I kind of hated tag as a kid, because chasing other kids or running away from “it” just made me think, Why am I doing this?
“The Next Big Thing” is a much better sort of tag.
To wit, the insanely talented Cindie Geddes tagged me as the next big one so that I can talk about my next big one. I know, it sounds like a porno, but it’s actually writers hand-selecting other writers they admire to answer ten questions. Here we go.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The unofficial title is “The Escape Artist.” I was listening to a podcast of DNTO and they interviewed an escape artist named Dean Gunnarson who nearly died after he was handcuffed, chained, and nailed into a coffin that was submerged into a river on Harry Houdini’s death day. I’d already started writing the third Hope Sze medical thriller, but that plot required a lot of research. Plot is not my forte when I’m sleep-deprived between my small children and my shift work as an emergency physician. But once I heard Dean’s story, I immediately envisioned him coming to Montreal for his stunt, with Hope as the doctor resuscitating him. It was so much fun, I just started writing.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
To be honest, ideally, I’d like to play Hope myself. Yes, I am an actor manqué. But if not, maybe Zhang Ziyi with Sandra Oh’s voice? (Hope doesn’t have an accent and is not soft-spoken like Zhang. We already know Sandra can handle the hard-hitting doctor persona and medical jargon, but she’s so closely associated with Christina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy, people would keep projecting that character on Hope because, well, they’re both female Asian doctors! Can’t have more than two of those in the world.) As for Tucker, Ryan, or Alex, I’m not up on hot male actors because I rarely have time to watch movies. Can someone help me out?
On second thought, Hope is not transcendently beautiful like Zhang Ziyi. I’d rather give the part to an unknown who needs a break. Like, have you seen Elaine Marcos in Every Little Step? I thought she was great, but her Imdb profile is full of parts like “Sexy lesbian” or “Paramedic #2.” I’d love to cast some relative unknowns burning with talent and ambition. Underdogs unite!
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After Dr. Hope Sze resuscitates an escape artist who nearly drowns while nailed and chained in a coffin, she must deduce who sabotaged his act and wants him dead.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Indie pub all the way, baby.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Started it April 25th. Started winding it up October 8th. Now I’ve set it aside to gestate while I work on my African travel essays/poems, but I’ll pick it up again.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m no good at comparing, but I’d love the readership of Tess Gerritsen and C.J. Lyons.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I will add that I wanted to write a medical book because I returned to the ER after maternity leave, and I thought, I need to work hard on my skills so I don’t end up being “the dumb doctor.” If I write about medicine while I do medicine, I could kill two birds with one stone. Plus, nearly all my Amazon.com sales are from The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World and my two Hope Sze books (Code Blues and Notorious D.O.C.), so the readers have cast their vote.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Seriously, I don’t know what to say, except I love romance, so there’s still the Tucker-Ryan love triangle going strong, with Ryan pressuring Hope to transfer to the University of Ottawa and leave Montreal (and Tucker) behind. There’s the escape artist angle, with a bit of Harry Houdini lore thrown in, so if you like magic/crazy people who risk their lives for fun, that’s something new. On a more serious note, I talk about palliative care and end of life issues. The escape theme runs throughout. Will Hope escape Montreal and her reputation as the detective doctor? When is death an escape from life? If your life was unbearable, what kind of steps would you take to escape from it? That sort of thing. I’m trying to describe the plot without spoilers. So hard. Moving on.
On December 12th, Maggie Jaimeson (http://maggiemeandering.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-next-big-thing.html) will take over the reins as the Next Big Thing. I consider Maggie one of the hardest working women in the writing business, combined with excellent business and research skills, not to mention a kind heart and a sense of humor—exactly what you need for long-term success in the field. Her latest romance, Healing Notes, is her best yet. I can’t wait to read her next big thing, Chameleon, an SF/Fantasy YA about lichen modifying human behaviour. Well, I guess it’s about the people. But I’m very excited about the lichen because I’m a geek that way.
My next Big Thang is Miss Leslie. I’ve been friends with Leslie since we were both winners and roommates at Writers of the Future in 2000. At a novel workshop seven years later, I literally cried because her writing was so good (and because I thought mine hadn’t improved like hers, but anyway). She writes about characters at the edges of society, about magic, about possibilities. Read Leslie. And read Hunt while you’re waiting for Demon City!
Three other writers I recommend, who are also Big Things:
Brilliant. I hate writers who bore me, and Bob never does. He’s got everything: heartfelt characters, thrilling adventures, humor, pathos, and a wild imagination. Run out and read him.
Steve Mohan, Jr. (also writes as Henry Martin)
I usually don’t read techno-thrillers because of cardboard characters (usually alpha male vs. The Bad Guy, with a love interest who isn’t very interesting), but Steve combines real characters with tough choices and stirring action, exploding genre lines.
He’s six, so this is a long term bet, but according to me, his hopelessly adoring mother, he writes the most beautiful poetry I’ve ever seen.