Chloe Honum, she of the gorgeous lyric, was gracious enough to tag me for a self-interview in the Next Big Thing series. You can find her responses here.
1. What is your working title of your book?
My first book, Double Agent, came out last year. I’m working on a manuscript now that’s either called Purge or The Pretender Queen or My Grandfather’s Hummus & Other Tales.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
Double Agent is not project-based; it was a massy, mutating thing. During my MFA at the University of Michigan. I wrote short narrative poems about coming of age in the Eastern Bloc during the 80’s and 90’s, and the weirdness and incongruity of living in or near American embassies throughout. After graduate school, I taught at a New England boarding school for five years, and wrote poems in response to the weirdness and incongruity of being an authority figure/adult to three hundred teenagers on a bucolic campus that abutting a depressed former mill town…the scenery changed, but the concerns remained the same. Community, privilege, privacy, facades. I also fell in love very quickly and eventually got hitched, so that informed the manuscript. Currently, I’m living in DC and in the grips of a bipolar session, vintage Libra: spare, sound-driven couplets and big, yodeling spatter-poems.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I wish I could cast someone androgynous, elegant, swathed in dove-gray cashmere, with devastating eyebrows and a wry mouth, to play the “I” of Double Agent – Charlotte Rampling, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Any Charlotte, really. But my speaker is more like Peter Sellers in Being There meets Janeane Garofalo in Reality Bites.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
From a lovely review by Heidi Erdich:
Like an agent, these poems are on the prowl, and often the subject of the search is the father—but not always an actual father—and not the icon we might expect, but a more complicated patrimony of language, image, country, and the self as projected across time and continents.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Double Agent won Kore Press’ First Book Award.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Too many things have been called a “first draft” to really say. Somewhere between a month and five years.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Comparisons make me queasy.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My parents and my husband and Nabokov. My students and teachers.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If you’re a fan of Mulholland Drive, there’s an 89% chance you will enjoy this book.