The Next Big Thing

December 15, 2012

My thanks to Susan Shea, brilliant mystery writer who tagged me for the “Next Big Thing” blog project.
Susan is the author of the Danielle O’Rourke series including Murder in the Abstract and her new book coming this spring, The King’s Jar. Susan and I worked with a wonderful group of talented writers in our Marin County writing group.

The “Next Best Thing” concept allows each writer in turn to answer the same list of questions for blog readers who may not know us. Readers are passed along by the person who invited us to participate. I’m grateful that Susan decided to select me as I’ve yet to become an “Author.” Soon, I hope.

Allison Landa has elected to join in the party, and I have some other friends to include later on. Allison was a star in the MFA program at St. Mary’s College. She will offer answers to these same questions and I can promise you wit, irreverence and an informative glimpse at a writer from behind the scenes.
So- here are the questions and my answers. Looking forward to reading my fellow writers’ entries.

What is the working title of your book?
For the first of my Tommy Finnegan mysteries: Shades of New York. It is currently being edited by Molly Woodward. The sequel is the almost completed Igorot. Another book, a stand-alone, is aching for a new moniker (currently Mendocino Coast) and Ramona DeFelice Long has already done a fabulous edit. Revision time! So much fun!!

Where did the idea come from for this book?

Mendocino morphed from a fly-fishing short story I work-shopped through Saint Mary’s MFA program. Somehow it flew from Montana to California, dropping the remains of the short story somewhere over Idaho. In Shades, Finnegan’s travails began as a revisit to my old Wall Street business.

What genre does your book fall under?
Shades of New York is a thriller/mystery- could never really discern much difference- while Mendocino Coast, although pegged in mystery genre could also be labeled with a Family Drama/Paranormal Tasting/Romantic Leaning/Mystery confluence.

How long did it take to write the first draft?
So many versions !! Shades and Mendocino (and the screenplay which became a finalist in a Hollywood contest) probably came into being about seven years ago. Igorot is three years so far in the making.

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?
Okay- so I actually thought of that! I am a huge Ed Harris fan- I believe he is grossly underrated as both an actor and a producer/director. And he’s from Jersey, played football (maybe he is a NY Giants fan as I have been for centuries) and he also moved to California. We’re practically neighbors! He would be my William Butler from Mendocino– sure to win an Oscar. Back-up plan would use Tommy Lee Jones- he is also fabulous.
As for the Finnegan stories, I could see Patrick Dempsey, Will Smith, David Boreanaz, or maybe Clive Owen (I dub him as our current-day Richard Burton- brilliant) in the lead.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
Shades of New York: Tommy Finnegan, ex-cop, gets roped into Wall Street murder, crosses the local mob boss, and confronts an international assassin.
Igorot: Finnegan follows the trail of an improbable suicide, shady politics, and murder to the west coast where he finds love and friendship caught up in a mystery connected to the 18th century headhunters of the Luzon Province in the Philippines.
Mendocino Coast: A grisly murder rocks this quiet coastal town embroiling a dysfunctional family in drug dealing amid interfering ghosts of the past.

Will it be self-published or represented by an agency?
Good question. My wife says it’s about time to send everything out including my kids’ stories. There were over 200 plus rejections for Jack London, so she says I should expect 400 ! What message is that? I’ll start sending out to agents after I finish revisions, and also continue to research self- publishing. I happen to be working on the publication of a centennial book, so I am learning the ins-and-outs.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Shades of New York– all my friends and their weird stories from my old banking business.
Mendocino Coast– The loss of my three close friends after battling cancer, Mike, Timmy and JD.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Mendocino has tastes of a family drama, so I would think of John Casey’s Spartina, maybe Empire Falls or The Family Stone with a bit of Jo Nesbø’s tales thrown in.
Shades and Igorot: I read a lot of James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Patricia Cornwell, Cormac McCarthy among many others, so I suppose each has had an influence.

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

I believe that setting greatly influences life’s choices, so my plots/situational events and characters tend to roam around the globe. I hope to entertain while immersing a reader in another world, one that I hope they carry with them.


One Response to “The Next Big Thing”

  1. Thanks, John! Hope to see you soon! Happy holidays!

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