The Next Big Thing

Something you might not know about me: I really like surveys. I’ll fill out restaurant surveys, take quizzes in magazines, fill out online questionnaires  etc. If it means I get to answer questions or fill in bubbles, I’m in. So when Jennifer K. Basile invited me to take part in the Next Big Thing blog tour, I jumped at the chance.

The idea is to share a little about your current writing project.

1) What is the working title of your book?

Queen of the Air. I know these things can change, but so far that one’s holding pretty solid.

Amelia Earhart and Lockheed Electra 10E NR16020 c. 1937

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

I was walking around one day and the line “My mother thinks she’s Amelia Earhart” came to me out of nowhere. I was really intrigued by what that situation might be like and started to write a short story to that effect. Soon I realized this story was going to take much longer to tell and it grew into Queen of the Air.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s pretty firmly in contemporary YA. I love wild stories of magic and historical epics and all sorts of genre, but I tend to write stories about real teens dealing with real life issues.

4) Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?

Man, that’s a tough one. But I love playing casting director, so here we go:

  • My main character, Alex, is tall and sporty and has a lot going on emotionally that she hides from most people around her. There’s no one who really jumps out at me in Hollywood, but I think brunette Jennifer Lawrence is about as close as I can come.
  • I can’t remember how I came across a picture of Kyle Riabko, but when I did I thought “Oh my lord, that’s [love interest] Jim Wiley.” I know nothing about Kyle as an actor, but something about his look really struck me.
  • Not quite a right match, but I loved Elizabeth Mitchell’s acting on Lost. Her facial expressions are so subtle but so evocative. I think she’d be great as Alex’s mom.
  • Alex’s dad is a little harder because I had a pretty clear picture of him going into things, and no actor quite matches. Is it possible to get a middle-aged, bearded, less cut Ryan Gosling? (I know, it’s hard for me to say those words too.)

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

From PW: “QUEEN OF THE AIR, [is] about a teenage girl struggling to balance high school, passing Drivers Ed, and a new relationship while trying to keep her mother’s progressing mental illness — delusions that she is Amelia Earhart — secret.”

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

I’m going the traditional publishing route, and so far the experience has been great. I really appreciate all the hard work my agent and editor have put into this project, and I know it’s a stronger book for it.

Ar2cfVGCAAAYf4V7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft came together pretty quickly. I wrote Queen of the Air as my MFA thesis, so it was roughly a five month process. But there have been many drafts after that. One reason I hate seeing movies about writers–usually it takes them a couple months to get from blank page to published novel. That’s so not how it usually works.

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

Trying to draw comparisons to books on the market feels a little like saying “A lot of people tell me I look like these beautiful movie stars.” But I hope that Queen of the Air has a similar vibe to other contemporary YA books like Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life, or Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower for how these books balance life with friends/at school with trauma at home.

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

Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants–wait, that’s The Princess Bride. My book has Drivers Ed, Amelia Earhart (or at least people who think they’re Amelia), graffiti art, soccer, and, of course, secrets. At its core, Queen of the Air is about the secrets we keep and the daily burdens we bear. I think most people can relate to that.

Thanks to Jennifer for letting me join in on the Next Big Thing fun! Once I figure out who I’m tagging, I’ll post links here.

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