So, my ACQ buddy, Revo, tagged me for The Next Big Thing. Basically, fun questions and answers about one's own novel. I was pretty torn over what to write about since I have three interesting projects, four if you include the co-authored novella. Anyway, decided to go with OUTGROWN HORSES because it was my Goddard thesis, and also something I'd like to get queried out.
Anyway, shall we?
1) What is the working title of your novel? OUTGROWN HORSES. Excerpts of it can be read on my website under the writing and articles section.
2) Where did the idea for your book come from? When I was sixteen, I had the privilege of working with Judy Troy. She gave me a writing exercise that because an unfinished short story, more of a character profile really. I forgot about that little unfinished whatever it was as I had to become OMFGBIGWRITER--seriously, the snobbery I had for incredibly sub-par writing was unbelievable and I cringe now. After I was miraculously accepted into Goddard College's MFA program, I planned to work on this OMFGAWESOMENOVEL that turned out to be not so awesome and really an idea from a House, M.D. fanfic (well hey, 50 Shades anyone?). When digging through my computer files, I came upon this little story, became silent, and realized that what I wrote at sixteen was infinitely better than what I wrote at twenty-four (when I was accepted). It humbled me, and I spent five semesters on the beast. This novel became my graduating thesis, and is something I'm very partial to.
3) What genre does your book fall under? Literary fiction.
4) Which actors would you cast in a movie rendition of your novel? Best question ever... and the hardest as I realize that I'm still stuck on phenomenal actors who now are 10-20 years older than the ideal. However, I'm going to give it a go. Let's see what happens.
Now, my three main characters (including one who really is the antagonist) were shockingly the hardest ones to cast. My ideal plan was to get some actors who were very good but not the OMFGOBVIOUS names in the roles. For Brent and Daniel, as protagonist and antagonist with a lot of sexy scenes, it was critical that I found an actor who could pull off the stoic cowboy in the same moment as miserably in love and an actor who could pull off the most unpredictable character who's on a dangerous road to addiction. The more minor characters were very easily cast.
BRENT SIDELL, played by Wentworth Miller: Brent is a 20, semi-closeted gay man who struggles with wanting to live a good honest life rescuing horses from slaughter while getting drawn into the web Daniel has cast for him. He's supposed to be ethical, quiet, sometimes bitchy, and just absolutely devoted to Daniel. Has a few very angry scenes, and some of his moments of brilliance make me look at the way Wentworth Miller played Michael Scofield in Prison Break and smile. A few very sexy scenes between the pair. Brent is also a very fearful character until the end, and even then, it's questionable.
DANIEL KING, played by Aaron Paul: 21-year-old Daniel is possibly the most complicated character in OUTGROWN HORSES due to his past, trying to fit in with the shady show circuit, and increasing cocaine use (not to mention the strange friend and sexiness with him). I wanted an actor who looked young but also could pull off a lot of different emotions, switching from anger to euphoria, and able to pull off high scenes. His brilliant job as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad makes him, in my opinion, my dream cast for Daniel. (Though, admittedly, my opinion might have changed if Ewan McGreggor were ten or so years younger after his portrayal of Renton in Trainspotting and Curt Wild in Velvet Goldmine (Kurt Cobain anyone?)).
LEWIS HARRISON, played by Dane DeHaan: So, why would I have someone who's in their twenties playing a boy who's thirteen (then turns 14). Simple--his portrayal of Jesse in In Treatment was a flawless portrayal of an angry, gay teenager... which is exactly who Lewis is. Additionally, there's one sex scene with Lewis and ethically I don't like the idea of casting a teenager in a role that has a sex scene, realistic as it may be. I think that sometimes can lead to exploitation.
RUSTY HARRISON, played by Aaron Eckhart:The only reason why I questioned this cast was because, ideally, I wanted someone who had near paralysis from the waist down to play Rusty. However, the more I see Aaron Eckhart perform (especially in his indie film work, even though I think everyone and their mother loved his Harvey Dent), the more certain I am that he could pass off a bitter alcoholic confined to a wheelchair who's a terrible, negligent father to Lewis, an awful husband to Juneifer, and really only gives a crap about Brent, who is training his horse so he can do therapeutic riding and hopefully walk again.
MAURICE, played by Samuel L. Jackson: Maurice is one badass mofo. Pardon my French, but he is. In his 50s or 60s, he's the only black man in a very small, very conservative, very racist area, yet he's so hardcore and amazing that people give him respect and know not to fuck with him. He's Brent's mentor, and one of the only people Brent will freely talk about sexuality with... except there is the issue that Maurice thinks Daniel's a no good son of a bitch, and Brent's loyalty is with Daniel.
JOHN, played by Robert Knepper: This was a no brainer. John owns the slaughterhouse and is Brent's VERY homophobic boss. I wanted to have someone who was the creepiest looking person and most angry and evil looking person play a villain like him, especially with a nasty gay bashing scene at one point. Plus, dude has to smoke these cigars and have stalker tendencies. What better person to play a villain than the man who pulled off T-Bag in Prison Break (ignoring that T-Bag slept with anything pretty, regardless of sex or whether they were living...)
MARC, played by Leonardo DiCaprio: Age doesn't really matter, though no less than 40s. This was an EXTREMELY hard one to cast, but I decided on Leonardo DiCaprio because I felt that he could play a man who was just sleazy, who lied, cared about money (and more money), slept with minors, was abusive, and basically is the catalyst for Daniel becoming an antagonist. Leonardo DiCaprio is handsome enough to definitely pull off the charming trainer who'd manipulate young, teenage boys.
JUNEIFER HARRISON, played by Charlize Theron: Deglamourize her as they did in Monster, and you get a 40s/50s woman who's incredibly depressed as she's neglected by her asshole, alcoholic husband (Rusty), and trying to get by raising her son, Lewis. Although a minor character, the few scenes she has with Brent are important to his character, and shows the tenderness and care she has for Lewis.
OTIS THE COW SLAUGHTERER, played by Christopher Meloni: Hahaha, did you really think I could go casting something without my mancrush, Christopher Meloni? Well, think twice because Otis isn't physically appealing. Take a cow slaughterer who's a priest with tattoos and very old school and smells like sandalwood and blood... well, Christopher Meloni could pull it off. Especially the creepiness that scares the hell out of Brent.
5. Give a one-sentence synopsis of your book. It's like "Brokeback Mountain" only with more gay, more show jumping, and dubious consent.
6. Will your book be self-published or will you try to get an agent? Agent, please, if possible. I'd rather stick to writing, not business.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your novel? About two years... end of my 4th semester when I was working with Douglas, actually!
8. What other books would you compare yours to? I always feel awkward comparing my book to others because well... they're my idols. But... Jaimy Gordon's LORD OF MISRULE, Michael Klein's TRACK CONDITIONS, Cormac McCarthy's ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, Carson McCullers's "The Jockey," and Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain." Yes, I included two short stories--deal with it.
9. Who or what inspired you to write your book? Although it started out as a character profile, at the very end I realized that it mirrored a relationship (not romantic or sexual) I had with someone who betrayed me after they sought their own career, decided meth was a much better friend, and who was done stepping over me.
10. What about your book might pique the reader's interest? Besides the horses, which are just such fascinating animals, and the dark, sketchiness in showing horses, I think a lot of people who have been in abusive, one-sided relationships with complicated people might appreciate this. Or anyone who has seen someone deteriorate and not known, until it was too late, that they were falling succumb to drugs and sexual abuse.
Well, that's that. Hope you enjoyed!!!Thoughts?
I'm tagging my buddy Elizabeth F. next!Will link once I have a link!