In my non-birding life, beloved birders, I’m also a writer and I guess it’s about time I give you glimpse into that other parallel universe of mine. There’s a game of virtual tag going on among writers called The Next Big Thing, where writers are invited to answer 10 questions about their work-in-progress, and then pass the baton over to five (or in my case four) other writers. And on it goes.
Many thanks to the awesome writer and martial artist Laure Baudot for tagging me.
1. What is the working title of your book?
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I lived and worked in Mid-Missouri for a few years and couldn’t quite get my head around the place. Everything about it eluded my understanding and I never felt at home there. I started writing about what it felt like to be displaced, misplaced, out of place, removed from a place, and slowly the material developed girth and I began to sense it was robust enough to craft into a story.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
It’s creative nonfiction, with a great deal of emphasis on creative. It’s part memoir, part travelogue, part Bildungsroman. Definitely a hybrid of sorts. Some days it’s a memoir with a whole lot of fiction thrown in, and other days it’s fiction with a strong component of memoir. I’m still working on pinning down the genre.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh fun! I would want Sarah Polley to direct the movie. Since the book is structured as a series of vignettes, I would need a great ensemble cast. Perhaps Michelle Williams could play the protagonist. I’d love to have Bob Costas play himself. Perhaps Jeremy Irons would grace the screen with a cameo as an older professor with a predilection for competitive ping pong. Hopefully, Ewan McGregor would agree to play the protagonist’s eventual husband (though he would need to undergo an intense weight training regimen). Judy Davis and Colin Firth would play the protagonist’s parents and Helen Miren would shine as the grandmother. Sarah Silverman would get the role of her life as a midwestern Gym recruiter. Oh my goodness — I can’t wait to see the movie!!
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Migrating Home follows the trials and tribulations of a displaced 30-something year old Russian literature professor who tries (unsuccessfully) to make a home for herself and find love in mid-Missouri. It’s also about family, food, Russian emigre identity, and an unintentional crush on Bob Costas. (oops, that’s 2 sentences!)
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This is still a work in progress. I’m just trying to write the best book I can write, and I’ll start to worry about the agent/publication issues when the time is right.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Longer than I’d like to admit. (I was actually going to skip this question!) The manuscript keeps changing and growing and shrinking and veering off in a new direction and circling back again and I guess that’s just my writing process. It’s the story of a particularly challenging moment in time, and I’m still working on articulating its strangeness in ways that are both honest (in terms of its pain) and compelling to a reader looking for a satisfying story.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There’s a fabulous tradition of Russian emigre writers, writing out of the US and Canada — David Bezmozgis, Lara Vapnyar, Sana Krasikov, Irina Reyn, Gary Shteyngart, to name a few — and parts of my book have strong ties to that tradition. Isabel Huggan’s Belonging andJonathan Franzen’s Discomfort Zone both interrogate the notion of home and have broadened my own understanding of what it means (or doesn’t) to be at home.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The extraordinary Maureen Stanton was the first person to read excerpts, when we both lived and worked in Missouri, and she encouraged me to push the material further. She was the first to see that I had a story worth telling. I write a great deal about my family, and they continue to inspire me in their strangeness, their tenacity, their fearlessness, their success in making a home for themselves in a new country, and their captivating identity, which I’m constantly striving to understand.
10. What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?
You can read excerpts in the upcoming winter issue of the Threepenny Review and in the next issue of PRISM International. And yes, the book does feature some migratory birds! The book is both funny and sad, with a healthy dose of the absurd — kind of like life!
And now, find out what these awesome writers are working on…
Message for tagged authors: Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***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:
What is the working title of your book?
Where the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up five people in advance.