The Next Big Thing: Title Fail Edition

I’m sure you’ve seen this meme by now, but in case not the “Next Big Thing” is a list of questions about a current WIP. I was tagged by Annie Neugebauer, who has an awesome-sounding literary post-apocalyptic horror novel in the works. Definitely check that out if you haven’t already!

Also keep an eye out for Wistfully Linda’s Next Big Thing post coming soon. While waiting, you can always check out her informative and thought-provoking posts on Asian-American Fantasy (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

Without further ado, here are the questions:

What is the working title of your book?

Ah. Ugh. Titles. I am…very bad with titles. Very very bad. The act of finding a title is longer and harder, for me, than writing the book or story itself. And in fact the only time I’ve had a title I really liked the story itself actually paled in comparison, so…

Seriously, though, this book has its own folder on my computer, wittily named “Untitled Fantasy.” It sits right above another folder called “Untitled Post-Apocalyptic.” Because titles are the worst.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

The idea for this book actually came from another book I’d written a long time ago, which was rife with some awful cliches and terrible plot holes and boring worldbuilding. But the idea (a group of people form a cautious, troubled union in order to overthrow an oppressive regime) and some of the characters wouldn’t go away.

What genre does your book fall under?

The book — or books, rather, since it’s either a duology or a trilogy — is a non-traditional epic fantasy (though I am not completely pleased with that classification). The setting is more American Southwest than medieval Europe, and the plot is more sociopolitical than a MacGuffin-finding quest.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

It took about three months of actual writing, from first sentence to last. But there was some brainstorming before that, and as I mentioned above the whole thing is a redo of something I’d been working on off and on for years. So, I don’t know, is “forever” a viable answer?

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?

I…wouldn’t? I write books, not movies, and I am always very cautious about movie adaptations of books I’ve loved (The Golden Compass, anyone?). I’m honestly not sure I would even want to see a movie made from my book, because I feel like it would do weird things to my heart and my head. However, I would buy the movie soundtrack if it was any good. And if I could pick, I’d probably choose James Newton Howard to compose the score, because he basically already wrote the soundtrack to this novel, here and here, for example.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Decades after the Gildor armies defeated Evarra’s people and stole their cities, she decides to ally herself with former enemies in order to overthrow the empire.

Will it be self published or represented by an agency?

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be seeking representation sometime in 2013.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I mentioned above, it’s an old idea in new clothes, so the inspiration is a little hard to parse. A trip to New Mexico provided no small amount of inspiration for the setting, which is no real surprise. But it’s hard to go to New Mexico and not also start thinking about the effects of colonization, because they’re all still there, glaring the casual visitor in the face. It’s not like that on the east coast, even here in a state named for the original inhabitants.

Anyway, it got me thinking, which inevitably leads to writing. Also, I read a lot of awesome, unique, thought-provoking, beautiful, mind-blowing books and short stories this year, and really expanded my mental map of what books, and especially genre books, are capable of. I wanted to write something that pushed me into a new realm of storytelling — bigger, bolder, and therefore scarier (to me, as the writer). And to some extent it must have succeeded: I intentionally went for a story that didn’t have any easy answers, then got flustered partway through by the fact that there were no easy answers.

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

The book is a lot like Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, Carolyn Ives Gilman’s Isles of the Forsaken, and Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker Trilogy. All of these are epic-ish fantasies with themes of revolution and social upheaval/culture clash, and also take place outside the usual medieval Europe milieu. The Half-Made World in particular is very similar, as it’s also inspired by the American West.

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

There are four main characters: the daughter of an exiled queen, an awkward ex-prisoner, a young mother who wants to be a mage, and a quiet student-turned-propagandist. I fell in love with all of them while writing, but I didn’t let that stop me from putting them all through hell.

Which does mean it’s pretty dark. I always tend to write dark stories, not usually intentionally, but this one veered darker than I expected. What can I say? I do like reading horror, and maybe a bit of that crept into some of the scenes just before the climax…

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5 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing: Title Fail Edition

  1. linda

    Thanks so much for tagging me! 🙂

    Ah, titles are totally the worst! I don’t have one either. Love that you’re writing a non-traditional epic fantasy! 🙂 I’ve visited New Mexico once before when I was younger, but I don’t really remember too much. Ooh, I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Spiritwalker trilogy and it’s on my to-read list. Also love that you have a young mother as one of your protags! I recently read Patricia C. Wrede’s Caught in Crystal and thought it was cool that the protag was a mother, since that doesn’t happen often in fantasy, so I’m excited to see that you’re writing one as well. 🙂 And yes, choosing actors is fun for a lot of people, but it’s never been something I cared to do.

    Great post! Your story sounds fascinating. I’ll try to get my own post up soon!

    1. Lura Slowinski

      I may have to check out Patricia C. Wrede’s book, as I’ve never read any of hers before and that sounds pretty awesome. Fantasy is wonderful as a genre, but it can be the same thing over and over again, especially epic fantasy. I tried to be really conscious about that as I was writing and I hope I managed to buck some of the worst of the stereotypes.

      1. linda

        My favorite PCW series is the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Cimorene and Mendabar are among my favorite characters!), and I enjoyed her Mairelon series a lot, too. The Lyra series isn’t as strong as a whole, since it’s her earliest work, but I did think it was cool that Caught in Crystal featured a mother as the heroine. I’d love to hear what you think of the book if you do decide to read it! 🙂

  2. The title of this post cracks me up. I honestly don’t know how you do it; I would go insane without at least a working title. Your WIP sounds really interesting, especially the dark stuff — of course I’m drawn to that. Best of luck with it, Lura! And let me know if you ever come up with a title. =)

    1. Lura Slowinski

      I don’t know how you do it! How do you come up with titles? I wish I had that super power. But if I ever do come up with a good one I’ll be too excited to keep it to myself, don’t worry!

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