Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hold The Pickle/ Hold The Lettuce/ Human Bodies Don't Upset Us

When I was working on the earlier version of the possible third book and trying to determine what exactly was forbidden in YA literature these days, Dawn commented that anything goes, except cannibalism and bestiality. And Marci insisted that hangings were gross.

Well, in my new this is it third book, The World We Live In (aka WWLI), there won't be any bestiality. I promise. But hangings and cannibalism are starting to entice me.

I will now proclaim my three favorite words: Not my fault. I'm reading White Cargo by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, a history of indentured servitude in the colonies (and for all I know, after the Revolution; I'm only on page 113 and we're still knee deep in the seventeenth century), and I gotta say there is nothing, nothing I can imagine that would be worse than what people lived through then. It makes me glad my ancestors only had to deal with pogroms. So far there haven't been that many hangings (people seem to have gotten beaten to death instead, which presumably Marci wouldn't find gross), but there's this lovely bit on cannibalism. People were so hungry they opened coffins to remove the bodies for dinner, and one guy murdered his wife and "chopped her in pieces and salted her for his food." He was hung by his thumbs until he confessed and then executed.

So I'm thinking what gets Luke moving is the impending hanging of the old man (who I'm going to have to name, although I like calling him the old man). And I'm also thinking that Luke, in his day, did a bit of grave robbing. I mean, it's better than chopping up one's wife and salting her. Salt really is bad for your blood pressure.

I am in such a good mood.

As WWLI is currently constituted, there'll be alternating sections for Luke and Eden (her name is absolutely inarguably Eden, and most likely Eden Gregg). Luke's sections have always been planned as third person, same as Alex's in the dead and the gone, but I'd been thinking that Eden might keep a diary for hers. I've pretty much decided against that, because I'm not sure I could give Eden a voice different from Miranda's in Life As We Knew It. So the current plan is third person subjective for both characters.

Luke's friend, the one he's going to travel with (how far, I don't know, because I haven't decided where Luke's journey begins) is currently named Will, but that may change. As of the moment, Will is gallant. I don't think there's a single gallant character in LAWKI or d&g. And what's particularly important to me is that Will be nothing like Alex's friend Kevin in d&g. I loved Kevin, who had some very sweet moments, but definitely wasn't gallant. Luke, who's had to survive on his own for longer than Will, is bemused by the latter's gallantry (now that's a high class sentence. Don't expect to see another one like that for a while). And Will, who doesn't even exist and already I'm killing him off, will die gallantly, kind of Ronald Colmanesque (not that Ronald Colman always died in his movies, but he was invariably gallant).

As you can see, my little brain is just popping along with WWLI. I need to make sure the Eden sections are as dramatic (if not as action packed) as the Luke sections, and that gets me into the tricky does Miranda really fit in bog. For example (and because in some ways I've been plotting WWLI like the second part of Wuthering Heights), I've been thinking maybe there's a sickly teenage boy from a wealthy family that would like Eden to marry him so he can have a child before he dies. But we've got to believe that Eden believes that Miranda would allow such a thing. Also, if the Eden section starts with that, then the part with the askabouts (which Luke interrupts) could be anticlimactic. So much needs to be worked out, but that's the fun part.

On an entirely different, but very practical note, I'll be picking up more Always Have Hope stickers tomorrow, and going to the post office to mail some of them and some Never Lose Faith stickers to a bookstore in Ireland. So if anyone out there wants some, e-mail me before tomorrow morning, and off they'll go.

I told the woman at the printer's that I was sending some to Ireland and she was very impressed. So am I!


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

I didn't want to write a whole new blog entry, but I wanted to bring you up to date on all my plotting and planning, since I feel like things are falling into place.

As of the moment, Eden is a bit spoiled, has something of a sense of entitlement. She wants to go into the apprenticeship program only because it's the best of her limited options. But to do it, she needs two people to volunteer for state duty. Miranda will do it again but Eden still needs another volunteer.

There's a young woman who works for them (in an honorable, paid by Miranda, way) who offers to be the volunteer (she feels lots of gratitude to Miranda), but Miranda refuses to let her make the sacrifice. Then Eden says she knows kids in her school who have someone go into the city, and (although I don't think Eden puts it this way) trick street people into doing the volunteering.

