Tag! The Next Big Thing

26 Oct

Thanks to the very funny and generous Samantha Stroh Bailey, the author of Finding Lucas, for including me in my very first “blog hop.” Authors tag each other to answer questions about the next big thing they’re working on, and I’m excited to talk about my very-in-progress next novel.

What is the working title of your book?

Well, the title on my computer file is “Rich Bostonians in Progress,” but I can’t really imagine that on a bookshelf. Titles are hard for me, so I’m going to wait. But the theme is class warfare, and the many ways it plays out in people’s real lives.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

A couple of years ago, a book editor told my former agent that she was interested in books about the very rich. I didn’t take it as a directive, but it got me thinking. I started recalling the encounters I’d had, mostly as a journalist, with very wealthy people. Some characters sprang to mind (I’ll never say who) but also, a specific memory: I was in a cavernous apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which had been renovated n a really ostentatious way, and, in a powder room, I came across the very same ceramic drawer pull that I had recently put in the kitchen of my much, much smaller house. The idea cracked me up at the time – this little blue knob was the one place where our lifestyles intersected! – but now, it got me thinking about those interactions, between upper- and middle-classes, upper- and working-classes, and where people might find common ground.

What genre does your book fall under?

Like my first novel, “Milkshake,” I consider this social satire – it would fit under “humor” in the Amazon listings – though it also counts as general fiction. (And it has a love story!)

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

Ooh, I love this one! The centerpiece of the book is a patrician matriarch and her husband, and in my dream world, they’re played by Susan Sarandon and Tom Wilkinson. The narrator is a young do-gooder who serves the sort of role Anne Hathaway played in “The Devil Wears Prada” (though perhaps less fashion-forward), so I’ll take her, as well. And for the black-sheep son of the rich family? Paul Dano. There’s also a great part I’d give to Jamie Foxx.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the ne’er-do-well son of a wealthy family pulls a “performance art” stunt that roils Boston, he and his family try to make amends — forcing them to collide with different classes, and different worlds.

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

I’ll have to see when it’s finished. It’s great to be able to explore both options, and to tap into a growing and vibrant indie community if I decide to go that way.

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

It’s still going!

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

That’s a tough question, because I don’t want to sound like I’m making false or self-aggrandizing comparisons. But I loved “The Corrections” for the way it really dug into the emotional life of a family, and, more recently, I loved “The Art of Fielding” for the way it explored a specific place. And Christopher Buckley’s books are always models to me, for the way he wields satire and social observation.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I had so much fun writing “Milkshake” – and got such interesting, heartfelt reactions from readres — that I knew I had to try again. Even if it killed me.

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

I hope it will be funny! Think an old guy who wears a Speedo around the house and is obsessed with the Mayan flute. And then picture him played by Tom Wilkinson.

Thanks again to Samantha, who has her own second-novel-in-progress. And then go read Meredith O’Brien’s blog, “Notes from the Asylum,” where she chronicles her novel, “Mortified: A Novel About Over-Sharing,” which sounds terrific!

One Response to “Tag! The Next Big Thing”

  1. perfectpencommunications October 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Tom Wilkinson in a Speedo? Love it! Fantastic post, Joanna, and I can’t wait to read your next book!

    Samantha Stroh Bailey

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