Jonny Tangerine enjoys living and writing in California. He is a member of the WGAw.
Can you sum up Toe Popper in no more than 25 words?
It’s about a terrorist who plants landmines on the beaches of Southern California and the Special Forces expert called in to stop him.
What was your motivation for writing it?
I’m not totally sure about the motivation. I guess the primary motivation was to get a book published, but that’s not really enough. I think in order to find the will to finish a novel it eventually has to be motivated by wanting to express all kinds of things about your life experience.
I can tell you the initial inspiration. Shortly after I moved to California I watched a guy at the beach with a metal detector. He wasn’t like a weekend amateur, this guy knew what he was doing. He was very precise and meticulous and had made some special tools for himself. It really seemed like he was making at least part of his living off of the coins and things he was finding in the sand. I was fascinated.
How long did it take you to write?
A long time. I wrote the initial thirty pages and sent it out to some agents. I was naively thinking that if someone liked the concept enough that they would want to publish it. Instead I got a letter back saying “we like this, we’d like to see the first 100 pages.” So then I had to keep writing. And eventually I got a response that was like “we’d like to see the whole thing”, so that kind of forced me to finish it. And then things were dormant for awhile and then there was a period of re-writing, and sending it to publishers in NY and then there was the whole Amazon formatting and marketing process, so it feels like it was a very long time.
How much difference does an editor make?
An editor makes a huge difference. Finding and paying for good editors is definitely going to be one of the challenges for everyone in the big ebook revolution. A good exercise to see how important the editors are is to get a hold of an early unedited manuscript from one of your favorite writers. It’s shocking to see how much better the edited, published work is. Editing is not just about grammar - the best editors understand an author’s voice and the story they’re trying to tell and how to get the best out of both of those things.
In film, a great example of this is the work of Thelma Schoonmaker (editor of all of Martin Scorsese’s movies).
How important is a good title?
Very important. I kind of trust that a perfect title will suddenly find me while I’m writing. This doesn’t always happen. And now the definition of “a good title” is more heavily weighted toward “unique title” – because obviously you need it to appear at the top of any search.
What's your favourite part of the writing process?
My favorite part of writing is the moment when you get so far into the creative space that it feels like you’re channeling something that doesn’t come from you. I think this is the thing that ultimately motivates most creative people. You just feel like a conduit. And then you look back and barely recognize what you’ve written, yet later you discover that it meshes perfectly with something else you weren’t even consciously thinking about. These are the moments that make me believe in a higher power. I also like all the snacking.
Have you signed any ebooks lately?
Do you have any other projects on the go?
Yes, I’m working hard on another beach thriller. The good thing about writing this type of book is that you can procrastinate by doing “research” that involves swimming and diving in very pleasant locations.
Toe Popper by Jonny Tangerine