Miranda says fine, but Eden has to be the one to get the people. So on a Sunday afternoon, they go into the city, to the poor neighborhood (where Eden has never been allowed). Eden witnesses all the suffering, and she can't make herself do the shanghaing (which Miranda refuses to do for her). Eden is horrified by what she sees, but she's also angry that Miranda won't cooperate.

Miranda has arranged to have the summer off, and she takes Eden back to the LAWKI house. Eden really resents hearing how things were when Miranda was growing up (in a traditional teen daughter resentment way), and she isn't happy about having to spend the summer there.

While they're at the LAWKI house, Eden is asked about by the family of the sickly boy. Matt and Miranda are both opposed to the match, but Eden is interested, since the family is so well to do. But before anything is agreed to, Luke and Will arrive.

Will is charming and gallant, and Eden prefers him to Luke (so does Miranda, who has a hard time reconciling her Baby Rachel fantasies with the street smart rough at the edges Luke). Matt, who is very accepting by nature, simply accepts Luke as part of the family, and when Jon and Julie show up, they like Luke, because they've both been toughened in ways that Miranda hasn't been. But everyone likes Will as well. Eden decides not to marry sickly boy.

At some point, Will dies, saving either Luke's life or Eden's (or both). Both react strongly to this act of sacrifice, since it makes both of them question the very things they've always believed (Luke, that the world stinks and no one will ever care about him, and Eden, that anyone could willingly make such a sacrifice for the good of another).

Will had been giving Luke lessons in reading and the suchlike, all along the way, and Matt has taken over, and is willing to take Luke on as an apprentice, but to do so would involve the two person setup that Eden's had trouble fulfilling. By book's end, Miranda has agreed to be one of the two people for Luke, and Eden the other. Julie has arranged for Eden to work with Alex, who does mission work in one of the city slums (thanks to a complete disregard for separation of church and state, because Alex is a priest, the mission work counts as a state run activity).

So Eden's the one who makes the sacrifice for Luke, not vice versa.

Miranda, by the way, is very Mom-like in her deaings with Eden.

The majority of this is three hours old, and of course there'll be shifts and reshifts. But I really like the idea of Eden learning to give of herself, and Luke learning to accept being cared about. I think this approach will make Eden as strong a character as Luke, and I really like the idea of Ingrid Bergman helping Humphrey Bogart for a change!

Anonymous said...

I agree with that you should not post all these details. There are a billion people, many of the people in search of a story, and a 'paper trail' will not matter if they steal your ideas and work.

Dawn said...

Wow, a whole new post within a post...how cool! When I read that you did not think you had a single gallant character in LAWKI or DG I could not believe it! What about Peter? I think Peter was gallant in a quiet way. I remember being totally shocked when I read that he died. Shocked.

I notice you have not written anything about Mom from LAWKI. Hmmmm. Not feeling too good about that.

See you soon!!!

Anonymous said...

Any time you want to send some over here, feel free. I'd love them. :D Maybe I'll even sneakily steal a few...


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Anonymous and Dawn and Wild-Force71-

First of all, I sent the labels to W-F71 a couple of days ago, all the way to a bookstore in Ireland. I've never been to Ireland, but I was just reading about it in White Cargo, the book about indentured servants, and the Irish have truly suffered. And I'm still just midway through the seventeenth century.

Thank you, Anonymous, for your concern. I would worry more about my big mouth (or big fingers) except my editor at Harcourt has never expressed concern about my blathering on about every single version of the third book. In fact, the impression I've gotten is Harcourt likes that I talk about them.

So if they're not going to worry, I'm not going to worry.

As far as Peter being gallant, I never thought of him that way. Hard working and really nice and I guess self-sacrificing, but not gallant. At least not Ronald Colman level gallant.

But it's nice to know someone does see him as gallant.

Oh yeah, the lack of Mom references. I think she's dead. Although now that I write that, I'm starting to picture her seventeen years later, and what remains of my brain is percolating.

Maybe Mom's alive after all. But if she is, she definitely isn't gallant!

Anonymous said...

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