The Next Big Thing

I had no idea what to blog this morning, and then in the process of clearing out old files I came across this. As my m/m romance book, Hounding the Beat, saw a second edition release recently, this seemed a good time for re-posting this. (Note: I know of at least one reader who is begging for a third installment. It is on my to-do list although it may not happen for some time for several reasons. I won’t go into that here as the timing is wrong, and that’s more appropriate on my romance site.):

Firstly, a big thank to Adera Orfanelli  for asking me to take part in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. As I didn’t have a new WIP, I chose Mistletoe and Whine for my subject and decided to make this a page post as the questions may interest the readers of both Hounding the Beat, and Mistletoe and Whine.

What is the working title of your book?

This question is easy. I knew from the outset I was going to call this Mistletoe and Whine, (a play on words from the Christmas song). Sometimes I struggle with titles but not this one, although it may give the impression it’s a lighthearted story, which it isn’t. These characters are a lot of fun and are perfect for some hysterical puns. There is fun in this story, but it has a darker edge than the first book.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s a sequel to Hounding the Beat, but can be enjoyed as a standalone read without picking up the first book. I wrote a follow-up because the characters remained vibrant and I discovered a couple of my readers were equally eager to hear from them again. I’d left a loose thread dangling from the first book — partly intentionally, partly because that’s how the story worked out — that I could pick up, and it just felt natural to do so. So the basic idea already existed. The title then popped into my head and filled in the gaps.

What genre does your book fall under?

Shape-shifting paranormal erotic menage romance, I guess, if that’s one genre all by itself. I tend to blend subjects.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I seldom visualise characters that distinctly, but at a push, I think Amanda Righetti (Grace from The Mentalist) would be a decent match for Chantelle. Although her features aren’t quite right (as beautiful as she is) she has the right body shape, the red hair, the essential feisty spark the character would need. The most difficult to cast would be Sam. I’m thinking, Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte in True Blood) but he’s not quite right either. He’s got a similar gaze — I know that sounds strange, but it’s true, and I can see my Sam’s ruffled hair. My Sam has been called ‘sour puss’ though, so whoever played him would need to portray a certain ‘moodiness’ along with a fierce sense of loyalty. And oddly enough Joe Manganiello (Alcide/True Blood) could possibly be Bobby when wearing a suit as in this PHOTO, but he’d have to be a little more clean-shaven with tidier hair because of Bobby’s profession. He’s too tall, really, at 6’5” (I don’t visualise quite that amount of height discrepancy).

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the peace and quiet of Bobby, Chantelle, and Sam’s lives come under threat, they have more to whine about than plastic mistletoe.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s being published by Changeling Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I usually aim for about 2000 words a day, five days a week when writing. As Changeling only take shorts I can usually draft a story for them within two weeks. Then there are edits, of course — my own before I sub and after acceptance — but fortunately neither Hounding the Beat nor Mistletoe and Whine required much editing. The story came to me as a clean copy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Obviously, Hounding the Beat. I don’t think it does compare to anything else. My stories at Changeling are all very different. I’ve written about a marooned astronaut, the fae, vampires, and a feel-good alternative history featuring a knight. I guess although this is paranormal it does have a similar feel to the contemporary stories as it has a modern setting. The only other menage I have out right now is Cosmic, available from Loose-Id, but that’s science fiction.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I was looking to write for the Protect and Serve series at Changeling — the series created by the wonderful Lena Austin, which meant *gulp* whatever I came up with had to please Lena as well as the usual suspects. I liked the series and wanted to be part of it. I first chose police as my topic — being able to put a spin on that in the form of the British ‘Bobbie’. Then I had to choose what kind of shape-shifter to use. I’ve wanted to write shape-shifting huskies for a while, and so Bobby Pooch and Chantelle Shepherd were born (what did I say about the puns *grin*). And then there’s Sam Sanders, who’s human. Really both books are largely Sam’s story, though I didn’t even realise it at the time.

What else about your book might interest the reader?

That this one may require a box of tissues, and I mean for the odd sniffle if not outright cry. Funny how a good old sob can be cleansing, especially when one is left with a reason to smile. The best books affect readers’ emotions, after all. Not sure I always succeed in that as much as I like, but with this one I know I did. That is to say, I made those who went through the process with me have a lip tremble or two, including me and my editor.

 

Snowflake

Last week I mentioned a childhood favourite read: Snowflake by Paul Gallico. Oddly, the religious aspects of the story escaped me as a child. Whatever one’s belief this is such… I want to say gentle story, but I recall parts making me cry and the read didn’t feel gentle at all. I was an infant and parts of the story left me feeling raw…and I adored every moment, the good and the bad. This is the full version read and accompanied by song by Peter Gabriel.

