The next big thing! This wonderful meme is allowing authors to write about their latest project in this fabulous blog hop.  I’ve been tagged by my new writer friend Jody Casella, author of THIN SPACE, a YA novel I cannot wait to read. I’m counting the days, along with the very cool clock on Jody’s website, until it debuts in September 2013!

Rules for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop if you’re tagged:

1. Use this format for your post

2. Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)

3. 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:

1. What is your working title of your book?

Well, for the longest time, the working title was DEAD LINES, but the official title is now FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

2. Where did the idea come from for your book?

My first paid writing gig was as an editorial assistant for The North Jersey Herald & News.  As part of my job, I wrote obituaries for eight months and learned a lot about life in the process. At some point, when I was still writing lots of non-fiction and dreaming about publishing a novel  someday, I decided that I wanted to write a coming-of-age story about a teen obit writer. That’s where the premise for FAMOUS LAST WORDS came from.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary YA.

4. Which actors would you choose to portray your characters in the movie version of your book?

Well, as my agent knows, I have this dream of Mark Ruffalo playing the 40-something editor, Harry, in the movie version of FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

Mark Ruffalo

But when Jody asked me to do this blog hop, I started thinking about the teen—or at least teen-looking—actors that I envisioned in the lead rolls. I’ve come up with the amazing Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) as the protagonist, Samantha D’Angelo, and Thomas McDonell (Prom and Suburgatory), as AJ Bartello, Sam’s fellow intern scum and drummer in a local band.

Ellen Page                               thomas-mcdonell-500[1]

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This has changed over time, but I love the reading line my publisher came up with for the cover.

Her job is all about endings, but her own story is just beginning.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by the amazing Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg and FAMOUS LAST WORDS will be published by Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt & Company, on July 2, 2013.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This is a tough question to answer because this story has been with me in various forms for years. It was the first novel I completed, but it will actually be the second one published. (My debut YA novel, HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES, will be published in May 2013 by Simon Pulse.) But let’s see, the actual writing and revising of the initial manuscript for FAMOUS LAST WORDS probably took a year.  HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES took about the same.  It’s not that I spend all day, every day for an entire year sitting at my computer writing. I write, send chapters to my critique partners, re-write, stare out the window, let the pages sit, re-read, re-write… you get the idea. It goes on like this for a while and at some point, the first draft feels ready.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

I hesitate to put myself in the company of well-known writers, but some readers have said this book reminds them of novels by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I can only hope!

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Even though I turned out to be a pretty lousy reporter, I have a passion for news and a tremendous amount of respect for print journalists. My time spent in a newsroom around such hardworking, intelligent and dedicated people inspired the backdrop for this story. In creating the character of Sam, it was my hope that teen girls would see themselves in her and know that there was hope for love and a life worth living outside the walls of their high schools.

10. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

I’m a huge John Hughes fan and this book has its share of nods to his great films, most notably Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Plus, the main character’s dad plays in an 80s cover band.  So there’s that.


OK, time for me to tag some awesome writers!

I took my lead from Jody on this one and asked some writer friends beforehand if they’d like to participate. I’ll update my site with links to those who decide to join in.

Thanks so much to Jody Casella, a fellow Simon & Schuster debut author for asking me to participate. Anyone else want to play along? Let me know, and I will tag you.