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The Next Big Thing

Fantasy Author R.T. Kaelin (check out his books, you'll like them) got tagged (by Michael J. Sullivan, no less) and he, in turn, tagged me.

What does all of that mean? What is "The Next Big Thing?" I'm glad you asked that. It's a sort of meme (explained quite eloquently by Mr. Sullivan and rather comically by Mr.Kaelin) where an author answers 10 questions about his next book and asks five other authors to do the same. It's a way for people to link to me and tell their audience to check me out and find out about my new book. It's also a way for my faithful readers to discover at least a few more projects that might be of interest to them.

So, without further ado, here are the questions:

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

There's a couple that are "next" and a couple further out than that. For the purposes of this question (and most questions) I'll stick to the two closest to publication, though. The working title of my two next books are:

A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination 

and

The Serpent's Head

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

The history book was an idea my daughter inspired in me. At my writing workshop two years ago I was able to visit the museum at Ford's theatre. I came home with so many stories to tell from the place and my then 8 year old daughter was thirsty for as much information as I could find about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln that was age appropriate. I was doing some research and found that there wasn't quite a book that fit the bill. After researching other attempts on the lives of President's and discovering that Davy Crockett helped foil the first attempt, I knew there was enough material to present a good book that would be fascinating for adults and kids alike. Then I brought on Erin Kubinek as the artist and she's been working on the illustrations for the last 6 months. I assure you, they're gorgeous.

The Serpent's Head is an altogether different beast. It's a sci-fi western that sprung out of my love of pulpy westerns and science fiction. A few years back I wrote it as a screenplay and the screenplay sat languishing, so I thought I'd adapt it into a book of my own. It was a little bit more challenging than I would have expected, but the reward will be well worth it.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Well, clearly the first is a history book, the second is a science-fiction western.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

The history book speaks for itself, but for the sci-fi, I can pick dead actors, right? Maybe I'll mix and match.

The Stranger - Clive Owen, channeling Clint Eastwood. He's a nameless bounty hunter sort on a planet on the frontier of the galaxy. 

Guerrero, The Serpent's Head -- Ron Perlman, channeling Lee Marvin and Lee Van Cleef. He's what we'd call the heavy.

There are four kids of varying ages in the book and more than a couple of them would be too young to pick known actors for, but for the oldest girl I'd probably pick Chloe Moretz or Elle Fanning.

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

The Serpent's Head is about a nameless gunslinger who takes in three kids after a massacre killed their families and helps them exact revenge against the men who did it.

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

At this point, it seems like The Serpent's Head will be at the same imprint, Silence at the Library, that Operation: Montauk was put through. If not, I'll probably be putting it out myself. 

I'm sending out proposals to publishers for the history book, though I expect little to come from it. The plan at this point is to set up a kickstarter to put out a very lovely hardcover edition of the book, as well as a softcover and digital copy. The art is so gorgeous, though, we're going to be doing plenty with that.

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

The history book took about 3 months and it was mainly research and boiling down the essence of each president's life up to the point of the assassination (or assassination attempt.) I wanted to make sure to keep the most interesting things and keep it relatable to as wide an audience as possible in hopes that parents and kids (and history buffs) would all find some enjoyment out of the book.<

For The Serpent's Head the first draft clocked in at about 60,000 words and it took me about 6 weeks. 

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

I look back to Heinlein's work. His sci-fi seemed to come from a different direction every time. But also Louis L'amour. I remembered reading his Sackett books in high school and they filled me with all kinds of joy and helped me fall in love with the entire western genre. I know Firefly is a sci-fi western, but this book is a little bit more Sergio Leone than Joss Whedon.

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

The history book was singularly inspired by my daughter, Scout.

The Serpent's Head was inspired by everyone from Sergio Leone and Robert Heinlein to Joss Whedon and Louis L'amour. But I find inspiration an ill-fitting word. I'm not inspired to write, per se, writing is forced on me as a need. I just had to write. When I sat down to write this in 2011, this is what came out. It's what I wrote immediately following the first draft of the Operation: Montauk manuscript. 

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

For the history book, put this in your pipe and smoke it: The first would-be presidential assassin misfired his gun twice, was beat down with his cane by the president, and subdued by Davy Crockett. And can you imagine the redoubtable Erin Kubinek illustrating it?

For The Serpent's Head, I want people to see a different side of me and my writing with each new book, and I hope this one doesn't disappoint. It's funny, it's heartfelt, it's action-packed, and it's set in a science-fiction world that a lot of thought and tender, loving care was put into. My ardent hope is that you enjoy it all.

My tags:

I've been in contact with five authors about following up with their own "Next Big Thing" post, but only two-and-a-half have got back to me so far. I'll put their links below and add others as they agree. Please, go check out their websites and consider buying their books.

Paul Genesse
Chris "Ruzkin" Hayes-Kossman
Warren Murphy

And don't forget to check out R.T. Kaelin and Michael Sullivan, too.

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