Monday, October 15, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by Matt Potter to answer the following ten questions about my work in progress. Below the questions and answers, you'll find a link to Matt's answers, a list of the five people I've tagged to do the same, and, as those five (hopefully) play along, a link to where they've posted their answers as well. Without further ado:

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was playing a lot of poker and watching a lot of poker on tv, and one day I just started outlining this story about a regular guy who just happens to be a professional caliber poker player. I had known for a long time that I wanted to write a novel about the struggles of small business capitalism and entrepreneurship, so this regular guy / excellent poker player also became someone who quit his job at a small manufacturing company to give it a go being in business for himself. My life revolves around my family, so the protagonist had to be expecting his first child just as he faces the likely possibility of his new venture going bust.

What genre does your book fall under?
Commercial fiction, I suppose, for lack of a better answer (this seems to me to be the catchall genre designation for novels that don't fall under a more specific one like horror, fantasy, etc.).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'd want unknown actors for the lead male and female roles, both of whom are in their twenties, but since I assume it's okay to be greedy here, it would be incredible to have Robert De Niro play the role of one of my favorite ancillary characters, a very intimidating sexagenarian professional poker player.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
'Upstart' is the story of a skilled amateur poker player facing potential failure as a businessman, and his struggle to make the right decisions at the poker table, in his career, and for the family he loves.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I queried two agents earlier this year and one of them requested the manuscript, but then passed on representing me. I subsequently decided to embark on a fourth round of edits / rewrites, which is taking me way too long, but I intend to query a much longer list of agents as soon as I finish. My plan is to try my darnedest to land agency representation, but if I reach my wits' end and feel I've given that process my best shot, then I'll reassess and will consider self-publishing. Rejection doesn't bother me much, so we'll see how this all goes.

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

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Because of its intense gambling and competitive business conflicts, and the ethical dilemmas it presents, the action is similar to a lot Ben Mezrich's stuff, though 'Upstart' is not based on a true story like his books. Peter Mountford's A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism explores big money, top-down capitalism in a similar vein to how I've attempted to examine small business, bottom-up capitalism, though in the end my message is hopeful whereas I certainly didn't feel a sense of hope when I finished Mountford's excellent book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Everyone who, like me, watched poker on tv and dreamed of being as good as the best players in the world, everyone I've ever met who wanted to quit their jobs and be in business for themselves, and everyone who struggles everyday with the financial challenges of supporting a young family. Not to be maudlin.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Family man that the protagonist is, he can't help being attracted to a beautiful, younger, female professional poker player who becomes a good friend after they sit at the same casino table for hours. She's manipulative at the table; a flirtatious chameleon who knows how to use her looks to her advantage, and it's hard to tell throughout the novel what her true intentions are for the book's main man.

Matt's answers are here:

Finally, the people I've contacted to share their Next Big Things are John Wiswell, Karen Wojcik Berner, Helen A. Howell, Icy Sedgwick, and Tom Gillespie. Here are links to their posts / responses:

John Wiswell:

Karen Wojcik Berner:

Helen A. Howell:

Icy Sedgwick:

Tom Gillespie: declined to play the game at this time due to an extremely busy schedule


  1. hat was an interesting read Richard, the book sound intriguing. The female character sounds a mystery all by herself.

  2. Your WIP really sounds good, Richard. Great premise. I look forward to reading it someday.

  3. I know how long you've put into your work, Richard, and I respect it. I hope you find the right agent - I'm sure it's out there, though I don't know anything about this kind of book market. I'm honored that you named me for the game, and I'll do my best to get my entry in by Wednesday.