Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I've staunchly resisted having a blog, partly because I hate feeling like I'm on a schedule, and a blog feels like something that people would expect me to post in regularly, and partly because, frankly, I'd rather be writing books or having conversations online than writing blog posts. But  +Kelly Walker kindly tagged me in this blog tour, and so, because I agreed to answer these questions, I finally caved and set up a blog...but consider yourself warned that I have my doubts that this is going to be a regular activity.
So, what is The Next Big Thing, anyway?
It works like this: everyone on the blog tour answers the same ten questions, and then they “tag” five more writers to keep the tour going, and those writers blog their answers the following week. Here are my answers to those ten questions.

1) What is the working title of your current/next book?

I just released Dragon Blade, the second book in the War of the Blades series, and I have another book in the same setting that is all but finished, tentatively titled Dragon Home. It is set shortly after Dragon Blade, and it deals with a lot of the political and social fallout of the events in that book. I am hoping to have it in shape to be released later this year. I have already completed a fourth book that takes place in the same world, primarily following different characters and a different main storyline, that happens in a time frame that overlaps to some extent with Dragon Home. That book is going through initial edits right now, and I'm hoping that it will also be released sometime this year, hopefully shortly after Dragon Home comes out. It has a working title of Dragon Justice.

2) Where did the idea come from?

Dragon Blade, my new release, was always planned as a continuation of the Dragon Fate story; I finished the first draft of Dragon Fate and sat down the next day to start writing Dragon Blade. The two stories really flow into one another, and the series was written because they are the kind of feel-good heroic fantasy books I love to read, and also to get back the right to complain to my family about how other authors handled certain things in their books.

Dragon Home is the answer to the natural question raised by Dragon Blade: how are the existing power structures going to react to everything that just happened? I had all of the main story elements of Dragon Home in place by the time I finished the first draft of Dragon Blade, and I have been making steady progress on it ever since, but I have been seized by the muse more than once and forced to work on other projects that I couldn't get out of my head until I got at least the basic frameworks down.

Dragon Justice has a more complicated genesis, and it has some elements that are much darker and more violent than the War of the Blades novels. I've found that the more I write in a particular world or setting, the more I discover stories there that need to be told. This book was started after but finished before several others in the same general setting that I have in progress, including Dragon Home, and I was more than a little surprised to find that this was the book I completed first.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I'd have to say that all the books I have published or have in the publishing pipeline would fall under heroic fantasy.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 
In some ways, I wish people would stop asking me this question unless they are planning to make movies of the books and want my input. I tried to write the books in such a way that readers can form their own ideas about the details of a character's appearance unless having a physical description is important to the plot in some way, and identifying actors with the characters takes away from that. This question came up in a Goodreads group read about Dragon Fate a few months back, and while I wrote up a list of actors in response to the question, I didn't end up putting it out on the group: instead, I asked them who they would choose, and I got a wide range of answers, most of which I would never have come up with. Part of what makes a book different than a movie is using your own imagination to fill in the world and the characters, and I don't want to cheat readers out of that, so I'm not going to give a hypothetical cast list...but I will say that in the event someone does want to make a movie of Dragon Blade, I'd love to have Kelly Hu as the voice of Geneva and Alan Rickman as Warrick. Hey, a guy can dream, right?

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
One sentence? You asked for it.

In Dragon Blade, the epic conclusion to the story begun in Dragon Fate, Delno Okonan, his draconic bond-mate, Geneva, and their allies among the Dragons and Riders are once again caught up in events controlled by unseen forces, and they must uncover the real secrets behind the death of a senior Dragon Rider and the sudden rise of the Roracks, ancient enemy of dragons and men, to defeat a threat that could destroy them all and leave the world they know forever altered.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
Dragon Fate amd Dragon Blade are published through Smithcraft Press, and so far, I have every reason to believe that Dragon Home and Dragon Justice will be, too, unless I get a great offer from someone in the Big Five.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft? 

Dragon Blade took about four straight months of continous full-time writing to finish the first draft, and Dragon Justice took about six. If my current pace on Dragon Home holds, and I don't count all of the breaks I took to deal with family crises or the time I spent working on other books, there will be about six solid months of work in the first draft.

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

I wouldn't compare this story or any of my stories to other books in the genre; I try to leave that to other people. Do my books have elements that are similar to some that you'll find in other books? Of course. There are dragon riders in my books. There are dragon riders in some of Anne McCaffrey's books. There are dragon riders in Christopher Paolini's books. I would never say that the Pern books and Paolini's books are comparable, or that someone who liked one of those series would like the other, or that someone who liked either of them would necessarily like my books, although Dragon Fate has gotten good ratings and reviews from people who liked both of them. Taste in books is a very individual thing, and you and I might like the same book for very different reasons.This is why browsing through the book yourself or taking recommendations from reviewers or other people you know share the same tastes are the most reliable ways to find books. I love the Goodreads "compare books" function for this.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Didn't I just answer this up in Question 2?

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Dragon Blade is a little faster-paced and has more battles and "action" than Dragon Fate, but the story picks right up almost where Dragon Fate left off, and all the same central characters are there.  Some characters who may have seemed relatively minor in Dragon Fate end up playing much larger roles in Dragon Blade. There are a few surprises along the way, and, intermingled with the action, you'll get to find out more backstory on many of the characters, not just Delno and Corolan, and you'll get some more of the history of the dragons and the Riders, too.

I hate having to choose between writers, and I hate obligating anyone to write anything, but here are the five writers I'm tagging for next week to keep the tour going, if they turn out to be willing: