Post #88: The Next Big Thing

Things You Should Be Reading

The Next Big Thing is a self-interview project where writers with projects in the works or books coming out answer ten questions about what they’re working on, then tag other writers. I’m thrilled to be participating. Many hugs and hurrahs to my dear friend, and fellow Bread Loaf alum, Kara Waite, for tagging me. Read Kara’s interview here!

Now…here goes.

What is the working title of your book?

Izzy’s Intervention.

Where did the idea come from?

Honestly, the confluence of inspirations and false starts has put the multiple entry points (re: ideas) into a blender and pressed “Pulse.”

But since that’s a lame answer. Here. This sticks out.

After my grandfather died, they divided up his stuff. I got a pocket watch, and a few articles of clothing. Though I wasn’t in the room, the image of my father and his sisters going through their own dead father’s possessions has stuck around, even haunted me a bit, as have those few treasures I inherited. In my novel, the protagonist is the eldest of three children, and his deceased father’s belongings have been collecting dust in his basement for three years.

What genre does your book fall under?

Literary Fiction

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

I’m seeking representation, so hopefully, eventually, the latter.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I could see a late 90’s Ethan Hawke playing Izzy. Or maybe a long haired, + 30 pounds Paul Rudd.

Julian, the protagonist, I could see being played by someone handsome but kind of non-descript. Peter Krause maybe.

Darcy, their sister, is Gwyneth Paltrow all the way.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

How do you stage an intervention for someone when you could use one yourself?

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

I write quick, so, like, six or eight months. But the rewrites? Whole different story.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by stories with compressed time frames. Wonder Boys. Saturday. Mrs. Dalloway. Ulysses. Izzy’s takes place over a single weekend and I liked the challenge of drumming up enough conflict to sustain a narrative over a short time span. The movie The Big Chill was hugely instrumental, too, and the theme of a collection of people coming together in the wake of death was pinched from Kasdan’s movie.

Beyond that, I also wanted to see if I could find homes for a number of themes I’m interested in: interracial marriage, African refugees living in Vermont, and famous fathers.

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

Here’s a few…

There’s a lot of booze and pot (and sex) in the book, but it’s really a story about two brothers affected in very different ways by their father’s suicide. One has gone internal and remained stoic, hiding his growing list of problems. The other has turned to drugs and is coming unraveled in a very visible way. Though the novel is centered around a family coming together to rescue one of them, in truth, they both need to be saved.

It’s a novel I intended to be thoughtful, funny, and fast paced. The kind of book you might get carried away by and read in a single sitting.

Throughout the book, the protagonist carries around a perhaps magical squash ball that used to belong to his father and goes by the name Othello’s Testicle.

And here’s a final tidbit that you totally don’t need to know: in the novel, the deceased father was a famous fantasy author, and the series of books he’s famous for are books I actually wrote in my twenties when I thought I wanted to write fantasy.

Thanks for reading!

I’m tagging these fantastic writers:

Alan Stewart Carl–My great friend and former Bread Loaf & AWP Boston roommate. Alan is a phenomenal writer, has published a heap of short fiction, and is about to start seeking representation for his debut novel.

Mary Albee–Mary is a dear friend and poet from Burlington, Vermont. Mary recently released her debut collection of poems, Bewildered Obsequies.

Ron Dionne–Ron is a fellow NY Pitch and Shop alum who last year published his debut novel, Sad Jingo. It’s available on Amazon! I thought it was boss, and so will you.

Post #51: The Collagist

New Writing, Things You Should Be Reading

A couple of excellent writers I know, Alan Stewart Carl and Lyz Wyckoff, have short stories up this month at The Collagist.  They’re short, digestible nuggets of fabulous fiction for you to feed your brain with.  Enjoy.

I met both Alan and Liz at last summer’s Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.  How I wish I was headed back to the mountain this summer.

Post #44: Cheryl Strayed’s new memoir Wild

Book Reviews, Things You Should Be Reading

Cheryl Strayed’s new memoir Wild is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  Engrossing.  Exciting.  Enriching.  Deeply emotional.  True in the best sense of the word.  There were passages in it of such honesty, of such naked emotional truth, that I shuddered as I read.  As such, I’ve been meaning to write a post to share with you just how excellent it is, how worthy of your valuable time.  But my good friend Alan Stewart Carl has just written a fantastic review of her book over at PANK, and he’s said it way better than I would have.  Enjoy.  And then get reading!

Post #14: There’s Always Time for Good News

Things You Should Be Reading

This message brought to you by the fact that even though I’m in the throes of writing a novel in a month and barely keeping up, some of my writing friends are publishing amazing work right now, not to mention being nominated for awards.  And there’s always time for good news.

Alan Stewart Carl has a new story on Hobart.  Check it out here:

Alan also received a Pushcart Prize Special Mention for his Mid-American Review story “A People’s History of Martin Zansamere.

In other news, Liz Wyckoff published a great short story in the new Annalemma.  Have a look.

Post #1: Fantastic and Twisted Individuals

Things You Should Be Reading, Tributes

I’ll begin my first blog post with a couple of tributes.  First goes to my good friend (and Bread Loaf roommate) Alan Stewart Carl, who can be found on the interweb at  Read his fiction, much of which can be linked to off his blog.  It’s really good.  And occasionally unsettling (in the best possible sense), steering us down strange avenues of the human psyche.   Alan is going to be a “I knew him when” kind of writer, so get on board now.

I credit Alan with urging me to get my writing identity on-line.  He brought me back to facebook after a long hiatus, and inspired me (indirectly) to start this, the blog you are now reading.  He’s also, though he may not know it, re-invigorated my own fiction, and has me excited to take more risks in my writing.  He’s a fantastic and twisted individual.  That’s high praise.

The second tribute goes to another good friend of mine, Mark Twain, the inspiration behind my blog’s title.  Twain wrote (and the exact wording fluctuates depending on who you ask, which I suppose Twain would have loved) that “the difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lighting bug and the lightning.”  I’ve always loved that.  It’s so Twain.  It’s funny.  And true in a way that feels self-evident and fresh at the same time.

Another fantastic and twisted individual.

By the way, did you know that Twain, when he wasn’t penning classic literature, was an inventor?  It’s true.  He invented and patented something called the “Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments,” which, apparently, could make your shirts snug and was supposed to give suspenders the boot.