One More Entry in The Next Big Thing
In my critique group, my friend, Grace M., is writing a fantasy YA novel currently titled, To Take A Breath. Last Wednesday, when I did the game, I tagged the members of my critique group and told them how great the exercise was for learning how to talk about your novel and market it. Grace doesn’t have a blog of her own, but she was willing to let me share her WIP with you! Grace is the youngest member of our critique group–I won’t say how young–and I’m the oldest–I won’t say how old! But thanks, Grace, and here we go:
What is the working title of your book?
To Take a Breath
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I must admit I actually didn’t come up with the original concept. My friend came up with the original concept of “taking someone’s breath.” The thought inspired me greatly, and so she eventually allowed me to adopt the idea, to expand on it, and make it crazy, considering she isn’t much of a writer and wasn’t going to use the idea. I owe this all to her. She is sooooo going on my dedications page and in my acknowledgments if the book were ever to be published.
What genre does your book fall under?
Honestly I have no idea. It falls somewhere under the YA fantasy genre, and it is definitely dark. As for subgenres, I had an agent tell me to pitch it as “underwater steampunk,” and I tried marketing it as “fantasy dystopian,” but apparently, no such genre actually exists. So I’m just calling it a dark YA fantasy for now.
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh wow. This is tough. I never try to match faces of actors to my characters. To me, my characters are people all their own, and to match faces of people who actually exist to my characters seems wrong somehow. In my head, it is extremely hard to pick people to portray my characters when in my mind I feel like my characters are their own people. Sorry, I really can’t answer that.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A boy named Alistair and his little sister Skylar are dragged to the depths of the ocean after a late night swim gone awry, where they find a strange city whose inhabitants murder and Take the Breath of Surface Dwellers to fuel their dwindling air source.
Will your novel be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m actually agent-hunting right now. I prefer to try sticking with the traditional route of publishing. As for agencies/publishers– I’m not too picky. I’m just looking for someone who loves my book as much as I do and wants to help me make it shine.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A month. My manuscript started out as a novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and I finished writing what could loosely be called as the “first draft” in a month. Then, I sent it through my lovely critique group (which took nearly a year), added 30,000 words to it all, and now I am still shaping it and molding it. It still has work that needs to be done, but at least we’ve gotten all of the big issues out of the way.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A mixture of Unwind by Niel Shusterman and a darker version of Ingo by Helen Dunmore.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always had a very strong stance on respecting life. I also love thrillers and action-packed books with complex and flawed characters. These two things combined helped me to tell this story. While keeping the book suspenseful and full of action, I tried to interweave the themes of choosing life in the face of death, the corruption of power, and the consequences of violence. I hope I was able to achieve that.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
An underwater city full of flying boats, forbidden rose gardens, a Victorian-style clock tower, and creepy gargoyles. A plot full of unrequited love, the importance of family, chase scenes, knife throwing, lightning under the ocean, games of chess, prison breaks, death, crazy fishermen, and even a little bit of kissing.
Thank you, Grace, for telling us all about your novel. Ladies and gentlemen, I have read the whole thing, and she has created an unbelievable world and a spooky plot. When this book gets published, this will be one you WON’T want to miss!