The Next Big Thing

Snake Talker novel cover

Snake Talker

Today I’m hosting the Next Big Thing blog campaign. The Next Big Thing is an international campaign that began in Australia. Authors and illustrators of books for kids and young adults talk about their recently published books and/or those that are due to be released. Each author who has been nominated turns around and nominates a couple of other authors. We all answer the same questions about our work. It’s really just a great big game of “Tag, you’re it.” Today is my turn to answer The Next Big Thing’s standard questions about my book, Snake Talker, and I’m tagging two of my favorite fellow kids’ book authors, Ann Koffsky and Sean McCollum, to go next.

What is the working title of your next book?
The one I’m currently working on is still in my head and not yet on paper so I’m going to talk about a book that is already out. Snake Talker came out over a year ago.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I actually got two ideas for books at the same time. I decided to write this one first because I knew more about the story. I don’t remember exactly where the idea came from. Like so many story ideas they seem to be made up of bits and pieces of things that interest me. They merge in my subconscious and suddenly the idea is there.

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

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
You’ve got me on that one. Most of the actors I know are too old to play the part. I guess Shia LaBeouf or Zach Effron for Griz and Dakota Fanning or Emma Watson for Gschu.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An eighteen year old scam artist discovers pretending to be the lost heir could have deadly consequences when he is kidnapped and taken to the planet, Habu. Only the true heir can access the source of all power. So what’s a scammer to do when going on with the con will get you killed? Become a hero, of course. (Not exactly one sentence, but this was as close as I could get.)

Who is publishing your book?
I self-published my book on the recommendation of an editor. She liked it but couldn’t acquire it because it wasn’t dystopian. I like to interject humor in my stories and at that time they only wanted bleak dystopian universes.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It  took me about 9 months to write the first draft. Then it took me another 3 years to polish it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’d like to compare it in tone to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books as Snake Talker has a fantasy feel to it. It’s not hard tech science fiction. It’s more of an adventure novel with a bit of romance thrown in.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My parents always encouraged me to write while I was growing up. Later on, after exploring other genres, I finally got up the nerve to try science fiction, which is what I really wanted to write. I love reading science fiction and watching sci-fi movies and TV, but I admit the first time I tried writing the genre I was intimidated. I didn’t think I had the science background to pull it off. Luckily, only hard science fiction requires that. Once I tried writing in the genre I realized I could still concentrate on the interaction of characters, which is what I enjoy the most, while having the freedom and opportunities of space to set the story in. It’s a really fun genre to work in.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Snake Talker was a semi-finalist in last year’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. Here is the Publisher’s Weekly review of it from the contest:

This fast-paced adventure is a romp through deadly danger right from the very first line. Griz is an 18-year-old scam artist pulling what he thinks is a simple con—nabbing money by pretending to be the missing heir to the throne of the starving but technophobic Habuans—when he ends up kidnapped by warlord Colas. But Colas isn’t interested in ruling; he wants the legendary “source of all power,” believing it fuels the massive energy generated by Habun’s crystal fields—and he needs Griz to pass a series of “true heir” tests. Attacked as soon as he arrives on Habu, Griz finds himself yanked back and forth between Colas, the zealot rebel leader Pha-El, and Gschu, an all-too-attractive young woman who is supposedly the heir’s servant, but clearly is anything but. The streetwise scammer constantly envisions many detailed angles to save his skin, even after becoming invested in the Habuans and Gschu in particular, that he’s both a believable con artist and a winning hero. A fun teeth-gritting ride that manages to avoid the clichés of the con artist yarn.

Next up on The Next Big Thing, a week from today:


Ann Koffsky

April 25th

Sean McCollum

May 2nd


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