My Turn at the BLOG HOP — The Next Big Thing

A writer friend of mine, John Daulton, author of The Galactic Mage, tagged me in something called a “Blog Hop,” which is a diabolically crafty  new way for writers to talk about their work, support other writers, and help readers find new writers they might not know about. So, in the spirit of self promotion and goodwill to  all apes, I happily accepted the baton, so to speak, and will play along. To do so, I will begin with adhering to the format, which appears to be posting the Blog Hop title, the rules, the questions (with answers) and the links:

 
BLOG HOP — The Next Big Thing
 
The rules for the Blog Hop are as follows:
1. Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you
2. Post the rules for the blog hop
3. Answer these 10 questions about your current WIP (work in progress) on your blog
4. Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them
 
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
 
1. What is the working title of your book?
I've got two works in progress that I am sitting on, but I prefer to keep one of them as a deep dark secret which I hope to be able to reveal to much fanfare toward the middle of December. Suffice it to say that this secret work deals with the greatest problems that mankind has ever faced and that it offers some surprising insights into the the history of the United States.
 
The other work in progress is Part Two of Our Lady of Kaifeng. It is set in a Japanese internment camp for enemy aliens in China during World War II. It is the story of suffering, resistance and heroism, and it contrasts different world outlooks under some extreme conditions. 
 
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for Part Two of Our Lady of Kaifeng , of course, come from Part One. They are both two parts of the same novel that deals with commercial chastity, unilateral love, and the life of an individual who does not subscribe to the doctrine that reciprocity is everything. 
 
Another issue that comes up in the novel, obliquely, is that of identity and mixed allegiance.
For instance, in Part One, the nuns were sure that the Chinese were killing Catholics, because they had pretty much divided everyone in the world into two categories: Catholic and Non-Catholic. But the Chinese did not see it that way at all. They thought that everybody in the world was divided a different way: axis vs. allies. They killed Italian Catholic priests because Italy was on the wrong side of the war from them.
 
In Part Two, you might think that all the allied people in the internment camp are on the same side and that the Japanese are their oppressors. On the surface it seems that way, but in every power struggle coalitions are formed with people who are supposed to be the enemy. 
 
We are seeing this today as well, in US politics. The two major parties are in cohoots, and all dissenting voices are muffled. If we divide the world into black and white, red and blue, sinner and saint, we miss out on a lot important information. We may not see the coalitions between people from supposedly opposite camps: people who actually run everything!
 
3. What genre does your book fall under?
That is such a hard question to answer! Most people agree that Our Lady of Kaifeng is not science fiction. It is not fantasy. It is some kind of historical fiction, but it isn't really mainstream. If it were mainstream it would focus only on the internal, emotional experiences of a few characters. But, like science fiction, it deals with a lot more than that.
 
One reviewer found the book to be surrealistic. But one person's reality is another's surrealism. You would just have to read it for yourself to find out. It's true that the atmosphere and the point of view are unique, which makes it hard to accept as ordinary reality as most people know it. 
 
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
 I don't see a lot of movies that are current, and I don't watch TV anymore, so I would have to fall back on actors that I used to like when I was more au courant. The good thing about it is that most of the characters in the book are a little bit older, and the actors I can think of are older now, too, though I first encountered them when they were quite young. So there is not really an age mismatch problem. 
 
I would choose Winona Ryder to play the starring role of Marah Fallowfield, a middle aged virgin mother. Brendan Fraser would play the dashing Ted Sesame. (I think his lips could be redder than roses, with the application of the appropriate make-up, and his skin whiter than snow.) Jodie Foster would be splendid as Sister John of Ghent, and to play Father Horvath, I would choose Paul Darrow in his current condition, and not the way he used to look on Blake's Seven. This role calls for over the top acting, which Darrow is very good at. If Darrow were not available, then I would choose Johnny Depp to replace him, but he'd need to wear a lot of make-up to look the part. 
 
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a  bunch of missionaries, drug addicts, cigarette company executives, nuns, diplomats and whores are all interned together in the same concentration camp, high drama ensues.
 
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book will be published by the venerable small press known as Inverted-A Press.
 
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Ten years.
 
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
None. Then, again, I don't really know what the genre is.
 
But I will say that I was influenced by Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brody in writing part one, because it was set in a girl's school. Also, Kipling is a major influence, and there are references to his works and quotes from his poetry throughout both parts. 
 
But if you want a really crass description by way of easily accessible  cultural references, then it's kind of like Joan of Arc meets Hogan's Heroes.
 
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My years at Rice University together with the time I spent teaching in Taiwan gave me the background I needed to write this book. The rest is history! Lots and lots of history.
 
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If you are interested in autism and how it relates to sainthood, then this book is definitely for you. 
 
Writers Tagged
 
And the writers I’m tagging are:
 
1. Leslie Fish , author of A Dirge for Sabis . Her  blog:    http://lesliebard.blogspot.com/.
2. Robert  E. Vardeman, author of Sandcats of Rhyl. His blog: http://robertvardeman.wordpress.com
3. Cindy Vine, author of Defective. Her blog: url: http://cindy-vine.blogspot.com/
4. Alicia Rose, author of Just Alex. Her blog: http://aliciaroseat.wordpress.com/
5.  Harvey Stelman, author of Eyes of Emerald. His blog: http://www.eyesofemerald.com/.
 
And there you have it, my official first Blog Hop blog entry. It was fun to do, especially casting the movie and talking about how impossible genre is to pin down. Thanks again to John Daulton (don’t forget to check out his books and blog) for inviting me to play along. I hope a few of you folks who make it this far down my post will go have a look at these other writers’ work and blogs as well.