10 Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing

Well, Sofia Samatar was good enough to send me a batch of questions to answer in regard to my new WIP (work in progress).  I was too busy working on the WIP to respond, but it's now a year later and I'm ready for my close-up!  And the WIP is done, so that's groovy.  Here goes.

I'm going to answer the questions for THE HOPE STORE. The cover above is just a prototype for now.

1. What is the title of your book?
The Hope Store.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
My first novel The Prospect of My Arrival was trippy and speculative and poetic.  I called it soft sci-fi or literary fiction.  I wanted my follow up book to be in a similar spirit. By the way, the 2013 version of Prospect contains the opening three chapters of The Hope Store as a bonus!  You can order it now.

The genesis for the book?  I remember hearing a politician on the radio misspeak.  He said, "He have to install hope in young people"  I know he meant to say "instill" but his version was funnier and spookier.  That was kind of the germ of the idea. In the book, the two men who create the store have a tag line:  "We don't just instill hope.  We install it." There is humor, pathos and a bit of horror in the book.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Soft sci-fi or literary fiction. Trippy and speculative.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I love movies so I must take a stab at answering this question.
Jada Upshaw could maybe be played by Viola Davis.
Luke Nagano?  I'm not sure.  Though I could see Andrew Garfield who was so good in Never Let Me Go & The Social Network.
Kazu Mori could maybe be played by Ken Watanabe who was in "Inception" and "The Last Samurai."

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
When Luke and Kazu open the first store in the world claiming to sell hope over the counter, hopeless Jada Upshaw decides to offer herself as a guinea pig to reveal the Hope Store as the scam it must be.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
We shall see.  Currently the book is under consideration by Hydra/Random House, their new sci-fi ebook imprint.  Right now I'm not working with an agent, though I have a manager in LA who tries to develop film projects for me. I'm happy to self-publish again if I can't find the right publisher. Or maybe I'd work with a small press or some new emerging publishing paradigm.

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

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I'd say The Hope Store has some resonance with The Age of Miracles, Being There, Generosity, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The Hope Store was in some ways inspired by my experience with 25 years of Nichiren Buddhist chanting, as well as my transformative reaction to Prozac. Both of these things helped me overcome social phobia and depression, and embrace a deeper view of the world. I've always been fascinated by breakthoughs that relate to how the brain works, why placebos are often as effective as cures, and the inseparable relationship between mind and body.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This is the first time I've experimented with having alternating first-person narrators which was a lot of fun. (Prospect was in third-person.) It's a way for the reader to experience the extremely different perspectives of a hopeless person and a hopeful person.  Kazu and Luke are life partners and they are Asian American.  Jada has a long-time boyfriend and they are African American. Here is the opening paragraph of the book.  Jada is narrating:

I started out as a girl without dreams, and grew up to be a woman without a future. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Mind you it's not a story I'm especially proud to tell, but if I'm at a party and someone asks me what my story is, that's what I tell them. It's a conversation stopper all right, but what are you gonna do? People say you can choose your own story, but I think my story chose me.

* Thanks for reading my post.  If anyone wants to respond in kind by writing about their WIP, please do. And let me know where I can read it.  Answering these questions was very helpful and fun!


  1. Well now, this sounds delightful. I wish you much success with The Hope Store.


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