Here are some more ways the discontinued mess of a first draft of Adicia’s story is much different from the completed product that was created between 18 November 2010 and 16 February 2011, and which is currently being polished up a bit:
1. Julie’s name was originally Karin, and her mother wasn’t absent. I don’t even really remember if I had her coming with Ernestine and the Ryans after the squat was raided, and I won’t know till I have access to the file containing the discontinued original Part II. I don’t even think I’d planned to make her such an important secondary character the first time around. Her existence was just another excuse to revel in extreme purple prose, degradation, and the creation of a Grimm’s fairytale on acid. Now she’s a very sweet, loving girl in spite of what she suffered at the hands of her father, and she hasn’t given up hope of finding the mother who was denied rights to her after divorcing her father.
2. Mrs. Troy actually liked Gemma (whose name was spelt Gema) and spent a great deal of time and money spoiling her and coming to all her cheerleading practices. Now she hates Gemma for trying to “get above her raising,” and forces an unwanted marriage to a much-older man on her as a way to knock her down and punish her for trying to go to college, work a real job, and leave the old neighborhood and generational poverty.
3. Adicia and Ricky still were going to have sex for the first time the night before he had to get on the bus taking him to boot camp, but they would have this silly agreement that they wouldn’t touch one another below the waist. Huh? How can you be comfortable enough to have sex with someone, but not with touching someone’s genitals or having yours touched? Does not compute! (Unless of course you’re my villain Boris, who believes it’s dirty to touch women’s genitals.)
4. And speaking of, the 35-year-old villain Adicia was forced to give her virginity to at age 15 was just some guy her parents wanted her to sleep with to get her broken in for her eventual future marriage to an even-older guy. I’m pretty sure there was nothing in that storyline about her being forced to do it in exchange for money. Now Mrs. Troy coerces her into this vile act in exchange for getting to graduate high school and being guaranteed a handsome husband with a good job. It’s also so this creep will give her the remaining $3,000 to save Mrs. Troy from returning to prison. In the original, Mrs. Troy never even went to prison for anything. In the rewrite, she embezzles $5,000 to pay for Lucine’s forced wedding that never happens. (I did not depict this scene, and only related it through Adicia’s general narration the next day. I draw the line at depicting rape or child abuse.)
5. Carlos was apparently wanted by the cops for various crimes some time before he was paralyzed, and was hiding out in various squats and safe houses. Carlos is actually even seedier in the original. Now, he’s just a dunce who’s done too many drugs. He’s sort of like the dark comic relief.
6. Gemma’s husband was the one named Giovanni, and her son was named Francis. Now it’s the unwanted husband who’s named Francesco, and the baby who’s named Giovanni. I’m glad I misremembered, since I love the name Giovanni too much to use it on such a despicable character.
7. Gemma was a practicing Satanist and secretly married her Satanist boyfriend. Um, yeah, right. I’m pretty sure most people hadn’t even heard of Satanism back then, and if they had, they were horrified by the mere notion. Thank you, Beatrice Sparks, for giving so many impressionable young people such a bogus view of what Satanism actually is! (I also had her version of Satanism in Saga I of Cinnimin, when next door neighbor Lotta and a bunch of her friends get into Satanism and do a lot of the same stuff “Dr.” Sparks made up for Jay’s Journal, complete with having bizarre initiations, killing cats, out of body experiences, and journeys to Hell. Hey, I was only 13, and extremely impressionable. This was long before the Internet, when I could’ve easily discovered the truth about “Dr.” Sparks and the books she’s WRITTEN, not “edited.”)
8. Ricky and his parents move to Manhattan in 1968. Now they move in 1972.
9. Ricky was supposed to serve 10 months in Vietnam, which was very convenient because he’d return when the baby was a month old. Adicia wasn’t even going to tell him about the baby till he got home and she led him into the nursery. (Now she co-sleeps, as do Allen and Lenore with their kids. Attachment parenting and natural childbirth are prominently featured in the book, but in a way that feels natural for the characters and the historical era, not something forced in to preach at the reader and push my own beliefs.) Um, a tour of duty is supposed to be at least a year, and considering he’s one of the final numbers called up during the last active year of the draft lottery, he wouldn’t even have been in Vietnam for a whole year! (You’ll have to read the book to see just what happens to him.)
10. There’s little to no indication this is historical fiction. It’s rather like the earliest drafts of my first Atlantic City books and the original sections of the first six chapters of my Russian novel—it just happens to take place in an earlier era, but the historical details are little more than window-dressing. (This is why I objected when it was suggested on a message board awhile ago that my Russian novel is a historical romance. Nothing wrong with historical romance, but the history in a historical romance is usually little more than window-dressing and doesn’t really directly impact the plot or the characters. And there’s tons more going on than just the love story, esp. considering Lyuba and Ivan don’t make love for the first time till about page 800.)
Now it does read like true historical fiction set from 1959-74. My heart belongs to the music of that era, and it was great fun to work in so many of the classic rock and oldies songs and albums. Part IV in particular also has women’s lib playing a prominent role in the themes and Adicia’s inner-development. There are also references to people’s ideas of “proper” values of the time, such as how Allen has to pretend to be Lenore’s husband when she’s in the hospital, and how they later have to pretend to be married again when they’re all staying at a hotel on Long Island in May 1966. And it’s Gemma’s horrific experience with twilight sleep and the prenatal care of the era that inspires the rest of her sisters to have natural childbirths, and makes Allen determined to keep Lenore out of the hospital when she gives birth. The adult characters Mrs. Doyle and Mrs. van Niftrik also say they can’t even remember giving birth, and they don’t like that. Meanwhile Mrs. Troy and Mrs. Rossi push the more common view of the era on its way out, that the doctor knows best and that Gemma is being stupid and willful for objecting to what happened to her and thinking the doctor should’ve told her what he was doing.
I also had a lot of fun reading vintage pamphlets on the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health website, and watching vintage sex ed and puberty filmstrips on YouTube and other sites. All the pamphlets and filmstrips referenced and discussed in the book really existed, even the 1946 Disney cartoon The Story of Menstruation. And of course, there’s plenty of hate for the belts of the era. I was so naïve as to have believed at that age that sanitary napkins always had adhesive strips on the back! I vaguely knew pads used to have belts, since I’d read some coming of age books set in earlier eras, but I guess I didn’t know exactly what those belts were used for, or that pads had to be attached to belts since there weren’t any adhesive strips.