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The Next Big Thing: Death Scene

Hi, everyone. It’s been a few days since I posted. Well, OK, it’s been since November 30th. Since I completed NaNoWriMo. A lot of Real Life™ has happened and I’ve not had the time to write, much less update a blog. But that’s winding down for the most part, now, and I’m going to try to maintain some semblance of a regular schedule (said the serial procrastinator).

But in the meantime, I was tagged! A friend of mine from Viable Paradise, Camille Griep, tagged me to participate in “The Next Big Thing,” a blog-tagging activity especially for writers. There are ten questions about our current work in progress (i.e., the “next big thing”) which we are to answer, and then tag other writer bloggers to do the same.

And now, for the self-interview.

What is the working title of your book?

The book’s working title is Death Scene, but I’m thinking Scene of the Crime or Crime Scene might also work. It is the first book in a series I’m calling “The PCIU Case Files.” PCIU stands for “Paranormal Crimes Investigation Unit.” I have the plots of the first and third books basically done, the second one in the works, and there’s a three-book arc that ties those together. I also have ideas for books four and five.

The reason the first and third books are plotted (and partially written) is that book three used to be book one, and book one used to be book two. Which means book two was originally book three, so it’s the one I hadn’t worked on at all. You’re welcome to diagram that if you like, but you may need four dimensions.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The opening scene, wherein a boy scout troop leader happens across the scene of a crime while hiking with his scouts to where they’re going to camp for the weekend, popped into my head fully formed. The scene he finds is a young woman burning at the stake. But it’s frozen in stasis, flames and all.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy. It’s set in present-day Atlanta, but magic works.

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

I don’t ever think in terms of movies when it comes to the characters, at least as far as who in the real world would play them in a movie (with two caveats I’ll mention below). But when I gave it serious consideration, I realized I only have vague notions of what two of my characters look like. So I went through literally hundreds of actors in IMDB (by birth year) and by Googling. I don’t picture my characters as ‘beautiful people,’ and actors with recognizable names are sort of ‘beautiful people’ by definition, so this was hard. (Also, seriously, have you ever tried to get a list of ‘normal-looking actors in their 30s’ or 20s? Try it. You get nothing but ‘hottest’ lists.) But I’ve picked out some names that come reasonably close to the general look I have in mind (disregard acting ability; I don’t even know some of these people’s work). I also realized that I haven’t actually decided on the race of one of my characters. I’ve used Caucasian actors below, but I may make him African American.

Special Agent Nick Damon: Ben Affleck. Mark Wahlberg. Desmond Harrington. Along those lines, but not “pretty.”

Special Agent Javier Ellis: Josué Gutierrez or Shalim Ortiz (I’ve actually been picturing a younger Jimmy Smits, which is one caveat I mentioned above).

Detective Charlotte “Chuck” Norris: Eliza Dushku, Alyson Hannigan, Laura Prepon, or Felicia Day (I have always pictured Chuck in my head as a petite strawberry blonde with an attitude, but when I thought about it . . .)

Detective Derek Meads: Hunter Parrish comes closest, although Shia LeBeouf would work, I guess. Derek is the most recent addition to my cast so he’s a bit . . . amorphous. He could even turn out to be African-American.

Manny Gutierrez: And here we run into a problem. Manny is nearly 7 feet tall, rail thin, and has a dyed, spiked mohawk. Good luck finding that. If Aarón Díaz were seven or eight inches taller, he’d be about right. But much too pretty.

TV reporter Monique Johnson: Since she actually is a TV personality, she is allowed to be “beautiful.” (I’ve been picturing her as a younger Alfre Woodard, which is the other caveat I mentioned above.) So: Yaya DaCosta or Annjee Diggs.

Now, as I said before, I never think of these things, but having now Googled many image searches looking for actors and actresses of approximately the right ethnicity, age, hair color, and height . . . I may have a better idea in my head what these people look like. So, yay for being tagged!

Disclaimer: I loves me some Eliza Dushku, Alyson Hannigan, and Felicia Day (Buffy for the win!). Adore. And Laura Prepon got in there because of one particularly bad-ass image of her I ran across that said “Chuck Norris” to me. Eliza would make her hair red(dish) for this role, I’m sure of it.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

FBI mages cooperate with the Atlanta Police in a race against the clock to solve a series of seemingly unrelated, escalating, horrific murders committed using magic.

The X-Files meets Criminal Minds is one of my “pitches,” but I’m not sure it’s accurate. I had a completely accurate one one day and didn’t write it down. It is gone forever.

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

In a perfect universe, I’ll send in my query letter and Big Publishing will throw bags of money at me. Joss Whedon and J. Michael Straczynski will get into a fist-fight over which one of them gets to direct the movie made from my book. But if that doesn’t end up happening, I’m not entirely averse to the idea of self-publishing. :) But I’m gonna try traditional before that.

The Viable Paradise oath involved submitting until Hell wouldn’t have it.

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

It was a NaNoWriMo novel to begin with, so it took 30 days. But it had no subplots, very little in the way of character development, and no arc.

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

Since I identified the genre as Urban Fantasy, I’ve been eagerly reading other UF books, hoping not to see anything too close to what I’ve developed. So far, so good. Kat Richardson, Katharine Kerr, Jim Butcher, and Ilona Andrews come closest in “feel” to what I’m aiming for, but all of them are so different.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This book was originally the second book in the series. I was working on the first one (now the third one) when NaNoWriMo came up and I needed something else to write. So I thought, “Why not work on book 2?” As I said above, the opening scene popped into my head, and the rest flowed from that. I figured out who my “bad guy” was about the same time my characters did.

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

As I said, I’ve purposefully gone out of the way to keep it different than what else is out there. There are several other UF series set in Atlanta where magic works, and mine is nothing like any of them.

Magic is not a crutch. It doesn’t automatically solve all problems; all too often, it causes as many as it helps solve. What matters is good detective work, team work, and the proper application of magic when needed. The characters are more important than their magic.

My magic system is not overpowered and there is a price to using it. So if any of that appeals . . .

And to pay the meme forward, I tag:

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NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 30

National Novel Writing Month, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

I’m charting my daily progress on NaNoWriMo. Since you may or may not care, I’ll kindly hide it. Thanks for taking the time. :)

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