Next Big Thing

Happy New Year, everyone! I love these first few days of the year when everything seems fresh and manageable and bright. I had the nicest New Year’s Eve I’ve had in awhile: dim sum and rollerskating. It was a fun, lighthearted way to kick off 2013; I hope it bodes well for the rest of the year.

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And 2013 already seems promising. A new story of mine was published over at Little Fiction. “The Most Serene Republic” is about wanting to get engaged, and money, and it’s set in Paris. Little Fiction is one of my favourite lit sites out there and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. (Thanks, Troy!)

Speaking of writing, Saleema tagged me in this fun “Next Big Thing” meme. I don’t think I’ve done a pass-it-on quiz like this since my Livejournal days! I’m working on something new, but it’s still too early in the writing/first draft-y process to answer the questions below, so I’ll answer it for my more completed project.

What is the working title of your book?
Escape Plans

Where did the idea for the book come from?
It started with “Swimming Lessons”, a story from Bats or Swallows, about a girl, Zoe, who’s father has drowned in the Aegean sea. I kept thinking about Zoe, and knew I wanted to write about her mother and father too. And then I read the Seferis poem “Thrush”, where he mentions mythological characters I had never heard of, the Graeae. I looked them up and found out that they were three sister sea nymphs, blind, except for a single eye that they shared between them. Their most starring role was in the myth of Medusa – Perseus steals their eye until they tell him when he can find Medusa so that he can eventually lop off her head. They’re not the most pleasing of characters, but the image of three people sharing an eye helped me figure out crucial things about the book. For a long time, my working title was “The Grey” because of that image, but then no one liked the title, and it was used in that Liam Neeson movie, which is based on a book of the same name, anyway.

What genre does your book fall under?
Literary fiction. Zoe’s section is definitely coming of age.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This question is hard! Maybe because I’ve been finally catching up on Freaks and Geeks, but I imagine Zoe to look a little like Lindsey Weir. I have to think about Anna and Niko…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Escape Plans follows the Kiriakos family—Niko, Anna, and daughter Zoe—as each grapples with questions about marriage, solitude, and family in the wake of a unifying tragedy: Niko’s death.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is represented by an agency, and is looking for a publisher. I would really like for it to find a home.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me awhile to figure my way into the novel. There was a lot of writing around. Zoe’s section was the easiest because I’m comfortable writing late-teen-coming-of-age tales. Also, I had (weirdly?) never really written from a male perspective, let alone a male in his late forties/early fifties, so I had to figure that out. It wasn’t until I went to Greece in 2011 that things started to make sense. I wrote a first draft during those 5 months, but it was rough, and then spent the next year and a half rewriting and editing. End to end it probably took over 2 years, closer to 3 if you include when I wrote the first story and started thinking that maybe I could make a novel around it, but three sounds frighteningly long… and then if you add all the time it will take for it to 1) hopefully find a publisher 2) get edited and published… argh! Writing! It’s the worst!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Like the actor question, I don’t knowww. But here’s a cute picture of Maya:
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(Look at those ears!)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
No one thing in particular inspired me to write this book. I got hooked on the characters, and wanted to figure them out. I also just wanted to write about things I wanted to read about: road trips, solitude, small families, the weird square in downtown Albany, being a tourist, secrets, walking around Athens, etc. So I fit them all into this book.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There’s a lot of travel in it? Various sections are set in Montreal, Albany, New York City, Niagara Falls, Paris, Athens, Spetses. And, for better or for worse, it’s what you would call a “quiet” novel. I happen to be a big fan of quiet books – they are my favourite – so, if you are as well, then, voila.

(I’m supposed to tag people to do this too, and think it would be fun to see people like Samantha, Leesa, Lindsey, Elizabeth and Laura Jane to fill this out, but I think the last time I saw them do something like this was also back when we all had Livejournal handles, so no pressure.)

2 thoughts on “Next Big Thing

  1. Teri, I really enjoyed your story at Little Fiction! The quietness of it is adding to my excitement for your “quiet novel.” (I’d love to know what some of your favourite quiet novels are, too.)

    I’m so happy you did the meme! I love the sound of all the characters and places and ideas you’ve worked into your novel. And Maya is too cute for words.

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