Lamar Giles
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January, 2013

My Next Big Thing: FAKE ID

Last week, I got tapped to participate in “The Next Big Thing”, an ongoing blogging experience for up-and-coming writers. The way it works is an awesome writer (A. B. Westrick, author of BROTHERHOOD in this case) tags me, I post details about my next project here, then I tag other writers to do the same on their blogs next week.

“Easy-Peezy,” as Brooks Hatlen would say.

What is the title of your book?

FAKE ID

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A teen in witness protection investigates his best friend’s murder and stumbles on a dark conspiracy that may lead back to his own father.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

FAKE ID began as an adult novel with a female protagonist. I’d been reading a book by the founder of the Federal Witness Protection Program called INSIDE WITSEC and I found the genesis of the program fascinating. Particularly the stories about how witnesses wouldn’t follow the rules, thus endangering themselves, thus forcing their handlers to make in-the-moment adjustments…. like switching their identities and moving them to a new location. In my original story, I’d envisioned a protected witness, Nicole Perry, who was the daughter of a big-time crime boss, getting caught up in a small-town murder mystery. But, it just wasn’t coming together. I was bored writing it, which meant anyone who picked it up would likely be bored reading it.

Around the same time, a friend suggested some YA fiction to me…maybe the GONE series by Michael Grant. I’m not 100% sure, I’ve read so many YA books since. In any case, I was a bit ignorant to YA at the time, thinking it was all kid’s stuff. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK came to mind. But, when I read whatever book it was, I realized my preconceived notions were way off. I began devouring YA books, realizing the creativity on display for teens was as deep, if not deeper, as anything I’d seen in adult books. The realization brought me back to my little murder mystery and I asked myself, ‘what if it wasn’t an adult female, but a teen? Maybe a teen boy?’ The story just about wrote itself after that, no boredom. Nicole Perry became Nick Pearson, and the rest is, as they say, history.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult Mystery

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

For Nick and his Dad, I’d love to see the Smiths (Jaden and Will) in the roles. For the remaining cast, I’m having some difficulty. The Cruz siblings are Latino, and while there are a couple of names that come to mind for Reya (Selena Gomez, Victoria Justice), Hollywood’s limited diversity has me drawing a blank on others. I mean, think about it. For African-American father and son roles, who else do YOU think of besides Jaden and Will Smith?

That being said, maybe you all will have better suggestions once the book debuts.

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

My book will be co-published by HarperCollins Children’s Books/Amistad and I am represented by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

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

About 9 months. But there have been many drafts since. I just turned in a (hopefully final) draft to my editor yesterday. Draft 5 or 6, I think. I’ve lost count.

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

I think it could be called a mashup of REALITY CHECK by Peter Abrahams and I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Mostly, I wrote FAKE ID because I thought the story was cool. But, part of my inspiration has to do with how little diversity there is in YA. There are few male heroes represented, even fewer minority males. I wanted to write a story about a young, African-American male that was set in modern times and could be embraced by a large audience. Also, should I have a son one day, I’d like to be able to point to my work and say, “See, there are heroes who look like you. When I was growing up, there were few, maybe none. I did what I could to fix that.”

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

Here’s a more detailed synopsis than the one-sentence in my earlier answer:

Nick Pearson is pretending to be someone he isn’t. Not high school pretending. Witness Protection pretending. And the #1 rule is “stay low-key”. But, when his sole friend Eli dies in the school’s journalism room under mysterious circumstances, and Nick stumbles upon the conspiracy Eli planned on exposing, staying low-key takes a backseat to staying alive.

Newspaper Nerd Eli had a secret, an in-the-works story codenamed “Whispertown”. And it’s got a lot of folks interested. Like corrupt cops, the town’s shady mayor, and certain high-ranking government officials. Teaming with Eli’s estranged (and gorgeous) sister, Nick sets out to unravel the mystery and still maintain his cover. He’ll have to use all the deviant skills he’s gained from his racketeering dad, assassin godfather, and their Serbian gangster boss to find the truth. However, each clue brings him closer to answers he may not want. Whispertown is bigger than he could have ever imagined, and in its shadow stands a killer…a killer Nick fears may be his own father.

Next week on “The Next Big Thing”… author, Aimee Salter will be talking about her new project, IN YOUR SKIN. Be sure to check her out and keep the NBT chain going.

Thanks again to A.B. Westrick for the invite. This was fun. More soon, gang.

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