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The Next Big Thing

There’s this internet thing going around where an author asks five other authors to answer a series of questions regarding their next work. I was asked by both Orrin Grey, author of the collection Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings AND S.G.Browne, author of Breathers, Fated, Lucky Bastard, and I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus. Both wonderful authors and both authors with last names that are colors. The midtone brothers, I think of them.

That means I have to tag a whole bunch of people. But first, the next big thing questions.

The Next Big Thing: The Twelve-Fingered Boy

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Couple of places, actually. One of my old friends used to deal candy during junior high and had an antagonistic relationship with the vice-principal of our school, Pulaski Heights Junior High. They played a game of cat and mouse, really, involving multiple lockers and various stashes around the building. It was an easy shift to make the junior high a prison.

I first became aware of polydactylism through a wonderful book called The Whisper of the River, a southern coming of age novel by Ferrol Sams. In it, a character has a stunted, supernumerary sixth finger that prevents him from joining the Army during WWII. So he ties a string around it, tight, and leaves it there until it “draps off.”

At some point, I stored polydactylism in the back of my brain – I read The Whisper of the River in the early 90s – and dusted it off for my story about superpowers.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a young adult novel with dark overtones. And superpowers. So, you could call it science fiction or young adult.


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

Um, I haven’t really thought about it. Because it’s a young adult novel and the characters are thirteen and fifteen, any child actor I name now will be grown in the years it takes to make a movie. And I couldn’t tell you any child actors off the top of my head. Shia LaBeef? Brad Renfro? Hell, I don’t know.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Shreve thinks he’s got juvie figured out until the warden saddles him with a strange, haunted boy who happens to have twelve fingers and just might possess super-powers.

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

The Twelve-Fingered Boy will be published in February 2013 by Carolrhoda Lab, a young adult imprint of Lerner Books. My editor, Andrew Karre, is freakin’ awesome. Book number two in the series, currently titled The Shibboleth, will be released in February of 2014. And one year later in 2015, the last novel of the series, The End of All Things.

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

It took me four months to write the first draft. Sixty thousand words. But that was back before I had any publications or an agent so, consequently, I wasn’t taking myself as seriously as I am now. There’s nothing more sobering than knowing that the words you write will someday be published, scrutinized, and then reviewed.

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

Steven Gould’s wonderful novel Jumper comes to mind.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My dad gave me the initial idea. My pops is kinda different. He’s grumpy (the kids call him Grumps instead of Gramps) and he’s gruff, and at 72 years old, he still loves YA books. Harry Potter, The Last Apprentice, The Graveyard Book. And he’s always coming up with ideas for novels. So a conversation with him goes like this:

DAD: You know what would make one helluva book?
ME: What?
DAD: The president has his own personal vampire. It’s like a strike force. The president sends it out and it just fucks up everyone  who gets in its way because its a vampire, see?
ME: I think that’s been done already. Actually, I’m sure of it. Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth.
DAD: Well, shit. Now you know what to get me for Christmas. I got another one.
ME: Hit me.
DAD: ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓[REDACTED]▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓
ME: That’s a great idea!
DAD: Okay, if you liked that one, here’s another. Kid’s got this power, see. It’s very simple. He’s able to push stuff away from himself.
ME: That’s it?
DAD: What do you mean, that’s it? Think about how big that power could get!

And so I did. And so I wrote.

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

It’s dark and written half like a prison escape novel and half like a thriller. Did I mention the twelve fingers and superpowers?

My Fellow Tagees – From Scott Browne

Mario Acevedo, author of The Nyphos of Rocky Flats
Steve Hockensmith, author of the Holmes on the Range series of mysteries and other works
Scott Kenemore, author of Zombie, Ohio

My Fellow Tagees – From Orrin Grey

Molly Tanzer, author of the wonderful collection A Pretty Mouth


I’m supposed to tag other people to do The Next Big thing. However, I’m a little late to the party and if there’s an author out there that hasn’t already done it, I don’t know her. So, I’m just gonna call some mofos out and hopefully they haven’t done it. Let Google Alerts do all the hard work for me.

Adam Christopher, author of the fantastic Empire State
Dan O’Shea, author of Penance and Old School
Ed Kurtz, author of Bleed and Control
Weston Ochse, author of Seal Team 666

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