Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Next Big Thing: Dubble

My friend and fellow novelist Laura Harrington recently invited me to participate in the blog-tagging "Next Big Thing" which is currently making the rounds among writers.  Since I'm knuckling down on revising my own NBT (or will be when I'm not writing this blog post), I figured I'd join the party.  At the end of this post, I'll tag-team a few other authors in hopes they'll tell us about their own works-in-progress.  Here are the standard questions:

What is the working title of your book?

What genre does your book fall under?
I suppose it would be "Literary Fiction," but you could probably also find it in the "Hollywood Screwball Comedies of Epic Length" section at your local bookstore.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is always a hard question for me to answer because, as much as I love movies and TV, my mind always freezes to a blank when I try to play "fantasy casting."  Because my main character is a little person, a lot of friends tell me I should have Peter Dinklage's agent on speed dial.  He might be too old for the part of the 21-year-old, though.  Same with Danny DeVito.  So, I guess I'd cast an unknown.  For the role of Eddie Danger, the temperamental child actor, I'd choose Mickey Rooney, circa 1937.  But then that might be too obvious because the Mickster is sort of the original inspiration for the novel.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In 1940, David Dubble, a 21-year-old little person and stuntman for child actor Eddie Danger, has to cover up the fact that the kid accidentally killed a rival studio's canine mascot.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
From first letter to last period, the initial draft took me six years.  But that was 14 years ago, so it's had a two-decade life.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
First and foremost, there's The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West, which is probably the greatest novel ever written about Hollywood.  But I'd also include the novels of Bruce Wagner, The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald and What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg.

The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I like to think about contradictions and juxtapositions; the way they rub up against each other can often lead to some bizarre and, hopefully, funny situations.  One day, for whatever reason, I wondered what it would be like if an adult got a job as a stunt double for a child actor.  And what if the adult is basically a good guy and the kid is a spoiled brat whose behavior causes him no end of agony?  I kind of liked that odd scenario.  Then around that same time, two other things happened: I saw an old Mickey Rooney movie and I heard about The Terror of Tiny Town, the all-midget Western (though I didn't actually watch that movie until last year).  Things started clicking, and I started typing.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
How many screwball-comedy novels about Hollywood stuntmen do you know that have won a blue-ribbon at the state fair?  Well, mine did. When I was living in Alaska in 1993, I entered what was then Dubble's first chapter in the Tanana Valley State Fair and, to my surprise, I won the 1993 Grand Champion in the Creative Writing Division.  I'll always think of Dubble as the prize-winning monster cabbage of my novels.

When and how will it be published?
Nothing's a guarantee in this business, of course, but I'm crossing all my fingers that my editor will think the world is ready for a funny book about a little guy trying to survive Hollywood's golden age with his body and sanity intact.  After that, it's anybody's guess when (or if) it will make it into print.

And now here are some of my friends who have agreed to talk about their Next Big Things:

Jennifer Spiegel, author of The Freak Chronicles (Dzanc Books) and Love Slave (Unbridled Books).  Here's Jennifer talking about her Next Big Thing, a novel called Sappho Unspoken.

Craig Lancaster, author of 600 Hours of Edward and Edward Adrift.  Here's Craig talking about his Next Big Thing, a novel called Julep Street.

Anne Leigh Parrish, author of All the Roads That Lead From Home (Press 53).

John Clayton, author of The Cowboy Girl: The Life of Caroline Lockhart. Here's John talking about his Next Big Thing, essays about Montana.

Melanie Thorne, author of Hand Me Down.