In the summer of 2007, while Pride’s Children was under development, and I had an initial rough draft based on the original Dramatica storyform, life handed me an opportunity, and I grabbed it.
My daughter and three of her friends had been offered an internship at LaSalle University after they won, as homeschoolers, an important science competition. The prize was offered and supposedly won (the university probably expected it to be won by some high school group at an actual school), but the four of us mothers who were the homeschooling parents had to do a lot of pushing and prodding to get the internship to happen.
Finally we came to an agreement: the school would let us live in the dorms during the summer (they were empty), and arrange some daily time at one of their science labs, and there would eventually be a paper presented by the professor and having the girls’ names on it, at the American Chemical Society meeting. I leave off the ACS details and the prof’s name because they never fulfilled that part, despite all our phone calls and emails after the internship ended.
Three weeks were chosen for this internship, and I claimed the right to be the parent chaperone. We would drive down to Philadelphia on Sunday night (one Monday because of the 4th holiday), settle into the dorm, the girls would have their internship during the week, and I’d drive us home Friday afternoon.
They had a ball.
What did you do with YOUR time, Alicia?
I had unbroken time to think. And I used it to do the Grand Reorganization of the plot for all three volumes of the story.
Structure, structure, structure.
Every impossible plot step and twist to turn the implausible story of Andrew and Kary and Bianca into an inevitable and utterly believable end was locked down during those three weeks, in as tangible a form as I was capable of.
Everything that had to happen was examined with a microscope, prodded, probed, and declared viable – or eliminated.
Pride’s Children, the full trilogy, runs on a business management principle: the critical path, which I have modified for my own purposes to mean that each plot step must be the shortest and tightest way to the next, in an unbroken chain from beginning to end. Nothing happens without it being an absolute necessity (in my mind and my story).
Theme and casting notes, please.
From notebook post-LaSalle:
My book is my statement, my mission to the world:
Love is based on trust
Children matter – and must be protected
Beliefs are important
Beliefs lead to action
Right beliefs lead to right action
Good will prevail
Life throws stuff at you
How you handle it is who you are
You can’t stay married to someone who doesn’t want you
Some people are objectively better than others
Evil exists – and can’t be excused
Love transcends age
But at least Firefly reminded me of my capacity for intense love: of a character. Of an actor. Of a story. [read more]
Andrew: a young Rutger Hauer
Kary: Michelle Pfeiffer
Bianca: a young Demi Moore
Michael: Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb – big, tall, smarter than he looks, not as smart by far as he thinks he is.
Comparison to Laura Hillenbrand there, too – if she can do Seabiscuit, I can do PC.
That’s it. The short list – though there are many other themes I could and did add. Loyalty, integrity, the meaning and importance of work, what is unforgivable, what we owe our adult children and the memory of the children we have lost, friendship, Catholic guilt and what it means to accept your responsibilities…
Everything I love.