Next Big Thing Blog Tour

January 20, 2013 § 13 Comments

“Listen. Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” – Mary Oliver

There’s a viral blog event going around called “The Next Big Thing” in which writers give a glimpse of works in progress by answering a set of questions. I’ve been tagged by Betsy Morro, who has finished an incredible manuscript, entitled “Casualites.” I was lucky enough to read a draft, so I can tell you, when you see it in the bookstore, you must buy it!! It’s a beautiful and complicated story but it’s also a page turner. I couldn’t put my laptop down! She also has a great blog which you can check out here.

And for some insight on my “Next Big Thing,” read on.

What is your working title of your book?

Breathing Just a Little

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I am not sure exactly where the idea came from. I wanted to explore the contradictory themes of freedom and safety and what they mean to women of various ages. I am fascinated by the women’s movement that took place in the late 60’s to early 70’s and I thought this would be an interesting time to place a woman (Gloria) exploring the ideas of safety and freedom in her own marriage. Additionally, I grew up obsessed with ballet (but way too klutzy to be good at it), and Claire (Gloria’s daughter) is a dancer who had to give up what she loved and what gave her this incredible sense of freedom. I had to give up running when I was young so I tried to imagine what it would be like for a dancer to stop dancing in the 70’s in that great kingdom ruled by George Balanchine. Finally, Meg (Gloria’s younger daughter) came to me during a writing prompt. She doesn’t want to dissect a frog in biology class, and that was the beginning of this book.

Gloria’s husband is a biologist studying whales. He has tremendous freedom to travel the world and is often gone on long trips. Will is very connected to his daughter Meg, and when Meg discovers his infidelity, she has to make decisions for herself about freedom, versus commitment.

The title comes from the famous line in Mary Oliver’s poem, “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?” And of course, it alludes to whales who breathe just a little. Totally cheesy, I know, but I can’t help it. I was a copywriter for way too long.

What genre does your book fall under?

Oy. I have no idea. I would like it to not be chick lit, but honestly, I have bigger problems now, like the ending.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Gloria: Rachel Weisz

Claire– Saoirse Ronan

Meg – a young Claire Danes

Will: Christian Bale (need I say more?)

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A woman and her two daughters discover the challenges and pitfalls of freedom as they unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of the women’s rights movement in the early 1970’s.

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

Um. I should probably finish it before I answer that.

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

Any day now …

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I really can’t say. I don’t want to jinx myself. I just can’t compare myself to the writers I love and emulate.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired by my own struggles with the ideas of marriage and my role in marriage versus my husband’s. I am intrigued by power in marriage and the balance of power between two people who have different goals and dreams. Do they come together or do their challenges draw them apart?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The husband and father in this book, Will, is a scientist and behaviorist who is studying how whales communicate. In the book, he is one of the first scientists who discover that humpback whales communicate with unique “songs.” While I was at Cornell, I had the great fortune to study with Roger and Katie Payne who were pioneers in describing the dynamics of whale communication. I would like to be clear that my character Will is NOT based on Dr. Payne, but he is inspired by Dr. Payne’s research and by my own interest in the scientists who studied humpbacks.

Now the way this usually works is that I “tag” two people working on books of their own. The only two I know writing books aren’t ready to discuss yet, so … if you read this and are working on a book, consider yourself TAGGED. Just copy these questions and answer them about your own work and then link back to this blog.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more work to do …

OH, the winner of the giveaway of Katrina Kenison’s book, “Magical Journey” is Kerry Wekelo. Congratulations Kerry! You will love every page. 


§ 13 Responses to Next Big Thing Blog Tour

  • Hi Pamela,

    This sounds great—so I just want to encourage you to trust your process and know that you have a ready reader in me when you are ready to unveil what the alchemy has wrought.


  • Elaine says:

    I’ll happily buy a copy – whenever it comes out!

  • Thanks, Pamela! This sounds terrific. And as someone who came of age during the 70s, I will find lots in this story. Keep us posted.

  • Alana says:

    OMG! I’m so excited that you’ve almost finished a work of FICTION!!! I totally thought your first would be non-fiction (which I’m waiting for too). I can’t wait to get my hot little hands on this one. You are AMAZING! xxoxoxoxoxo


  • Dede Cummings says:

    Dear Pam, This is great! I am a sucker for the scientific in fiction—just finished State of Winder by Ann Patchett, and I liked learning about the tributaries of the Amazon…Barbara Kingsolver’s, etc. Your Q&A made me think of those writers. I like how you don’t categorize your work, and you are focused in content! I would love to represent you when the time comes! I am a new agent, but growing… I rep Katrina’s friend, Kasey Mathews. Keep up the good work, and please email me if you’d like to chat! I am working on a memoir called Spin Cycle—I’d like to try The Next Big Thing NEXT! Oh, I designed 4 of Mary Oliver’s books!! She signed one for me, which was such an honor! Best.

  • J Pullano says:

    Like my mother and father, I have the reading “bug”, tearing through at least a novel a week. Though I have never read “ckick lit”, I will be happy, and proud, to start with this one! Good luck….

  • Laura Plumb says:

    Rachel Weisz exemplifies the depth, maturity, intelligence and integrity, not to mention beauty, that I see in you. Congratulations. You are destined for literary greatness.

  • Add me to the list of eager readers! I would devour anything you wrote, my dear, and can’t wait to have your book in my hands. xo

  • Kate says:

    just thinking of marriage and all its wonders and difficulties makes me breathe a little slower. looking forward to reading it someday. rally on.

  • A book. A BOOK! From you, one of my all-time favorite writers. Hooooooray!!!! xo

  • twohandsfull says:

    That is so awesome! I will definitely buy your book when it is released!

  • Kathy says:

    So…you are writing a book! I look forward to each page!

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