What’s a blog tour? It’s like a book tour, but without the bookstores. An author goes from blog to blog writing guest posts about her new book, or a forthcoming book, all without stepping foot on an airplane, train, car, or covered wagon.
What’s the Next Big Thing Blog Tour? I’m told it began in Australia. Each week a different author or illustrator answers a list of ten questions—which may also have come from Australia, or maybe were handed down on Sinai—about a new or forthcoming book. The answers are posted on that author or illustrator’s own blog. And then that person “tags” another, who answers the questions on his or her blog, tags another, etc. etc.—until every single author and illustrator on the planet is part of the next big thing.
I made up the very last part, about every single author and illustrator on the planet. But it’s possible, isn’t it?
I was tagged by Jennifer Barrett O’Connell. She answered questions about her gorgeous new book, The Eye of the Whale. You’ll find out who I’m tagging at the end of this post. But first, my answers to the ten questions.
No, first this: A “blog tour” usually involves authors traveling from blog to blog. The Next Big Thing Blog Tour involves authors writing on their own blogs. So, really, it’s more like a Next Big Thing Blog Staycation, isn’t it? But I’m going to amp up the “tour” part of this endeavor right here and now with links to “Next Big Thing” posts by some other authors: Kathyrn Erskine, Deborah Heiligman, Madelyn Rosenberg, and Linda Urban,
There. Now we’re touring. And now, my answers.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
But the final title, which was also the very first title I chose: Imperfect Spiral. There’s no changing it now; the book comes out on July 16!
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
From the idea store, of course.
And from thinking about a character, a teenage girl, who felt, as teenagers often do, that she was unutterably peculiar, when actually she was just a little bit peculiar, as so many of us are. I wanted her to see herself reflected in the eyes of a little boy who was also a little bit peculiar, and with whom she develops a deep connection despite the difference in their ages. These two characters, Danielle and Humphrey, then took on lives of their own in my imagination, and so did other characters and plot ideas, and this one, in particular: What if something terrible happened to little Humphrey?
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary realistic fiction for young adults and older ones, too.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I don’t know enough to answer this question except to say that I am deeply sorry there appears to be no role for Meryl Streep in Imperfect Spiral, the movie, and that I think by now Jennifer Lawrence has already been booked through the year 2037 by other authors answering this very same question on The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, by which time she’ll be too old to play Danielle Snyder, my main character.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Imperfect Spiral is about a tragedy, a community’s search for someone or something to blame, and a teenage girl’s realization that sometimes the most—and the least—that you can do is try to stop one bad thing from leading to another.
For more than a sentence, look here.
6) Who is publishing your book?
Walker Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I started writing in November 2009. By April 2010 I had a critical mass; by January 2011 I had a draft I was happy with. And then came lots and lots of rewriting.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are some hard questions on this list! Rather than compare, I will say that novels I admire that raise some of the issues I treat in my book include T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain, for the way the issue of illegal immigration is featured in that story without ever making it an “issue” book; and Russell Banks’ The Sweet Hereafter, for that book’s unflinching gaze at how people and communities act in the face of tragedy.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The characters themselves inspired me. They came first. Their inner lives suggested situations where dramatic tension might develop, where opportunities for change would arise. Until Humphrey has a tragic accident, Danielle has made something of an art form of not being engaged in her community. (Her best friend, Becca, is exactly the opposite.) But that becomes less of an option as reaction to the tragedy spirals, if not out of control, at least in directions that she can’t accept. I was also inspired, I think, by an interest in exploring such disparate ideas as social awkwardness, unlikely friendships, immigration policy, and unforeseen consequences.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
One of my favorite characters is Danielle’s older brother, Adrian. He’s the smartest person Danielle knows, but he dropped out of high school to become, among other things, a plumber’s apprentice. And a cook. Don’t hold me to this, but he may need his own book one of these days.
Now I feel bad that I just wrote a sentence with the words “my favorite” that didn’t also include the word “Humphrey.” I just love him, and I love how he brings out the best in Danielle, both before and after the tragedy. I hope readers will love him, too.
Vanessa and I haven’t met in person yet, but we’ve worked together on a picture book that is very close to my heart and that will be published this December—and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now. (That’s another of her books pictured on the left.) Head over to Vanessa’s blog, Ooh-La-La Design Studio around this time next week for her installment of The Next Big Thing.
And I also haven’t met Sandra yet, but we were connected by another talented writer and good friend, Linda Himelstein, author of the award-winning book The King of Vodka. Learn more about Sandra on her website here. Since Sandra hasn’t put up a blog on her website, I’ll be hosting her in this space next Thursday. So come back here next week!
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