The Next Big Thing: Queen & Commander

Woohoo! I got tagged in The Next Big Thing blog hop, thanks to Victoria Pond, speculative erotic romance writer. This blog hop gives authors the chance to discuss their current projects, and then tag five others for the following week. (I only managed to find four people to tag. Maybe my tag-ees will do better?)

Here are my 10 answers!

What is the working title of your book?

Queen & Commander. I’m already working on the sequel, which I fondly refer to as Queen & Klepto or Trust and Tensor Jets, but will probably end up being Caper & Commander.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Queen & Commander started in 2007 and combined three ideas.

  1. Students take combo SATs/Meyers-Briggs tests in order to determine their perfect degree programs without needing to pick it themselves. (Back then, I was taking a lot of personality tests because I was in the midst of switching careers and wanted to find out what I’d be best at.)
  2. Building a society based on the way that smart boys always seem to flock to one particular girl in college. (I later found great examples of this with famous Queens, like, say, Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare! Marlowe! Okay, and a bunch of intrigue.)
  3. I like spaceships, and I wanted to call a ship the Ceridwen’s Cauldron and then change it partway through to the Manawyddan’s Mousetrap. (This naming convention meant the book had to begin on a Welsh-colonized planet. And then I needed to learn about Wales.)

What genre does your book fall under?

Space opera! It’s a young adult science fiction novel. I’m pretty sure you could call it an adult novella or a middle-grade book too, but it’s intended to be YA SF.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Confession: The very first version of this novel in 2007, I cast my friends in all the roles. Then, things changed a lot, and all that information was useless. I know that Luciano is played by football star (soccer-style) David Villa in this particular photo. Minor-character Olivia, a beta-reader suggested, should be played by Judy Dench. Readers can use their imaginations for the rest of the main cast.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Teenagers run away from society as fast as their semi-legally-obtained spaceship will take them.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published, and it’s already funded via Kickstarter.

Huge thanks to all my Kickstarter backers! You guys are making possible: professional editing from Cat Rambo, a US cover from MAEI Design, an international cover from Sara McSorely, and a myriad of little things like ISBNs, accounting costs, proofreading, and so on.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The actual manuscript took 3 weeks, page one to epilogue. But there were 5 months before that of hardcore outlining. (My outline was 30-odd pages, not to mention the notebook of background, and the other 50 pages of character descriptions.) Admittedly, I was employed for part of that time and only got my lunch breaks for outline work.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s got a lot in common with the first Miles Vorkosigan book, The Warrior’s Apprentice (Bujold), what with the spaceships and the kids who don’t-quite-steal one. But where The Warrior’s Apprentice is funny, Queen & Commander isn’t really. Maybe it’s closer to old-school SF, like Heinlein juveniles or Asimov.

Part of the reason I love this book so much is that it doesn’t really match up with the other things out there. It’s a YA book… without a central romance plot. It’s an adventure book… with an ensemble cast. It’s about culture wars… but you can ignore that part if you want to. (Also love: spaceships!)

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been trying to write this for years after being inspired by all those personality tests. If it weren’t for deciding to do every exercise in K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel (yes, EVERY one) it may never have gotten finished.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

All my good science comes from the Titanium Physicists podcast. (Any bad science is purely by accident.) Also, I’m already working on the sequel, and I know (vaguely) what happens in book three. So, you can rest assured that there are plans for more. Queen & Commander should be available in digital format by March 2013, and in print by April.

Thank all of you for reading, and thank you, Victoria, for tagging me in The Next Big Thing blog hop. Next up are:

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Janine A. Southard is a Writer & Editor for narrative projects. She's a proven talent when it comes to mimicking voices and crafting content for videogames, articles, & fiction.