I just heard about this “Next Big Thing”–thing on Carrie Cuinn’s blog. If you haven’t read hers yet, go do it. Two words: magic apocalypse. Then go read all the others she links to. You won’t be disappointed.

So how does this Next Big Thing work? You’re supposed to answer ten questions about your current WIP novel, short story, anthology, screenplay, etc. You get the idea. So what am I working on? Glad you asked.

  1. What is the title of your book? Gifts of the Earth: The Song of Siya Book I
  2. Where did the idea for the book come from? My first novel, The Exile’s Violin, just came out a week or so ago. I’m also in the process of its sequel. Both books are steampunk, and I’m kinda steampunked out. I wanted to write something different. I already had a failed space opera novel, so I didn’t want to do science fiction. I turned to sword & sorcery–real old school fantasy. Sword & sorcery is a lot of fun, but a lot of the older stuff has some problematic views on women and the Other. Gifts of the Earth is my attempt at writing a fast-paced, pulpy sword & sorcery novel while being trying to address the problems the genre has had in the past. That’s why the main character, Siya, is a confident woman who isn’t looking for someone like Conan to come rescue her. She’s more than capable of swinging a sword, and she doesn’t need to a chainmail bikini to do it.
  3. What genre does your book fall under? It’s sword & sorcery through and through. There’s sword fights, magic, faraway kingdoms, empires, and gods and goddesses.
  4. 4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I’m terrible at answering this kind of question. I don’t watch a lot of movies–more of a TV person–so I don’t know many film actors and actresses. Almost all of the characters in this book are not white, so I’d want a large racially diverse cast for a film version of this book. No white people with tans that are supposed to count as persons of color.
  5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book? This is my first stab at it: An unwanted, unnamed daughter uses gifts from the earth to become a sword fighter and a living legend.
  6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? My goal with this book–and eventual series–is to land an agent. I think this type of tale (if I write it well obviously) could find a home at a place like Tor, Pyr, or Orion/Gollancz. To be published by any of those three would be awesome.
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? My first draft is only a chapter long right now. However! I am working on the worldbuilding and outline right now. I have a first draft of the outline done, and now I’m going back through it and adding more detail. I do a lot of the heavy lifting for novels in the outline phase. I’ve been known to have outlines hit word counts of 40k and up. They’re basically first drafts by themselves. Right now, the Gifts of the Earth outline is 20 chapters long and 18,700 words. It’s taken me about a month and a half to get the worldbuilding and outline to where they are today.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre? I think some of the Jirel of Joiry stories would be a good comparison–though you’d have to get rid of the otherworldly horror and medieval France elements. I think that Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery might also work. I haven’t read that particular collection yet, but it it’s billed as modern sword and sorcery.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? I wanted to push myself to write fantasy I’d want to read. I’ve tried reading the big epic fantasy series “you’re supposed to read” if you’re a genre fiction writer. I only made it 2/3 of the way through The Eye of the World before I gave up. I couldn’t stand Wizard’s First Rule. That’s why I turned back to the more pulpy stuff, stuff with a narrower focus and faster pacing. Gifts of the Earth is going to be quick, bloody, and hopefully a hell of a lot of fun.
  10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Siya is into women. I don’t mean that statement in a titillating way. I mean it in the way that she’s into a women, but that’s not the only characteristic that defines her. She’s also an adventurer, a daughter, a friend, a fighter, and also a lover. I wanted to go completely opposite of all the stereotypical sword & sorcery heroes you see that live in facsimiles for medieval Western Europe. Siya is dark-skinned, lives in a place that’s not like Europe at all, and doesn’t rescue any princess just because she wants to be rewarded with sex. But this book also keeps the flair and nomenclature that comes with sword & sorcery–a Kingdom of Ice, the Godless Century, the Hungry Years, the Second Grand Crystal Empire, gods, goddesses, and magic. All of that’s in here too.

In keeping in the spirit of the Next Big Thing, I tag Gwen Perkins to tell us about her Next Big Thing! Now hopefully she’ll cooperate and post one of these too. Also make sure you read Carrie’s post and then follow all the people she tagged too. They come highly recommended.