The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by my friend and fellow writer Annam Manthiram to take part in the Next Big Thing blog-chain, wherein authors talk about the projects they’re currently working on. I’ve actually started a buttload of new writing in the past few weeks, including but not limited to three short stories, a young adult novel/novella, my upcoming chapbook, and a long-gestating novel that I can only assume is going to be the next The Great Gatsby, except with poor people and timely jokes about movies from the late 1990s.

For the purposes of this post, though, I went with what I’ve worked on most recently: the third book in the Exponential Apocalypse series.

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

Exponential Apocalypse 3. It will eventually be something better than that. I’ll probably drop the “Exponential Apocalypse:” from the formal title, too, which, in hindsight, I should have done with Dead Presidents.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The first two books and NBC’s Revolution. I haven’t actually seen the show, because the commercials make it look awful and terrible and inaccurate (I know there’s no electricity, but why don’t cars work?! They run on batteries and internal combustion!) and I think they may have cast a department store mannequin in the lead role. Sure, Giancarlo Esposito’s on there, but there’s too much crap surrounding him for me to get excited about it. Anyway, my point is Revolution looks really, really bad and the sheer level of that badness got me thinking about the post-apocalyptic trope of “there’s no power so, oh well, everyone has to walk everywhere, instead of, you know, rebuilding the electrical infrastructure from scratch like our great-grandparents did in the 1920s” and I got mad and decided I was going to make fun of it in a book.

What genre does your book fall under?

Dystopian comedy.

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

Oh, man, my wife and I have daydreamed about this one forever. I will readily admit that my ideas toward casting change all the time and, with one or two exceptions, no character was written with a particular actor/real person in mind. I will also admit that I’m probably going to think about this way too hard. Let’s do it.

THOR: Thor was always the most fully-formed in my head. If I had to break it down, I’d say he’s a cross between the 1970s Marvel Comics’ version of Thor, Ash from the Evil Dead movies, and my brother. Actor-wise, it has to be someone who can go from goofy and dumb to intimidating at the drop of a hat and is in-shape without being “God damn” in-shape. I’ve settled on Jensen Ackles, from Supernatural, but the decision doesn’t feel as definite as some of the others.

CHESTER A. ARTHUR XVII: A good-looking, reimagined version of a U.S. president with both leadership qualities and ass-kicking skills? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Benjamin Walker, of Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter fame. While I don’t necessarily visualize Walker when I’m writing Charlie, he’s the closest approximation to what’s going on in my head.

QUEEN VICTORIA XXX: Vicky’s like Thor: fully-formed and hard to pin down the influences. She’s obviously pretty and tough, but she’s also snarky and has some rage-control problems. Ultimately, I think she might have to be some unknown, or, the more I think about it, Laila Ali, assuming she can act. But, for the sake of picking an established thespian, I’d say it’s a toss-up between Rosario Dawson and Gina Torres.

TIMMY THE SUPER-SQUIRREL: Timmy would obviously be CGI, but I think he’d be voiced by Jason Lee in full Mallrats mode.

MARK: Mark is probably the most nebulous character to me. I know his backstory and his attitude, but his physical looks are a blurry mystery. Ultimately, I’m casting Nathan Fillion, because everything is better with Nathan Fillion.

CATRINA: Catrina is largely based on a former coworker of mine because she walked into the office at the precise moment I was staring at the ceiling trying to come up with a coworker for Thor. In a movie, I think she’d be played by Liza Lapira.

ALI: Ali is, was, and always will be Danny Pudi.

BOUDICA IX: I imagine Boudica as kind of a fun, bouncy redhead, fully capable of switching to maniacally unstable at the drop of a dime. Now that I think about it, she’s essentially Harley Quinn from Batman: The Animated Series as played by, let’s say, Isla Fisher.

WILLIAM H. TAFT XLII: Loveable, heavyset, somewhat reluctant hero? Taft would be played by Jorge Garcia, a.k.a. Hurley on Lost.

DR. LEE ARAHAMI: This one’s kind of a given, assuming you watch Mythbusters. Lee Arahami is Grant Imahara. I wanted to just straight-up call him Grant Imahara, but I was afraid I might get sued or something.

*phew* And that’s just the returning characters. I may need to kill some people off.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After a global catastrophe, the electricity goes out everywhere so Thor and his merry band of misfits have to turn it back on because they are not lazy, idiotic, sword-fighting assholes like the characters on NBC’s Revolution.

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

We’ll find out when the book’s done. Probably something in between, i.e. a small press, a.k.a the community supplying the writers that seem to be the majority participating in the Next Big Thing. (Seriously, why were there only two very disparate options?)

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

We’ll find out when the first draft’s done. If it’s anything like the first two, somewhere between six months and two years.

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

I would compare it to the television show Revolution and promise that it will be a thousand times better because that show is bullshit. If it has to be a book, the second half of Ready Player One because I foresee some questing and teamwork and I really like that book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

You, the person reading this. If you hadn’t received the first two EA books so favorably, I might not have kept going.

OK, that’s a lie, I almost certainly would have, because I like writing and I like this universe, but it might not have happened so enthusiastically or quickly. Thank you all for not crushing my dreams.

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

In theory, EA3 and the following two books in the series will be interconnected plot-wise. I know that’s pretty ambitious, and I guarantee nothing, but the loose outline I have for the next three books does make it seem like events in one book will more directly tie to the others than has happened so far. We won’t know for sure until I actually write them.

So, there you go. That’s what I’m working on. Be sure to check out the blogs of Danger_Slater and Stephen Schwegler next week, as they continue The Next Big Thing. Sam Snoek-Brown is also continuing the chain, even though he actually answered the questions several hours before I did. I can only assume this is because he is a time-travelling warlock. Given his love of history and his ability to convey it on the page, I don’t think I’m wrong.

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