(Update: Since writing this, I decided to shelve this juvenile handwritten series of novellas and just pull out the strongest material for my other Atlantic City books set at the same time. They just require way too much work and no longer represent these characters accurately.)
The series that starts last in chronological order, December 1943, is actually the series I wrote first. I got to the end of the notebook I used for the hideous Proud to Be a Smart and realized I wanted to continue writing about these people. So I wrote a whole series for them. With the first book cut out, the series now has seven books, not eight, and has a general focus on the gang. The other three series have more specific focuses on certain characters and their families. It ends in September 1950, on the eve of their starting college. All of the books still need to be transcribed and significantly edited, polished, revised, rewritten, and lengthened. I wasn’t very good at writing with a set beginning, middle, and end in mind at that time (the books were written between November ’91 and June ’93), and so a number of them have these really dumb in media res endings. I got to the end of the notebook, so I ended the book there, even if it wasn’t even a real ending and could’ve easily continued for at least 50 or 100 more handwritten pages.
The characters were more like cardboard cutouts during this early phase of working with them, and some of the most interesting characters became really dumbed-down in my drive to make them all reform and become bland goody-goodies. Kit and Violet in particular suffered when I had them settle down and start being good. It’s like, bring back our favorite slut and bossy, underhanded bitch! They were all more like stereotypes than fully-developed characters, like how Violet is the Most Popular Girl (she ousted Cinni in an unintentional coup in February ’42), Ariania is the tomboy who for some reason becomes a cheerleader of all things, Laura is the overly religious Catholic, Gayle is into the occult and paranormal, Al is an airheaded ditz, Thelma is the former ugly duckling turned hot chick and wild child, and Max is the school hunk and a former playboy. They only started to emerge as deeper, more complex characters when I went back to write the story of their early years during 1996-97.
WTCOAC stands for We the Children of Atlantic City, and eventually also became the name of the radical, mystical, secret society and quasi-religion of sorts that’s been passed down for over a thousand years and informs so much of their thinking and actions. So many years later, I don’t even remember why I chose Atlantic City as the setting. Perhaps I believed it was still a beautiful shoreside city, not realizing that its glory days were quite some time in the past. At least it was still a big summer tourist draw and composed of beautiful beaches during the run of the series.
The books are as follows:
#1: What Exactly Is Love?
#2: A Disease Called Adolescence (probably my favorite one to write)
#3: The Tie That Binds (set during the first week of September 1945, starting right after V-J Day and ending on the first day of high school)
#4: And All Grown Up
#5: On the Verge of Adulthood
#6: Goodbye 1940s
#7: Last Summer of Childhood (possibly the one with the strongest plot)
There will also one day be a four-book WTCOAC at College series, composed of:
#1 We’re New in the Business
#2 Life Ain’t Fair
#3 Almost Adults
#4 The Real World
And this particular series will end with a novel called simply 1955, about their first year in the “real” world, completely out of school. I’ll probably be changing at least a few of the titles in this series, since a lot of them seem really lame, silly, and after school-special worthy now, and also rather cliché for a series about people in junior high, high school, and college.