27 February 2013

My Next Big Thing: The Obituary Book

My brother also writes, under his pen name, J. MaynardCarr.  He recently asked me to participate in a Blog Hop where I discuss my Next Big Thing. 

1: What is the working title of your book?
I don’t have an actual title, but I’m saving my current document as The Obituary Book. One of the characters is obsessed with death and re-writes obituaries of various people whose lives and deaths she encounters because she is disappointed by the generic quality of most obituaries.
2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
After a dear aunt of mine died, I wrote a tribute to her on my blog Chez Cerise.  My husband’s uncle read it and asked me if I would write his obituary after he dies.  I started thinking about obituary writers and how boring most obituaries are.  I started wondering what obituaries might be like if they were written in such a way that a reader could really get a sense of who the deceased was from his or her obituary.  I started thinking about what kind of person would take issue with obituaries and my characters evolved from there.

3: What genre does your book come under?

General fiction probably.

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

No idea at all.  In fact, I have seen so few movies since becoming a parent in 2000 that I’m not sure I would have any idea of the current hot stars.  But that being said, of course Meryl Streep would play the mother, because she is still the most versatile actor I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s a novel set in Phoenix in the 1980’s and is narrated by a daughter and a mother whose brother / son has recently died and how they try to make sense of his death.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

My novella, Marcasite Stars, is self-published.

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

I have been working on this book for a couple years, with many fits and starts.  In 2010 I wrote a horrible first draft via NaNoWriMo.  I’ve been working on the re-write since then.  Revising this novel was my major goal for 2013 but I was side-tracked by health issues in mid-January.  I am still confident I can accomplish this revision by the end of the year. 

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

I read constantly but I don’t think there’s much out there that can directly compare. 

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I said above, Fernando asked me to write his obituary, which was such a huge compliment, such an honor.  The concept for the book started with that request and bloomed from there.

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

I like quirky characters, strange amalgamations of real and imagined traits.  Late last year I was at a restaurant with my husband, enjoying an adult lunch without our daughters, when Esther, a character from my obituary book walked in to have lunch with a friend.  In my book, Esther is a Holocaust survivor and former neighbor of the two narrators.  This real-life Esther was dressed all in purple:  purple zip-up jogging suit, shiny purple running shorts, purple pantyhose, purple sneakers, all of which clashed beautifully with her dyed-rust colored hair and bright red lipstick.  She waved to her friend and called her name in the exact Eastern European accent I’d imagined her to have.  I nearly choked, seeing her walk into my real life like that, appearing just as if she walked off the page.   


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