The Next Big Thing

By some fluke of planetary alignment, divine intervention, or (possibly) my unexpectedly excellent karma, three authors have nominated me for The Next Big Thing in the same momentous weekend. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such an honor, but I accept with gratitude and a plethora of thanks.

First, with gratitude to Clive Eaton, author of the thrilling sci-fi mystery, The Pyramid Legacy (a GoodReads #1 list topper), and immense supporter of independent authors, I give my best gracious bow.  

My second deep bow of thanks goes to A.E.Marling, whose fantasy novels mingle whimsical eccentricities with delicious evil portrayed in a tantalizing display of witticism, sarcasm and just plain tingle-your-toes scary fabulousness.

My third bow of immense gratitude goes to authoress Catherine Winchester, whose richly detailed historical fiction novels remind us of a more elegant time.   

Again, thank you three for the nod. Now, on to the traditional Next Big Thing interview:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Book 3. It’s also the name of my favorite playlist right now. And the most frequented topic of my subconscious as evidenced by the number of troublesome dreams (or sleep-deprived nights) spent brooding upon it.

Yes, I’m deep into the quagmire of planning/writing the third book in my ongoing fantasy series, A Pattern of Shadow & Light, and just when I think I’ve got the pattern figured out, some new detail springs to light that make it look less like an inspired tapestry of intrigue and adventure and more like the tangled ball of yarn/cat hair/unrecognizable-ick that my cat bats around on the kitchen floor when she’s not leaving it deposited as a gift on my bed.  

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Astral projection. I’m convinced the characters are trying to contact me from another realm and pushing their entire story into my head as a means of convincing me to brave the void of space/time/dimension to find them.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Epic fantasy…unless there is some new category named Philosophical Adventure Fantasy, or Allegorical Fantasy, or Epic Fictional Philosophy. 

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me this question…

I’m just glad I’m not a casting director. I pity the stout men and women bearing the brunt of an author’s ire when they’ve absolutely mangled the book ever before it makes it to the big screen, such as casting Tom Cruise for the part of Lestat. He did a great job of embodying Anne Rice’s character in essence, I suppose, but Lestat just doesn’t look like Tom.

If you have any ideas as to who could play the roles of Ean, Tanis, Trell, Phaedor, Carian, Fynn, Alyneri or any of my other diverse cast, by all means pass them my way. I’m hesitant to restrict a reader’s own expression of these pivotal characters by providing a picture open to no further interpretation than criticism.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

For Book 3? One cannot lead without first being willing to sacrifice everything. 

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

This will be my third self-published book.

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

Still writing. Grrr….

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

Anyone who loves epic fantasy will like my series. It’s full of true-to-life characters struggling with problems not unlike our own (if with sometimes more dramatic consequences), and complex villains, none of whom are what they seem (okay, maybe one or two are exactly what they seem—Dore Madden).   

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I see fantasy as a metaphor for life in this world. As a philosopher by nature, I love the fantasy genre for its inherent struggles between good and evil. What’s most interesting to me is exploring the many shades of grey in between the ultimates. People rarely set out to do evil. More often, they feel entirely justified in their decisions—yet those same decisions and actions may indeed appear evil when viewed from the other side of the field.  

I like to take a single concept, such as leadership in book 3, and pick it apart, turn it around, give you different ideas of it from different points of view, and ultimately challenge the reader to say they can ever view leadership the same way again.

The human spirit provides an endless resource for exploration, and in its infinite variability, it deserves to be explored.

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

Book 3 follows a path that explores compulsion and free-will, the responsibilities of leaders, duty versus personal purpose, one’s nature/inclination and choice, and the relationship between integrity and courage, all wrapped into a roller-coaster ride of adventure, treachery, sedition, torture, bravery, heroism and intrigue. Oh, and there will be some happy moments, too. Lest we forget the only absolute law: there is balance in all things.

And now, my nominees for The Next Big Thing: 

Martha Bourke 

V.K. Ramsey

Andre Todorovich

Troy Blackford

Christopher Shawbell 

 

        

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8 Responses to “The Next Big Thing”

  1. Congratulations on the nomination! I’m so excited for you! It’s well deserved.

    And your one sentence synopsis to book three: “One cannot lead without first being willing to sacrifice everything.” — Eek! That both terrifies and thrills me.

    Great interview and news. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much for the nomination. Umm… what do I d now?
    ~Chris

  3. A.E. Marling says:

    Indeed, the very planets are conspiring toward your greatness. And the theme for your third book, To lead one must be willing to risk all, is apt. Too often, leaders will be paralyzed by fear of risks, and by not acting, they bring about a worse fate for all.

    May your words ever find you.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Alan. Fantasy offers an intriguing venue for exploring this oft-misunderstood subject. I’m looking forward to exploring ideas of leadership from many different viewpoints as I head further into book 3.

  4. I enjoy the exalted state of human exploration in your series, Melissa. Your characters are larger-than-life, but express the fractures of grappling with personality and purpose. My sincere thanks for the nomination, and including me in this great conversation of writers! ~ Dre

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Andre. It’s definitely something I strive to achieve. One of the benefits of fantasy is being able to show these intimate, personal moments within extreme circumstances, dichotomies of shadow and light ~ purpose and conflict, duty and desire.

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