Anne Marie Pace, who is always up to something big, tagged me last week in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. The hop (not to be confused with Friday nights in the high school gym slowdancing to Comfortably Numb) celebrates what writers are working on or what they have coming up next. A fine idea, as none of us celebrate enough. AM answered these 10 questions on her blog last week. My answers follow.
1: What is the working title of your book? Canary in the Coal Mine, and it’s not just the working title; the book comes out next month! (I’m working on other stuff, too, of course, but this is probably the only thing I should be talking about in public.)
2: Where did the idea come from for the book? I got the idea after seeing a miner’s canary cage in the lobby of the Charleston, W.Va. Cultural Center a long time ago. It was a while before I started writing the story, thought, and even longer before it was good enough to show to anybody.
3: What genre does your book come under? Historical fiction, animal stories.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? We’re dealing with voice actors, as my main characters are critters. I’m always pretty awful at this, but I feel like Bitty would be voiced by Ron Howard, in the Opie era. I’d pick Sarah Silverman for Alice, not because the part is right for her; I just love Sarah Silverman. In the same vein: Seth Roggen for Chester. And Owen Wilson actually would make a great Clarence.
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A scrawny canary busts out of a West Virginia coal mine and tries to make things better for the friends he leaves behind.
6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? Published by Holiday House.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Four months for what you could technically call a draft. The first decent draft took years.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I just finished reading Malcolm at Midnight by W.H. Beck, so I will namecheck that fabulous book, along with The Cricket in Times Square.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? Trips to West Virginia and my love of reading animal stories as a kid. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was the first book I remember all of the kids on my street talking about. Every one of us read it, and we had a lot of kids on my street. The fictional town my story takes place in, Coalbank Hollow, is named after a mine that my stepdad’s grandfather owned until the early 1940s.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The hawk.