It’s like an Olympic torch-pass without fire or athleticism! I love this idea, much as I enjoy a good torch. Many months ago, somebody came up with a bunch of questions for an author with an upcoming or new project. The author answered those questions on his or her blog, and then passed the questions to another author. The current participant always links to the blogs of both the previous and upcoming author, so everybody ends up connected in a big chain of mutual support. The original author was Kevin Bacon.
I recently got to know Nicola Griffith via Twitter. We share a love of the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin novels, and we also share a publisher with FSG. Nicola has a GREAT sounding novel called HILD coming out on 11.12.13. It has a gorgeous cover. I’m looking forward to scoring an advance copy as soon as they’re available.
Nicola just answered The Next Big Thing questions and kindly passed them along to me. You can check out her answers (and learn more about HILD) over here at her blog.
I’m passing to Nathan Kotecki, who wrote a terrific YA novel called THE SUBURBAN STRANGE. An even better sequel, PULL DOWN THE NIGHT, is coming this fall.
Hey, remember when Evil Superman blew out the Olympic torch? What a jerk.
Here are my answers about FELLOW MORTALS:
- What is your working title of your book (or story)?
THE NOVEL I WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT: A NOVEL, by Dennis Mahoney
- Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve explained this a lot more thoroughly in an essay I did for Barnes & Noble, but here’s the gist: I started with the main character, Henry Cooper, who’s based on a minor character from an earlier failed novel. I needed a hero who would drive the story and create his own drama, not someone who simply had things happening to him. I had a very good sense of Henry right away. He’s old-school, decent, big-hearted, active. A great guy. The kind of person you’d love to have as a regular mailman. Then I needed to put him through a grueling self-generated ordeal, and I kicked a lot of ideas around, waiting for something vivid and elemental. I eventually thought of a tragic neighborhood fire that Henry accidentally starts along his route. Once I had that, Henry did a lot of the rest.
- What genre does your book fall under?
It’s literary, which basically just means it isn’t any other recognizable genre. The book is primarily about personal and interpersonal struggles, in marriages, friendships, and a tiny community, but the characters do stuff and there’s a lot of motion in the plot, so it isn’t a book of broody rumination.
- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Of course my wife and I play this game from time to time. She’s usually better at it than I am. I’d love to see a lot of great character actors take it on, rather than anyone super famous. I do think Gosling would make an interesting Sam Bailey, the sculptor whose wife dies in the fire, but I can see plenty of people playing Sam.
Michael Shannon is beginning to corner the market on fascinatingly disturbed outsiders, and might be perfect as the spiraling neighbor Billy Kane. I have no idea who would play Henry’s wife Ava, who’s a major character and really just lives in the book for me at this point. The only actor I can see playing Henry is Dean Norris, who plays Hank on Breaking Bad. He’s got that amazing mix of goofball manliness, awkward but profound emotion, and real strength. He’s has some of the funniest and bleakest scenes in that series, which is saying something.
- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When an affable mailman accidentally starts a neighborhood fire, he risks his life and marriage trying to make amends with the victims, especially a sculptor named Sam whose wife died in the fire.
- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m published by FSG and repped by Jim Rutman at Sterling Lord Literistic.
- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Six months. I spent a lot more time revising and rewriting.
- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Shakespeare, The King James Bible. Those books by Homer What’s-His-Name… the old man who used to read at weddings.
I honestly have no idea. FELLOW MORTALS been compared to the works of Stewart O’Nan, whose books I love, and who was gracious enough to write a front-cover endorsement, but flattering as that comparison is, I don’t entirely understand it. I suppose we share a pursuit of telling detail, especially about characters and relationships, but you can say that about most literary authors. I’m going to have jump ship on this question.
- Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See Answer #1.
- What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Bones, who is essentially Wingnut come to life
I’ve been happy to find that different readers have different favorite characters. There’s a danger in writing a book with multiple points of view; it can be hard knowing whom to root for, and a reader might connect with some of the characters but feel cold toward others. So far the general reaction has been concern for the cast at large, with one or two characters really striking chords.
And I love that it’s different characters and chords for various readers. It’s like when somebody knows your aunt, and you can talk about your aunt, and then another person knows your spouse, so you talk about her. I was thrilled when a recent reviewer fell in love with Henry’s dog, Wingnut. I cared about Wingnut, too.
Now The Next Big Thing passes to Nathan Kotecki. Be sure to check Nathan’s site in the coming week for his own answers. Thanks again to Nicola for including me!