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The (Modified & Illustrated) Next Big Thing

I can’t play nice like the other kids, so I changed the questions about my work-in-progress for this mini-interview when I got tagged by buddy and fellow VP alum Nicky Drayden. Luckily for you, it’s not November, so you won’t have to hear about the fancy locks + monsters + run-down mansion story again.

Instead, you get to hear about my brilliant YA novel with goblins, assassins, a lost prince, a jerk prince, an even more jerk queen, and a steampunk fanatic whose DIY skills are suddenly more important than Etsy sales–they’re the only thing that can save his life.

Skylar and the Goblin Prince fight over a crown (drawing by Puss in Boots)

Ten (Modified & Illustrated) Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing

1. What is the title of the work-in-progress that you’re hoping will get you Rowling/Meyer/King money?

Princes of Iron

2. Where did you steal this idea?

From every fairy tale where the protagonist and antagonist have mutually exclusive goals.

Also, back when I hated The Labyrinth (before I had Bowie Fever) I remember despising Sarah not only for being such a whiny little turd, but for wasting the opportunity to rule a city of goblins. I wanted to rule a city of goblins, and the first thing I would do would be to eliminate their annoying king so I was actually in command instead of just his extremely charming and glitter-encrusted catamite.

Cory Skerry murders Jareth the Goblin King (drawing by Puss in Boots)Yup, cat’s out of the bag. This whole book is just a big self-indulgent, Mary Sue carnival.

3. What genre does your manuscript wear like a coat, and what’s the shockingly skimpy & alluring genre that shows up once you open the book?

YA portal fantasy is  the coat, with a tantalizing dark fantasy negligée beneath. (It also has scandalous ripped-up reader expectations.)

The Goblin Prince in drag, Skylar in terror by Puss in Boots 2012

4. Which actors would you kidnap and force to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I am so sadly disconnected from pop culture that I had to use the “Demand Answers At Gunpoint from a Friend” option that you get on Who Wants To Be a Money-haver. I sent the following paragraphs (personals ads from the main characters) to my friend & Clarion West littermate Carlie, and she gave me lists of actors to choose from for each, because she’s fantabulous!


Vame, the Goblin Prince

SGM* demands companion to carry belongings, set up opportunities for sarcasm, and endure dank, hopeless conditions. Must be a filthy human or otherwise unimpeded by iron, able to keep secrets (no one can know about the pet two-headed kitten), and properly fearful of my power over stone. When employment of you bores me, I’ll terminate you it.

* SGM = Single Goblin Monarch


Skylar Kincaid, the Royal Assassin

Teen genius seeks friend for adventures. Must have liked steampunk before it was popular, but not ever say that out loud. Looking for someone witty, generous, and who picks the olives off their pizza (so I can have them). Attractive girls with body mods a plus but will settle for anyone who likes Nightwish, MMOs and metal-working.

5. When someone demands to know about this brilliant project, what’s the one sentence you give them?

Skylar faces off against the Goblin Prince (drawing by Puss in Boots)

Those are supposed to be stalactites that are bending with the GP's will. (They look like chubby monster fingers instead.)

To keep himself alert for attempts on his life, the Goblin Prince appoints an inept “Royal Assassin,” but the human teenager he chooses turns out to be less inept at calculated violence than either of them expected.

Villain with requisite mustachio (drawing by Puss in Boots)

(Second, cheaty sentence: And it’s a good thing, because when one of the Prince’s enemies calls up an ancient evil to swallow the goblin realm, Skylar is their only hope.)

6. If it doesn’t get repped/bought by an agent/editor, are you going to trunk it or self-publish?

I was thinking I’d stow away in a rocket and pee it onto the surface of the moon, word by word. I’ll eat lots of beets so it will show up better. You know, unless I get lucky and catch an agent when they’re not too busy to hear my forty-seven minute pitch and agree to represent me just to get me to shut up.

Cory Skerry stars in How Not To Pitch Your Novel (drawing by Puss in Boots)

And this is how I got my tenth restraining order!

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

Cory Skerry bemoaning how long it's taking to write Princes of Iron (drawing by Puss in Boots)

Technically, I’m still writing it, since my revisions are major. Since I started writing it in 2003, this is officially the slowest project I’ve ever worked on. My goal is to finish my first round of revisions by or during Rainforest Writer’s Village.

