now, find out what these wonderful writers are also working on! 

Kris Bertin
Liz Harmer

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.


  1. :) I loved reading this. And you know how I feel about Miracles already. And I like your choices for actors. But who will play Father Jim? Because...Father JIM!

    Also -- EROTICA?! (I suppose there's a part of it that is. That never occurred to me, though. Wonder if Fifty Shades has anything to do with that classification.) How is ECW planning to market it? How did Samantha market it?

    1. Father Jim is the only character that I'm unsure of. Maybe because that one needs to be EXACTLY right? I don't know! Robert DeNiro is an interesting choice ... although I feel like the actor needs to be a bit taller. Obviously that isn't hugely important in the grand scheme of things (ie. the fact that this book will most likely never ever ever make it to the big screen), but Father Jim's physical stature is important. He needs to *look* larger than life, in a way.

      DeNiro does have that presence though, that's for sure ...

  2. What about Robert DeNiro as Father Jim? Am I way off base?

  3. I like this post! I don't even know the actor you've picked for Israel. Presumably he's a dreamboat onscreen (his imdb doesn't do him justice, I'm guessing).

    LOVE that it's tagged with erotica. Hopefully that boosts sales. I did mention BDSM when I posted about it on facebook...

  4. So excited to see your cover. It is beautiful. Gorgeous! I am without words...ish.