The Next Big Thing

Helen Howell tagged me in a blog post round robin called The Next Big Thing. It's a self-interview with ten questions, to be answered in a blog post.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing

What is the working title of your book?
"Verbosity's Vengeance: A Grammarian Adventure Novel"

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This started in October 2010 as a tiny idea about the power of language and the restrictions of grammar. It led to a loopy FridayFlash story which was well received. The close proximity to NaNoWriMo prompted me to take this story as the germ of that year's effort. Over that month, I expanded the story to 51,000 words. It's now almost finished at 114,000 words.

What genre does your book fall under?
Superhero science fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Alex Graham aka the Grammarian: Martin Freeman
Professor Verbosity: Ray Liotta
Kate Hunter: Ellen Page
Walter McHenry aka the Avant Guardian: Brendan Gleeson

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Professor Verbosity threatens to attack Lexicon City with an unspeakable superweapon, the Grammarian is just the hero to save the day... assuming he can hire a sidekick first.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
That's an excellent question.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
First draft (51K) was written during the 30 days of NaNoWriMo 2010.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Grammarian is a superhero, and the book is a fast-paced superhero adventure. It has lots of explosions, fights, mysteries to investigate, red herrings, betrayals, a love interest, chases, escapes, and a hero who drinks coffee. Mix equal parts Batman, Iron Man, Reed Richards, Plastic Man, and Deadpool, then add a dash of Richie Rich and Ron Weasley. The jokes and wordplay about grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, etc. might be reminiscent of the Thursday Next books, or perhaps The Phantom Tollbooth, although I didn't consciously model the Grammarian on either one.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I'd written a few tragic superhero stories, but never one that was consciously funny. This idea came along at just the right time.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Allow me to introduce Kate Hunter, my female lead:
"Alex, come on!" Walter rolled his eyes. "Does she look like a Ph.D. to you? Besides, LPU is an engineering technology research school. I mean, really, open your eyes, pal! Have you ever seen anyone who looks less like an engineer?" He winked at Kate, all boyish charm.

In a flash, Kate's smile was gone as muscles clenched along her jaw line.

Uh oh, Alex thought. He glanced at Walter and winced. Even though Kate's changed expression shouldn't have been hard to read, Walter was oblivious.

She looked up at the big man and said, "You're right, Walter, I'm not a postdoc and I'm not an engineer."

"See, Alex? I told you."

"I'm a full professor in the Materials Science department. LPU was so eager to hire me away from CalTech, they threw in tenure. My undergraduate work at Yale was in organic chemistry, and my master's degree at the University of Chicago was in cryogenic electron capture. For my doctoral work at M.I.T., I invented a method for autoassembly of interphase semitransitional solids. Here at LPU, I’m continuing my work on quantum oscillation dampening fields. Lots of chemistry and physics, but you're right, no engineering degree."

She handed her empty glass to Walter, whose mouth was hanging open wide enough for his foot.

"Now then, if you'll excuse me, gentlemen," she said, "I think I've had enough entertainment for one evening."

Alex, pleased and surprised, caught the chagrined look on Walter' face. However, before Alex could say anything, a pistol shot exploded from the far side of the room, followed by a man's voice, shouting, "All right, nobody move!"

TAG: I'm supposed to tag three people. I tag:
Jodi Cleghorn
Jim Allen
Laura Eno

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Count me in! Thanks for the tag.

  2. Sounds like a great read - good luck with it! ^_^

  3. I remember that flash. It was funny and fun to read.

  4. This sounds so great, Tony, glad you participated in this tag!

  5. Thanks, everyone - I hope you like it!

  6. I did NOT picture Alex as Martin Freeman, but I could totally see him in that role. (I just realized I use 'totally' way too much. Is my feathered hair showing?)


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