Next Big Thing Meme

I was recently tagged by Fran Wilde, a fellow writer and friend I met at Taos Toolbox, to talk about my current Work-in-Progress. Be sure to learn more about her WIP Bone Arrow, Glass Tooth, which I had the privilege of reading part of at the workshop.

1. What is the title of your Work in Progress?


2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, for starters, it wasn’t always a book. It started out as a short story. My response to a particularly bad season of wildfires—one actually got very close to my house. I wondered what it would be like to live under threat of fires all the time, how that would define you as a person and shape your culture. And the idea evolved from there.

Around that time, Wily Writers announced their YA post-apocalyptic theme, and I wanted to submit Fireproof. But I soon realized that wasn’t possible—my short stories are often novels in disguise, and Fireproof was one of them. So I set it aside and wrote Chicken Feet (which was accepted by Wily Writers and later reprinted in The Shining Cities anthology). I then returned to Fireproof with the new goal of fleshing it out as a novel.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

YA Science Fiction

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

Let’s see if it gets picked up first.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

I hate writing these. How about a paragraph?

Tanwen’s father trained her to be a survivor, but the colony will train her to be a spy. When a rogue collective takes aim at the colony’s water supply, she’s ordered to infiltrate enemy territory. Away from her family and friends, Tanwen must come to terms with all she thought she knew about her life. And when her mission objective changes from recon to sabotage, she’ll learn what’s really worth saving.

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

Representation, I hope. One day. Fingers crossed!

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

The idea was kicking around in my head Spring/Summer of 2011. Starting in Fall 2011, I started treating it as a novel and had a full draft by late Spring 2012. It’s complete and polished and I’m largely pleased with it, but still making the occasional tweak.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

The dreaded comparables question? I think this meme hates me 😉

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See Q2. I also wanted to explore a couple different themes:

  • Sacrificing what you want for the good of the community
  • How specialized education/skillsets can lock you into unwanted trajectories
  • We don’t have to repeat the mistakes of our parents
  • Grief and all the different shapes it takes
  • And, of course, hope in the future

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The southwestern setting is a huge part of the story, despite its SF trappings. Many elements are rooted in the culture and the people who make the high desert their home—and some things were ripped straight from the headlines. Granted most readers won’t care about all that, but it was important for me to have that extra layer of authenticity.

I also wanted to present a possible, if not probable, apocalyptic scenario because so many other books gloss over what happens in the past. In Fireproof, the connections between what happened and its impact on the resulting society are tightly drawn, showing the messy transition from apocalyptic event to resulting post-apocalyptic society. One of my trusted readers called it a pre-post-apocalyptic story, which is awkward to say, but in some ways accurately captures my intention.


Thanks again to Fran Wilde for tagging me!
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