Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's all about Molly

I woke up at five o’clock this morning thinking about my new book, Visual Liberties. I had a kind of mini-revelation: everything has to revolve around Molly Ashton. That means, among other things, going back and writing a new chapter near the beginning of the book that establishes her character more firmly. Molly is a freshman in college when the book starts. It is the day before her eighteenth birthday. 

I’ve already written an informal and not-quite-finished synopsis and 44,000 words (118 pages) of the book, but that’s just a start. It begins with the introduction to and back story of a new character who was not in the previous novels in the series, John Givens, an artistic genius who is woefully inept in social situations (he hasn’t been diagnosed with Asperger’s, but he displays classic symptoms). John becomes Molly’s closest friend. Then comes the new chapter I woke up thinking about this morning. It is the afternoon of the day before her birthday. Sunlight is flooding through the curtain-free window in her dorm room at the Mississippi University for Women Gulf Coast Campus (a fictional college, there is a college by that name but no Gulf Coast Campus). Molly has just moved her possessions into the dorm room but has not put anything away yet. She’s afraid to put anything away because her new roomie hasn’t shown up yet and she doesn’t know which side of the closet the roomie will want, which of the identical beds or which of the identical dressers. 

I got on my computer and started writing that scene even before my first cup of coffee. Now I’m writing this while Gabi is making oatmeal.  I’ll stop writing to eat breakfast and then I’ll post this and get back to work.

By-the-way, if you don’t know Molly—meaning if you haven’t read Return to Freedom—she is the daughter of Malcolm and Bitsey Ashton. In R2F she got involved with an evangelical church and had a crush of the youth minister, Sonny Staples, and the two of them ran off together and spent a night in a cabin at a fishing camp on the Mary Walker Bayou. Since Sonny was in his forties and Molly only seventeen at the time he could have been imprisoned for having sex with a minor, but they both denied having sex and nobody could prove otherwise. The book ended without any definitive answer to the question: did they or didn’t they. But Molly was clearly devastated by whatever happened with Sonny, and as this new book begins she is still trying to recover.

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