Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing in Horror with Heart

There's an author blog hop called The Next Big Thing that's bouncing happily around the blogosphere lately. To participate, authors answer ten questions about the story they're working on and tag other authors to do the same. Talented and diverse author Nancy Holzner tagged me as well as answered questions about the next installment in her popular urban fantasy series, Deadtown. If you're already a fan of Deadtown or are curious about a really well done urban fantasy series, I encourage you to head over to Nancy's The Next Big Thing blog post to see what's coming next.

Now it's my turn to tag some authors and encourage them to share information about their next big thing. I picked three. All three are authors with works I've read and highly recommend, and all of them have another story or novel in the making. 1) Greg Lilly (website / blog) is one of my favorite mystery writers. He's the author of the Derek Mason Mystery Series, Fingering the Family Jewels and Scalping the Red Rocks, plus the novels Devil's Bridge and Under a Copper Moon; 2) Catherine Cavendish (webpage) is a writer of excellent dark fiction and paranormal horror; and 3) Amaleen Ison (webpage) writes young adult fantasy stories that meander into a variety of sub-genres (tip: adults enjoy Amaleen's stories too). These fine authors will post their The Next Big Thing blog posts on November 28th.

If you've followed this blog very long at all, you probably know something about my current Horror with Heart offerings, but just in case...

As far as a work in progress to discuss here, I have two to pick from. One is still in first draft mode, and I don't want to jinx it, so my decision was easy. I'll answer the ten The Next Big Thing questions about my novel Daeva, which is scheduled to be released in June 2014 by Aqueous Books.

What is the working title of your book?

Daeva (formerly Mind Shadow; formerly Imagination)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My original idea was to write about a boy who forced himself to never, ever use his imagination. I planned to show the effects that this rigid and unusual self discipline would have on him as he matured into an adult. To motivate this strange behavior, I stuck a powerful and manipulative demon inside the boy's mind. The demon gains some control over the boy, Chris, every time Chris uses his imagination. His only defense is to suppress his imagination, so Chris strictly controls his thoughts and never allows them to wander.

That was the seed for this novel. Once planted in my dangerously fertile mind, it grew quickly into a much larger and more menacing story, and it continued gaining complexity as I wrote. The original concept of growing up not using your imagination still exists in the novel, but now it's a small piece of a much larger story. Still, I'm grateful I acted on the original idea because it's what got me going.

What genre does your book fall under?

Psychological thriller is probably the best fit. Paranormal thriller or literary horror also work.

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

Hmm. I don't keep up with the current crop of young actors, and this novel's main characters spend most of their time in the 18 - 21 year-old range. I'll cheat and take years off actors I know.

  • Sharon with her inner beauty and strength might be well played by a young Kathy Bates. 
  • Chris would need an intently-focused, intelligent, athletic type, like a young Matt Damon (or Jake Gyllenhaal?). 
  • The nerdy, insecure Rick character could be played very well by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 
  • Rothsirge, the daeva, has no physical self, but he definitely has a voice--deep, confident, and soothing, yet capable of conveying a booming evil. I gotta go with Kelsey Grammer doing Rothsirge's voice.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sharon Linden tries to stop an ancient demon from dominating mankind and ends up the key to its success; her death will either empower the demon or destroy it.

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

I'm very pleased that Daeva is under contract with Aqueous Books, scheduled for release in June 2014.

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

First draft was quick for me, about four months. The hard work came in edits and all my self-imposed rewrites. I don't even like to think about how much time over the years I spent working on it, but I couldn't give up on this novel, and I'm glad I hung in there.

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

I'm never good at this question. Daeva is psychological, intricate, character-intensive, and it spans generations. And there's a demon driving the action. Maybe it's a little similar to the paranormal thriller The Passage by Justin Cronin, which also spans generations, has a strong paranormal element driving the action, and pays much attention to developing the characters and making them react to a supernatural threat. But there are many differences too. See, I'm just not good with this question, but there's my attempt at an answer.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My desire to show characters changing over time as they dealt with an unusual threat inspired me to write this one. Chris changes because he carries the demon in his mind, but Rothsirge also spent 50 determined years in Chris's grandmother's mind, and I enjoyed presenting those character changes too. Chris's sister never carried the demon in her mind, but Rothsirge altered her life because he impacted her family and threatened her beloved brother. And Rick was a childhood bully who felt Rothsirge's wrath, and his life was forever changed by the experience. With all of these characters, I show them first as children, then as adults who were at least partially molded by the demon's influence.

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

The psychological aspects of the novel add interest. Rothsirge the daeva can't act for himself, and he has all this supernatural power, but he can't use it. Only his hosts can. Rothsirge sounds helpless, but he's not. He dangles the power he can offer in front of his hosts like a carrot to steer them. He knows his hosts' every thought and desire, even feelings the host may not want to own up to, and this intimate knowledge helps Rothsirge become a master manipulator. Being immortal, he has plenty of time to wear down his hosts, so he can gently shape their personalities and trick them to become what he needs them to be. As long as he's crafty and patient -- which he certainly is -- he's not helpless at all.

Then there's another big psychological angle that picks up around the mid-point of the novel involving Sharon and the men who love her. I hinted at that aspect in my one-sentence synopsis above, and it's one of the psychological angles that grabs hold of a reader's interest. At least it grabs mine. I hope readers will agree.


  1. Daeva is an awesome book that I loved! Now I get to have my very own copy soon!

    Great to see you participating, Keith. I did TNBT last month and get to do it again next month.

    Congratulations on Daeva being released, Keith. Honestly, I'm gonna need more book shelves!

  2. Daeva (back when it was Imagination) achieved status as a good omen when it introduced us, Joylene. I'll always remember your extremely helpful and enthusiastic kindness as you became my first writing critique partner.
    You have some time to get that shelf finished, but you know I'll be sending you a copy in about 19 months. Ha.

  3. Keith, this sounds sooo good! Rothsirge is a great concept, and I love big books that follow characters over a long time span. I like what you say about how psychological and paranormal issues seem to intertwine. Looking forward to reading it!

  4. Keith, your latest book sounds fantastic. I'll most definitely be in line to purchase my copy. I love that you spent so much time writing and re-writing it and never gave up on a concept you loved. :-)
    Thank you for the nomination. :-)

  5. Nancy and Amaleen -- Thanks so much. I really look forward to when it's released, and it makes me happy to think I'm not the only one. :)