The Next Big Thing Project is an engaging undertaking where writers divulge their current book related news and suggest other writers to share theirs as well. You caught me taking a break from doing anything besides catching up on season three of Friday Night Lights, but apparently The Next Big Thing Project requires that I scheme up an idea for a book. FINE. I suppose I could cobble together all of my personal narrative into some sort of kooky anthology, but that doesn’t really sound like a challenge. I’ve only been writing seriously for about two years now, but they have been the most revelatory years of my life thus far. Through writing and performing stories I’ve be able to recognize the power of my point of view. When an audience member approached me after I told a story and told me that it made them think differently, I was instantly hooked on the medium. MAKING PEOPLE THINK IS AMAZING AND FUN. Of late I’ve been concentrating on ways to use my super powers for good instead of ego. I’m working on some ideas to help young people to find their voices the way I found mine.
1. What is your working title of your book?
Dark Star. Winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1953, CSN classic rock song circa 1977. Neither has much to do with the book, really, I just like the way it sounds.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was a camp counselor at Rain City Rock Camp in Seattle last summer, and I intend to do another week with Girls Rock! Chicago this year. I met lots of fantastic, smart, super together girls of privilege who appeared to be headed for bright futures. But the ones that really stuck with me were the ones who were constantly having trouble fitting in, that spoke of being bullied at school regularly, that often disrupted the camp activities with their need for attention. They wrote the majority of the song lyrics for the bands they were in, and their prose was dark and haunting and lovely. In them I saw the spirit of the next Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, Queen Latifah, Joan Jett, Tina Weymouth, Kim Gordon. I know my exposure to those music icons growing up taught me that women could be both strong and sexy, tough and vulnerable, sweet and sour. Most importantly, they were heard, valued, and respected. The girls at camp had immense potential to spin their pain into art, to embrace being angry girls with the guts to speak their minds. They just needed proper support and encouragement. I still struggle with the notion that it’s fantastic to be weird in my day to day existence, but when I see quirky young people, I go out of my way to cheer them on.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Is there a genre called Fictional Fantasy Life Do Over? I’m game to invent one, if not.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I want Alison Janney in it somehow. She brings sass, smarts, and sex appeal in the right percentages.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After discovering her creative talents, a middle aged broad helps a pissed off teen develop her inner rock star.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Don’t really care, whatever gets the job done. I have no dreams of becoming rich and famous. Quoting Lester Bangs, “The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.”
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I have to live it first! Whatever happens will certainly be more inspired than anything I could make up.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Catcher in the Rye meets Charlotte’s Web meets The Virgin Suicides, with a rock and roll edge.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Jill Howe, who tagged me on this project. She continually drags me kicking and screaming down the creative rabbit hole, which is why I need to forever keep her on staff.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Although I picture it as a tale of female empowerment, I would like it to be of interest to men as well. All of my male friends growing up had gender-blind reverence for women who had the chops, artistically…it was never considered “chick” rock. We listened to Patti Smith’s Easter as many times as we listened to Led Zeppelin II. I’d like to write the novel equivalent of Patti Smith’s Easter. Too ambitious? Okay, I’ll settle for writing the screenplay for an all female reimagining of Stripes, as long as I get to be Bill Murray.