When Riley Banks, author of The William S Club, asked for volunteers to whom she could pass the baton for the “Next Big Thing” Blog Hop Tour, I felt compelled to put out my hand. My book isn’t finished as I write this, and it won’t be finished for some months after this post goes live, but they say writers should start promoting their works early. So I’m taking their advice. Whoever they are.
The concept behind The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Tour is for each participant to answer the same set of ten questions that everyone else in the tour is answering. At the end of the post, the baton is passed on to two or three other authors who have recently published books or are currently working on them and would like to take part in this tour.
So without further ado, here are my answers to the questions for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop Tour.
1. What is the working title of your book?
The Unfinished Tower
The desire to finish the construction of the tower is a driving force throughout the story. Chances are good that I’ll keep that title for the published novel.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I used my fiction idea generators to spark my creativity. I generated personalities, events, overall concepts, and some magic effects to start with. Then I took a look at the entire set and tried to make something cohesive out of it all, set within my fictional world of Pharas, which I’ve been writing about and using for role playing game adventures for over 40 years.
The germ of an idea about the world of Pharas came into being in the late 70s when my friend Sam Breshears told me about a dream he had involving a giant and an underground lake. The giant and the lake have nothing to do with The Unfinished Tower, and very little with what the world of Pharas has evolved into. But this is what happens when a creative person like myself starts mulling over some small, seemingly insignificant detail and keeps adding to it. A whole world is born and grows and evolves and becomes so much more than what it started as.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy. Can I narrow it down further? It’s not sword and sorcery like my short stories that were published in Peryton Publishing’s Troll Tunnels anthology. Sometimes I think the novel is paranormal romance. Sometimes I think it’s urban fantasy. Sometimes I think it’s erotic fantasy. I might end up toning down the erotica. I’m not sure how many of my potential readers would appreciate those scenes as written in the first draft. While I try not to be vulgar, some scenes as currently written are sexually explicit and only suitable for a mature audience. Since the main character is in his early thirties, I doubt too many young people will be interested in reading the novel anyway, but I’m not sure how many older readers will either. I welcome any comments on this topic.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’d thought about this even before I knew anything about this blog hop tour. Initially my image of the main character, Alonso, was that of a younger Antonio Banderas, in his early thirties. Choosing from actors who are currently an appropriate age, I have to go with Orlando Bloom. I know he’s in his mid-thirties now instead of his early thirties, but that’s nothing when it comes to movie making. Orlando is talented enough to play pretty much any role, and he’s a good fit for the body type I envision for Alonso.
For the character of Ngozi, Alonso’s shadow elf wife, who is also in her early thirties, I’d like to see Rosario Dawson take that role. I’ve seen her in a few movies, including Sin City (one of my favorite movies), and I like her style. She’s also got the right body type for Ngozi. Dye her hair violet and she’s good to go.
One of the most important characters in The Unfinished Tower is Lady Ryley, the high society friend of Ngozi who helps Alonso get a job. Lady Ryley looks to be in her thirties, though she is rumored to be older, and no one is sure how much older. She’s a good deal shorter than Alonso and Ngozi, and she has a mean streak. I’d love to see Christina Ricci in this role.
Two characters that make life for Alonso exciting and sometimes uncomfortable are the twin redheads Kala and Locket. While there might be twin actresses who could take these parts, I know Hollywood can do the magic required to use a single actress to fill the roles of identical twins. With that in mind, I’d choose Kate Upton to play the roles of both Kala and Locket. Kate is ultra sexy and so are the twenty-something twins.
Another important character is that of the red-haired Gabriel, a homeless runaway twelve-year-old about to turn thirteen. I confess to not having seen The Hunger Games, but I’ve seen some clips featuring Willow Shields, and I think she’d do the part of Gabriel justice.
The character of Wizard Grommuus, the Wizards Council Representative in Hooblaport, is a lizard-kin man. I’d like to see Rufus Sewell in the part; he can be intense and has a subtle sense of humor. I really liked his performance in Dark City. I wonder how he would look with scaly skin and a tail.
One other important character in The Unfinished Tower is the mysterious Aisling, a ghost who primarily appears to Alonso in his dreams. She chooses the form of a young redheaded woman in Alonso’s dreams. I can picture and hear Lindsay Lohan in that role.
There are other supporting characters in The Unfinished Tower, but these are the characters I’ve thought about the most in terms of which actors and actresses I’d cast them as.
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Orlando Bloom as Alonso
Rosario Dawson as Ngozi
Christina Ricci as Lady Ryley
Kate Upton as Kala and Locket
Willow Shields as Gabriel
Rufus Sewell as Wizard Grommuus
Lindsay Lohan as Aisling
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
For now I’m going with the following, which might change. I wanted to keep it at 25 words or less.
