“Next Big Thing” Interview

Oh man, I got tagged again. Eheheheh, now you get to hear me blether and blather, too! I wish I had a new project to discuss, but since I’ve been working on my novella for the past year, it would probably be cheating if I talked about my actual novel instead. So, here goes.

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What is the working title of your book?

Queen of the Eight Banners.  It’s currently a novella, but who knows, it may become a short novel by the end.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Here, I’ll just quote my last interview, rather than spend time rewriting it, since it’s a little complicated,

It all started when I was reading last year’s Hugo nominations. One of the stories made a passing reference to my chronic illness—Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—and made a snide comment about it resulting from not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my fruits and veggies and that CFS does NOT resemble scurvy. (As much as any of us would love to be a modern-day pirate…) CFS is triggered either by a virus that then disrupts the body to the point where it forgets how to reboot/recover OR by traumatic stress, sort of like PTSD. Yeah, big difference. So I decided to channel my offense into writing the illness correctly.
Also, I have had a lot of problems explaining to friends and family what CFS actually is, what limitations it puts on me, and what it’s like from the inside. One day my therapist challenged me to write a fiction story about it, since writing is the strongest communication tool I have left in my toolbox. I decided to take her up on her challenge. The problem was, how do you write about a character (not me) coping with an illness and still make it interesting?

Thus, Queen of the Eight Banners was born. Inspired by 17th Century Manchurian history, (right when the barbarian-Manchus from the north conquered “civilized” China), it’s about a young queen who loses her husband in the battle that conquers their ancestral enemies. Due to all the stresses that bring her to this moment, she falls ill in the very climax where she gains control of not just her own peoples but the newly-conquered Gui. So the story is about her fighting against her brother-in-law who aims to usurp her new authority and destroy the peace she’s created—and fighting within herself, learning that she can indeed accomplish everything she’s set out to accomplish, even in the face of insurmountable odds.

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical fantasy, perhaps?  Though this is a secondary-world fantasy, not set in our China/Manchuria/Mongolia.  So…history-inspired secondary world fantasy? Lol, what a mouthful.

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

I don’t know any Mongolian or Manchurian actors off the top of my head, but I’m sure I could sneak Zhang Ziyi in there somewhere.  Perhaps as the Gui Empress? *snorts*  Though if I do this Hollywood-style where nationality matching up doesn’t matter, I could always sneak Takeshi Kaneshiro in there as well.

What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book?

Yay, pitches. I’m horrible at these! Umm. “A newly-widowed queen must fight to maintain the peace her husband died to create.” How’s that? Suitably intriguing?

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

Definitely won’t be represented by an agency.  Agents don’t like novellas.  So it’s not an either/or.  There are magazines and small presses I could send it to, and I want to try that route first.  I am dirt poor, man.

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

Ehehehe. Still writing it. I got the seed of the idea in July 2011. I started knuckling down to flesh it out and write it in September 2011, and here it is October 2012 where I’ve only finished 22k and 3 parts out of (now) 5.  This is extremely pathetic if you compare my progress to other writers’.  It’s even pathetic if you compare it to how quickly I was writing my then-current novel.  However, starting from scratch is extremely hard for me while being chronically ill, and this story has been rather difficult just by itself, as well.  I’ve thrown out half of what I’ve written thusfar because it wasn’t taking me in the right direction.  I’ve also had to take several months’ break here and there along the way as other life issues come up.

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

No idea, really. The book is quite similar to an “alternate history”, because the events as they unfold actually happened (with some key differences, of course).  And yet I didn’t set it in this world at all, so it’s “secondary world.”  Another author I know who does this is Terry Pratchett with his Discworld series…but I wouldn’t compare this to that otherwise. *babble*

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

See the long quote above.

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

Well, let’s see! There are political rivalries and maneuverings, ghosts, awesome action sequences, a light seasoning of romance, the protagonist is a young mother, which doesn’t often happen in fiction….

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So, tagging other women! Let’s see. M. Williams, Kitan, Kate Blair, and Kristy Buzbee, if any of you happen to see this, you’re tagged! (Mwahahaha?)


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