Last week I was tagged by my good friend John Dixon, author of the forthcoming book Dissident from Simon & Schuster. Here’s what I had to say.
What is the working title of your book?
Those of My Kind
Where did the idea come from for the book?
About 18 years ago I had written yet another crappy novel (I was 19, sue me), and one of the secondary characters was a Roma woman named Tristan. Tristan was originally a man in the very first draft, but I had grown tired of writing male characters. Even though I eventually abandoned the book–which will be resurrected as the sequel to Those of My Kind–Tristan stuck with me. I needed to explore her story; she hunts demons, after all. What’s not to love? So fast forward to January 2011. I’ve just begun Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction program, and I’m floundering for a thesis idea. I’m one of those people who gets overwhelmed with too many ideas rather than not enough. Then it hits me. What better time to write Tristan’s story than now? So we go back into her past, discover she’s moody and stand-offish for a whole lot of reasons, and she has a companion whose natural affinity for witchcraft leads to Very Bad Things.
What genre does your book fall under?
Dark fantasy. It draws on the fairy tales “Donkeyskin” and “Red Riding Hood,” as well as the Chinese myths of the jiang-shi and the huli-jing. But there is, of course, a strong traditional horror element as well as a literary one, because I love beautiful language.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
To be honest, I don’t really want it to be filmed. I think some of the subject matter that’s essential to the plot wouldn’t make it past the censors due to the characters’ ages, and to make them older would pretty much ruin the story. The things that happen to them when they’re young girls form the core of who they are as characters.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Battling both each other and the deadliest foe of their young lives, two demon hunters learn the meaning of power–and of sacrifice.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
That’s not an either-or proposition, since indie publishers often take non-agented fiction. And let me stress, since many people conflate the two, that indie/small press publishing and self-publishing are NOT the same thing. I will refrain from the self-publishing rant for now. But I do intend to get an agent.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
14 months. Then I promptly gutted half of it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I wouldn’t. Such comparisons are almost invariably false. I strive to tell my own story, and that’s all. I’ll let other people decide if it reminds them of something, but I don’t consciously try to make it similar to anything else.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Oh man. Aside from what I talked about above… fairy tales, African witchcraft, existentialist philosophy, Gnosticism, comparative mythology, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Robin McKinley’s Deerskin… I knew I wanted strong female characters with serious problems to overcome. I wanted to explore issues of sexual identity, religion, moral nihilism, all that fun stuff. Which path you choose if you’re young and have superhuman powers, and what happens if life has crapped on you one too many times.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I really wanted to break out of horror’s very conservative tendency to have a straight hero/heroine and the standard love interest. Three major characters are gay, while the villain is essentially asexual and derives pleasure mainly from feeding on the life essence of others. Also, female genital mutilation is something not usually discussed in genre fiction (or much at all), but it has a profound effect on one of the main characters.