THE NEXT BIG THING: On DRIVING ALONE
There’s this thing going around with a group of writers I’m familiar with, a sort of chain interview titled, The Next Big Thing, which I’m not, but It sounded fun so when Caleb J Ross sent me the invite, I said sure, why not. I was honored to be included.
Anyway… for anybody interested, I’m going to shoot down these questions for you, and them, and for the sake some promotion, any promotion, and of something to put up on my blog. They’re good questions, I think, so thank you, who ever, for putting them together. Thanks to Caleb for nominating me and thanks to you all for stopping by.
If there are any other questions we don’t cover here that you’d like to know, by all means, speak up.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
It’s actually a current book, and titled, Driving Alone.
I don’t really remember having a complete idea at any given time. For me those ideas kind of manifest, change and take shape during the process. A novel is a collection of ideas that support a theme, if you’re lucky. But I knew I wanted to write an American novella, short, southern, and sexy, like a Tennessee Williams play, but that was about all I had in the beginning. I do remember the title coming from an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations though, and a light bulb kind of went off. I had a concept in those two words, which I thought would be widely understood.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
I like calling it a Modern Southern Gothic. It seems to fit.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
When I was writing it, I was totally thinking of Johnny Depp as Billy Keyhoe. Although the age doesn’t match up, it’s not really that important. Depps’ voice patterns, facial expressions, sly restrained smile, a stray dog charm, yet prone to violent outburst, it’s all in there, for me anyway.
Feather Dane, the lead female is tougher to nail down. The character almost demands a mysterious unknown. Feather is seductively irresistible and dangerously so. It’s a game of cat and mouse, and it’s never really clear until the end who’s the cat and who’s the mouse.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Small town loser, Billy Keyhoe takes off for the open road and a new life only to be confronted at the crossroads of destiny with his inescapable past in this rural noir, southern gothic thriller, of life death sex, and sin.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. This book was published Dec 1st 2012 by Blank Slate Press of St. Louis and is available pretty much anywhere and anyhow, right now. I don’t have an agent at this time, but I’m thinking about that more and more. We’ll see how it goes.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It’s a small book, a novella, less than half the size of anything I’d written before. I think I had a first draft complete in a couple months, Jan to March of 2012. There really was only one draft, ever. I tinkered with that a couple more months, sent it out to a handful of publishers, started formatting and playing with text and cover. I had planned to self publish because I didn’t think anybody would be interested in it, and by May I had a few offers, so that was a nice surprise. But not much has been changed since the first draft, necessary editing, couple of scenes and rewrites, what not, but that’s about it.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I was asked that question by the publisher for the distributors marketing dept and couldn’t really answer it. I didn’t feel equipped or something. After it went to print I was curious, so I asked the publisher what they came up with, they said, Crooked Letter Crooked Letter, Winters Bone, and, The Devil All the Time. If you can compare one book to another, those are good ones to be compared with, so I was alright with that.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Just the idea that I love novellas and how they can linger with you, how they can be far heavier than a big epic. I wanted to give that a try. I wanted to strip away all the bullshit and tell a true and honest story. There appears to be smoke and mirrors in there, but there really isn’t. It’s straight up, no ice. I also loved the idea of a sweaty Deep South morality tale, God and the Devil and everything in between, so I went there.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
I think being able to read this in one sitting should be of interest, won’t take too much commitment, time. I think it’s something you could enjoy reading again and again. I think there’s a lot here to think about. The paperback fits nicely in your pocket too, it’s travel friendly.
Is that it? Seemed short. Thanks a lot folks, and here the book.
Driving Alone, can be found at any of your favorite bookstores websites, or easily ordered here at Blank Slate Press, http://blankslatepress.com/authors/kevin-lynn-helmick/
Thanks all, next week, Bud Smith, over at - http://budsmithwrites.com/
There’ll some be some more interviews by other writers and their projects coming up that haven’t gotten back to me and I’ll tag them as they come in but here’s few others that have gone before. Check em out.
Support independent writers and books. It’s where the good shit is.
Paul David Brazill
Caleb J Ross