Monday, October 22, 2012

Tagged: The Next Big Thing - Find Out What I'm Working On!

I’ve been tagged in a blog game called The Next Big Thing. The game involves authors answering questions about their work in progress (aka WIP). So I am “it” for the moment, and I am off to the 20th century, 1942, to be exact, to talk about a murder taking place under the Big Top. Come along with me back to the Ringling Brothers Circus and World War II! Leave a comment, if you like!

Here we go. . . my answers to the OFFICIAL “Ten Questions for The Next Big Thing”:

1. What is the working title of your book?
Death of a Clown

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
This book started with the circus memories of my mother, around whom I’ve created the protagonist, Jeri Deane. The cover to the right is a real picture of my mother sitting on the trunk of an elephant in the early 1940s. This picture has a nameless clown extending his arms to Mom. This started my crafty, murderous mind working. What if this clown got murdered? Could Jeri solve the crime? Well, why not, I asked myself?  At that point, I was off and away.
I would like to add that to my knowledge, no murders have taken place in the circus. However, one of the characters in the book says: “There’s never been a murder under the Big Top before. Unless you count Miss Brassy’s Performing Poodles. That act could kill a group of Shriners.”

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Mystery noir. It has humor and is very fast paced with everything taking place in less than three days, but there’s a definite noir feel about it.

 4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That should only happen, but we’ll go with the scenario. The protagonist, Jeri Deane, is only 24-years old. There aren’t many established actresses out there to do the role at that age. They’d have to find someone new. Ah! If only Catherine Zeta Jones were a few years younger, she’d be perfect. And Brad Pitt would be a great Whitey.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Under the canvas sky of the Big Top no one talks about their past, but murder has a way of bringing deadly secrets out into the open.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This is the first time I’m going to do it My Way. A writing buddy and close friend, Baird Nuckolls, and I are forming a publishing company called The Wives of Bath Press. Death of a Clown will make its debut sometime in January.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Six years, on and off. It was a bear. I changed POVs from 3rd to 1st, half-way through. Then after I completed the novel, and it came in at 85K, I went back and changed tenses from past to present. That took months. But I believe I finally got it right.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Probably similar to Like Water for Elephants, although I have deliberately not read the book nor seen the movie. I don’t want to be accused of lifting anything, even accidentally. 

 9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by my mother, who was a performer at Ringling Brothers Circus. The history, coupled with her stories and love of the circus, were a true inspiration for me. The Big Top was at its zenith during the 40s. That was its golden age, if you will. There were 51 elephants, thousands of other animals, and nearly 2000 people involved in the Big Top. The circus was a traveling city going from town to town on one of the longest trains ever riding the railroad tracks. It was often bigger than most of the towns it visited. Mom had an amazing life there. Furthermore, that’s where she met and married my father. He was an elephant trainer.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This is a real account of the day to day lives of circus people during that era ,colored significantly by the outbreak of the war. It was like no other place, no other time, and I believe the novel has that feel. Mom has many journals and photos of then and since I’ve been hearing these stories since I was a child, I feel as if I was really there. It’s an insider’s look at the world of the Big Top. Plus you get a helluva mystery, if you don’t mind my saying!


Well that’s it and it’s been a lot of fun. Thanks again to Camille Minichino for tagging me. Camille is in many ways one of my mentors. She's as nice a lady as she is a good writer.
I am about to pass the torch on to writers whose work and style I admire. I wonder what their next BIG thing is? Let's see together!!

Chastity Bush, author of A Taste of Terror and other fine novels

Mhare Fraser, debut novel working title Of Mermaids and Mockingbirds

Andrew Kloak, debut novel, Working the Glass, out soon

Diana Montane, I Would Find a Girl Walking, about serial killer Gerald Stano

BairdNuckolls, acclaimed writer of short stories, children's books, and other genres

Please visit their blogs. They will be publishing their answers to the questions between the October 29th and November 4th
 Next week I'll ask each of these delightful people to guest on my blog, writing about anything they want. That should be fun!!

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:
Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.


Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Your book sounds fascinating, Heather. I wish you the best of luck!

If you would like a place to promo, you are welcome to guest at my blog, Full Moon Dreaming. Contact me at

Heather Haven said...

Julie, thanks so much for your good words and the offer! I will certainly take you up on that.

Cheryl said...

This sounds like a fabulous book, Heather. Very much your style. Congratulations.

Gail Roughton said...

Heather, that was AWESOME! The cover could not be more perfect. Your mother would LOVE it!! The whole book and especially the cover!

Rosalie Skinner said...

What an amazing story and inspiration. I loved watching Carnivale. I can see your novel being very popular with people who loved that series. *waves* I will be watching for its release.

Heather Haven said...

Thanks so much, all of you! Here's hoping it catches on.

S. Durham Author said...

Heather, sounds like a fascinating life your parents lived, and such a rich mine of material for your book! And I love that picture! Perfect for your cover.

Cheers, Sara

MuseItUp Publishing said...

Heather, I think your mother would be very proud of you. And I know the prolific writer that you are that this will be a hit. Congratulations.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I think it's wonderful that you're honouring your mum in this way. The cover takes me back. I love everything about that era. My mother sang with her two sisters during the war and performed on stage often. They used to wear satin outfits, short skirts, cowboy hats. Same hair style. They were adorable.

Great cover, Heather.

Joan Hall Hovey said...

Sounds exciting, Heather. I loved Water for Elephants. I wish you mega sales. Great interview.


Heather Haven said...

Thank you one and all! This book means a lot to me and I just love the cover. It's by Dawne Dominique. She's an author as well as a crackerjack cover artist. If you ever need a cover done, consider using her. She really works with the author to do a good job. Whoops. This sounds a little like a commercial, doesn't it? Not at all, tho. Just appreciating some talent.

Helena Fairfax said...

Hi Heather, you've been tagged again! Please check out my blog post for details
Love the sound of your latest book and the great photo!
Thanks for taking part.

hotcha12 said...