Brian over at Descent Into Slushland tagged me in The Next Big Thing blog chain post. (I know, sounds a bit egotistical, but I didn’t name it.) The idea is that you answer a few questions about your book. Like Brian I’m entering a contest called Pitch Wars. For those unfamiliar with this contest, aspiring writers with a finished manuscript can submit their work to mentors comprised of industry professionals the contest calls coaches. These coaches will help the writers prepare the first 250 words of their manuscript and a 3-sentence pitch to submit to agents who, if they like what they see, may request more. If anything is deserving of a the gold bomb diggety of pure awesomeness, it’s these people. So thank you Pitch Wars Patriots! Now onto to the novel.
What is the working title of your book?
My novel is called SHADE.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
To be honest, I typically have crazy and awesome dreams nightly, and in SHADE’s case I dreamt a whole scene about my protagonist. I saw him and his dog in full detail. Thieves were trying to ransack his home. The dream left me with two questions: Why would thieves be breaking into his home and why was he dressed so strangely? Since, as Robert McKee says, logic is retroactive with storytelling, I set out to answer these questions. Oddly enough, this scene that inspired the whole thing is no longer in the most recent draft of SHADE. Stories evolve and change and sometimes scenes that worked before need chopping. It was hard to let it go, but making a better story was more important.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My main character begins his story nameless due to his strange upbringing, but when he leaves home he gains the name Logan. He’s a 15-year-old part-demon with the power to summon shadow demons as well as pull bone swords from his body. His whole life he was raised to be cold and emotionless, but out in the real world he discovers friendship, love and identity. I chose Avan Jogia to play Logan, mostly because he looks the part, but he also seems to be able to communicate emotion with his eyes. For a kid who has to mask everything he’s feeling, that seemed vital in a movie rendition.
Because his parents wanted him nameless, they also kept their home name-free. He only knows his parents as Father and Mother—or the King and Queen. His father is the one he looks to for stability. He’s the easiest to please and the one Logan wants to be like. The king is the only reason he goes along with his restrictive upbringing— mostly because when Logan was young he let his emotions get out of control and because of that nearly killed his father.
The queen is the one who insists he become cold and emotionless. She is ruthless when it comes to their servants, whom she believes are inferior to their family. Logan finds her cruelty repulsive, but because his emotions seem to send his powers spiraling out of control he tries to be what she wants for his father’s sake. But he’s been putting up with it all his life and it’s definitely at the breaking point. For the king someone suggested Michael Fassbender and I think that works. For the queen, I really like Deepika Padukone. She’s got fantastic eyes and I think she could pull off the manipulative villainess role well.
Out in the real world, Logan first meets Yenu, a giant of a man with a big heart. Yenu rescues Logan from slave traders and takes him back to a village in the trees where he learns about the world in safety for a short while. Yenu is more the quiet, thoughtful type, but extremely loyal to those he calls friends. Although he’s an integral part of the village, he’s a bit of a loner. He spends every free moment he has rescuing children from slave traders and takes them home to any remaining family. He takes on a big brotherly sort of role with Logan. For Yenu I chose actor Sean Blakemore, mostly because of his performance as Grayson Barasa on Bones.
While in the village, Vera takes Logan under her wing and teaches him about village life. She’s a 16-year-old who had to grow up fast which makes her a bit of a know-it-all. Vera is the type to put on a big tough girl show to hide how vulnerable she feels underneath. Because she and her father lost everything to thieves (including members of their family) she feels a connection to Logan immediately. She’s his guide to emotions, and convinces him to learns to control them rather than suppress them. She’s a Rosetta stone for him when it comes to his life, enabling him to see things for what they are, especially when it comes to choosing between his human side or his demon side. For Vera I chose Emma Roberts, because I wanted someone who could pull off that tough girl attitude, yet at the same time show us her vulnerable side.
