My answers to the Next Big Thing questions are below the cut. And then I tag three people instead of five, because I’m lazy.
Though my newest project is the tentatively titled Clakkers trilogy, as I mentioned recently, I’m going to talk about my other projects, the ones that are headed for publication in 2013.
What is the working title of your next book?
Well, I’m going to cheat a little bit, because I have two books coming out in 2013. The first is Necessary Evil, which is the third and final book of the Milkweed Triptych. That’ll be out in April. The second is Something More Than Night, which is a standalone novel currently scheduled for late 2013.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Necessary Evil is the final third of the story that began with Bitter Seeds. So the idea that generated Necessary Evil was really the idea that generated its preceding novels, Bitter Seeds and The Coldest War. I’ve already talked about that in several previous interviews, such as here, here, and here. We also discuss it a bit in the extra material included with the Orbit edition of Bitter Seeds, and that interview can be found here.
Something More Than Night started, long long ago, as the notion that it might be fun to write a novel set in Heaven. Later, it became a murder mystery in Heaven, and later still, a noir-inspired murder mystery in Heaven. The seed idea, the original inkling of a Heaven novel, came to me long before the idea for the Milkweed books. But it had to percolate at the back of my mind all through the writing of those novels.
What genre does your book fall under?
Necessary Evil has elements of science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history. Something More Than Night is a fantasy mystery wrapped in the trappings of noir fiction.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Ha. If only I were so lucky to have this problem. But as long as we’re fantasizing…
For the Milkweed books, my dream casting for Marsh would be Daniel Craig circa Casino Royale. My dream Will would be either Jude Law or David Tennant. My dream Gretel would be either Claire Foy or Claudia Black. But if I could have any actor at all in my imaginary movie, it would be Bill Nighy. He’d be fantastic either as Stephenson or von Westarp.
As for Something More Than Night, hmmm. I haven’t thought about casting this one. Our two protagonists are Molly and Bayliss… I think Karen Gillan would do the character of Molly great justice. So could Carey Mulligan, who is awesome in everything. (Why do I keep casting people from Doctor Who? I need to get out more.) Hilary Swank would be amazing, too. As for Bayliss, well, as long as we’re fantasizing, why not Bogie himself? Or William Powell from the Thin Man movies?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“Necessary Evil is the sequel to The Coldest War.” How’s that? No? Oh, okay. How about this: “The history of the Twentieth Century has been shaped by a secret conflict between technology and magic, a shadowy war manipulated by the sociopathic seer, Gretel — and now her long plan, decades in the making, has come to fruition…”
“Something More Than Night is a Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler-inspired murder mystery set in Heaven: a noir detective story starring fallen angels, the heavenly choir, nightclub stigmatics, a priest with a dirty secret, a femme fatale, and the Voice of God.” (OK, so I cheated with the colon. Oh well.)
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
No, these are not self-published! I am represented in the United States by Kay McCauley of the Pimlico Agency, and in the UK/Commonwealth and foreign translation by John Berlyne of the Zeno Agency. I am a very very lucky fellow.
Necessary Evil will be simultaneously published by Tor in the US and Orbit in the UK. Audible.com will produce an audiobook at a later date.
Something More Than Night will be published by Tor Books.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Both of these books took about a year to write, including the second draft. That’s much slower than some writers, but it’s a comfortable pace for me while juggling a day job. I feel I can turn out decent work at that rate.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, obviously I’d connect Necessary Evil with the preceding Milkweed books. People who enjoy these books might also enjoy the fantastic Laundry series by Charles Stross, or Tim Powers’s brilliant spy novel, Declare. I’m not comparing my writing to that of Stross or Powers (one of my favorite writers), but with these particular books we’re all playing in similar sandboxes.
I think Tad Williams has a gritty heaven novel out right now: The Dirty Streets of Heaven. I’m eager to read it, once I finish editorial revisions on Something More Than Night. I really enjoyed his Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn series, and have wanted to dive in to more of his work for a very long time.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Uh, I think we covered this earlier. I had “ideas” and I liked those ideas enough to write them down.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Every fifth copy of Necessary Evil will contain either a $100 bill or a £50 note.*
Every single copy of Something More Than Night will contain a free Plenary Indulgence.**
*This is a lie.
**So is this.
And now, the part where I tag other folks to participate.
For next week, December 12, I’ve roped in my friends Jamie Lee Moyer (@jamieleemoyer), Holly McDowell (@hollymcdowell), and Daryl Gregory (@darylwriterguy). They are all wonderful people and first-rate writers.