I was tagged by S.J. Main on the blog – Diary of a Novel – A Writer’s Journey for the Next Big Thing Award. I received a nomination for this award a few months ago and this post is an update on a previous one. So, here goes – I answer the following questions and then tag a few other people to do the same.
What is the title of your book?
Disappearing in Plain Sight, my debut novel, was released for Kindle on Amazon yesterday. (Yippee – I still can’t stop going to the site to just stare – you can stare too by clicking on the book cover on your right and going from the Friesen Press website directly to Amazon.)
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I’ve always mulled over writing ideas while out for my daily walk around our cabin. There’s something about tramping along the trails that gets my creative juices flowing. When the idea for the novel came to me, I was supposed to be writing my PhD candidacy papers. For some reason, instead of doing my research, all I could think of was this handful of characters I had created in my head and how they might react to being thrown into certain situations. Soon the characters were interacting with each other and dictating what would happen next. I just sat at my laptop and took it all down. It was absolutely impossible to drop the idea of writing the story once it got started. At the time, I compared it to being in the grip of some sort of virus – it had to run its course.
What genre does your book fall under?
When the first draft was complete, I described it as a woman’s romance. As the novel developed through subsequent drafts, the genre shifted. A reviewer said I would be short-changing the book to limit it to romance – this reviewer described the novel as Dramatic, Literary Fiction. I’ve also had a reader say that the book has appeal for men as well as women. I guess time will tell on that issue. I chose Fiction – Literary; Fiction – Romance/Contemporary, and Fiction – General as my Book Industry Shelving Codes.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m going to skip over that question because I think it’s important for the reader to form their own image of the characters. Within the novel, I weakened on that resolve by having one character describe another as looking like a well-known movie personality. As I gain in maturity as a writer, I realize this type of thing isn’t necessary. The biggest thing I have learned about writing is that I need to trust the reader to follow where I lead.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I’m going to cheat a bit here and give you my book cover synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m self-publishing with the help of Friesen Press. This has been my first experience with any type of publishing – self or otherwise. I’m learning a lot and I have a clearer idea now about what I will do differently the next time around. (Yes – you heard that correctly – I am busy on the sequel to Disappearing in Plain Sight – the tentative title for the next novel is The Light Never Lies.)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft of the novel took about one summer to write – oddly the same amount of time and season of the year that the main action of the story takes place within. The first draft was shorter than the final manuscript turned out to be – a bare bones treatment of the story I wanted to write. I often think about going back to read that version. I’m sure I would be stunned by how much the story evolved over the various rewrites.
What other books of the same genre would you compare yours with?
I wouldn’t put Eden Robinson’s book, Monkey Beach, in the same categories that I’ve chosen for my novel. I also wouldn’t put myself in the same universe as Robinson in terms of writing talent. But for some reason, whenever I think about this question, Monkey Beach is the book that pops into my mind. Perhaps it’s the West Coast setting or the blue of the jacket cover.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think my first inspiration was the place where I live – the isolation and the beauty of the area. I’ve also been inspired and informed by my life experiences. I’ve been an educator and a counsellor working with young people and adults for years and some of the stories I’ve heard inspired my writing – not in actual details. It is more like I’ve gained an understanding of how people might react under challenging circumstances.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
You will be drawn into a unique and beautiful setting – an isolated lake on Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. In this place, you will meet characters who deal with hard-hitting life situations – bullying, trauma – both past and present, death, grieving, and sexuality. The characters have problems to deal with – but their lives are also light hearted and funny. I believe the novel achieves something rare – handling complex and challenging life issues in the authentic voices of both young people and the adults who act and react to them.
If you’ve ever felt like life disappeared you, a little or a lot, then you will enjoy this novel. If you are a parent, or someone who works with or provides care for young adults, if you were young once yourself and remember the experience, you will get something from this book. If you’ve ever had to work at rebuilding your life after the loss of a friend or loved one, you will identify with the struggle the characters in this novel go through.
So – there you have it – the next big thing is my novel – Disappearing in Plain Sight. Seeing the book out in the world is a big, big, big thing for me and my supporters.
