The Next Big Thing
Next Big Thing” is a blog hop where writers around the world share what
they’re working on by responding to ten questions. Thanks to author Abigail DeWitt, who invited me to join the project. You can learn more about her right here.
I’m tagging Rosemary Austin, Kyle Lang, Mary Emerick, Mary Kay Zuvraleff, and Laurie Foos. If all goes well, you can check out their answers next week. (I’ll link to their individual posts). Here goes:
What is your working title of your book?
I’m calling it The Longest Day of the Year. Most of the novel takes place on June 21st, 2009 and is set in Afghanistan.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s inspired by two short stories published in Flashes of War, my collection forthcoming from Loyola University Maryland. The first story, “The Quiet Kind,” features a US soldier and his wife and their lives back in North Carolina after the soldier’s tour of duty. The second story, “Aaseya and Rahim,” features an Afghan couple living in Oruzgan Province. Last summer, an agent suggested to me that I might try writing a novel. I laughed at the suggestion, but was likewise intrigued. Could I write something that long? What would I learn if I tried? After some discussions with authors Jaimy Gordon, Patricia Ann McNair, and Anne-Marie Oomen, I decided I had nothing to lose if I tried. These mentors heard me out in my early vocal brainstorming for the novel, as I described “The Quiet Kind” and “Aaseya and Rahim” to them, and the unique parallels between the two couples caught up in the same war, but from completely different cultures.
What genre does your book fall under?
Realistic, contemporary fiction.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Maybe the U.S. soldier could be Matt Damon, and his wife could be a very talented, yet-to-be-discovered actress. I have no idea which actors I would select to play the Afghan couple.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A loyal, quick-minded Second Lieutenant Nathan Morris leads Spartan Platoon on their last mission to the village of Imar. Meanwhile, the government Morris so wholly protects and defends is filtering American dollars into the counterinsurgency efforts, complicating life for Rahim, an Afghan citizen of Imar who is caught in the middle of a no-win situation. The two men’s lives are invisibly interwoven, as are the lives of their loved ones, but it takes the longest day of the year for all the pieces to fall into place. (I really hate this question.)
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I have only just completed the first draft of my novel, and I am seeking representation by an agent.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About 9 months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I think it’s too soon to tell, but there are certainly many good war books out there these days and even more of them being published.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Researching and writing about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been an interest and obsession of my for three years and counting. It’s very important to me to look at these wars and ask questions. Writing about them is my way of moving closer to an answer. Recently, author Alan Graz asked me this question, and the interview will be published in the coming months. Likewise, this book trailer takes a stab at answering the very complicated question of why I write about war.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This novel deals with the ramifications of a true incident in war, focusing on the 2009 breaking news that US taxpayers’ dollars are funding the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. In short, the US pays Afghan trucking companies to deliver goods all across Afghanistan to the US Military bases. These Afghan trucking companies have to hire security to promise safe delivery of the goods, and those “guards” are often insurgents or members of the Taliban, who take their US cash payments and put them to work against US soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan. This novel looks at the very real consequences of that, and brings the matter to the forefront of the heart by focusing on American and Afghan characters caught in the middle, just trying to do what’s right.