The Next Big Thing

A few weeks ago, friend Karin Davidson (most recently the winner of the Passages North Fiction prize and an Orlando Prize from A Room of Her Own Foundation), asked me to participate in The Next Big Thing, a series of self-interview questions that basically force you to face the project(s) you’ve been so keenly avoiding. At least, that’s why I jumped at the chance. Others use it to get the word out about their forthcoming work(s), which is a wonderful way to learn about writers not yet in the mainstream. Please check out Karin’s blog. Not only is she a wonderful writer, but you’ll find links to other wonderful writers as well. You won’t be disappointed.

Maybe my powers of persuasion are lacking or maybe it’s the holiday season, but though I’ve asked a few people to participate in The Next Big Thing, none has agreed yet to do it. So, I urge you to take part and let me know what you’re working on—whether it’s a novel, short story, children’s book, illustrations, etc. Whatever sort of creative endeavor you happen to be involved with, I’d like to hear about it. It’s just ten little questions. And you can pretend Charlie Rose is asking them. Maybe that’s just me.

Happy New Year to all.

The Next Big Thing Ten Interview Questions:

What is the working title of your book (or story)?

The Good Lie, though it’s taken me so long to write the thing that I believe there’s now a documentary about a similar topic that has the same name. So, back to the drawing board for me, though, as you’ll see below, I’ve never really left it.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

My husband and I had traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit my family and there was an article in the national paper’s sport’s section about a young baseball player. A major league team was waiting to sign the kid, who’d grown up in squalor, for millions of dollars but he couldn’t prove his citizenship. He’d been born in a Dominican sugarcane shantytown to Haitian migrant workers, neither the Dominican Republic nor Haiti recognized him as a citizen and so the boy was effectively stateless. He’d already lost one major league contract and ended up losing the second. It was a tragic story about a growing problem no one seemed to care much about.

 What genre does your book fall under?

I really dislike categorizing things, but I suppose the “powers that be” would call it literary fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would envision it as one of those movies with “no-name” actors—people you’ve never seen or have seen and not registered. The unseen person is what the story is about.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Dominican ex-pat Vivi Maestu is forced back to her birthplace to sell her dead father’s apartment and confront other personal ghosts, when she becomes involved in the affairs of a quiet sometimes doorman who questions her notion of home.

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

I cling to the traditional hope of representation—or, the hope of traditional representation.

How long did it take you to write a first draft of your manuscript?

This is the sort of question that would’ve sent me into a state of high anxiety a few years ago. Now, I can at least chuckle. I’ve been working on this novel for seven-and-a-half years. My process is so painfully chaotic that I may well have written six different drafts already and I know there are many more drafts in my future. I’m a very slow writer. That used to bother me but all those drafts have made me understand that I need to continue growing before I can fully see the story I want to tell. So, I suppose I’m still growing the story.

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

In terms of subject matter it could be associated with the works of Edwidge Danticat, Junot Díaz, and Julia Álvarez—all fellow Hispaniolans, if not all Dominican.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

So many things, of course. There was the aforementioned newspaper article, but also the famous Dominican poem, “There is a Country in the World,” which is Pedro Mir’s plea to and for the disenfranchised, had been tumbling in my head for years. My own immigration status played a huge role. When I started writing the book I was in the process of obtaining my Green Card. I was never stateless, but having moved to the States at age four, I was well acquainted with not having the legal right to belong in the place I considered home.

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

There’s baseball, there’s music, there’s a rooster. What’s there not to love?

To Participate:

Rules of the Next Big Thing

  1. Use this format for your post.
  2. Answer the ten questions about your current work in progress.
  3. Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can check them out. Be sure to line up your five people in advance. Include the link of who tagged you, as well as the explanation for the people you have tagged.
  4. Use the interview questions above.

2 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing

  1. Thanks so, Natalie, for sharing your novel-in-progress! I’m fascinated by your inspiration, your concern for those who are disenfranchised, your voice giving them voice. Nodding in your direction for the amazing and very important topic. And with understanding bows to the novel’s slow process, here’s hoping that we’ll see your book very soon!


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