Monday, January 28, 2013

A Novel Approach - The Next Big Thing

I was recently contacted by my friend Bernadette Geyer, whose new book of poems, The Scabbard of Her Throat, will be published this year by The Word Works [], and tagged to participate in the blog interview,  The Next Big Thing.  The format is simple; answer ten questions about a just recently completed or current writing project.  I have chosen the draft manuscript of my first novel.

Ten Interview Questions for the “Next Big Thing”:

1.   What is your working title of your book (or story)?

An Unheard Whisper.  The title is taken from 1 Kings 19:12.  “And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”

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

I took a spur of the moment road trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia during the summer of 2011 at which time I came up with the germ of an idea for a novel.  I returned to Halifax in early 2012 when I explored the possibilities further and began to map out in my mind where I wanted the story to go.  For the past year I have been outlining the chapters and drafting character studies and narrative summaries.  Now I am writing and hope to finish this year.

3.   What genre does your book fall under?
It is a novel - a Bildungsroman - constructed of several books.  I would consider it more literary than popular fiction.

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

There are a great many characters in the novel covering a period of time from 1914 through 2001.  Much of the narrative is set in the late 1990s in Europe, Canada and New England.  I see the main characters from this period being played by Matt Damon as Geoffrey Kingston, Jennifer Lawrence as Susanna Emerson, Shawna Waldron (she played the daughter in The American President [1995]) as Kelly O’Shaunessy, and Anthony Hopkins as Professor Duncan Massey.  There are a series of flashbacks to World War I and the great Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917 and its aftermath.  These are peopled with a rich variety of characters, and my wife insists that one of them should be played by George Clooney.

5.   What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The main story line revolves around Geoffrey Kingston, a historian attempting to write a book about the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

6.   Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I hope to publish through an established publishing house or small press.

7.   How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I am currently deep in that process.

8.   What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Hugh MacLennan’s Barometer Rising (1941), Robert MacNeil’s The Burden of Desire (1992), and Jennie Marsland’s Shattered (2011).  All three of these novels, written by Canadian authors, use the Halifax explosion as a focal point of the narrative although their individual denouements are widely varied.  As far as I know, I am the first to construct a novel on the subject from a mostly American perspective.

9.   Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My visits to Halifax, Nova Scotia over the past year and a half (and another one in the planning stages) and my readings on the Halifax explosion and its place in modern Canadian history and culture.

10.  What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
They might find the balancing of foreshadowing and flashbacks interesting as they both lend verisimilitude to the suffering of the people of Canada, and especially Halifax, during World War I.

I, in turn, have tagged Miles David Moore [] who will post next week.

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