The lovely Julie K. Rose tagged me for a very intriguing meme; The Next Big Thing Challenge. Ten questions about the work-in-progress, but I’m going to wrap two manuscripts into this, as what I’m currently sorting are the final installments of an unintended but beloved (by me) series; Alvin’s Farm.
Some background to this series; in 2009, I came up with a little plot, assumed it wouldn’t go much past 50-60K. By the end of the first novel, I wasn’t even close to concluding the tale. What has emerged is most definitely a labor of love, also a modicum of insanity; how do characters take over? I don’t know, but they do, and as I revise the last two books, many emotions overwhelm. So, without further blah blah blah, here’s my take on An Innate Sense of Recognition and The Timeless Nature of Patience…
1. What’s the working title? See above
2. Where did the idea come from? For these last two, it was a love of the cast. After completing the first three Alvin novels, a few months later I was knee-deep in what if I moved the action forward a couple of decades, focusing not just on Jenny and her contemporaries, but her children. A plethora of story lines exploded, but while the first three novels weren’t that plotted, these last three were well outlined. The series is actually two trilogies, but the last three books don’t really work if you’ve not read the first three.
3. What genre does this book fall under? Family saga/drama. Unfortunately on Smashwords, if you tag a book with drama, it lands at Apple and Sony as theatrical-drama. So, I will tag them as lit fic.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie adaptation? I usually don’t consider this sort of question, not because I want a reader to make their own choices, but because rarely do I slap a famous face onto my casts. However, in this instance, I have to admit I have always imagined Gary Sinese as Tommie Smith, due to Sinese’s fabulous work as Stu Redman in The Stand. I literally stumbled onto the idea for Alvin’s Farm while faffing about on the web in the middle of the night, landing on the movie Starman, which I haven’t seen. Alvin himself is like that alien, who took the form of Karen Allen’s late husband. Jenny gets her name from Allen’s character, and the rest of the book unraveled from there, so maybe Jenny Cope could be modeled on Allen.
5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book? Oh goodness… Well, since I have two books, I’ll give two sentences. Umm, yeah. I’ll come back to this one.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’m indie all the way. An Innate Sense of Recognition will be published on Halloween, The Timeless Nature of Patience in early December (or late November, depending on my NaNoWriMo progress).
7. How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript? Each book was written in a month, Innate Sense in July 2010 and Timeless Nature for NaNo that same year. I was even given the great thrill of a 30 Covers in 30 Days cover, designed by Felix Sockwell, for Timeless Nature, on Thanksgiving! (I was at my parents, and got to share that joy with family.) I tend to get most of my first drafts written in that blustery NaNo style; of course the revising takes far longer.
8. What other books would you compare your story to within your genre? I tend to ignore genres; I’m a self-confessed genre slut. I can’t say I even read family saga novels, other than the incomparable The Thorn Birds, but Colleen McCullough is heads and shoulders above me. But if you like sweeping historical tales, the Alvin’s Farm series might appeal.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? I’ve covered that a little; I woke in the middle of the night, couldn’t go back to sleep. Rather than stir my husband, or try to ignore his snores, I went to my computer. Why I landed on the Starman Wikipedia page is lost to time, but after a few clicks, there I was, and the rest is six novels full of love and angst. I will say I wanted to explore my 1970s childhood, which was spent on a cattle ranch. My dad and his friends were the inspirations for Tommie, Sam, and Jacob, and continued to guide me as those men aged in the last three books.
10. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? In the first three novels, current events were woven through the narratives; Jimmy Carter’s election as president, the Iran Hostage Crisis, Mount St. Helens’ explosion, and the fallout of Vietnam. In the last three books, I chose the recession, medical marijuana usage, and the Iraq War. Tommie’s grandson Mitch is a marine, and his fate comes to a head in An Innate Sense of Recognition. President Obama’s election figures in The Timeless Nature of Patience, along with political divisiveness. As a personal aside, Timeless Nature is probably my favorite of my novels. What I wanted to convey in that book was not just wrapping up a series, but that good things do come to those who wait. Jenny learns that in the first three books, but the lesson is vital, what her children and other relatives need to understand; crap happens, but not always for the worst. (Consider the sentences in italics the answer to question 5.)
Like Julie, I won’t tag anyone specifically, but there are some lovely writers out there who brains I would love to pick. If you feel inclined, give this a go, and let me know. And again, thanks to Julie for this tag, and many other blessings. 🙂