The Next Biggie Thingie

Thanks to Erin Fitzgerald for tagging me in this author-blog-chain-thingie-self interview-thingie. My writerly activity/output has been wiggly in the wake of promoting Death Wishing, so I appreciate getting the chance to shape my thoughts.

What is your working title of your book?

I have a short story collection called The Temple of Love and Hate. It’s actually a short collection (only about 200 pages) of long stories, including three new ones that nearly qualify as novella length, using The Matt Bell Standard. Anybody want to see it, just holler.

I’m also working on a novel called Willie Judy and The Mystery House.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Long form is always a collision of ideas–I wanted to write about Death Valley. I wanted to write about a cursed gem. So those two go together, geologically speaking. I also wanted to write about a woman who drives all the men crazy even though she looks like a rodent.

What genre does your book fall under?

I guess it’s a kind of an eccentric mystery. Is Wacky Treasure Hunt a genre?

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

Sam Elliot plus the entire cast of Torchwood. There might be room for an Arquette who isn’t totally played out.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

The cursed Juliet emerald is hidden in Death Valley, and Willie Judy must find it before she’s arrested for murdering a legendary cowboy actor inside a desert shack known as The Mystery House.

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

There is an agent who is enthusiastic about the novel, and she wants to see it first. With the stories I’m going straight to publishers myself.

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

First draft is a myth.

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

I want it to be like a movie—It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World specifically—but I just finished a big chunk that feels like an outtake from a Taylor Caldwell potboiler.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My mom has been interested in rocks and gems all her adult life, and every time she visits we go to the Hall of Gems at the Smithsonian. I’ve always thought it was hilarious that she has no patience for the effing Hope Diamond, and she thinks Hope fans are rubes. So that’s my Maltese Falcon, if you will.

Otherwise, I really enjoy writing about places that move me, and Death Valley is one of those. We were there in 2005 during the Great Wildflower Bloom, and it was like being in Oz.

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

The main storyline takes place in 2005 as grim weasel-girl Willie Judy searches for The Juliet emerald while navigating a burgeoning romance with a depressed innkeeper (a Welsh extreme marathon runner everyone calls Scottie just to torture him) and avoiding arrest for murder. Each chapter alternates between Willie’s storyline and episodes in The Juliet’s ridiculous history. So we start with a grotesquely flawed emerald plundered from an Egyptian tomb and go all the way through it’s many unlucky owners until it ends up as a cereal box prize.

Every once in a while I dream the ending, and it’s “Face of Boe” brilliant, but then I forget it.

I think I’m supposed to ask other writers before I tag them, but I prefer the West Wing Blue Ribbon Commission Approach—remember that episode where Toby neuters Seth Gillette (Ed Begley Jr.)by announcing his appointment to a panel on social Security without asking him?

So I’m tagging for variety–

noir writer: Art Taylor

chicken-poet proprietor of Big Russian Soul: Danny Collier

novelist, children’s author, activist, and educator: Jyotsna Sreenivasan

folklorist and newbie fiction writer: Debra Lattanzi-Shutika

Will they play? who knows. at least I almost tried.


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