Friday, April 5, 2013

The novel 'On the Lips of Children' - The Next Big Thing

A fellow blogger, runner, and writer caught wind of my soon to be released project, and graciously tagged me with a string of questions for writers called, “The Next Big Thing.”  Yes, it is one of those question tags that goes from blog to blog, infecting each one like the superflu, only this one is specifically geared towards soon to be released books

Honey, Do You Need a Ride?
Confessions of a Fat Runner,

Jennifer Graham is the author of Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner,  a book with a cover that looks good enough to eat and has received wonderful reviews on amazon.

She also has an identity as one of the spicey bloggers at Salty Runner, the best little blogging place anywhere. Check it out here if you haven’t already.

Here we go, 'The Next Big Thing,' the interview:
What is the title of your book?
“On the Lips of Children”
  The title is derived from the quote: “Mother is the name for God on the hearts and lips of all Children.”  This phrase is tattooed on a main character of the novel. The quote was made famous by the movie The Crow, but actually dates to the 1800’s.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea came from a predawn, dark run, nearly exactly as described in the novel. It was a secluded trail along the highway, which the hotel clerk had told me went all the way to the ocean from our hotel. It was so dark I could rarely see the trail, and ran by faith, not by sight.  As I ran, bodies of sleeping homeless men were strewn about the trail, some of them shuffling as I passed, some rising, and my imagination grew.
What if these men were part of some network, what if they were after me? I ran into a Doberman, saw shopping carts along the trail, and felt the presence of the specter of Tijuana not far from me, and then ideas grew. All of this and so much more is in the novel.  Macon, the tattoo artist in the story, came from a song by The Indigo Girls. 
I’ve actually been to Tijuana, and not just the tourist areas but places deep in the bowels where I wouldn’t go back to. Still, I read up on and did research into Tijuana. I came up with the idea for the family who has become trapped in a drug tunnel connecting TJ and San Diego, and how this mother was trapped with her babies, and would do anything for them to survive, even if it meant the lives of others.

What genre does your book fall under?
Dark fiction, suspense, adventure, horror, although there is no supernatural or ‘real’ monsters in it.  When my brain goes to story lines, it often goes to some extreme conflicts.  I see Fiction as life with the drama turned up, and nothing turns up the volume of life like a little darkness to outline the glow of the human spirit.  You need the dark to see the stars, as the character Dante says after snorting some bath-salts.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ah, such a cool question. Javier Bardem would make the perfect Dante.
To play Erin, I see Clare Danes from Homeland, as long as she trains to run a bit like Kara Goucher. And since there's some weird chemistry already there,  Damian Lewis(Brody) will be playing the role of Macon, after he dies his hair black.  Angelina Jolie will be Lupita and Nick Nolte will play the role of Hank.  Iggy pop will be playing the role of Padre, another homeless man.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A tattoo artist and his human canvass travel to San Diego to run a marathon, but instead get kidnapped by a tweaker family in a Tijuana drug tunnel.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
My San Diego run was done on February 15th, 2012, and I put finger to keypad soon after, and here I am a 13 months later with it done. I worked on it intermittently at first and let the ideas come to me. At this point, it has sucked me in like an obsession.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, It reads like a Nine Inch Nails or White Stripes song. As I wrote it, I had the novel Cujo in the back of my mind.  Novels only work when you care about the conflicts and goals of the characters, and that is what I have here: the characters in the story are dripping with vivid ink.   The novel is guaranteed to tattoo your eyeball or your money back.
How is this novel like your other novels?
Well, If my novel Stray had a ‘grittiness’ factor of 7 out of 10, this one goes to 11. And if my novel The Jade Rabbit was 75% about running, this novel is 25%, but both deal with the changes that happen from pushing oneself, and how the training bleeds into all areas of your life. I am intrigued by how running turns up the intensity of your body, mind, and spirit, and that all of your yearnings start to grow with your training. Running is just a metaphor for reaching for wholeness, love, connection, certainly much more than just time goals.  The Jade Rabbit may be the feminine version of this theme,  while On the Lips of Children is the masculine version.  Themes of pain and pleasure, and the lengths and hardship we will endure  for what we love are all in there.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The back story of the characters and their relationship with pleasure and pain, and the role that endorphins play in our life.  Erin is a character who was a cutter as a teen, who later in life has the same desire to cut but instead gets a piercing and a tattoo. She falls in love with her tattoo artist, who eventually fathers her child, and she teaches him the endorphin rush of marathon running.

In a strange way, the whole story could be read as a cautionary tale to us runners. The events wouldn’t have happened if the marathoner would have just rested one more day, but instead takes one last warm up run, farther and faster than is recommended.  There's a nod to the great children's book 'Where The Wild Things Are,' as well as the passage from the Robert Frost poem:  "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."
When will your book be released?
It was to be released about now, but due to some incredible fortune, it has been delayed. I hope to be making an announcement on that very soon. But if all goes well, by the end of hockey season.
And what is up with that cover?
Intense, right? Well, don't get attached, it may be changing, and this picture may now be on the inside flap instead.
I was looking for potential cover art and as soon as I came upon it, I thought “yes, yes, that’s it!” I was so happy that the artist was willing to work with me for affordable copy rights. The piece is entitled “Protected” and captures the sickly sense of family that is living underneath the tunnels. In the novel, her skin is described as ‘scaley’ and this picture exaggerates, but I love the motion and primal tenderness of the artwork. She’s not going to let you harm her child, and is looking at you, the reader, as if you might try


Suzy said...

I'm going to read this, Mark Matthews. I don't usually gravitate to darkness, but if I can catch a glimpse of a star in there somewhere, then I'll buy the ticket.

Weston Kincade said...

It's well worth it. You will certainly enjoy the ride.

Stokercon 2024 in San Diego

 Spent last weekend in San Diego at Stokercon. What a fantastic time. Multiple panels, many conversations. Laughs, tears, books, conversatio...