Thanks to the wonderful Stephen Ramey, who tagged me for this Next Big Thing thing. (And whose own Next Big Thing, a glistening short story collection called GLASS ANIMALS, is coming soon.)
And thanks to The Next Big Thing thinker-uppers for giving writers across the blogospheres a chance to talk about their latest work and fantasize about who might play them in the movies.
Tina Fey, I’m serious. Call me.
Here’s the part where I answer the traditional Next Big Thing questions. Thanks for visiting.
What is the working title of your book?
The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious. It’s forthcoming from C&R Press in March 2013.
Where did the idea come from for your book?
The title comes from a dark joke my mother used to tell when I was growing up. My mother was a nurse and like cops and undertakers, she had a very odd sense of humor when it came to mortality. The phrase is a reference to The Westinghouse Bridge, which is this amazing bridge that spans Pittsburgh’s Electric Valley, near Braddock. It’s a huge structure and many people died building it. There are literally bodies in the concrete. It’s also the bridge-of-choice for local people who want to kill themselves. There’s not a lot of water underneath. Mostly train tracks and concrete. So my mother’s joke was – “That’s the bridge to take when things get serious.” She was so used to death, she thought things like that were very funny.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Helen Hunt or Jennifer Jason Leigh or – best ever – Tina Fey could play me. Dame Judi Dench or Betty White could play my mother. Matt Damon could play my husband. And Rachel Dratch could play my best friend, hands down.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious is the story of mothers and daughters, the debts we pay, and the new lives we build for ourselves when we least expect them.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious is being published by C&R Press. They’ve published prose books by Anis Shivani, Mickey Hess and Kim McLarin, among many many others. Their poetry line-up is amazing, too. The release date for my book is March 2013.
How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
After my first book, Miss New York Has Everything, was released in 2006, I felt a lot of pressure to complete a follow-up. I finished an early draft of this manuscript in 2008 and it was pretty awful. Very sit-com, laugh-track-y. Just trying too hard all around. So I completely reworked it twice and finished this new version in 2011. So all things accounted for, about five years to get the manuscript from first draft to the one that’s in my publisher’s hands right now.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Anything by David Sedaris, but especially Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. I love his mix of humor and pathos. It’s something I try to do in my own work.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Brevity Magazine nominated an excerpt from the book (titled “Incisions”) for a Pushcart Prize last year. You can read it here.
And here’s the cover copy:
Her 70-year-old, cancer-stricken mother kills snakes with a broom. Her best friend believes in psychics and the Virgin Mary. Her new neighbor steals her CDs and her aunt sneaks cheese curls into the house. After seven years in New York, Lori Jakiela gives up her job as an international flight attendant and her dreams of becoming a writer, and returns home to Pittsburgh to take care of her dying mother. Always the loving, befuddled daughter, Jakiela stumbles to find her new life while sleeping in her childhood bed and teaching writing to students who hate to read. Unexpected love, expected loss, the struggle to find our own families, THE BRIDGE TO TAKE WHEN THINGS GET SERIOUS is the story of mothers and daughters, the debts we pay, and the new lives we build for ourselves when we least expect them.
And now I get the honor of tagging some other wonderful writers – Karen Lillis, author of Watch the Doors as They Close, and Scott Silsbe, author of two forthcoming poetry collections and editor of The New Yinzer magazine. Tag! You’re it!