The Next Big Thing Week 11

Thank you, Rhiannon Held, for tagging me in The Next Big Thing. The Next Big Thing is a weekly blog post where the tagged authors talk about a work in progress.

What is the working title of your book?

Tombstone Blues Book Two in the Thunder Road Trilogy is my current work in progress. Book One launches on Thursday, September 6th and Tombstone Blues will release Fall 2013.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Tombstone Blues happened organically from events leading up to the climax of Thunder Road. I’d sketched out a rough outline for this story to write someday, not intending it to be next, but as soon as I wrote: “Hel is jealous and strong. She will not be pleased.” I also knew this book had to be next.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban Fantasy, with heavy Norse mythological influences.

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

I would have said Brett Favre for Ted (at least before all that texting business…), but as I’ve only seen him play himself in Something About Mary, I’m not sure he really counts as an actor. Instead, I’m going to say Ray Stevenson. Perfect height for Ted, and he has a gift for onscreen profanity and violence. Tilda would be Adrianne Palicki. Again, she’s the perfect height. I liked her in Supernatural, and she seems drawn to superheroic/fantasy roles. Loki is a shapeshifter, so he could be (and should be) played by multiple actors (and actresses). It feels like a cheat to say Tom Hiddleston, but I liked him so much in Thor and The Avengers. He might play his Loki a little more sinister than I wrote mine. Hel would be Tilda Swinton, because she does layered madness very, very well. Finally, Thor would be Liam Neeson. He’s big. He punches wolves, and he’s played gods before. What more can you ask for?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Hel’s army invades Winnipeg trying to reclaim Thor’s hammer from its new wielder.

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

My book will be published by Ravenstone Books, an Imprint of Turnstone Press. Currently, I am not represented by an agent.

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

A little less than three months for the first draft, but as I wrote it immediately after finishing Thunder Road, it sat after its first round of revisions until I sold the first book (a strategy I am somewhat regretting at the moment as my delivery deadline creeps closer).

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

J.A. Pitts’ excellent Black Blade Blues mixes Norse Myth with the locales of his home state. And while I hesitate to mention Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which has won every award and is simply a breathtaking book, it also has strong mythological elements–particularly Norse Myth.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As I said above, the broad events of Tombstone Blues grew out of Thunder Road, but the biggest inspiration for the book was my home city of Winnipeg. It’s history geography and folklore make the book what it is. I just hope Winnipeg forgives me for all the damage my characters are doing to it!

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

I write an appendix of handy-dandy explanations about the gods and creatures of Norse Mythology, all done in Loki’s best snarky voice.

Tag! You’re it!

David Annandale

GMB Chomichuk

Karen Dudley

Erika Holt

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Rules:

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) ***
Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them. It’s that simple.
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Loki

 

Tricksters are hard to write.

You have to ride that fine line between keeping them chaotic enough to push your protagonist, create conflict (and help solve it) and at the same time keep them charming enough that your audience doesn’t wonder why your hero isn’t pushing back hard (your hero can hate the trickster plenty, in fact that’s encouraged).

There’s been a few trickster figures in fantasy that as a reader I’ve felt have been exceptionally handled: Coyote in Christopher Moore’s Coyote Blue, Matrim Cauthon in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time (starting in The Dragon Reborn and onward; he irritated the hell out of me in books one and two), and Karen Dudley’s Hermes in the forthcoming Food for the Gods, among them. I hope Thunder Road readers will feel that way about my take on Loki.

As soon as I decided to write a book with a Norse myth focus, I knew it had to have Loki. So I thought about who would be most irritated and uncomfortable about having to share a mystical quest with a shapeshifting and gender swapping wise ass. My Alberta oil worker protagonist, Ted Callan, was in essence created and driven by Loki even before the story started.

What’s not to like about Loki?

Everything good or bad in Norse myth happens because of him. How did Thor get his hammer? Loki. How did Odin get his spear? Loki. Who was ultimately responsible for the god Baldur’s death? Loki. Who also ensured that Hel would not release Baldur from the underworld? That was Loki too. Loki’s children Fenrir and Jormungandur are responsible for the deaths of Odin and Thor. Loki and Norse watchman Heimdall died at each others hands at Ragnarök like a viking Holmes and Moriarty.

