And now it's time to discuss my Next Big Thing. This is part of a blog series focusing on authors' newest projects. I was invited by Stacy Juba, and you can learn about her new project here. In my case, November is the most appropriate month to do this post, since I am a regular participant in NaNoWriMo. Don't worry, it'll get edited before it's ever submitted to a publisher or beta readers.
What is the working title of your book?
Murder on the Mullet Express.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Gwen Mayo and I have written some short stories together about the adventures of two retired WWI nurses, Cornelia Pettijohn and Theodora "Teddy" Lawless. This is our first novel with these characters. The book also features Professor Pettijohn, Cornelia's uncle. He is a retired engineering professor, inventor, and gadget enthusiast.
What genre does your book fall under?
Historical mystery with a strong dash of comedy.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Margaret Rutherford and Betty White. Sadly, Rutherford is no longer with us. Elaine Stritch is a possibility. Professor Pettijohn... Ed Asner or Richard Attenborough. Someone sharp who played Santa Claus.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Three geezers go to Florida to find a winter home and get tangled in a murder plot when they take The Mullet Express.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Our first novels didn't fit either of these categories. Not sure what will happen with this tale, but I'm open-minded.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
(Maniacal laughter) I don't do drafts, I do timeline revisions. I save the previous documents as incomplete alternate histories. Once I have a complete timeline, I fix errors.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Some of the Victoria Trumbull books by Cynthia Riggs might make a good comparison, especially Shooting Star.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My great-great aunt was a nurse who served in WWI, and suffered lung damage from mustard gas. She never married, belonged to the DAR, and traveled round the country to meet the cousins she discovered in her genealogical research. She was an active birdwatcher and, according to everything I've ever heard, stubborn as hell. I've drawn from these aspects for the characters of Cornelia and Teddy.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There have been very few fiction works published about Homosassa Springs. I know, because I've looked. We also take advantage of some other underrepresented items: Florida's land boom (and bust) along the Gulf Coast, and organized crime in the Tampa Bay area. You hear a lot about Al Capone in Miami during the 30s, but Charlie Wall was a major figure in Tampa during the 20s.
The nurses in our story are also a couple. Readers looking for LBGT characters, especially senior ones, might find the characters interesting.
Now tagging Next Big Thing entries for: