The Next Big Thing Interview

Thanks to Tawnysha Greene for inviting me to do this! She is promoting her book, A House Made of Stars.

The Next Big Thing is a blog activity in which writers answer a series of questions about their current manuscript and then tag other writers to continue the tradition.


What is your working title of your book (or story)? 
Swallow Tongue. 

Where did the idea come from for the book? 
My book, like most people with an MFA, started out as a thesis, just a collection of poems I’d been writing that I shoved together to meet the page requirement. As I started to look at them as a “book,” I realized they had a lot in common thematically: violence, ruined relationships, inability to connect intimately. My first draft, under the title of Predator’s Tongue, focused on different forms of violence and trauma. My most recent draft, under the title of Swallow Tongue, has more hope in it, how even our violent, uncomfortable pasts can turn into something beautiful.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ryan Gosling, mostly because the men in my poems are brooding, wracked by their feelings. Jennifer Lawrence, because she can take a punch and still come out strong. The women in my book need that sort of embodiment.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“Wounded people wound people.”

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m currently submitting it to contests, so I hope it will win one of those!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I feel like I’ve been working toward this book my whole life, sort of like being pulled by gravity. I just naturally write poems that have the same themes, but I didn’t sit down and start thinking of a bunch of them working together until May of 2011. Then, I started sticking them together and ordering them, and earlier this year, I started really writing poems that fit more into the story line and started building toward an “arc” and a “resolution.” Now, after the major revision I did on it in November, I feel like it’s the closest to a true “book” as it’s ever been.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Many of my poems are inspired by or modernize Greek and Roman myths, so it’s similar in that way to Ted Hughes’s Tales from Ovid and A.E. Stallings’s Archaic SmileThe rest of my poems are closer stylistically and thematically to Galway Kinnel’s Book of Nightmares

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
All writers have their own sort of obsessions that manifest over and over again. My poetry collection is a compilation of mine: Greek and Roman myths, effect of nature on an individual, romantic relationships, birds. I worked on the “story” of the manuscript then, of how we recover from trauma, of how we learn to love despite being broken. It’s a narrative of growth.


For more of The Next Big Thing, these fantastic writers will give their answers by December 30th:

  1. Courtney Miller Santo, with her book, The Roots of the Olive Tree.
  2. Kelly Davio, whose book Burn This House is available for pre-order from Red Hen Press.


Should you wish to participate, answer the questions on your blog, and leave your link in a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s