Monday, February 18, 2013

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing Hop: the traveling blog that asks authors whom they consider the NEXT BIG THING, and then has them pass along the questions for those authors to answer in their blogs.

I'm flattered to have been tagged by Zetta Elliot whose blog you can read here. Rules: Answer ten questions about your current Work In Progress on your blog. Tag five writers / bloggers and add links to their pages so we can hop along to them next.

What is the working title of your book…
My current work in progress is my second young adult novel SHOW AND PROVE. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The novel is set in the summer of 1983 in New York City, and I’ve been incubating on it…. Well, for thirty years!  At that age, I was writing novel-length stories capturing my observations and experiences, and hip-hop culture was a major part of that.  This was at that time when hip-hop was proving to have staying power and was starting to reflect more social commentary with songs like THE MESSAGE and Run DMC’s first few singles like IT’S LIKE THAT. 


What genre does your book fall under?
Other than to say YA i.e. young adult fiction, I honestly don’t know what the subgenre is named.  Maybe some of you reading this can tell me. I’ve posted an excerpt to give you a taste.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is tough for me to answer because I’m not very familiar with who are the visible young actors of the day. I might if I watched the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, but I don’t. To be transparent, I doubt that even if I did, I would find actors who fit the way I envision my characters. There are so few young actors of color who work consistently, and most who are given an opportunity to do so because they can cross over to White audiences. There’s a certain edge they either don’t have or are compelled to hide.  

When I write SHOW AND PROVE, the movie in mind casts actual young people I encounter in New York City. The best I can do here is (1) take suggestions from those of you who are reading this and (2) approximate which adults I could have imagined playing these characters if they were the right age.  Ever since I saw DRUMLINE, for example, I’ve seen a young Nick Cannon. Same with Victor Rasuk in the role of Nike whenever I watch RAISING VICTOR VARGAS.  And because Cookie is an athletic Afro-Latina I see Zoe Saldaña.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Set in the summer of 1983 in New York City, two young men reach a crossroads in their friendship as they struggle to come of age without drifting apart. 
Honestly, I think this needs work. 
It’s true but not accurate or compelling.
I mean, if you were a teen, would you read it based on this?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
SHOW AND PROVE is going to be published by Alfred A. Knopf.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Years. I began actually writing it in 2010 after the publication of my first young adult novel EFRAIN’S SECRET. However, like I said, this story’s been incubating since I was twelve, thirteen years old. I just submitted to my editor what I call a “zero draft.” Not everything that needs to be there is on the page yet, but there was enough story for me to need direction as to what might be missing, underdeveloped or even overdone.  I’ll consider my next draft a true first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is tough. When choosing what to write about, I usually think, “What’s the book that I’d want to read that doesn’t already exist?” I don’t know of any stories set in the 80s that interweave the hip-hop culture and the social and political events of the time into the unfolding of the characters’ lives. I also use a great deal of vernacular – slang as it was spoken – in my work and especially in this novel.  With respect to tone, I would say it’s similar to the works of Paul Volponi and Rita Williams-Garcia and adult novelists like Abraham Rodriguez and Richard Price.  Not saying that my work is as good as any of theirs, just sayin’….

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I liked the idea of creating a literary time capsule of my adolescence.  My own experience as a kid who attended a summer day camp in the South Bronx was filled with colorful characters and indelible events that I actually think are pretty universal.  I’m also compelled by the notion of how the more things change, the more they stay the same. With every draft of the novel, I discover more elements that bring this idea into sharper focus. It’s fascinating.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My hope is that this book will not only pique young readers but also the parents, teachers and other adults in their lives who might’ve come of age at that time.  It’s a novel that I hope they’ll read and discuss together and even bond over as they explore, again, how things have changed and how they haven’t.
You can read an excerpt of SHOW AND PROVE here.
Below are my tags of other authors:

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