I was tagged by Tom Pluck and Ron Earl Phillips to join in The Next Big Thing blog tour, a way for writers to showcase some of the projects they are working on. My novel isn't quite done--still dressing up the writing, working out a few kinks, sending it to my writing group in a couple of weeks, then back for another edit... Anyhow, I'm answering a few questions about the whole thing:
1) What is the working title of your next book? Nightmare.
2) Where did the idea come from? My main character, Tess, has something called, Sleep Paralysis, which means that when she starts to fall asleep, her mind is still awake but her body is paralyzed. At the same time, she is also hallucinating—a malevolent being or ghost glides from the corner of the room and threatens to kill her. I’ve suffered from this on and off since I was a 13, so a few years ago, I thought hell, I might as well write about it. So I wrote a horror story called “Old Hag’s Syndrome” published in SNM’s Bonded By Blood II. The story has nothing to do with the plot of my novel, just that both characters suffer from the same affliction.
3) What genre does your book fall under? Crime fiction/mystery with a slice of horror.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? I’m not sure. I know many writers use casting as a tool to help them flesh out their characters, but it doesn’t seem to work for me. I usually only use it when I’m stumped. Mostly, I tend to write my characters from the inside—meaning, I see their personalities more than their physical traits. Tess’s sister, Robyn, who is the victim, is beautiful, but I focused more on her attitude. Robyn had a lot of attitude. So the short answer is I don’t know who I’d cast. Maybe Kathy Bates as Tess’s therapist.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? I need two sentences: One night in Atlantic City, Tess—42, a recently divorced mother who suffers from sleep paralysis—runs into her long-dead sister’s ex-boyfriend, Paul Lynch, who insists Tess’s sister, Robyn, is haunting his dreams, trying to tell him who killed her. Tess, who dismisses him at first, quickly finds herself going down the rabbit hole of memories and nightmares in search of the truth to her sister’s death.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Hopefully I can nab an agent with this one. I have a collection of short stories I’d love to publish, also, but again, I would like an agent first.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft? The first three chapters took about two years. I couldn’t get it right and then I gave up. Last fall, I picked it up again and I got halfway through, stopped, wrote a bunch of short stories, then picked it up again in the summer. So the first draft was probably about six months.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? While I was Gone by Sue Miller was a major influence on the structure of the book. The Exorcist helped me with the scare factor. But I would say if I were pitching it, I would have to go with The Lovely Bones, Girl Gone—books like that.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? Dateline profiled a murder that just haunted me. I can’t say what the story is because it would give my ending away. Just that I was bugged out about it for some reason.
In addition, I wanted to write about the death of a beautiful girl, but I wanted my victim to not be an innocent. Robyn is loud-mouthed, selfish, controversial—basically, a piece of work. But she’s kind to Tess.
Still, it’s not all grim and depression. My characters are a bunch of wise-asses, even Tess’s kid. So there are some funny moments.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? Selling a house. Tess is trying to sell her house in the middle of all of this. If you’ve ever had to sell a house, you’ll feel Tess’s pain. It’s a nightmare.