“What’s your novel about?”
Four simple words that never fail to strike terror in my heart.
Part of this is because such a simple query is seeking an equally concise reply – the dreaded “elevator pitch”, which is an art form of brevity on par with the haiku and the perfectly witty Tweet. Plus, I’m almost never as glib a speaker as I wish when put on the spot like that.
As well, I dislike stating definitively that my WIP is the story of XYZ, when the end result may well come to be significantly different.
Stories are like life: more possibilities and purpose emerge the further along you go. And just like life, it’s rather invalid to summarize the meaning of it all before it has approached its ultimate end.
Finally, I fear opening myself up to premature criticism of my plot through my inability to properly explain it while still in progress. Or conversely, premature interest, and subsequent probing questions.
As a result of all this, when Australian historical fiction author Debbie Robson asked me to participate in the blog meme known as The Next Big Thing, I said, “Sure.”
Because why be consistent with one’s own personality traits?
Admittedly, I did offer the caveat that my answers would be vague, superstitious, and paranoiac since I am indeed all of the above. Furthermore, having since put my blog on its 600-word diet gives me even more of an excuse to be equivocal. Thus, without further ado:
My (partial) answer to the big question
What is the working title of your current/next book?
Sorry, I never, ever share the title of a WIP. It totally feels like bad luck, not to mention the epitome of premature summarization. Both my mother and my best friend have asked to know my title. I refused them both.
Where did the idea come from?
For a number of years, I knew I wanted to write a novel about a woman in medieval England. The actual idea came to me one night while I was brushing my teeth and, in my head, I heard one of the other main characters speak a critical line of dialogue.
What genre does your book fall under?
Historical fiction and magic realism
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I could see Emma Watson playing the protagonist. The main antagonist kind of looks like Brian Bloom in the 2010 version of The A-Team.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In 13th century England, the abused youngest daughter of a lowly knight uses her shrewd administrative and political skills to help a baron succeed his deceased father amidst threats from rival claimants, and finds that the incompatible tasks of putting him on his throne and obtaining some measure of freedom for herself require equally treacherous strategies.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ll probably attempt getting an agent first, for all the reasons expressed in this great post by sci-fi/horror author, Chuck Wendig.
How long did it take you to write the first draft?
I’ll tell you when I’m finished. So far it’s been two years of actual writing (for two volumes) and eight years in total.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Maybe the books of Philippa Gregory (e.g. The Other Boleyn Girl). Also elements from a couple of fantasy novels: a bit of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart (the political aspects and the narration, not the erotica aspects) and Juliet Marillier’s original Sevenwaters Trilogy (magic realism).
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My existing interest in medieval history, additional medieval research, the latter two books mentioned above, plus a few minor plot points from other books I’ve read.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
There are no main characters who are actual personages from history, which was an intentional choice, not a lazy one. Any great historical figure is a product of the society s/he existed in. This, for me, makes that society itself the true main character, which is best allowed to shine when paired with a fictional protagonist. Also, my story isn’t a romance. I like to think of it primarily as a medieval political thriller.
I’m supposed to tag some other bloggers to participate in this meme, but knowing how antsy being asked “What’s your novel about?” makes me, I just can bring myself to single anyone out.
So I’m inviting anyone reading this who wants to to take part. Any takers? If you do, let me know, as I’d love to know what others are working on (oh, the irony!), and I’ll link your post back here.
(A/N: Total word count fail on this post, although the questions alone added an extra hundred words!)