The Next Big Thing – J.M. Frey

The Next Big Thing: Where Authors talk about what they’re doing next!

I was tagged by Ruthanne Reid, the author of the phenominal The Sundered.

1)What is the working title of your book?

Right now? “Untitled Meta Thing” – that’s the file name, at least.  It’s a book about writing books and telling stories (and what sorts of things happen when the characters you start telling the stories about start becoming self aware) so it is, at least in some sense, a metanovel. Beyond that I have no idea what it’ll be called, which is odd, because usually I know the title from the very beginning. I am a little weirded out about it, but I’m looking forward to brainstorming it with my betas once the book is finished.

I’m toying with just calling it “The Meta” but maybe that’s just a bit too self-indulgent-grad-school?

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

Partially it came from a dream I had about a weird dictator that I decided I had to try to explore, partially it came from my own personal fear of surgery and knives (doesn’t that just make you want to read it?), and partially from my indefatigable love of how stories are told, and why they’re told that way. I spend a lot of time reading books about books, texts about how narratives are constructed and why people tell stories. The history of storytelling, that sort of thing. So, whenever I get a new idea, I always run it through that research, figure out how I can play with expectations and what sort of story I can tell with the idea that I’ve got.


3)What genre does your book fall under?

This one is the closest to Fantasy I’ve ever done. I’m going for incorporating a lot of those High Fantasy tropes and traditions – the medieval setting, the non-human party members, the swords and the sorcery – but I’m also going to try to mix in the traditional story-logic of Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables.

But, as ever, it does fit in with my personal style of writing: Literary-Fiction-Sprinkled-With-Genre-Stuff. I am always more focused more on the character story and the human reaction than the adventure itself when I write.


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

I’d love to see Mark Gatiss as the lead. My character is a skinny, tall, patently non-heroic hero, and I love the grace and poise with which Gatiss moves and speaks. And I also love how whole heartedly he commits to characters, especially the quirky aspects. It’s his portrayal of both Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock) and Raty (Wind In The Willows) – as well as the way he moves his hands and head in television interviews – that has influenced the way my lead character moves and speaks. It would be really neat to see him close the circle of inspiration and actually portray the character I’m basing on his performances.


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

In a world where epic heroes actually exist, the forgotten younger brother of a literal living legend is about to get his chance to show the world what he’s got.

(I don’t like that at all! It’s too action-film! What about the part where he realizes that he’s a character in a book and learns how to use that influence his own agency? Bah! I always find this one-sentence thing too hard! I’m too verbose.)


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

Hopefully my agent will like the book and decide to want to shop it. We’ve been back-and-forth-ing about what we think the follow up to the book (and potential trilogy) he’s shopping now, and I think this will be a nice one-off book to do that. We have another one in the works, too, but I sort of realized that it’s a mega mountain of research and while I really want to still write that other one, I want to have something done now, in case we need to pull the first book for revisions. That way he has something else to being to shop while I’m revising.


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

Welp, it’s not done yet. I’ve been trying to do about 4000 words a day, with the hopes of being done in Mid September so I can edit it while I’m on a personal trip. It’s just passed the 25k mark. Cheer me on, folks!


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

Bookweird by Paul Glenon and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke are the two books that jump to mind immediately, but they’re middle grade and young adult, respectively, and I’m writing an adult market book. It’s probably closer to The World Beyond Sky by Kent Stetson, or The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, or the plays Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning, Juliet) by Anne-Marie MacDonald, or Six Characters In Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello, or any and all renditions of Don Quixote.

They are all stories about storytelling that tell you a story while teaching you about stories.


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

Oh, didn’t we do this question already? Well, I’ll add that this is the first book that I haven’t really told many people about first. Usually I tell the story, verbally, to some friends and family, and tweak it in the telling, until I know where the interesting stuff lies and where I should pursue it. This time I just sat down and started writing. It’s a bit scary, because I never just start without talking to someone else first, but it’s sort of liberating, too, because I have no idea where it’s going next, beyond the ending I’ve already chosen. So, nobody’s really inspired this book, not yet, not unless you count all those abovementioned authors and playwrights, and the people who wrote text books about the history of storytelling… and Mark Gatiss!


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

I think people will like it because it’s all about those characters in books that nobody spends any time with – the hero’s little brother, the Sheriff of the Shire who is a plot device and nothing more, the prophetess and the villain’s subordinate. The whole book is about the people books usually ignore, and that’s the most fun for me. I get to take stereotypical backgrounders and flesh them out; I get to tell the part of the story that’s rarely told.

JM FreyThe Next Big Thing – J.M. Frey

1 comment

Join the conversation
  • Ruthanne Reid - August 22, 2012

    Awesome!! Is this part of the three chapters you sent? Either way, I’m absolutely interested to see what you do with this.

Comments are closed.