Thursday, August 04, 2005

Murder in the Mansion and the Immortal Beloved

My first novel

When I was in seventh grade, I hand-wrote a nineteen page story called “Murder in the Mansion.” I decided it was my first novel. The main character, a 17 year old heiress named Diana, is to meet the other 2/3 of her triplet sisters for the first time. The signature feature of each sister is that Diana has brunette hair, Julia has blonde hair and Cynthia has red hair. Cynthia turns out to be the most interesting character of the bunch: she is fiesty and very, very angry. It is revealed at the climax that she is in fact Diana’s mother, and has killed off Diana’s real sister Cynthia in order to pose as Diana’s sister and claim the inheritance Diana’s mother thinks rightfully belongs to her. Diana eventually pushes the false Cynthia out of the window.

You have no idea how disappointed I was to return to my junior high school to reclaim my English writing folder (the one that all the teachers said would follow me around until the end of time, that I could not escape even if I moved to Japan), only to find out that it had been thrown out three years earlier. The teachers all asked me, “You didn't have a copy on a computer disk?” conveniently forgetting that when I was in seventh grade, not many children in my class had computers in their homes. Fortunately, my mother was a better banker,* and underground classics such as "Face to Face With Death" and "Revenge of the Zombie Sock-Monkeys"** remain safe in my childhood travel trunk.

My second novel

When I was a senior in high school, I typed up two chapters of a historical novel based upon the mysterious lover of Ludwig van Beethoven, the Immortal Beloved. You might think that I was simply copying the movie, only I graduated from high school in 1990 and the film starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven wasn’t released until 1994. My main character was an Austrian widow named Xanthe Alighieri, who had once had a promising career as a pianist, but was married off to a cruel baron instead of her lover, Beethoven. I don’t remember too much about the two chapters except that I tried so hard to make them historically accurate. With a straight face, I warned my creative writing teacher that she needed to be prepared for a steamy romantic scene in chapter three. My teacher reassured me that she could handle the heat. I stopped work on the novel after I went to college, and when I returned to it a year later, I was so appalled by the writing that I nearly chucked it out the window, much as Diana did with her treacherous mother in "Murder in the Mansion."

My third novel

My third novel is still a work in progress. It's had three different incarnations. It may take my whole life to write, depending upon how long I live. I used to try to write serious, inspiring stories that would (take a deep breath) show all my wretched classmates of yore that just because I was unpopular and a lousy student didn’t mean I wasn't a genius. A genius! Now, I should just write what I love to read. There's no shame*** in creating escapist quest-fantasy fiction, especially if I use The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

I know that it’s not my job to be a genius. It’s not my job to write deep, enduring literature and win awards for doing so. It’s my job to tell you stories.

Here’s what’s coming up in the next month:
1) That puppet show I keep promising to produce
2) A story involving the phrase “drive the bus”
3) A new version of a tale of Fionn MacCumhail
4) A list of nursery rhymes to sing to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle”
5) (This one is up to you)

*Both my parents were quite supportive of my writing, although they often laughed when I wanted them to shiver with dismay.
**I am kidding.
***See above.


carissa said...

oh, it's like a dagger in my heart whenever i hear of treasures that are really, truly lost forever. you would think they would have tried to contact you before they destroyed that sort of thing... sigh.

will you grace us with any of the treasures that your parents saved?

i don't know about you, but when i read through my poetry journals from high school i get terribly embarrassed and think, "who was that person?!" i only keep them so that i can read them when i have teenagers of my own and remember what it was like to live a life full of melodrama.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks, Carissa. When I was in high school, one of the faculty told me, "If teachers were your bankers, you'd be broke in 20 minutes." Of course, now I have a better idea of what teachers go through, but back then, I just thought they wielded all the power, and I resented it. Most of my juvenalia is locked in a trunk back east, but I'll flip through my portfolio and see if I can come up with anything you might like to read.

Immortal Beloved said...

I would have loved to have read your second novel.