When there is talk of Loki’s family (and this comes up surprisingly often in my circles), it’s almost always about his monstrous children with the jötunn, Angrboða: Fenrir, Jormungandur, and Hel, goddess of the dead. But Loki had a family among the Aesir gods too. Once Loki was bound by the gods, his wife Sigyn spent the rest of her days catching the poison that dripped over Loki’s face. Was it simply blind devotion to the institution of marriage? I don’t think so. To me, there had to be something lovable about Loki. One of their children is transformed into a wolf and tears apart the other, whose guts are then used to bind her husband, and still she tried to ease his suffering?  I felt that act had to be honoured. Somehow.

The question is: will that lovable something be enough to keep Loki alive this time around?

A Bunch of Little Things Make a Big Blog Post.

I was in Ottawa over Canada Day, and while I was hoping to have my recap of that trip up and posted, a bunch of things have got in the way. So instead, here’s a few minor tidbits that have crossed the desk since then:

The Sunburst Awards Shortlists Announced:

Adult fiction:

  •  Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, David Nickle (ChiZine Publications)
  • Technicolor Ultra Mall, Ryan Oakley (Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publications)
  • Enter, Night, Michael Rowe (ChiZine)
  • Paradise Tales, Geoff Ryman (Small Beer Press)
  • The Pattern Scars, Caitlin Sweet (ChiZine)
  • Blackdog, K.V. Johansen (Pyr Books)

Young Adult fiction:

  • Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson (Lerner Publishing Group)
  • All Good Children, Catherine Austen (Orca Book Publishers)
  • The Summer of Permanent Wants, Jamieson Findlay (Doubleday Canada)
  • The Dead Kid Detective Agency, Evan Munday (ECW Press)
  • Blood Red Road, Moira Young (Doubleday Canada)

Another great year for my pals at ChiZine, and the second year in a row where the Sunbursts and the Prix Auroras have had a surprising amount of commonality. My recollection (I suppose I could actually research this, but that defeats the purpose of a quick blog post, doesn’t it?) is that the two awards, one juried, one fan-voted, have never shared a winner.

On the Same Page (aka Manitoba Reads before CBC started an actual Manitoba Reads program) shortlist announced:

  • A Thousand Farewells, Nahlah Ayed (Viking Canada)
  • Queen of Hearts, Martha Brooks (Groundwood Books Ltd.)
  • Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings From the Land of Water, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Warren Cariou, editors (Highwater Press)
  • A Large Harmonium, Sue Sorenson (Coteau Books)

Local awards like On the Same Page are always hard for me to come out in support of a particular title. I think it stems from getting to know many of the authors at my bookselling day job. It feels a little like playing favourites. I know I have a few colleagues who refuse to be on any of the Manitoba Book Awards juries for this reason. But this is my blog and I’ll play favourites if I want to. I think it’s going to be hard to top Manitowapow this year. The book has had an amazing response so far, and with its multiple contributors I think it’ll have the most promotional oomph.

There are no genre titles in the running this year. I nominated Sierra Dean’s debut urban fantasy Something Secret This Way Comes, (mostly because it’s an awesome and fun read, but partly because I know the customers who buy whole hog into On the Same Page, and thinking of them reading a book about a half-werewolf, half-vampire bounty hunter really made me smile) because if I don’t support Winnipeg’s fantasy writing community, who will?

Speaking of Winnipeg’s fantasy writing community:

Fellow Turnstone author, critique partner, maker of holiday peanut brittle and all around good egg, Karen Dudley, has booked the Winnipeg launch for her fantasy debut, Food for the Gods. Be there. It’ll be awesome. I fully intend on drinking a full amphora of wine and telling embarrassing stories about the early days of this novel. If that doesn’t float your boat, Karen is one of the best readers I’ve encountered, and trust me, I’ve worked in a book store for over ten years, I’ve heard a lot of readings (many of which I’d pay money to unhear).

Oh, and this happened:
Chadwick Ginther Puts The Magic Back In Manitoba
A great shout out from my home team at McNally Robinson. Thanks especially to Steven Benstead who wrote the article and has been a tireless supporter of my writing from day one. Steve is also a damn fine writer himself, and as much as I poke fun at Can-Lit, when his current novel finds a home, it’ll knock your socks off.

Finally, the Innsmouth Free Press anthology Fungi (containing my story “First They Came for the Pigs“) has a website now and I think it looks beautiful. I love everything about this project, so kudos to editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey. I can’t wait to read everyone else’s stories. And if I’m playing favourites, of all the stories I’ve written, my contribution to Fungi is currently my most loved.

That’s all the news fit for print, as the saying goes.

Write on!