Saturday, December 29, 2012

Five books I loved in 2012

I don't know when these books were published, I only know that I read them in 2012 and each book, in its own way, took over my life for a little while (the way all good books should).  Here's the list in no particular order with links so you can order them!

Dare Me- Megan Abbott
Cheerleading goes noir.  A beautifully written novel.  I'm always in awe of how Abbot gets into secret worlds, in this case it's the secret world of cheerleaders and teenage girls.

Volt- Alan Heathcock
For some reason, I didn't read many collections this year.  I suppose it was because I was working on a novel, but this one by Heathcock reminded me why I love collections so much.  This guy can write, and though the stories are typically dark and gritty, there is an underlying grace that I really admired.   Well worth checking out.  

The Next Time You See Me- Holly Goddard Jones

A gorgeous novel that switches viewpoints between characters that enthrall and disturb in equal measure.  I loved the middle school angle (I teach middle school), and this novel solidifies HGJ's status as one of my favorite writers.

A Monster Calls- Patrick Ness
I'm a sucker for novels that blend reality and fantasy so smoothly.  Also, I think Ness nailed the teenage angst and confusion when dealing with a sick parent.  A fast, touching read.  Really excellent art, too.

The Devil All the Time- Donald Ray Pollack

A dark, dark midwestern gothic about the wages of violence.  Hell, I'd even classify it as straight up horror.  This book isn't for everyone, but if you like McCarthy, Gay, Franklin, etc., you will devour this one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Next Big Thing or A Day Late and a Tag Short

Apologies to Bracken MacLeod (who so kindly tagged me in this blog tour) for dropping the ball and coming in late with my post.  I'm also going to be one person short, as I only managed to wrangle four of the five people required.

So, rather than waste anymore time, I'll get started.

1. What is the title of your book?
The Year of the Storm.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from two places. First, that place inside of me that wonders about missing people. What about the ones who are never found? Where do they go? Letting my imagination run wild with that led to the book. The other place the book came from was a painting. It was passed down to me after my grandmother died, and according to the story my aunt told me, the artist was one of my grandmother’s sisters. My aunt described her as different. Quiet, withdrawn. She wrote poetry and painted. Never married. The painting itself reflects this kind of quiet solitude. It’s just a little cabin in the woods at dusk. There’s a lake nearby. A single light burns inside. I put it aside but never stopped thinking about it. Somehow, it merged with my curiosity about missing people, and I had the seeds of the book. If I say much more, I’ll risk giving stuff away, so… next question.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Southern Gothic. Is that a genre? If not, I’ll say literary horror.

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

Well, the main character is fourteen, and I don’t know the name of a single actor that age, but the secondary character, Walter Pike, is a quick-tempered Vietnam vet, and I think Robert Duvall would be perfect for him.

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

That’s tough. How about...

Boy tries to find his mother and Autistic sister who have disappeared in the Alabama woods.

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

I’m represented by Beth Fleisher of Clearsailing Creatives. She’s great! And THE YEAR OF THE STORM comes out in June 2013 from Berkley/ Penguin. You can preorder it here for a very discounted price.

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

First draft probably took about eight months. The other drafts took about two years.

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

That’s tough. Beverly Bambury was kind of enough to read this for me when it was in the final editing stages and she compared it to Boy's Life by Robert McCammon (which I love) and The Thief of Time by Clive Barker (which I’ve never read).

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

See answer #2

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

Well, as you might expect from a book titled THE YEAR OF THE STORM, there’s a lot of bad weather in there. And ghosts. Murder too. Oh, why don’t I just say it? There’s something for everyone.

I've tagged four others that will posting on their respective blogs sometime next week.  First up is the inimitable Sam W. Anderson.  I've known Sam since 2006, and not only is he a phenomenally talented writer, he's also one of the true nice guys in the business.  Do check out his Money Run stories here.

Next is Usman Tanveer Malik.  I met Usman at the Horror Library on Zoetrope.  He's been extraordinarily supportive of my writing, and I hope to be able to return the favor to him one day. He doesn't have a lot out there right now, but I have a feeling that's going to change soon.

Speaking of supportive, I've also tagged Erik Smetana.  Many of you probably know Erik as the editor of the sports infused journal, Stymie, but Erik is also a very talented writer in his own right.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he's working on next week.

Finally, I'd like to introduce Danny Evarts.  He's not a writer.  He's an artist.  And a damn good one too.  I know because Danny did the interiors for my collection, Shoebox Train Wreck, and if you've seen the book, you've seen how amazing they are.  Like all the others I've tagged, Danny is one of the good guys, and I'd love to work with him again.

Well, that's it.  Go ahead and check out the other blogs and be on the look out for their posts on Dec. 12.