Part of being nominated for this award is to nominate others. I am going to follow the example of a couple of other bloggers and invite anyone who follows me and feels they have The Next Big Thing to feel free to consider themselves tagged.
I will be reading this– as soon as I dig out from under the books piled on my to review list. I would hope that you will or are alrready reading mine as well lol. I am definitely one of your fans!
Congratulations, and thanks for your generosity as a writer. I appreciate it. And you!
It feels very nice to be appreciated by my blogging community – actually, way more than nice. It makes me feel so grateful for the people I’ve managed to get connected with. Thank you for being one of those people.
Every best wish for the success of your first book Francis. Even if it never sells a copy (which of course it will) there’s nothing like seeing your first creation see the light of day.
You’ve got that right! There has been nothing like seeing this first book go out into the world. Thanks for the congrats.
Congrats on your recognition and especially on the release of your novel. So exciting! I know what I’m downloading today!!
Gwen – you make my day!!! Thanks.
Started reading yesterday, and I absolutely love it! Your writing style, the characters, and the story itself reminds me of Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles. My favorite characters (as of chapter 4) are Liam and Lisa-Marie. I’m intrigued by the mystery of Liam; I’m wondering if there’s more I don’t know about him. Lisa-Marie is a well-written teenager; I love her saucy attitude. And Beulah is one I love to hate! Heading downstairs to the elliptical trainer in a few minutes…planning to take the Crater Lake gang with me!
So excited that you are enjoying the Crater Lake gang – it’s an odd feeling, knowing the book is out in the world and people are reading it – sort of like I feel on pins and needles to not let you guys down but the dice have been rolled and the story is what it is – I need to blog soon on the anxieties of the newly published.
I’ll look forward to that post. Maybe once I finish reading I can do an author interview on my blog. I don’t have a huge following so you’ll have to decide if it would be worth it.
I would be thrilled to do an interview on your blog and I would love it if you would consider doing a guest post on my blog – maybe talking about what you experienced reading the book and relating that back to your own writing or something that will highlight you. What do you think?
Sounds like a deal! I’ll let you know when I finish reading. Do you have an author profile on Goodreads? Your book is listed there and I posted it as my current read, but there wasn’t much info about you.
Yesterday I got home from work and crashed – fighting a sinus cold that’s really dragging me down. I got in a few more chapters before turning in early. I’m intrigued by the fact that Caleb was the glue that seemed to hold the group all together. I’m wondering what impact Dan is going to have. Lots of questions swirling around in my mind. Love how you dole out the info little by little.
Congratulations Francis. I will download and read when I’ve finished The Rosie Project!
Thanks so much Gemma – always hoping for Amazon reviews (hint, hint). But seriously, just knowing people are reading or planning to read is very exciting.
Congratuations! It takes a lot of work to complete a novel. I know you’ve worked hard. By the way, thank you SO much for posting me on your sidebar. I really appreciate the support you’ve given my writing. You are a great encourager! Thanks.
Hi Mindy – you are very welcome. It is a great compliment to be called an encourager – I take that to heart 🙂
Many congratulations on getting it out there, Francis. It’s a mixed bunch of feelings, isn’t it? I have downloaded it and it is next on my reading list. Like the cover very much.
Thanks, Oliver. I look forward to your feedback. I often wonder – what would Marsh say? Though I’m sure you will not reply as he 🙂
Congratulations, Francis! Disappearing in Plain Sight, is now on my book list! It already sounds very appealing to me, and I look forward to reading it. Big thanks, to Bruce, for sending me your way. You both inspire me. It’s a pleasure, to be sure!
Thanks for dropping by, Victoria. I hope you will enjoy the novel and I would love to hear what you think.
Sounds wonderful. I am adding it to my ‘to read’ list too and hope to get to it really soon.
I just can’t thank my very loyal blog followers enough for their support – promises like yours make promoting seem worthwhile. I hope you enjoy the novel and I look forward to hearing all of your reactions.
I am already underway on your book! I only had time for a chapter last night but I love the characters already.
It’s like you’re saying you like my kids! I’m sooo happy.
Amazing news – congratulations on the new book. Wishing you all the best success for this and your next chapter.