The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

A fellow Minnesota author, Joe Hart, invited me to participate in a blog hop today.  Of course, I was flattered and honored, so I accepted.  You can (and should!) click the following links to learn more about Joe and his books.

His Next Big Thing:

His books:

So, today I'll be answering ten questions about Rebecca, my new novel that just launched, that include a fair bit of detail about the reasoning behind my decisions and other intriguing bits.  Joe has done the same thing about his new novel, Singularity, at the link above, and the authors I contacted will be doing the same next week, at the links below.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. 

1: What is the working title of your book?

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
This one actually came from a dream.  That doesn't happen often, but in this particular case, it did.  About the time our first child came along, I had a nightmare about a girl, a single mother, trying to take care of a baby.  The girl had no idea what she was doing.  She felt completely trapped.  In the dream, it was a Dark and Stormy Night (tm) and a stranger appeared at her door, all in black.  He was really, really tall.  It was pretty clear in the dream that he was some kind of demon, and he'd come to convince her to kill her baby.  That's about all I remember, except for one detail: this demon was called "The Tall Man."  I woke up with that phrase in my head.  After I decided I wanted to riff off of this dream to write a book, I realized "The Tall Man" was taken, so that character eventually morphed (quite a bit) into the character now called the Messenger.  Now, with hindsight, I'm thinking that was probably a good idea.

3: What genre does your book come under?
I have no idea.  When you figure it out, please let me know.
It has a lesbian main character and explores a lot of related themes, but it is also a horror story about a woman whose personal demons are trying to convince her to kill her child.  So as of today, I have it slotted under Lesbian and Occult Horror.  What a combo!  It could also be considered a Psychological Thriller or straight-up Suspense.  I think it could even be considered Literary Fiction. 

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That is a tough one, because I don't envision real people when I write.  At least, not usually.  But there are two characters that I could see certain actors playing.
Tiff, the main character's best friend / love interest, was a very one-dimensional, uninteresting character until I saw, of all things, a McDonald's commercial.  There was nothing special about it, it was a very hum-drum normal McDonald's commercial featuring a bunch of young, slim friends incongruously enjoying their Mickey D's, but there was a young woman with a blonde bob hairstyle and a kind of sly look to her.  A slant to her eyes.  And I just thought, that's her; that's Tiff.  That one glimpse of that blonde completely revamped the entire character in my head.  I wish I could find a link to the commercial, but I can't.
The other character I can envision is Cal, who is the main character's former boyfriend and the father of her child.  I don't think he looks anything like Ian Ziering, who played Steve Sanders on the original Beverly Hills, 90210, but that character's grin was the basis for the entire character of Cal.  I remember watching 90210 as a kid and just thinking Steve's grin was incredibly intimidating.  He would burst into a room and brandish it like a threat. 

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young, single mother wrestles with the inner demon trying to convince her to kill her baby.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
Like my first novel (Alex), Rebecca is self-published under my own imprint (Lone Road Publishing).

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took a year, almost to the day.  Alex also took about a year, during which I wrote for about 2-4 hours two or three nights a week.  The schedule was fairly regimented.  Rebecca was completely different.  My personal life was completely exploding and I had tons of obligations.  I tried several times to carve out particular blocks of time and dedicate them to writing, but it just wasn't possible.  The writing was catch as catch can.  Looking back, I still have no idea how I finished it.  Well, that's not entirely true: I quit my day job on 12/3/12 and launched into an outright sprint to finish the last 20% or so of the rough draft.  The second draft was a rewrite of probably 50% of the book, and I got that done in about two weeks.  Then the third draft, based off of early reader feedback, was another 30-40% full revision.  
It was a hectic December/January in my house.  : )

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Man.  I hate to cop out on a question but I really have no comparisons.  Rebecca is pretty far out there.  There are plenty of books with the "evil baby" theme, but this isn't that.  This is not an evil baby... just an unloved one.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When my children were born, I went through a phase with each of them where I tried to imagine raising them alone.  The constant state of exhaustion that comes from being repeatedly jerked out of sleep and always worrying about the well-being of your newborn child is not just draining.  It is life-changing.  I have not felt well-rested once since I had my first child.  Not once; not to the level I used to.  It's gotten better over the years, of course, but I remember from those early days the crushing relief and profound gratitude I would feel for my wife when she got up with the baby instead of me.  And likewise, how fiercely I would try to protect her rest when it was my turn.  It was a powerful thing.  It's a real test of a relationship.  A good couple will get each others' backs.  You love this child, but you also have an almost adversarial relationship with it.  In a very real sense, it has no regard for your well-being and will destroy you if you let it.  I thought those were fascinating ideas that I wanted to explore further, and actually didn't explore them quite as far as I wanted to in Rebecca, or at least not in the directions I wanted to, so some of them are still in my back pocket.
Anyway, when I imagined raising the kids alone, I immediately became aware of two things: my deepening, ever-present gratitude to and love for my wife, and a profound appreciation for the job my own mother had done raising me.  I wanted to write about being alone with a child, to experience it the best I could, because I felt I owed it to both of them. 
There are a lot of other themes in Rebecca, the chief one being religion and its effects on a person's psychological well-being.  I'll just say that those are issues that have affected me for quite some time, and I wanted to explore them as well, and leave it at that (for now). 

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
As anyone who read Alex can tell you, the idea of "parent horror" is intriguing to me.  But not all threats to our kids come from the outside.  In fact, a lot of the threats to our kids come from us.  Rebecca explores that.

I contacted several authors about continuing the blog hop for next week, but unfortunately, most of them are too busy right now to participate.  That's all right, though, because the two responses I did get are pretty exciting.  
The first was from Kira and Jonathan Wilson, a fantasy/sci-fi writing duo that just released their first novel, Interphase.  I know they have some big things on the horizon too and I'm looking forward to reading about them!

The second was from Autumn Christian, one of my absolute favorite new horror writers.  Her Next Big Thing post will be there next Wednesday, January 30th.  Until then, you can find her blog here:
Both of them will be joining me virtually, via blog, next Wednesday. Please be sure to bookmark their sites, and add them to your calendars for updates on their upcoming books!