Ten Memorable Titles

I was tagged some time ago on Facebook and again this week, so having answered this once before I’m re-posting this. The way the game works is to list ten titles that have stayed with you in some way. They don’t have to be the ‘right’ books, and you shouldn’t think about it too long — just ten that have touched you and stayed with you. Then you nominate ten more people to play the game.

My problem was sticking to ten, and sticking to the ‘stayed with you in some way’, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as favourite books and authors.

Here, I’m including the list but with a variation on the theme adding explanations. Slight cheat — the first is two by one author, and there are a couple of trilogies.

In no particular order:

The Happy Prince/Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Happy Prince, read as a child, and I cried my eyes out. Well, not literally and that would be gross, but yes, I sobbed. Hey, I was like nine or younger, and the first time I heard the story someone else read it to me. It would probably still make my lips tremble. It has everything: morality, romance, heart-wrenching pain. A Picture of Dorian Gray is just one of those stories never forgotten. As is often the case, my first awareness of this tale was the old black and white film. I didn’t get to read the book until my teens, but it’s an undeniable classic.

Gormenghast (trilogy/first two books) by Mervyn Peake

Not only a story that has touched and stayed with me, it’s one of my favourites, if not ‘the’ favourite owing to the scope of imagination, the names given to the characters, but most of all the richness of the language used, something sadly lacking in most books today.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I adore this ‘other world’ below London in this urban fantasy. For Doctor Who fans, it may be of interest to know that Peter Capaldi played the Angel Islington in the 1996 television series, but it is the novelisation that stayed with me. Again, I love the names given to the characters, and the idea of an ordinary man dragged into an extraordinary world, especially one beneath London.

Wraeththu (trilogy) by Storm Constantine

This is possibly the author’s most well-known and outstanding work. A futuristic fantasy of post-apocalyptic proportions told through the eyes of three characters (one per book). The story follows Wreaththu — hermaphrodite beings who are skillful with forms of magic — and their interaction with humans. At times romantic, but questioning perceptions of sexuality and mankind’s humanity/inhumanity to each other, there’s more going on here to those with an open mind.

Snowflake by Paul Gallico

A child’s book that I’ve never seen anywhere since. I last tried searching for it about five years ago, but it wasn’t available, and I think I only found one listing for it. I have no need of an actual replacement, although mine is so old and well-read it’s now lacking a cover and is just a very thin volume of aged yellowing pages. In short, Snowflake is born, goes on many adventures, falling in love with Raindrop and then at the dramatic conclusion returns to the sky. It had everything for a child — adventure, romance, and even self-sacrifice. I loved (and kept) so many of my childhood books, but this is my most-loved.

Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

My first ‘adventure’ for an older reader, and I’ve chosen it because it’s linked to the one good clear memory I have of my mother. She read it to me long before I was able to read it myself. She must have read it, at my request, about three times before I was able to take over. I still have the little burgundy covered book that she gave me. Owing to her ill health, I don’t have many memories like that so her reading Tom Sawyer is priceless.

Knowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh

Only read once, but I loved this book and remember it well. Some might see it as an argument against religion, but I think more than that it illustrates what man is capable of doing to each other using religion as an excuse. I especially like the story behind the book, that it was turned down by everyone, so Jill Paton Walsh self-published at a time when it was much harder to do than it is now. It went on to win a Booker prize — before they changed the rules to disallow self-published titles.

The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson

It was a close call between this and I Am Legend, but this just pips it for me. My first memory of the story was once again the old black and white movie. Who can forget the battle with the giant spider? Some love spiders, some hate them, some have this strange love/hate affinity with them. I think their webs are beautiful and amazing. I think the spider is incredible. I just don’t want to come across one unexpectedly. In short, my early recollections were of that chill down one’s spine at the thought of battling a giant spider. I hadn’t read the book until recently, and likely had a preconceived notion of what to expect. The book, though in many ways accurate to the film, differs vastly in that it’s more emotional. I didn’t expect to experience so many emotions including such sadness spliced with sympathy for the main character, in what many assume is a horror story.

Nocturnes by John Connolly

I like John Connolly’s work. I’m often perplexed with how he seems to break so many ‘rules’, particularly with his Charlie Parker novels — including both first and third person viewpoints, and even telling the story in an omnipresent way when relating something that happened in the past. Not all writers can even manage point of view changes successfully, but it seems to suit his style, his ‘voice’. I chose to include Nocturnes because I was surprised to come across a collection of short stories with gothic influences. They are both olde-worlde and new.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Best known for writing One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and the sequel The Starlight Barking. Yes, 101 had a sequel, and I have both books. I Capture the Castle has one of the best opening sentences. As John Steinbeck’s end to Of Mice and Men is startling, the most memorable thing about Dodie Smith’s first novel for adults has always been the line that begins, “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”