Last week writer, Daniela Eliza, tagged me to be part of the interview series, The Next Big Thing, where writers speak of their latest book, work in progress, or manuscript. You can read her entry at http://strangeplaces.livingcode.org/. Here are my answers to the questions.
1. What is the working title of your next book?
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
My mother used to tell a story about her exciting but somewhat disreputable uncle who, at one time, was given a place to live by an elderly gentleman in exchange for recounting his dreams every morning.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Like I can ever remember the names of actors! This is set in the fifties and I’m thinking of some larger than life people I knew as a child in the way that children know adults. You latch on to a few characteristics, but remain oblivious to most of what goes on in their lives. These are all people who are dead now, so I’m inventing a whole new life for them. It’s fun.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Have you ever read one of José Saramago’s sentences? The ones that are breathless with commas, and go on for pages? Just kidding. It tells the story of how a father’s river journey with his deeply-disturbed son results in the loss of that son, but links the father with people and places in ways he could never have imagined.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book will be represented by the Mint Literary Agency.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m not there yet – I have about thirty percent of the first draft. And it’s been a couple of years already. But I know where it’s going.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Sandra Birdsell’s novels, perhaps. There’s Mennonites and rivers flooding. Land disputes and the bizarre workings of the Indian Act. I aim for her combination of visceral language that connects her characters to their surroundings and an understanding of how the larger events of place and time have an impact upon individual lives. But it’s more West Coast than prairie. Much of the book is set in Vancouver and on a small fictional island off the coast near Cortes Island.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was very influenced by Hugh Brody’s classic, Maps and Dreams which speaks of his time with the Danezaa people in BC’s northeast and, of course, links in with the crazy dream idea that set this all in motion. Then there’s Jung. Plus I’ve read many stories about the Parsnip and Finlay rivers before the Peace was dammed – and so I wanted to recreate this place and time as part of the novel and link it with the alternate universe known as the West Coast. The displacement of people, mostly First Nations, and the creative strategies people find to mitigate personal, cultural and environmental damage all reflect many of the events we’re facing today.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Anyone who has read my first novel, The Taste of Ashes, knows I like to build a plot that pulls my readers along. This will be similar.