The Next Big Thing

Two dear blogging friends, Jo Eberhardt at The Happy Logophile and Anthony Lee Collins at U-town, tagged me for The Next Big Thing. I am excited to report that answering these questions shifted my brain back into novel-writing gear. (It has been in Forest Avenue Press gear for weeks.) So here we go!

The Next Big Thing

The rules:

  1. Give credit to the person who tagged you. 
  2. Explain the rules.
  3. Answer the ten questions about your current WIP. 
  4. Tag five other writers to participate.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Lost Notes. That’s been the title for a long time–since I imagined a very visual scene about undelivered letters written by a spiritualist trying to reach my protagonist Henri after being approached by Henri’s father’s ghost. Now, partway through draft two, I suspect that scene belongs in a different novel (a sequel, perhaps).

I have kept the title because Henri’s family makes a particular type of music box. Music box notes, quite literally, are pins and staples, and in the family workshop, many of these notes end up on the floor during production. And (mis)communication is a major theme of the novel. I’m having fun with transatlantic letters and misunderstandings between Henri and the people he meets in America. (Did I mention this is 19th century historical fiction?)

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

I decided to write a book about collecting music boxes, about two years ago now, and in trying to figure out what, specifically, one of my characters collected, I read through an online glossary of music box terms. One popped out as an interesting object, and at some point right after that, I emailed my writing friend Christi Krug about my research, listing a few of my finds. She agreed that this particular object was very cool. So I started imagining where this particular music box (barrel organ, really) came from, and thinking about where it had been before it landed in this suburban New Jersey collector’s house. Soon, with encouragement from my writing friends, I found myself breaking out of my literary fiction box and focusing on this historical novel. My protagonist is the son of a man who makes these unusual instruments.

3. What genre does the book fall under?

Historical fiction. I’m still new to considering myself a genre writer, so I’m just as likely to tell people it’s literary fiction set in the past. It’s a comic, modern take on the 19th century novel.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters for the movie rendition?

I don’t have a clue. But I am seeking a sepia portrait of a middle-aged man with a glass eye if you happen to see one…

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

A young Frenchman with a fainting disorder spends years in bed, feeling useless in a hard-working village, until he hatches a plan to save his father’s music box business by traveling thousands of miles to beg a famous composer for help.

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

I’ll be looking for representation.

7. How long did it take you to finish the first draft of your manuscript?

About a year, although I wrote myself into a corner in the final third of the book and never finished the draft. I wrote a last scene, but quit working on the connective tissue that was supposed to lead to that scene in favor of going back to the beginning and getting deeper into my characters. That has paid off, although the work has been slow.

8. What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?

Signal and Noise by John Griesemer

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (special thanks to Julia Stoops for recommending I read this one)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

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

The object I found. Plus having lunch with Jackie Shannon Hollis, who encouraged me to read some historical novels and to try setting my whole story in the past. I originally had a hard time letting go of my original present-day story and thought I could just add a chapter or two of history into it. Jackie’s faith in me, and her encouragement to stay true to my voice, helped me jump into this project, and I have loved every minute of it, from reading a book about arsenic to visiting a bobbin lace club.

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

Fans of “Downton Abbey” would enjoy Lost Notes. My novel features a different time period, but I’m also telling an epic, old-fashioned story with modern sensibilities, using multiple perspectives and plenty of humor, intrigue and–gasp–plot.

Time to play tag:

Many bloggers I know have already been tagged. I don’t think Duncan Ellis has, though, since his blog Identity Function is fairly new, so tag, Duncan! It’s your turn.

If you haven’t done The Next Big Thing and want to, consider yourself one of my five, and please come back and leave a comment to let me know.

Thanks again, Anthony and Jo!

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Fiction, Plot, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Next Big Thing

  1. Sara Flower says:

    This is such a great concept! I would love to read your book when it is out. 😉

    • Oh thanks, Sara! I have had way more fun with this novel than any of the others I’ve written. It’s slow going, with the research and such, but really rewarding. I don’t have a completion goal yet, but hopefully I’ll get it done in the next year (or two).

      Love your new gravatar photo, by the way. It’s striking and full of personality!

      • Sara Flower says:

        Thanks for the pic comment, Laura. 🙂 Also, it’s great you had fun writing your “next big thing”. I think that is what writing should always be about. Write what you love, and write what gives you life!

        • Absolutely, Sara! It’s too easy to stress over writing, or beat ourselves up about not writing enough words, or translating what we have in our heads onto the page.

          Have you done the Next Big Thing? If not, consider yourself tagged!

          And yes, your photo is awesome. I need a real headshot and have plans to get one in February. Yours makes me think about pulling out my favorite hat from a milliner in New Orleans.

          • Sara Flower says:

            I agree with you about stressing about writing.

            Haha that’s awesome about the hat. Yeah, I bought it for Halloween last year and thought, hmm this might be a good author pic. 🙂

            I did do the next big thing. It is a great way to get your work noticed before you have it published. Create a lil bit of hype and all that. It’s great you are planning on being represented by an agent. I truly wish you the best! Your premise sounds like it would be very marketable. It is something I would like to buy that’s for sure.

  2. Dunx says:

    Thanks for the tag, Laura! Interesting answers you give, and looking forward to writing my own answers down.

    Now, which book to write about…

  3. I loved this post so much, Laura. I’ve done this one and had a grand time. I am more than intrigued by the tag line you wrote … keep working and keep up updated on your progress 🙂

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    It sounds like a very interesting idea and book—this is my favorite kind of award. I get to learn about so many great future books to read!

  5. Well, that was worth waiting for. Always interesting to hear about your projects.

    I thought it was interesting that you run a press, but you’ll be seeking representation for this book, but then I thought about it and realized that Lost Notes doesn’t exactly sound like a “quiet novel.” I guess it would be tough to have to write a rejection letter to yourself. 🙂

  6. It sound like a great book, Laura! And I love the ‘Downton Abbey’ time period…
    I wish you all the best!

  7. Pingback: The Next Big Thing | Identity Function

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