The Next Big Thing: My New Project

Thanks to Meghan Ward for inviting me to participate in this blog chain. Meghan is the prize-winning author of a memoir titled Paris On Less Than $10,000 a Day.  She blogs at Writerland.com and teaches social media classes at SF Writers’ Grotto.

“New” might be pushing it in describing this book, a novel I’m revising, but it’s certainly first and foremost in my writing mind these days.

What is the working title of your book?
Rincon People

Where did the idea come from for this book?
I had a dream, an embarrassing number of years ago, of a young boy standing in front of an elaborately carved door.  Who was he, and why was he standing there?  Those questions got me started.

What genre does your book fall under?
Novel.

How long did it take to write the first draft?
Oh, my.  I was afraid of that question.  I worked on it for six years, off and on, before I reached an ending.  I won’t tell you how long ago that was.

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?
The actor who played Chris, the radio host, on Northern Exposure would play my Chris.  Jennifer Lawrence for Eileen.  Patricia Clarkson, wearing a long braid, as Naomi.  And for Jeremy, an as-yet-undiscovered fifth-grader.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Rincon People tells the story of four lives intersecting over two weeks:  Eileen, who has kidnapped her son, Jeremy, for a new start in Rincon, an affluent town on San Francisco Bay; Naomi, a fifth-grade teacher facing the limits of her self-proclaimed role as a shaper of young lives; and Chris, a thirty-four year old man forced to confront and move beyond the romanticized grief of his sister’s mysterious death.

Will it be self published or represented by an agency?
Agency.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I can’t stop forgetting the characters.  They’ve kept me at it, always bringing me back to Rincon after I’ve stepped away to work on other projects, including two published books.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen, but only in a superficial way—it’s about a mother and son who change their identity and move away to avoid an abusive husband/father.  My novel tells the story of a woman who takes her son for other reasons.  Afterwards, by Gina Berriault, also comes to mind, in how it examines the impact of a death on the surviving family members.

To answer this question properly, I need to be in “marketing mode.”  All too necessary, yes—but not yet.  I need to finish writing first.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I hope that readers will be compelled by a mother who has her best child’s interests at heart but keeps getting in her own way.  Early readers have pointed out the compelling situation of rooting for a character even as we watch a her make bad choices.  The theme of loss is what compelled me in writing this book, but the more I’ve worked on it, I’ve come to see that while loss and regret play a role, it’s really a novel about how we care for those we love.

Next week, please welcome the following writers as they add more links to the chain:

Lana Dalberg is the author of Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine (SkyLight Paths 2013) and a contributor to several publications and anthologies. She also leads workshops that link creative writing with spirituality and social justice.

Elizabeth Eshelman has an MFA in fiction from George Mason University, which she uses to craft contemporary novels influenced by the nineteenth-century works she loves best.  Her novella was a finalist in the Miami University Press Novella Contest; her nonfiction has appeared in The Writers Chronicle; and her first novel manuscript is currently with her agent.

Callie Feyen is studying Creative Nonfiction through Seattle Pacific University’s low-residency program.  She writes for The Banner and Christian Home and School.  Her most recent essay, “Girl on a Bike” was published in Christian Home and School last month.

Monica Wesolowska’s forthcoming memoir, Holding Silvan: A Brief Life (Hawthorne Books, March 2013), examines the love and ethics involved in choosing to let her newborn son die. She lives, writes, and teaches in Berkeley, California.

Be sure to check out their work!

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About lindseycrittenden

Lindsey Crittenden is the author of two published books: THE WATER WILL HOLD YOU: A SKEPTIC LEARNS TO PRAY (Harmony Books, 2007) and THE VIEW FROM BELOW, a collection of short stories (Midlist Press, 1999). Her personal essays and articles – on topics such as prayer, the pitfalls of too much California sunshine, and visiting a group of lifers at San Quentin – have appeared in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Image, Real Simple, Bon Appétit, East Bay Express, Health, and Best American Spiritual Writing. Her fiction has won national awards and has appeared in Glimmer Train, Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, and other publications. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she graduated from UC Berkeley, moved to New York City as soon as she could, and returned to California for grad school. While in the graduate creative writing program at UC Davis, she discovered (much to her surprise) the fun of teaching. She lives in San Francisco and teaches at UC Berkeley Extension. She has completed a novel, and is writing new short stories and a (very early stages) nonfiction exploration of spirituality & sex.
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7 Responses to The Next Big Thing: My New Project

  1. I enjoyed reading your responses, Lindsey. Thanks for inviting me to be part of the blog chain!
    Lana

  2. calliefeyen says:

    I love the title of your book, as well as the synopsis you gave. I can already relate to the fifth grade teacher. 🙂
    I enjoy reading the “story behind the story” of authors’ works. Thanks for being willing to share a little bit about your project.
    And thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of this blog chain! My post is up.

  3. When I hear “Rincon,” I think of the beach in Santa Barbara. It’s such a great name for a town! And I love the concept of a mother who kidnaps her own child. Are you in revision mode right now? When will we get to read it? 🙂

    • Lindsey Crittenden says:

      Revision mode, yes, though as you know it entails plenty of new material, too–mostly as I re-arrange and reconfigure. The most helpful suggestion I received on the previous draft was to “flip” the characters so that the mother-and-kidnapped son are in the foreground and Naomi and Chris more background. It’s a structural challenge, which sometimes feels like untangling a big hairball. Back to work!

  4. Pingback: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Database « Write, Juggle, Run

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