8. What other books in the same genre do you hope people will compare your story to?

I can’t mention teenagers tangling with fairy royalty without people blurting “Tithe!” or “Wicked Lovely!” at me, which is fine by me. I’d love to be at that party! And this is exactly what it would be like:

Cory Skerry goes to a Fabulous Faerie Party for Real Writers to eat cupcakes with Holly Black and Melissa Marr (drawing by Puss in Boots)

I don't know if Holly Black and Melissa Marr actually like cupcakes with chocolate milkshakes, but either way this is still how I got my eleventh restraining order!

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Liselotte Eriksson's painting "Dark Woods," of a cat with a backpack in a spooky forest

"Dark Woods" by Liselotte Eriksson, 2012.

Liselotte Eriksson’s art, bad eighties fantasy movies,* and your mom, in that order.

Liselotte Eriksson by Puss in Boots

This is what Liselotte Eriksson is like, in case you were curious.

* See #2

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

Ooh, how about this: I call bullshit on poser steampunk. You know you want to find out what that means and exactly how offended you should be.

Cory Skerry griping about steampunkers who miss the point (drawing by Puss in Boots)

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

My VP classmate Nicky Drayden tagged me, and you definitely should read her post–it has sentient tofu in it. (Inorite?) She said I had to post my responses within a week of being tagged or she would send someone to bust my kneecaps. I thought long and hard about who I would tag, but ended up choosing based on who I was most likely to win against in a Jell-O wrestling match:

Carlie St. George, a writer and cinema fanatic who would definitely survive longest in a horror movie

Cassie Alexander, a nurse who is also a secret agent, known best for her urban fantasy series about the supernatural ward at a hospital

Shell Flower, a superhero who writes every kind of fantasy and accompanies her blog offerings with optional theme music

Fenmere the Worm, an illustrator, comic artist, and writer who is creating a picture book that doesn’t target any specific age group

Kim Neville, a writer whose work is even more likely than mine to contain mischievous faeries (though maybe hers won’t pee on a crystal ball)


  1. Carlie wrote:

    I will do my best to get this done in a week. Cause the blog police ARE real, and I fear them. (Actually, that’s a lie. I’ll just sic my ferocious kittens on them. They’ll run screaming into the night.) Although I feel I should mention that the tag you put up doesn’t actually work, probably because I’m not at blogspot.

    Also, I adore your cartoon with the little dude wailing, “Forever!” And it saddens me that you ever hated The Labyrinth, although I can admit that Sarah is incredibly annoying.

    Friday, October 12, 2012 at 15:09 | Permalink
  2. PussInBoots wrote:

    Ah! Sorry! I fixed it. It now goes to “”

    Is that right?

    (…And those were his last words.)

    Friday, October 12, 2012 at 16:13 | Permalink
  3. Dan wrote:

    I do enjoy #10.

    Friday, October 12, 2012 at 16:26 | Permalink
  4. Carlie wrote:

    See, Cory, now I have to send my kittens after you.

    Friday, October 12, 2012 at 17:46 | Permalink
  5. Shell wrote:

    Hahahahaha. OMG, there is so much funny shit in this post. Wow. Okay, so the bathroom pitch and the steampunk wanna-be cartoon are my favorites, but holy shit, they are all awesome. I so want that coat, too.
    I’ll post soon. Can I use your questions, too? They were so awesome.
    Funny thing is, even though I write all kind o’fantasy, my WIP is contemporary. I’m a Gemini, what can I say?

    Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 11:56 | Permalink
  6. I laughed so hard reading this! By far the best Next Big Thing Blog Hop post I’ve read yet. I love your writing voice.

    Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 00:54 | Permalink
  7. Alice wrote:

    Hello. I used to creepily and silently worship at your Elfwood altar at least a decade ago. A tumblr reblog of a Liselotte piece reminded me of how talented and awesome all of you were, how much I kind of wanted to be you when I grew up, and spurred me on this google quest. I am so happy to see you still online and creating things that look and sound amazing! I can’t wait to read this and, if I’m still working at a bookstore when it comes out, sell it mercilessly.

    Friday, February 15, 2013 at 21:36 | Permalink
  8. PussInBoots wrote:

    Aw, thank you! I hpe you are still working at a bookstore, but only if you like it!

    Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 03:13 | Permalink

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