Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing (Week 28)

I'm very grateful for being asked to participate in The Next Big Thing, which Jayne Denker is spreading across the blogosphere.

1- What is the working title of your book?

The latest is The Fall; we’re also launching the submission request for the next anthology, which has a working title of Summer Burn.

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

This time last year we were finishing up what became SpringFevers, the first anthology from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. We didn’t have a title for the collection yet. All we had was an organizing framework. Spring Fevers is a collection of relationship stories. But as we were coming up with Spring Fevers, our editorial team suggested that we do more anthologies and use the seasons as a connecting theme. From there sprouted The Fall, which as a title lent itself to sharing tales from the apocalypse. Of course, with the hoopla and concern about the Mayan calendar predicting a massive change in the world as we know it on December 21, 2012, we thought this would be the perfect year to do The Fall, so we hustled ourselves right into another project.

In a sense, Summer Burn will be somewhat of a mix of the previous two anthologies, in that we’ll focus on relationships that are by their very nature short-lived. The emphasis will be on the burn rather than the summer. One of the questions to be explored is whether a relationship is meant to last or not.

3- What genre does your book fall under?

It’s an anthology, and the stories in The Fall touch on a variety of genres. We have what might be considered “traditional” apocalyptic tales – stories of individuals and communities dealing with war or plague or some version of destruction and its aftermath – as well as atypical apocalyptic tales that share a sense of humor. I think readers will be pretty surprised to find a lot of laughs on the path to Armageddon. But to be more specific, you’ll find Young Adult, Steampunk, Romance, Fantasy, and some straight forward

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

Hmm, that’s actually difficult for me. I’ll try to answer for the story I wrote, “The Last Day of Fall,” which focuses on four people who decide they need to leave the relative safety of where they live after a devastating string of terrorist attacks left it a fallow field. I have images in my mind of who these people are, but I purposely left the physical details of the characters rather vague. I picture the main characters, Michael and Beth, to be in their mid-twenties. In my mind, he’s slim, dark-haired, probably still fights off the occasional pimple. She’s small and lithe with an athlete’s build. I suspect there’s any number of young up-and-coming actors who could fit those roles. I’d need to do a casting call and whip through their comp cards before setting up an audition.

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

The Fall is an exploration of the apocalypse, with glimpses of ancient prophecies, technological Armageddon, failures of government, a distracted deity, and yes, zombies sharing the moment with love, yearning, humor, and hope.

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

The Fall, like Spring Fevers, is published by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, which is the LLC I launched earlier this year. They both contain stories by agented authors as well as those who are still seeking representation. I do not have an agent currently, but I do intend to seek representation when my novel-in-progress is ready to submit. I value the control of independent publishing, but I also respect the advantages of traditional publishing.

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

The short answer is about six months. After the necessary prep work we did as a team, we launched a request for submissions back in April and made decisions on stories as we received them. The submission deadline was in August, but we’d already been editing the previously approved stories before then. We were scheduled to publish on October 29. If that date sounds ominously familiar, it’s because Hurricane Sandy swept through much of my home state of New Jersey that same day. 

I lost power in the midst of applying for the copyright online and had to delay publication a few days. Even as they expressed sympathy for my situation, everyone involved in the publication of The Fall found a certain level of irony that a collection of stories about the apocalypse was itself affected by a disaster of almost apocalyptic proportions. In the days immediately after the storm, I was able to do what I needed to publish  aided by the generator at the first aid squad where I’m a member.

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

This is a horrible thing to admit as publisher, but I’ve not fully compiled that comparison. I think it’s a small field because it’s not very lucrative. Instead, I’m competing against the enormous number of inexpensively produced independent publications, so spreading the word has been critical. Indeed, that’s really what we’re trying to do overall in Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. My goal with these anthologies is to help build awareness for each of these authors. Ultimately, when the first of these writers attracts broader attention with their debut novels, their new fans will look for their earlier works. We’ll be here and good readers will continue to be exposed to the family of writers in the Elephant’s Bookshelf Press catalogue. Personally, I love the idea that my little company could help readers discover not only the early works of authors they know from novels they love but also other talented authors who might not yet have a publishing deal.

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

The first anthology, Spring Fevers, arose from an email conversation between writer Cat Woods and me. I’d been thinking of exploring independent publishing and an anthology seemed like a good way to get started. I decided to be a bit more entrepreneurial with the project and created a publishing company. The goal of Elephant’s Bookshelf Press is to help emerging authors establish themselves. We’ve published the first stories of writers I think will eventually be able to make a fine career out of their writing. We also have stories by several agented writers whose debut novels are scheduled to be released within the next year or two.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The final story in The Fall is one that readers will either love or hate. It’s called “The Last Sacrifice,” and it’s written by a South African writer. It’s a disturbing tale that depicts a tribal high priest whose faith to his gods is total, despite a series of disappointments when the gods seem to disapprove of the sacrifices that have been made. I think readers are going to either love or hate that one. There won’t be much middle ground. It’s very intense.

Tagged for next week (Week 29) are some of my very talented writer friends. Check out their blogs next Wednesday, December 19, when it's their turn to post answers to these same questions about their own works-in-progress!

Ryan Graudin (Ryan Writes)


Jemi Fraser said...

That a great look at the background of the anthology! I played around with a couple of shorts, but didn't submit because I wasn't happy with them. Maybe next time!

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks, Jemi!

gcsalamon said...


I had no idea you were such a busy person! The book sounds great and I definitely plan to check it out.


Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks, Gina! I hope you like it. And yeah, busy would be my middle name if I had time to file the paperwork.