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OUT TAKES from this novelist's cutting room floor...bits and pieces of story, research, and process
December 13, 2014
In which Thea and Shep welcome a new life to the Andamans
The ceiling fan offered a point of focus as Thea counted through her contractions and tried to ignore the torrents of rain smashing down on the roof. All through the hospital, pails had been set out to catch the leaks, around which teams of lizards raced, little phantoms against the green mildewed wall stains. One, two, three, four. The young Indian nurses hummed as they wiped her brow, and the daring giggled at Shep’s brooding presence hour after hour. (more…)
December 6, 2014
As every writer knows, a book is comprised of many moveable parts, and plot is structured through a combination of time and space travel as well as chronological action. One of the toughest decisions when writing a large story is the selection of the opening scene. Get the reader acquainted with the characters first? Or throw the protagonist into trouble? I opted to launch this series of outtakes with scenes to get you acquainted with Thea and Shep and their newly-wedded move to the Andaman Islands. But the scene I’ve selected to open the actual book occurs four years later, well into WWII. That scene is today’s Take 7. (more…)
November 28, 2014
In this diary entry, Thea reveals why all her grand plans to become the next Margaret Mead may be jeopardized.
January 4, 1937
Why do I find such comfort in graveyards? It’s not that I think them sacred, exactly, and with all the death they contain – so many different kinds of death – (more…)
November 27, 2014
I’m thinking on this Thanksgiving Day that writing is like a complicated recipe.
First you need to gather the ingredients (ideas) and envision the final product; you have to have a general vision for the end result and know what it is you’re making. Then you combine the first batch of ingredients (more…)
November 22, 2014
Take 5 from my novel-in-progress...in which Thea meets an unexpected member of her new household.
October 12, 1936
By the time we fell into bed last night we'd received our luggage, made a preliminary appearance at the club -- we seem to be the youngest members by at least a decade -- and (more…)
November 15, 2014
Out Take #4 is a sketch of Ross Island, headquarters of the Colonial administration of the Andaman Islands in the early 1900s. Ross is also where Shep and Thea live before disaster strikes. [See earlier blog posts to catch up with the story.]
Ross bazaar, in stark contrast to the spacious bungalows of the European Zone, consisted of two rows of brick shop houses that plunged down the incline in the southern -- Indian -- end of the island to land at the Hindu temple. The bazaar and temple, as well as a small shark-netted beach farther along the shore, served the ministerial staff, Indian clerks, doctors, and military police quartered in the Native Zone, as well as the servants from the European residences and barracks on the upper end of the island. (more…)
November 8, 2014
Out take #3 is from the latest draft of my novel-in-progress...
In which Thea and Shep sail from Calcutta in 1936 to their new home: the Andaman Islands.
The weather changed for their four-day crossing to the Andamans, and Thea spent most of her time aboard the S.S. Maharaja sick to her stomach. Not until the last morning did the skies clear and the water change from black to iridescent green. She let Shep drag her up on deck as Land Fall Island hove into view. This small pincushion of palm trees was dwarfed by the green monolith of North Andaman behind it.
November 5, 2014
“Our culture trains women to relinquish power over their own body image to others; too often women see themselves only as they think – or are told – others see them. If and when women can own their own sense of their bodies, including the pleasure and comfort and strength and wisdom that their bodies supply, then a positive relationship between body image and creativity can flourish.”
November 2, 2014
Out takes from a novel:
In which Thea and Shep arrive in Calcutta, 1936
In Calcutta Shep was to be briefed by the Director-General, in from Delhi for a meeting of the specialist medical appointees for Bengal. For the week that this induction required they'd been booked into the Fairhaven Hotel, a verdant oasis in the city center run by the redoubtable Mrs. Sark. Ruby, as she insisted they call her, immediately took Thea under her wing. "Don't you worry," she'd shoo Shep off to his meetings each morning. "Your pigeon be safe with me."
Thea was eager to set out and discover the "deep, full-throated boom of life and motion and humanity" that Kipling had promised in his City of Dreadful Night. From the carriage they'd taken to the hotel, she'd smelled India’s famous dung smoke, mustered a smile for the filthy children pleading lugubriously with hands outstretched, and marveled at the spice-tinged colors that seemed to drape the air. But Shep made her promise (more…)
October 27, 2014
The first series of out-takes will come from a novel I've been working on for several years, set primarily in British India circa World War II. But it begins (in this out-take) in 1936 with the whirlwind courtship in New York City of a young American and aspiring anthropologist named Thea March and an only slightly older British doctor named Sheppard Durrell.
Their courtship began in May, 1936, with a chance introduction at the 21 Club. Thea March, Sheppard Durrell. The student and the surgeon. Thea’s first impressions: a boyish mop of gingery hair, devastating sea-glass green eyes, a veil of freckles stretched palely across patrician cheekbones to bridge a delicate nose. He had lanky height, square shoulders, and that worldly British accent, plus a twist of humor tucked inside his smile that promised to keep her hopping. Love at first sight? Not by a yard, but he'd make for a welcome shift from the braggards and drones that had dominated her campus years. (more…)