The Next Best Thing’s a game of tag that scores for both writers and readers. The idea is simple: a writer answers ten questions on his or her blog about a work in progress, then passes the baton to three or more writers s/he admires. The baton passer provides links to his or her own tagger and to those s/he tags. In this way, each of the writers receives at least four touts…and interested readers can click on the provided links and hopefully find a new author to read, recommend, and enjoy.
I was tagged by Reb MacRath, author of The Boss MacTavin Action Mysteries, a series of action-packed, darkly humorous, and hard-boiled mysteries set in the South. His Q & A can be found here.
Reb and I share a mutual friend in writer, Brad Strickland (aka Ken McKea), author of the Jim Dallas Thrillers. Brad suggested Reb tag me as one of his three writers as I had recently published my collection of short fiction, Emily's Stitches: The Confessions of Thomas Calloway and Other Stories.
Let's get started, shall we?
1. What is the working title for your book?
Guns of the Waste Land
In it, I retell the King Arthur/Holy Grail legend as pulp Western. It's my first foray into historical fiction as well as the Western genre.
2. Where did the idea come from for this book?
In the mid 1990's, while researching for my Master's thesis in American literature, I came across an old college reader from 1968 titled Heroes and Antiheroes: A Reader in Depth. In it, editor Harold Lubin claimed that the cowboy was America's answer to England's knight in armor. He made a fairly convincing argument comparing, among other things, the so-called "code of the West" to the chivalric code of medieval times.
The idea of how the Arthurian legends would have played out as a spaghetti Western immediately occurred to me and clanked around my head for about ten years until I finally put fingers to keyboard two years ago to hammer something out.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Some kind of amalgamation of Western/Fantasy I guess. Mainly I think of it as a book.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ardiss Drake (Arthur Pendragon): Jeff Bridges
Lancaster O'Lock (Lancelot du Lac): Colin Firth
Guernica (Guenivere): Penélope Cruz
Merle Tallison (Merlin): Donald Sutherlin
Gary Wayne (Gawain): Simon Pegg
Boris (Bors): Colin Farrell
Percy (Parsival): Bradley James
Red Mort (Mordred): Adam Beach
Ghost in the Water (Morgana): Irene Bedard
Braddock (inspired by Richard Monaco's Broaditch): Ossie Davis
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The once and future king rides again...now with more lead and added grit.
Quit fucking up the land and each other, y'all; grails don't grow on trees, you know.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Probably self-published. Less of a headache, about as many sales, and unless I find myself magically transformed into Stephen King, slightly more take home money in royalties.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I am still hammering away at it, but I hope to done with the first draft by year's end or shortly after.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Little Big Man by Thomas Berger and The Parsival series by Richard Monaco (Parsival or a Knight's Tale, The Grail War, The Final Quest, Blood and Dreams, and The Quest for Avalon)
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've been interested in Arthurian fiction forever. I first read Malory's Le morte Darthur in middle school, and in high school a friend gave me her copy of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon to read, and I loved the idea of telling the old tales from new perspectives. As a senior in high school, I stumbled upon Monaco's Parsival series, and it became my absolute favorite retelling of the grail legend.
I never cared for the Western as a genre until writing this book. Since beginning my research on it though, I have become a fan of Little Big Man, True Grit, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and the HBO series Deadwood
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The first chapter won second place in TAG publishing's 2010 Great American Novel Contest in the category of literary fiction.
And now the three authors I want to hear from:
1. Richard Monaco's Parsival series, as you've read above was one of my greatest influences as a writer. The first and third books (Parsival or a Knight's Tale and The Final Quest respectively) were also finalists for the 1977 & 1980 Pulitzer prizes in fiction. His most recent novel is Dead Blossoms: The Third Geisha, a hard-boiled murder mystery set in 16th century Japan.
2. Scott Thompson is the author of Young Men Shall See, which placed first in TAG Publishing's 2010 Great American Novel Contest in the literary fiction category and has been nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in the first novel category. He is married with two little boys. You can read his other writings in magazines like Georgia Backroads, Southern Writers Magazine, and The Georgia Connector. Thompson's next novel, Children of the Mist, will be available summer 2013.
3. Tony Daniel is the author of the upcoming novel, Return To Sender. This is his
first novel, and the book is the first in the Pyramid Investigations
Files series, a paranormal mystery series. He is a devoted Parrot-head, classic movie fan, and writes
every day, whether it be on his computer or on cocktail napkins. You
can see some of his work on his blog, Tales of the Midnight Cruiser.