Researching the CAP Marines of the Vietnam War
Here I am, still working slowly but surely on the novel-in-progress and recently asked to participate in a project that relies on the "pay it forward" idea - helping each other out with connections and community in the writing world.
The Next Big Thing Blog series is an author's work-in-progress project from She Writes and a chance for authors to tell you what they’re working on. The author answers 10 questions about their next book, and tags the person who first tagged them, plus at least 5 other authors. Thanks to Rosalia Scalia - journalist, essayist, short story and novel writer, who I met at the 2006 Sewanee Writers' Conference - for inviting me to join in.
Responding to these questions has made me think about my novel, turning it this way and that, considering the time it has taken, from research to revisions, and knowing that it does have a place in the world. And so, here are the questions and the answers.
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The backdrop to my entire childhood was the war in Vietnam. To Americans, the Vietnam War. To Vietnamese, the American War. When a child, one thinks that whatever is going on is what has gone on forever. Unfortunately, with war this is mostly true. Given our recent involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, I wanted to address the many perspectives of those touched by war, from soldiers, deployed and returned, and families stateside, who learn to live inside the wait, to the civilians, those who live within the war-affected areas.
What genre does your book fall under?
Literary fiction. Novel-in-stories.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Royal – a military-grade Ryan Gosling
Minnie – change her blond pixie to a mess of long dark tresses and her smile to a scowl, and you have Michelle Williams
LuLu – if she can still find her southern accent, the child actress, Taylar Hender
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In the small lake town in Florida where LuLu, Rainey, and Saul are growing up, life is complicated by war, longing, and conditional love.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully, published by a small press or represented by an agency.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About two years. Ongoing research and interruptions of outside short stories, writing workshops, editing work, and my family responsibilities included.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
You Know When the Men Are Gone - Siobhan Fallon
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain- Robert Olen Butler
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The Who: A writing teacher once dared me to write a new story when I was having trouble moving forward. I wrote that story and another and another, until I realized the stories were connected and that I was writing a book.
The What: And the realization that nearly everyone I knew in the 1960’s and 70’s had been somehow affected by the war in Vietnam.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
As a novel-in-stories, Sybelia Drive has the narrative arc of a novel and yet each story stands on its own. Every character has her or his own story, each told from a first-person viewpoint, and so readers will have the chance to experience all sides of the larger story via LuLu, her parents, her brother Saul and best friend Rainey, as well as other characters.
And there you have it! Cross fingers that the manuscript will be in readers' hands by early next year.
Thanks to my friends and fellow writers for joining in. Their posts will be up by New Year's Eve, if not shortly after the new year begins. Here are the links to their works-in-progress:
Natalie Aristy - Sixteen Stories - Natalie and I met in Lesley University's MFA Writing Program fiction seminars, where ideas of truth and lies come together. And appropriately, her novel's working title is The Good Lie.
Barbara McDowell - Life Can't Drive 55 - Barbara's novel-in-progress is called Group Think, and knowing her stories from the 2012 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, it is sure to have some seriously dark corners. Think revenge and redemption.
Emilie Staat - Jill of All Genres - Emilie is an editor on my team at Narrative Magazine. Her essay, "Tango Face," won the 2012 Faulkner-Wisdom Award, judged by Andrew Lam, and is included in her memoir-in-progress. Emilie's "narrative memoir/coming-of-age story" is titled Tango Face: How I Became a Dancer and Became Myself, and her passion about dance and writing are evident in how she speaks of process and project. I can hear Ástor Piazzolla's bandonéon in her words!
Sharon Millar - The Chutney Garden - Sharon and I share connections with Lesley University MFA Writing Program advisor,Wayne Brown, a Trinidadian writer and one of the most grounded and profound writing teachers I've known. Sharon's story, "Friends," was shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and her story, "The Dragonfly's Tale," won the 2012 Small Axe Short Fiction. Her novel-in-progress, also titled The Dragonfly's Tale, approaches difficult subjects and gives voice to a voiceless perspective.
Hananah Zaheer - A Wicked Muse - Hananah's words are so evocative that they draw the reader inside the story - one of those you-forget-you're-reading experiences. Her novel-in-stories is "about the legacy of [the 1971 war between Pakistan and India] and the dissatisfaction with human relationships and what happens to them when pressure is applied." Her story in our workshop at the Sewanee Writers' Conference amazed everyone, and obviously she is still impressing all of her readers.
Thanks again to Rosalia Scalia for the invitation. Her novel-in-progress is on the Sikh Holocaust, and her ten responses are eye-opening.
Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing
- Use this format for your post
- Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
- Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them. Be sure to line up your five people in advance.
(Note from Karin: Some of these posts have run with only three or four tagged writers.)
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
- What is your working title of your book?
- Where did the idea come from for the book?
- What genre does your book fall under?
- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
- Who or what inspired you to write this book?
- What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.