I’ve been tagged by Amy Timberlake for The Next Big Thing Blog Tour! Amy recently published One Came Home, which is my bedtime reading right now. Check it out!
I’ve never taken a “Blog Tour,” although I love to travel, so this is me, learning as I go.
Here are the questions—and my answers:
1) What is the working title of your next book?
It started out as CARGO and has been changed to THE MYSTERIOUS CARGO. I just submitted this ms and am waiting to hear if my first choice editor likes it.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Every summer I drive 1000 miles across I 90 from Chicago to New Hampshire and then 1000 miles back again. I am always fascinated and amazed at the trucks and vehicles I see and the things they carry. That’s where the working title, CARGO, came from. Then, on a drive downstate I saw the most amazing piece of cargo I have ever seen. It was huge. It was long. It was unmarked and I have no idea what it is. I took photos. And I knew I had to include that mysterious cargo in this book.
3) My ms is a picture book for 4-6 year olds. Currently it is a little heavy on text (800 words), and I’m hoping that once an illustrator is on board we can reduce some of the text by telling the story through the pictures. I have already cut as much as I feel I can without having to write tons of illustration notes and losing the flow of the text. The next round of cuts needs to be a collaboration between editor, illustrator, and myself.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a
I half-way imagine Bart Simpson as my narrator. The sister is a little like Lisa and a lot like me as a child. The parents could be Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Not sure who could play the part of the dog.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
On a two-day family road trip a young boy forgets about his missing video games and becomes obsessed with following the progress of one particular truck carrying a very mysterious cargo.
That is a good question. I have submitted to one editor and am hoping she will love this story enough to want to work with me on it, but I will not put her on the spot by naming her. It took me twelve tries to find the right home for TRUCK STUCK. I hope this book reaches the right editor sooner than that.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It has taken me 4 years I think to bring this story from random notes and journal ideas to a completed ms. I thought I was going to write in rhyme, since each of my previous 3 books rhyme. I wrote a prose version of the story intending to substitute rhyming text once I’d nailed down the plot details. Every time I tried to force the story into rhyme it became unworkable and cumbersome. I liked the flow of the prose. After a year or more of struggling to rhyme I finally gave myself permission to write in prose. I feel so liberated!
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
One book that I looked to for a model is the Golden Book, Scuffy the Tugboat, by Gertrude Crampton, illustrated by Tibor Gergely. Scuffy takes off downstream and passes through different kinds of landscapes until he reaches the wide ocean. The changing scenery and transition from rural to urban landscape reminded me of the changing landscape on my own road trip. I also looked at A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse, by Frank Viva. This is another book about a trip and I liked the way the story is told in dialog. It is a Toon book, a comic for youngsters. While I don’t see my story as a comic, it does have a lot of dialog.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
While I was originally inspired to write about the amazing trucks I keep seeing on my travels, I fell upon a phrase that really pleased me—“I go! You go! We go! Cargo!” That line has become a refrain in this non-rhyming text, with variations to the line that mirror the story. It captures the energy and fun I hope is in the story.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
All through the story the boy is hoping to discover what the mysterious cargo is. (Spoiler Alert!) And he never does find out. I intend to set up a Facebook page where readers can post photos or drawings of the interesting cargos they see and perhaps someone will solve the mystery of the mysterious cargo.
Next up on the Next Big Thing Blog Tour? Lori Degman, author of One Zany Zoo and inveterate rhymer will pick up the baton. Take it away, Lori!