Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So You Think You Can Write a Novel: The Next Big Thing (week 24)

I’d like to open with thanking Debra McKellan http://debramckellan.blogspot.com for this opportunity to entertain myself and (hopefully) a couple readers. Thanks again Debs for the So You Think You Can Write a Novel: The Next Big Thing inclusion.

I guess I could go on a bit about the allure and intricacies of literary creation but instead I’ll sum it up thusly; I enjoy writing and would love to have it entertain others.

There, I said it. If you were looking for deep insight…sorry.

Instead, I’ll use the opportunity to dwell on a piece of work I’m rather fond of – mine.

1- What is the working title of your book?


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

I’m a huge horror and thriller fan and had an idea that brought something different to the table. I love the seashore, isolated old houses, hidden dark history, complex relationships and emotional triumph. Once I had all the ingredients, I diced them up to share the stew and spiced liberally with paranormal horror and friction.

3- What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal Romantic Thriller. I understand this is probably a mish-mash of genres but the overall balance of Keepers supports this. The story, for me, is the story. The genre is the end product and generally as indicative as referring to Dom Perignon as ‘carbonated liquid’.

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

Being a movie huge fan that likes to pick out underappreciated actors, were I given the option, I’d love to hear Taylor Kitsch read for Mark Grady. I like the roguish swagger he brings and feel the poor guy could use a break after John Carter (I know I could have used one).

The real draw would be Kate Mara as the tormented and complicated Valerie Sheldon. I feel she has that balance of beauty, ability to translate the fragile and varied moods of the character, with the stylistic grace to pull it all together. The eye and hair color is wrong but I don’t care. She is the mental image that springs to mind when I envision Keepers as performance art.

For the other roles I’d like to draw upon the talents of those with experience and distinctive style. Zooey Deschanel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helen Hunt, Willem Dafoe and Edward Burns would effectively round out the cast.

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A withdrawn home renovator and his complicated tenant discover far more than love within the sinister embrace of Haven House.

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

Self-published. I am notably impatient and would love to gauge reader’s reactions as soon as possible while setting my own price, simultaneously building my presence for future works. I understand this is a profit based industry (otherwise, it wouldn’t exist), and a first time author with a complicated story faces an uphill battle on all fronts. Were an agent to approach, I’d listen. But for now, I like the idea of guiding this ship with my own hand.

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

Approximately two months for the first rough. After that, it took about a year to polish with a bunch of help.

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

Seeing as I feel I’m on uncharted ground, the comparisons would be varied. The physical conflict of Haven House is a hybrid of Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings and The Shining by Stephen King. Both had an interesting view of that ‘Cursed Place’.

The Haunting of Hill House by the great Shirley Jackson brought the overall theme from slash and burn horror to suspenseful / creepy.

None of these had much in the way of romantic development, so that was drawn from the work of Nelson DeMille in general and The Gold Coast in particular. My focus was refining the growth of the main characters and their relationship while keeping it edged with conflict. 

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Short answer:

I challenged myself.

Long answer:

As stated above, I’m a thriller junkie and I’ve read a ton of them. What I’d discovered was those that had complex characters and relationships were more satisfying than those more dependent on some impending catastrophic event.

With Keepers, I sought to draw the ‘relationship created under fire’ aspect more to the forefront – rather than have it as subtle character shading.

Balance was the challenge. I did my best to tread the line, stressing Valerie and Mark’s dynamic without setting up camp on the turf of contemporary romance novels. At the same time I strove to create a perilous situation to be dealt with by real people, not standard thriller protagonists.

And therein lay the rub. I’m more than satisfied with the final product – but will anyone else say the same? Have I successfully straddled genres, or have I created something perceived as neither fish nor fowl? There’s only one way to find out, and it isn’t by keeping this story locked away on my hard drive.

Motivation and encouragement from close writing friends also helped drive the story during its creation, with inspiration being maintained as the word count piled up. Special thanks to my close AQC buddies for their cajoling, taunting, brainstorming and chiding.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

This is not a horror story written for horror’s sake. Things happen for a reason and everything is interconnected. What I strove to bring to the table is the tension of love, family, tormented past and supernatural evil. Relationships are of paramount importance in Keepers, and I feel I captured their depth in a way that makes this a unique read.

The paranormal aspect is also relationship based, using a mirror image to pervert the love embraced by the two main characters. Lust, greed and domination are the antagonist elements that seek to short circuit healing, trust and growth.

My mission was to captivate the readers with my characters so that they feel they are behind the steering wheel. When they put it down upon completion (and buy copies for friends and family), I’d like to imagine them letting out a slow breath, smiling contently while saying “What a ride.”

Immediate enjoyment is nice, but what would truly flatter is if the story moved them enough to resonate for years to come.

Tagged for next week (Week 25) are some of my very talented writer friends. Check out their blogs next Wednesday, November 21st, when it's their turn to post answers to these same questions about their own works-in-progress!

http://pineapplelightning.blogspot.com/ For Brighton (formerly the Lord of Awesome, now just Awesome)


  1. Thanks again Debs, It was, by far, the hardest question to answer. Glad to hear it worked.