Balfour is Vera’s father and leader of the tree village. Before the tree village he was a successful merchant, and has business smarts which make him a natural leader. Vera is all he has left in the world, and he’s determined to protect her at any cost. Her safety overrides even loyalties to long time friends. For a time he takes on a fatherly role for Logan—until strange things start happening with Logan. Knowing love is blossoming between his daughter and Logan, he tries to step in and stamp it out. Unfortunately, he raised an independent daughter who won’t let anyone tell her what to do, including her father. For Balfour I chose actor John Hamm.
One more and then I’ll call it quits. Also in the village is Iris, single mom of four children, who feels mothering everyone is her first and foremost duty—especially those who let her. Logan helps out her son and she intends to return the favor, ending up treating him like her fifth child. Though she can sometimes be a bit overbearing, she becomes the real life example of what a mother is supposed to be for Logan. Like Vera, she also helps him see how restrictive and in some cases abusive the environment he came from is. Iris would be the first among all the villagers to accept Logan for what he is. She judges people based on their actions and not their backgrounds. For Iris I chose Jennifer Connelly.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Okay, not exactly one-sentence, but it’s 50 words:
Forced to murder his father, a part-demon prince flees home and heritage to find a new life. But when a human girl steals his heart, his demons threaten to leave her world a bloody, barren wasteland. Now, the only way to stop them is to embrace his heritage after all.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m open to both, though I lean heavily toward representation. Having attended a few writers’ conferences, I value the experience an agent brings to the table. This is their business. They have connections I can only dream of and they understand better the pitfalls of the industry. I’m certain I could find success with SHADE going self-pub but I’d rather combine my efforts with an expert. Plus I look at agents as mentors who help you keep your novels honest—if you find one that works for you.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About a year. I had another novel I’d completed, a YA fantasy, that I was querying out. I received one request for more material, which the agent ended up passing on, but it made me decide to try the new story bouncing around in my head and thus SHADE was born.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a tough one. I haven’t found one that exactly fits what I’ve created. It’s similar to Graceling in that both protagonists seek freedom from a restrictive environment and both have dangerous powers. This other novel called Return to Exile has a similar story feel, as there’s all these secrets both protagonists uncover and they discover the world isn’t exactly what they thought it was—but Return is contemporary, mine’s secondary world.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I don’t know that any one thing inspired me to write this book in particular. Let me back up. I wrote my first novel when I was 14 years old and I’ve probably written a dozen or more since. What first inspired me was a junior high teacher who noticed my short stories were never really short. She said, “So why don’t you just write a novel?” It’s odd how sometimes we don’t think of doing things that probably should have been obvious at the time until someone suggests it. So I did. I think that first one was a novella of probably 100 pages. The next full novel was 262 (we’re talking double-spaced, Courier font). Since then I’ve had lots of practice and I’m most proud of SHADE and where I’ve taken it. I’m hoping a Pitch Wars mentor will help me take it to even greater heights.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Logan has a demon dog pet who can grow large in a fight, heal any of Logan’s wounds, and teleport them both to wherever they need to go. I did a scribble version of him for an earlier post. If I were going to name a breed of dog he would be closest to resembling, I’d probably say a Shoodle.
Logan also has to learn control of his power to keep himself safe from those in his family determined to turn him fully to his demon side. This won’t be an easy task and comes with some serious consequences. He also learns exactly what shadow demons are and why they’re more dangerous to him than his demon family.
I plan to make this a series, where we uncover more about Logan’s demon roots and why he came to exist in the first place. It’s more nefarious than he could ever imagine, but first he’s got to hold onto his identity and his friends.
Tag! They’re it!
In blog chain tradition, we’re to name other people to do the same as we’ve done. I realize some of you may not be quite finished with your novels, but I think a post like this can still be helpful in the beginning stages. So I name Alexandrina, Phillip, and Ryan. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer these 10 questions. Besides, I’d love to know more about what you’re working on.
Thanks again to Brian for tagging me and motivating me to get this post out. Brian and I have been pushing each other to get published for months now. I hope we both gain coaches that take our novels to higher levels. Cheers, Brian!