The Next Big Thing

Many of you have seen the Next Big Thing meme going around, in which we writers hold forth on our latest books (either works-in-progress or newly-released). Thanks to Jo Anderton, who tagged me, you can find out more about (one of) my newest project(s)!

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The working—and final—title of my novella is Mourning Cloak. 

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was on a family hike over Memorial Day weekend in 2011 when I saw dozens of gorgeous dark butterflies, with blue spots and cream edging along the wings. Being the kind of nerd I am, I pulled out my Audubon field guide to New England and identified the butterflies as mourning cloaks. My muse instantly pounced on the name and insisted that mourning cloaks would make great fantasy characters (and it was right!).

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Since there’s both magic and nanotechnology–but no steam-powered anything–I guess I’ll have to call it science fantasy.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no clue. Isn’t that the director’s job, anyway?

Actually, I think this world and story would work better as a video game than a movie. It has strange races like mourning cloaks, eerie men, and wind swifts; battle-suits and mecha; prayer magic and blood-formed wards; passion and faith and betrayal and clashing armies. Definitely video game material.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A failed hero deserted by his God and living in exile encounters a wounded demon who offers him a chance to regain what he lost. 

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

Self-published, and coming out in January 2013! (Not 2012, like I’d originally said. Thanks for the catch, Alina!)

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

Um, I have no idea. I did it in bits and pieces over the course of a really busy year in which my husband got a new job, we sold our house in Vermont and moved to Virginia. 

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

I beta-read Suited by Jo Anderton around the same time I wrote the first draft of Mourning Cloak, so I know similarities abound. (Battle suits, anyone?)

But really, I think this story is more like role playing games of the Final Fantasy bent than any novel I can think of at the top of my head. Amnesiac characters? Check. Strange races? Check. Fantastical magic swords alongside science-fictional bots? Check. Transformation? Check check check!

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

You mean besides the butterflies? *wry smile*

I wanted very much to write a story about faith. My failed hero has lost his. My altered assassin clings to hers. What they have faith in. How the faith helps–or doesn’t help–in the face of adversity.

I also wanted to write about older characters weighed down by their past. As I grow older, I’m less interested in the blank-slate, youthful protagonists and more intrigued by characters who have been worn by life, who have seen darkness both inside and outside their own souls.

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

A man transformed from within to become a battle machine. A woman so altered that she can dissolve into mist and drip through the ground. A cold, mountain city of steel and electricity, warding bells and safe roads. A hot land of deserts and plains, of bronze arcana and prayer magic. Nano-tech and string theory in fantasy trappings.


I tag Liana Mir, Lisa Ahn, and Miquela Faure. And if anyone else would like to play along, just leave a comment below and I’ll add you to this list!


  1. Ok, WOW. This book sounds awesome!! I can’t wait to read it. I’m guessing it’s coming out January 2013, rather than 2012? :)

  2. Oooooo, having just finished RAINBIRD late at night because I could not put it down, I’m very excited to get this preview of your next book. Sounds fantastic. Thanks for tagging me as well.

  3. Battlesuits are awesome. Mourning Cloak is also awesome! I’m lucky cuz I got to read it already! Can’t wait for it to take the world by storm! :)

  4. Great title, and I love the sound of this one!! I definitely want to read it! Although, I have not had a chance to read Rainbird yet, because still have it only on the computer kindle app, and my eyes hurt too much at the end of the work day to look at a computer for one second longer (and yeah, my writing has mostly stopped too). My reading pile is growing and growing right now. But, I’m also getting my very first pair of glasses this week, so hopefully that will fix my eye strain! :-D

    • Wow. First pair, huh? Congratulations of making it so far without corrective lenses.
      Hmm, it sounds like there might actually be a market for print versions of my novellas. I think they’d be $4.99 (instead of $2.99) via Createspace. Would you prefer print over e-format?

      • I know! I’m really lucky on my eyesight. And my distance sight is still 20/20. It’s just my eyes have to work too hard now for the close up stuff. I am definitely far-sighted. The prescription is the weakest he could give me, LOL! But he said it would help a lot with working on the computer throughout the day.

        And YES YES YES!!! Most happy to pay $4.99 for a print version that I can take outside and read in bright light!!! I was very excited when you talked about David learning about print design, etc. :-D

        • Wow. Okay. I guess people would happily pay more for print. :D Well, that’s good to know! (Meaning: not everyone is a cheapskate like I am!).

          It’ll be a few months until print’s on my radar. I’m more focused on building my backlist at this point. Whee! I get a kick out of seeing a lot of titles on my Amazon author page. :D

      • I’d be more interested in hardcopy books, too. I’ve studied preservation of library materials, and I’m just not happy with the ephemeral nature of computer files. They’re only good as long as you have a machine that can read them, while books last until the paper disintegrates. {smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  5. I love the idea of Mourning Cloak, particularly the inspiration for it. I had been wondering what this story was about and I’m even more intrigued by it than before. Faith and the loss of it is such an important area to explore, and so much of SFF has steered clear of it the more politically correct it has become. I’m anxious to dive into the story.

  6. I am always fascinated to see how different ideas develop in different writer brains. This past spring, when we were visiting family in the States, I saw a Mourning Cloak while on a walk in the Oklahoma countryside with my guardian. She identified the butterfly and I immediately thought, “There is a story in that name!” I never came up with one, though.

    Yours sounds fascinating. And complex! Are you sure it is supposed to be a novella? :P

    Oh, and I second paying more for a print copy. I still have not been won over to e-reads.

    • LOL. Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a novella, but I know you like big, fat fantasy, so you may disagree! My muse is already pinging me with ideas about a couple more stories set in the same world.

      Actually, at this point in time, novellas are really floating my boat. Much of it is the time/life business factor. They’re so much easier to hold in my head and are faster to write. It works for my season of life. But I still love novels and will continue to write them–though slowly.

      Also, I will try to get into print some time next year. No guarantees about when that will be, of course, but thanks for chiming in so I don’t ignore that market.

  7. I love reading about the strange and exciting ways stories evolve. Your story sentence is fantastic! I’m looking forward to checking this out. :)

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