The Next Big Thing from Christopher Kastensmidt

Christopher was kind enough to send me his Next Big Thing. I love the Elephant and Macaw Banner short that was published a couple years back in Realms of Fantasy. You know, the story that got him nominated for the Nebula?


What is the title of your Work in Progress?

The Elephant and Macaw Banner

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wrote a novelette called “The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard van Oost and Oludara” back in 2007. While I researched that project, I fell in love with the world and characters, and realized the duo had a history going way beyond that tale. Before I’d finished that first story, I’d already come up with an entire three-novel arc for them. That novelette ended up being a type of origin story, and is now the first chapter of the novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

I like to call it historical fantasy, although many call it sword & sorcery. In any case, it is set in sixteenth-century colonial Brazil, and includes elements of Brazilian folklore.

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

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje would make a perfect Oludara. He’s over six feet tall and even speaks Yoruba! It’s hard to imagine an actor more perfect for that part, although Nollywood probably has some up-and-coming actors who could also fit the bill.

I think a younger Ron Perlman would have made a good Gerard van Oost. A Dutch actor would be interesting, although I’m not sure I know any.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

A Dutch traveler and African slave meet in sixteenth-century Brazil and travel the wild lands there in search of adventure.

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

I don’t know yet. I’ll probably send the novel out to some agents when I’m done.

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

I’ll let you know when I’m finished! I’ve been working on the series on and off since 2006, and stories set in the world have already been published in the U.S., England, Brazil, The Czech Republic and Romania. The novel is slow writing because each chapter introduces new places and characters. In any case, I hope to wrap up by June of next year at the latest.

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

The traveling pair of adventurers was inspired by Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series, one of my all-time favorites.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I began consulting in Brazil in 1997 and moved here permanently in 2001. Some of the first books I read were history books, and later I researched Brazilian folklore and travelers’ tales for a video game project. All that kind of stewed in my mind until I had the idea for the first story. The two most direct inspirations are Hans Staden (a German mercenary captured by Brazilian Natives in the sixteenth century) and the bandeirantes (bannerman) who explored the Brazilian wilderness in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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

I do massive research for this series (I have some two-hundred books I use for reference), and after publishing the first story, I began posting some of this information overflow to a website, for readers curious about the history and culture of the time. I also post series news and artwork there.

I also hope to take this series to other media. I already have a graphic novel in the works, and I’m discussing a possible video game with some companies right now.

(and check out this awesome art for the graphic novel!–Cath)

And let me wrap up by thanking Catherine for the chance to appear on Writer Tamago!


Always a pleasure, Chris!

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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