Unless you’ve been reading under a rock these past couple of months, you probably know all about this Next Big Thing—Blog Hop hopping around. Last week, Ann McMan told us all about her Work In Progress (WIP), a book called Backcast. Buried in that blog was the revelation that she’d fallen in love with her fictional characters, something most of us vehemently deny, especially to the non-fictional characters who populate our non-fictional lives. That’s like Penn & Teller selling out Siegfried & Roy.
And then she tagged me for the Blog Hop, so here I am following up a week later. I confess that I too have fallen in love with aspects of fiction from time to time, but I’ll save that story for the bottom of this Next Big Thing installment, more or less forcing you to scroll through the whole damn thing.
I actually have two WIPs, one that’s in the hands of my editor and another that’s slowly taking shape in the Word document hiding behind this one. I can better respond to the one that’s mostly finished, especially since it’s next on my release list (June 2013) and already has a title.
Oh, look! That’s the first question.
What is the working title of your book?
It’s called West of Nowhere. My partnerJenny hates that title, but that’s because she’s extremely literal. How can you be west of somewhere when where you are is nowhere? Indeed.
Where did the idea for this book originate?
The whole book was borne out of a single scene, the opening scene in this case. I’d always wanted to write a story about a damsel in distress falling in love with her rescuer, but I had some trouble getting this story to grow from one scene to a whole romantic arc, one in which the characters not only fell in love, but also overcame flaws to become better people. Part of the problem was developing a credible damsel in distress who was strong in her own right, since lesbian readers aren’t generally keen on helplessness.
As is the case with most of my book ideas, I etched this one out and put it on the back burner to simmer for a few years. Once Playing With Fuego was off my desk, I was ready to do something a little more serious and this idea finally boiled over. By that, I mean the rest of the story emerged and the characters filled out, along with their challenges.
What genre does West of Nowhere fall under?
No question, this one’s a romance in the classic sense. Girl meets girl—gets girl—loses girl—gets girl back. But it’s also about personal growth, much like the story of Audie Pippin in Sumter Point, who transitioned from a carefree wild child to a responsible young woman with the help of her new love interest, Beth Hester, the nurse who took care of her grandmother.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The main characters are 29 and 25 years old, and I’m honestly not drawn to any particular actors in that age group. Give me Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sharon Stone & Lucy Lawless any day. That said, I suppose with the right makeup & lighting, Hilary Swank could pull off the older role, that of the rescuer. Dakota Fanning has that wide-eyed naïveté of the damsel. Gerald McRaney & Veronica Cartwright would show up in the background, as they so often do in movie renditions.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
On a cross-country trip in a truck camper, Navy veteran Joy Shepard—against her better judgment—picks up country music groupie Amber Halliday, an abandoned waif with no place to call home.
What’s the longer synopsis of your book?
From the book jacket: It was a great dream—while it lasted. At twenty-five, Amber Halliday had thought life on the road with the band was her ultimate fantasy come true. In the blink of an eye she finds herself abandoned at a truck stop in Kentucky. No money, no family and nowhere to go.
Even though her common sense tells her to drive on by, Navy veteran Joy Shepard simply can’t ignore a woman in distress. With more than half of a cross-country trip ahead of her, she has room in her truck, as well as a temporary job to offer—caring for her wheelchair-bound father.
Though Amber is grateful for Joy’s help, she’s immediately challenged by Joy’s excessive tidiness and stringent rules. Her father is even worse! For her part, Joy can’t believe anyone is so slovenly, so undisciplined, so…frustrating! Every mile increases the chances that their lives—and their hearts—will end up right where they met: nowhere.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
As long as Bella Books is publishing lesbian fiction, they’ll be publishing mine.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I had a lot of character notes and a loose outline that I’d worked on for several months, but they turned out to be useless once the story began to take shape. Joy & Amber refused to do what I wanted them to do, and as their personalities emerged, they actually took things in a different direction. From the first page to the last, I worked on this one about 14 weeks.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What. Definitely What.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I got totally lost in the research for this book. It’s always important for me to know & understand how my characters came to be who they are and why they behave the way they do, whether I spell all that out in the book or not. Joy & her father are both Navy veterans who served on aircraft carriers, and I realized during my research there was much about military life I took for granted, despite being the child of a career Marine. I’m in total awe of the skill, dedication & teamwork it takes to land—in the dark, no less—a 23-ton jet on a concrete postage stamp that’s bobbing up & down. That’s a superhuman feat as far as I’m concerned, but to sailors on a carrier deck, it’s all in a day’s work.
Now it’s time to tag the next author, whose blog you’ll see on Wednesday, December 19th.
And back to that business about falling in love with fictional characters …
In tagging D. Jordan Redhawk, I’m reminded of one of my favorite books, Tiopa Ki Lakota. By the time I finished that story, I wanted to live in the Lakota village with Anpo, even if it meant sharing her with her first wife, Ketlin. Perhaps especially if it meant sharing her with Ketlin.
You’ll find Red’s blog, In Shadows, here: http://djordanredhawk.com/home/blog/