The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged for "The Next Big Thing" by writer Andrea Jarrell, who wrote about her novel-in-progess, Coma Girl: The Late Great Blooming of Evelyn Dupree. It's about a woman who wakes from a coma after twenty years.  I can't wait to read it.  Check out Andrea's blog.

"The Next Big Thing" feels like a literary, bloggish chain letter thing to me.   I'm not sure what will happen if I don't participate, but I can't take any chances as I'm sending out my latest manuscript to agents. So I'll respond to the questions and tag the next batch of writers.

Really, it is an opportunity to write about the work I've been doing over the last year or so.  Here are the ten interview questions:

What is the working title of your book? 
Pennypack is named after Pennypack Park in Philadelphia.  Much of the novel centers around the main character Maria and her best friend Jo-Jo either going into the park or not going into the park.  It represent freedom.  Being your true self.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was in the middle of writing a novel for adults, when I started writing about Maria.  My kids were home for the summer.  I'd write a scene and then read it to them.  They enjoyed it and at times would even say, Mom, did you write today?  Why don't you go write for an hour?  Usually when they're home, I get nothing done.  It was nice to write something they could enjoy.  My first novel begins with a daughter helping her terminally ill mother commit suicide, which I haven't read to my children.  I don't necessarily need to have that conversation with my kids. . . yet.

What genre does your book fall under?
Pennypack is a middle grade novel set in 1976.  It deals with a time in which children roamed the neighborhood and the wilderness without supervision.  Parents trusted that they were safe.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  
I'll have to ask my kids this one.  But hey girl.  Ryan Gosling would be a great dad.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Maria's best friend Jo-Jo is moving away, and it's their last summer to have fun together, but things don't go as planned and before the summer's over there is a secret hideout, and an escaped convict and a "bee bomb."

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote it over the course of a year, but I've had the story in the back of my mind for a long time.  Now that final draft is done, I'm querying agents.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
After I started writing Pennypack, I read Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me.  I loved it.  It's set in a city (Manhattan) and in the 1970s.  Stead also captures that time and how kids were much more independent. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The story is based on my childhood growing up in Northeast Philadelphia in the 1970s.  It was a very different experience than what my children are having now.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
The girls build a secret hideout in the woods, but then are forbidden to go back to it after a prisoner escapes from the local prison.  Police suspect that he's in the woods.  They're stuck on the block and when an old man down the street says inappropriate things, they take revenge.  It's very much about girls being strong and trusting their instincts.

Now, the next writers in line.  Check out their blogs and check out their writing (you won't be disappointed):  Matt Debenham author of The Book of Right and Wrong a collection of short stories, Susan McCallum author of Slipping the Moorings, a collection of short stories, Joan Hanna, author of Threads a book of poetry coming November 27, JoeAnn Hart author of Addled and the soon-to-be released Float, Christine Weiser, author of Broad Street.

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