A depressed married man falls prey to seduction and magic, and must fight both to save his marriage and his life.
6. What is the longer synopsis of your book?
Alonso is a white human male married to Ngozi, a black shadow elf female. The two have been a couple since they were teenagers, and were married in their mid-twenties. They are now in their early thirties. Money gained from selling Alonso’s family farm allowed him and Ngozi to buy some coastal property and commission the building of the tower of their dreams. But construction on the tower stopped when Alonso ran out of money due to uncontrolled spending and no income. To finish building the tower, both Alonso and Ngozi needed to find work, but only Ngozi obtained a job. Descending into depression, Alonso spent his days walking the beach while Ngozi drove into the city to work. Each night Ngozi would come home and fix Alonso dinner. Seeing that Alonso is spiraling deeper into depression, Ngozi takes matters into her own hands, and finds Alonso a job through one of her high society city-dwelling friends, Lady Ryley. The job Alonso lands turns out to be delivering women’s hats. Earning his wage doesn’t only depend on if or how well he delivers hats; most of the clients are hoping for a little something extra. How far is he willing to go to earn the money he and Ngozi need to finish building their home?
Alonso also discovers that one ambitious wizardly type is cooking up a scheme to rule Pharas. Alonso’s death may be key to the wizard’s plans. Add to that the needs of a homeless runaway who Alonso wants to help and a ghost who begs for help that Alonso isn’t sure he should give. Can Alonso do the right thing for his wife and everyone else in his life, avoid dying, and maybe, just maybe, see his tower completed?
7. Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
At this point I do not have an agent. I plan to publish my novel under my Eposic imprint.
8. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me two months to write the 95,000 words of the full first draft. Before that I spent two weeks writing an outline of 20,000 words. I’m into my second month now of writing the second draft, basically rewriting the entire novel. It’s going slower than I’d like. It takes a lot of patience to write a novel.
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I went through a period of severe depression in my early thirties. The death of my mother when I was 28 and the failure of my first marriage in my early thirties were key factors leading to my depression. That period of depression is the impetus for the character of Alonso. He’s so depressed he has no motivation to do anything but walk the beach all day. He depends on his wife to take care of him. The story begins on the day he agrees to take action to do something to change his life. But life isn’t content to sit still and let him work out his problems—it compounds them for him. That’s how life goes sometimes.
Another inspiration for the story comes from the desire I’ve always had to have a daughter. This manifests in the story in a couple of ways.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The world of Pharas continues to evolve, and at this point it is a world where magic has become an integral part of society, perhaps even more than electricity is on Earth. Their washing machines are powered by water elementals, with fire elementals summoned afterwards to do the drying. They have bathing stalls in which the bather stands while a water elemental swirls over their body to clean them. They have glow stones that are much like light bulbs on Earth, but powered by magic. They have waste disposal bowls on which they sit to do their business, and when they are finished, the bowl transports the waste to another dimension, an adjacent universe. The wealthy have magical contact cards that are similar to Earth’s cell phones. But the people dress in tunics, breeches, corsets and the like. They ride in horse-drawn carriages. Their buildings are all made of stone, with few windows. Glass is expensive because it requires magic to make it strong enough to withstand the most extreme weather conditions.
Though Pharas is a different world, it has a portal to Earth. The portal isn’t used in the story, but it’s through this portal that humans first arrived on Pharas long, long ago. Some of the inhabitants of Pharas are purely human. Others are a mix of human and some other kindred. Goblins, lizard-kin, ogres, and trolls can be found in the cities. Those kindred aren’t like the monsters they are so often portrayed as in other fantasy fiction. That’s mainly because in the cities, laws are magically enforced—for the most part, keeping the monstrous kindred in line.
I plan to post the prologue for the book on this site when I’m nearly ready to publish.
That’s it about my Next Big Thing. I hope you’ve read something here you found interesting and will consider reading my novel when it is published, sometime before the end of summer 2013 if all goes to plan. There’s still a lot of work to do on it and I’m not going to rush it to market. But I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to participate in the blog tour.
Now it’s time to pass the baton to other authors. Look for their installments on January 23.
Christina Lea is one of the founders of Peryton Publishing. Her work there includes creating role-playing games, herding the cats, and figuring out how to do all the stuff that everybody else refuses to think about. When nobody’s looking, she sneaks off and writes fiction. Look for her installment of the Next Big Thing on her blog, Willfully and Persistently. Connect with Christina on Twitter, @rchristinalea.
Soror Puella Lucis is an experimental musician and an occultist. She is influenced by surrealism, dada, stream of consciousness, and BDSM themes. She lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Her installment of the Next Big Thing will be posted on the Black Flower Music blog.