I'm Gone, I'm Here, I'm Gone Again

If you've wandered around these parts any time in the last almost nine months you may have noticed a complete lack of well, just about anything. I stopped blogging on this site - temporarily, though that temporary status is lasting longer than I initially planned; and pulled down a lot of the old posts (cutting the content here roughly in half) that were more filler and possibly embarrassing internet footprint than anything else - for a slew of reasons. The first being we had a newish baby (she's 13 months old now and awesome), my day job was getting crazy hectic as it grew and expanded, and I was teaching college English and Business at several schools... point being, I wasn't really writing much of anything, at least nothing on the creative front. So, this site went into a bit of hibernation.

Then John Mantooth asked me if I would write a post for The Next Big Thing, a blog tour of sorts focused on writers and what they're working on, and John's a rock star in my book so I wanted to oblige. Onto the show...

1. What is the title of your book?
Brighter than Sunshine

Now before I go any further, this is a story I've been working on for several years, it's been through lots of hiccups and restarts, but in the last month or so I've revisited the work and have started to make some headway - as I've gotten older, the how and why of the story has evolved a bit along with my ability to put words to paper. I'll either finish the damned thing or never write another book, this is a conclusion I came to earlier this fall as I struggled to start a new project and couldn't get this story out of my head.

2. Where did the idea come from?
As I've gotten older, I've become more and more a fan of fantastical stories, science fiction (the soft kind), and intrigued by enigma driven plots. This all came to a head when I started to work on my MFA thesis in 2009 - I wanted to write a novel that captured all the things that I loved in literature and film and put it into one place. Word to the wise, an MFA thesis isn't the place for this. I had to scrap the project and my thesis ended up being a collection of short stories, passable but nothing that I'd brag about. I restarted the project in late 2009 as I started teaching (adjunct, on top of my day job) and writing time was scarce. Word count accrued slowly until it all but stopped in 2010 as other things took precedent.

Really, I all but stopped writing in 2010 (until again very recently), though you wouldn't have noticed it as many of the pieces I wrote in 2009 and earlier in '10 were finding homes and I was landing some nonfiction in places like Hobart and The Missouri Review. But back to the question at hand, the answer to which I think has more than anything to do with influences like John Bellairs and old school science fiction from HG Wells and Jules Verne and television like Lost and Doctor Who and Erie, Indiana and films like Big Fish and Frailty and Primer and Unbreakable and so on.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I'd say Young Adult fiction, the primary characters are all teens dealing with teenage type stuff in a world where that kind of thing is secondary to everything else going on around them. That said, if and when I ever finish the book, if I'm fortunate enough to find an agent to take it on I might be told it's something else entirely and I'm okay with that.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Tough one, the main characters are 18 and 17 respectively, but I could see John Hawkes as the fiery Thatch - part genius, part glorious jerk.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In my best movie announcer voice:
A young man who isn't quite what he seems finds love and danger and mystery at the dawn of the atomic age.  
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
At which point the book is finished, I'll start soliciting agents and with any luck land one. If not, then the MS will go in a desk and I'll move onto something new.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It's not done yet, I've been working on it off and on with other projects (Stymie, college level teaching, starting a family, etc.) taking precedent along the way for part of the last 3 years or so. I hope to have something to share with a select group of readers in the next several months (though, this isn't the first time I've said that - think of me as the George R.R. Martin of unfinished short novels).

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Hard question, I'd have to say stories that give me inspiration or remind of what I'm attempting to do here would include The Maze Runner, A Wrinkle in Time, some of the work and tone established by Neil Gaiman - I don't like to make comparisons of my work to others simply because I'm not really qualified to do so and my work probably doesn't really measure up. Hopefully I'll get the chance for some others to make those comparisons for me at some point.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
See #2 and #8 along with the constant inspiration of reading and watching the success of a handful of writers I'm proud to be a fan of, garner insight from, and/or to call friends.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Here's a bit of a short synopsis, hopefully it gets potential readers (and agents) wanting more...
Newton Farmer is the stereotypical college freshman, full of angst, quick to fall in love, and in a hurry (with just about everything), that is until the day his world falls apart. Now on his own, his parents the victims of an unfortunate accident, the girl of his dreams unable to cope with his sudden change of circumstances and the discovery that everything he knew about his family may be a cobweb of deception and half-truths, Newton has little to cling to at the moment Barnum Blackwell happens to walk into his life.
Blackwell has a proposition for Newton, one that seems ludicrous, fantastical, and more importantly impossible. Rather than argue this point or that, Blackwell simply leaves his calling card and the words, “Meet me when you’re ready.” Newton looks at the card in his hand and it simply reads:

Barnum Blackwell
99 Lafayette Parkway

Lifting his eyes to find the spot Blackwell was sitting now empty, Newton chalks the experience up to some campus crackpot with nothing better to do. But as the days pass, curiosity gets the better of Newton and what is intended as little more than a drive-by taxi ride investigation becomes the start of something unexpected, an adventure that will change everything about everything.
* * *

It seems that many of the writers I've reached out to have previously been solicited to participate in this little internet experiment, so as I look to add a few names to the fold over the coming days (with posts to appear on their own sites around December 19th) before disappearing back into the etherous pixels of the internet, here a few posts related to The Next Big Thing you can check out now:

John Hornor Jacobs - if you haven't read any of John's novels yet you need to do so immediately, if for no other reason than to be fully prepared for his upcoming YA novel The Twelve Fingered Boy. John is equal parts awesome, inspiration, good whiskey, rock-n-roller, zombie expert, and friend.

Matthew Salesses is a literary phenom, he's had editorial stints at Good Men Project and Redivider, and is the author of more outstanding stories than I can recount. 

Kevin Lucia - I met Kevin several years back at Borderlands Boot Camp, he wrote a ridiculously good story (mine, not so much). Also, he's more awesome than you can shake a stick at. 

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