The Next Big Thing

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One of my favorite bloggers, author Allison Forsythe, recently tagged me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. I had never heard of it before, but it is a blog shuffle that gives writers the chance to talk about their work-in-progress or published/soon-to-be-published book. Everyone answers the same questions about their work, and then each writer tags five more writers (who publish their responses a week after you do).

And really…what writer would pass up an opportunity to talk about their work?

The hardest part of this for me was trying to decide which piece to write about. My core writing focus is my book series, The House of Crimson and Clover, which consists of my self-published book (St. Charles at Dusk), my active WIP (The Storm and the Darkness), and two additional books, as yet unnamed, still sitting at 50k from the last two years of NaNoWriMo. I’ll be starting on the fifth book in the series in April when I participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ll be taking a crack at book six and seven this year as well, with Camp NaNo in July, and NaNo in November.

I also have a YA series called Provincetown that I co-wrote with a good friend years ago, that we are going to touch up and rewrite (we wrote is as an ongoing web serial, but it could be converted into 10-11 books), and a spin off YA series that I wrote on my own.

Phew!

The book I’ve chosen to talk about here is the unnamed book four of The House of Crimson and Clover. The reason I chose it is that its the first book in the series where we really get a glimpse into the rich family history of the Deschanels, and we get to know more of the cousins. I built long and complex family trees and histories to accommodate the book as well. Oh, and there’s a pesky family “curse” that has the family divided between believers and skeptics. Yep.

1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?

Midnight Dynasty

This will likely change once I start full edits; I usually don’t end up with a fixed name until things are mostly done.

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

I am a big fan of book series that involve rich and complex family histories. When I wrote St. Charles, I wrote up histories for both the Deschanels and Sullivans (some of which is included in the book) but I hardly scratched the surface. About six months ago, I just started filling in a genealogy chart and, as I did, the histories and stories started really coming to life for me. The idea of the Deschanel family possibly having a curse- one that not all of the family members believed in, but all were affected by- came to me when I saw how awful and disgusting the ancestors were (which wasn’t originally intended, but you know how characters take on a life of their own…). The patriarch, Charles, was a traitor to the South during the Civil War, and kept his wealth and status by pandering to the North. He gave them everything they asked for, including his very young daughter, Ophelie, who was killed tragically as a result of misuse by Union officers.

But if we are taught anything in life, it is that everything comes at a price, right?

And when I thought about the horrible things that happened to Adrienne’s family in St. Charles, I started drawing tighter connections. I saw a grieving mother swearing a terrible curse upon all descendants of Charles, one that assured that his children and their children’s children would never benefit from his evil deeds. I went back into the history and saw more death and sorrow…I saw generations destroyed, and bloodlines nearly wiped out. What if these things were not simply chance? What if Ophelie’s mother Brigitte’s words were more than just words, and that every member of the family was doomed?

But more importantly…if it was true, was it also possible to change it?

3. What genre does your book fall under?

All of the series is tagged under general or literary fiction, although there are elements of suspense, mystery, and romance as well.

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

I know this is supposed to be the fun question, but I genuinely almost never see my characters as someone famous. In fact, I usually deliberately avoid it as I want them to feel unique to me, which is hard to do when you’ve got an actor’s face in your head.

But…since it wouldn’t be much fun if I left this blank, I’ll say that the character of Amelia reminds me of what Marion Cotillard would look like with pale blonde hair and very little makeup.

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

After another series of tragic deaths, the Deschanel cousins are divided between those who believe that these happened by chance and those that know it is the work of something more sinister…but if they are to have a future, they must come together to solve the mystery of the Deschanel family curse once and for all.

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

Self-published for now…not sure if I will ever attempt the traditional route or not.

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

Just under a month…it was written as a NaNoWriMo project. That said, I don’t know if I would call 50k words a rough draft (it needs to be about double that most likely).

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

This is a difficult comparison because a) I am not half the writer she is and b) the story is much different, but the closest point of comparison would be The Witching Hour by Anne Rice.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Speaking of The Witching Hour…it was Anne Rice’s Mayfair series that inspired me to write stories that spanned generations, families, and many stories. I’ve never been more interested in characters than I was with this series. In fact, it was Mrs. Rice who inspired me to take writing seriously at all.

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

The book starts with a series of journal entries by Julianne Deschanel, a young girl who marries into the family and witnesses the series of events leading up to the placement of the curse. As her mother-in-law Brigitte jumps to her death, she reveals that she has cursed all of her descendants as punishment for her husband Charles’ willingness to sacrifice their daughter for greed.

Almost immediately, the family begins to feel the effects of the curse as generations and generations of Deschanels perish tragically. This continues until 1950, at which point the family experiences almost 40 years of peace, leaving even those who believed in the curse to think that the worst is over. The peace is broken when, in 1996, nine more family members die tragically and the family realizes that they can no longer sit back quietly and hope for the best. They begin years’ long research projects, in hopes that they can learn more about the curse.

Ten years later, as more tragedies begin to unfold, the Deschanel cousins come together in an effort to stop the curse once and for all. The story is told from the perspective of several cousins:

  • Nicolas Deschanel, 31, is brash, cocky, and cares about very little outside of his own personal pleasure. Yet he finds himself being sucked further into the family circles when something terrible and unexpected happens to someone very dear to him.
  • Ana Deschanel, 31, moved to Maine to try and escape her own personal demons, only to fall in love with two men- brothers- causing her further heartache. She is brought home when her cousins call an emergency meeting.
  • Colleen Claiborne, 31, is flighty, narrow-minded, and stubborn, and refuses to believe in her family’s fancies, even after a series of secret miscarriages. After she finally becomes pregnant again, she is proud and defiant, unwilling to believe anything can go wrong.
  • Amelia Donnelly, 30, is strong, confident, and kind, and is known as being the cousin who will one day take the role as family matriarch, just as her mother had. She as found a man that understands and accepts her and her refusal to have children, amidst fears of losing everyone she loves to the family curse, but she finds herself a victim of it after an unexpected panic attack leaves her on the brink of death.
  • Alain Blanchard,  26, is shy and artistic, and has always struggled between his loyalty to his sister (Colleen) and mother and their skepticism, and his love for his cousins. When he forms an unlikely friendship with his cousin Katja, he discovers a kindred spirit in her but her ideas about how to break the curse might come at his own ruin.
  • Tristan Sullivan, 21, is no stranger to tragedy, having lost his younger sister to suicide years before, and having seen the curse literally eat away at his mother’s sanity and peace of mind over the years. When she disappears without a word, he fears the worst.
  • Markus Gehring, 21, is a genius child of two brilliant scientists. He and his sister Katja have made a pledge to  heir parents never to have children, but Markus’ loneliness gets the better of him as he finds other, hedonistic ways of curing his solitude.
  • Katja Gehring, 19, is his sister and, while equally intelligent, views their family situation more pragmatically. She has spent her time secretly researching the nuances of the family curse, and when she stumbles upon an important clue that gives her a way to solve it, she brings a tragedy unto the family that is far worse…

The two additional cousins- Adrienne and Ashley- do not have POV chapters but I may add them later.

Tag other writers!

Fellow writers, your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to come up with a blog post that answers those ten questions about your current project. Post it sometime during the week of March 10th, link it back to me at some point in the post, and then tag up to five more writers.
I am tagging:

Katya Pavlopoulos

J. Elizabeth Hill

Nicole Bross

Katie King

Rather Than Writing

I picked these folks because I know they’re currently writing and I really enjoy all their posts about the joys of the writing process, so check them out!

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