The Next Big Thing: Ancient Historical Fiction and Paranormal Fantasy

“The Next Big Thing” is a blog hop, in which authors are answering ten questions about their newest, upcoming work — their “Next Big Thing”  — and then tagging five (or however many) other authors to do the same, creating a diverse network of authors sharing the love of books amongst each other and their reader friends.

Kevin Lucia, who is one of the nicest writers in the world, tagged Mike Duran (also a seriously cool guy), and Mike tagged me. Both their projects are pretty fascinating, and you can click on their names to find out about them. I’ll tag my nexties at the end of this post.

So, here we go: Ten questions….

1) What is the title of your next book/work?

There are two.

A) My current solo project has had about five title changes along the way, so let’s just call it “that crazy Fall of Troy obsession.”

B) The other one, I was privileged to co-write with award-winning author Marc Schooley. Its working title is An Audience of One.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work?

A) Y’all know this is a Christian theist blog, right? I’ll be direct, then: The question of biblical inerrancy in the beginning portions of the Bible, and its implications for what’s recorded there.

I’ve written before on questions like, “Does the Bible contain pagan myths?” and those posts are among my most consistent recurrent search hits. In that post, I wrote, “an alternate question which deserves asking is, Why does ancient myth reflect so much of the Bible’s earliest chapters?

That’s what really interests me. What would it be like to live in a world full of those ancient intersections? Troy is not on the other side of the planet from Israel; they’re on the same land mass. And there are several connections between European legends and the Fall of Troy.

B) How Audience happened: My writing partner was once caretaker of an infamous murder mansion in Texas. Write what you know, and all.

3) What genre does your book/work fall under?

A) The crazy Troy thing is ancient historical, and

B) The storyworld of Audience, as per Marc’s other concepts, is paranormal fantasy.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, dear mercy, let’s not. One of the sacred dissonances of reading is that each of us envisions the storyworld, the characters and their trappings differently. I hope that someday, you’ll make my worlds your own.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A) Can a conniving fugitive from King David’s court save the remnant people of fallen Troy from internecine war?

B) We haven’t written up an “elevator pitch” on this one. We will if a sales proposal calls for it, going forward. You can read an excerpt and summary here on Marc’s site.

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

These projects have generated some traditional publishing interest, so we’ll see how that goes.

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

A) When I first landed on the idea for the crazy Troy obsession in 2004, I was a fairly new writer. I did not have the chops to execute what was in my head. It’s been an on-again, off-again thing.

B) Audience took about six or seven months of actual writing, but we laid it aside over the summer. So, we began in late 2010, and signed the end in May 2012.

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

A) It’s along the lines of Tracy Higley’s Seven Wonders series. I’ve been inspired along the way by such diverse things as Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth’s Children series), Francine Rivers’s Mark of the Lion series, Julian May’s The Many-Coloured Land books…and numerous other historical speculations whose titles I no longer recall, but whose stories have left full-colour footprints buried in the sedimentary muck of my neurons.

clan of the cave bear by jean auelecho in the darkness by francine riversguardian of the flame by TL HigleyThe Many-Coloured Land by Julian May

B) Audience of One fits in the spectrum of Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Stephen King, and John Olson. A standalone, it exists in the same storyworld as Marc’s other books, all of which connect across diverse times and places.

KonigsFire-130rooms by james rubarthouse by frank perettishade by john olson

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Don’t think I’m getting weird on you, now: It’s always a dream.

Unlike most of the strange fog in my night world, which fades upon waking, I can still remember the first storydream, half my life ago. They’re always that vivid.

The crazy Troy obsession struck me before I knew anything about its world. All I knew was, there was a desolate stone bridge on a deserted ancient road through waste places, and three young people — twin brothers and a girl cousin — who’d been constantly pursued and nearly killed. Their luck had finally run out. On the bridge, they were caught by a powerful warrior from an enemy tribe, and either they had to let him take the girl or they were all dead.

I woke up halfway between here and there, with the black trees still scraping a grey sky, and her despair and desperation still in my heart. She was alone in a completely hostile world — even the people who loved her most, couldn’t help her. Of course, I had to find out what happened to her.

For many intervening years, there were no storydreams at all. Marc pitched me Audience and I turned him down, because the main character was so raw and emotionally desperate that I struggled with the idea of getting into her skin.

But shortly after that, a storydream came. Not just any one: this story, Marc’s story. I saw a child, sitting by the Texas seashore (which I had never seen at that time, but it turned out to be right). And a tree for shade, and the dark blue sky, troubled like the steam from a teakettle. The child was waiting for Marc’s main character.

I wrote the scene and sent it to him, and he said absolutely, yes, that’s it. And off we went.

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

My main character, Heremod, is a thug descended from the Trojans, living 200 years after the Fall of Troy. His ancestor, a grandson of Priam King of Troy, escaped and built a powerful citadel at the strategic point where the Golden Horn and the Bosporus connect to the Marmara Sea. That would be present-day Istanbul, in a part of Europe once known as Thrace.

Because everyone wants to kill Heremod and take the citadel of Trora for themselves, the only person he can trust is a slave his father bought off the Phoenician traders, an Israelite who was captured during his flight from King David’s ruptured court.

If you’re a Beowulf fan, you know Heremod was a villain mentioned in the saga. There are actually two Heremods in the histories, and mine is the earlier one. But he’s just as ruthless.

And for Audience, I encourage you to click here and read that excerpt.

Alright, that’s it for now. To continue the book hop, I tag:

Grace Bridges, the owner of Splashdown Books.

P.A. Baines, who has another excellent literary sci-fi coming out from Splashdown soon. Watch for Alpha Redemption.

They’ll post next Wednesday, or leave a comment here telling you their posting date. As for the other three tags…I’m embroiled in both editing and writing right now, as are several of my writer friends, so this will have to do.

~Scienda

10 comments

  1. Ancient astrological charts intrigue me for the same reason (myths that fit the Bible). Either the Bible is just another star-based religion, or the stars have always declared the glory of God’s story. Obviously, I go wtih the latter.

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