Well, the first thing about the novel is that it is strongly grounded in Ecopsychology — not just for children but for adults as well. The crux of the novel is LOVE, not just for human beings but for the animal kingdom and the ocean. So, I have my main characters — the teenagers Teenie and Devlin meet at the beach. In the first chapter we learn that they are both suffering a loss. Devlin’s mom, and Teenie’s father. We also are introduced to the depression in Teenie’s mom, and I have used her home as a contrast to the happier scenes at Devlin’s home with his grandparents, on purpose. I need to contrast a warm atmosphere with a cold one — to provide a glimpse in the family systems.
As I thought about the themes that play out between the characters I wanted to show Devlin’s strength in coping with the loss of his mom (depression) played off against the depression in Teenie’s mother. Also, I introduced an older very charismatic male figure in Mr. Honeygarten — his recollection of his first love Claire is how I grounded Teenie’s experience of Devlin. There are very strong and good characters as males in my book.
A recurring theme in the dream sequences has to do with a turtle named Tut, the “king of the sea” who warns Devlin about all the plastic in the ocean. This is a theme from green and ecopsychological thought — we would look at how a healthier ecosystem is better for the planet overall. I don’t go into why Teenie’s mom is so depressed until later in the book — the first chapters are only an introduction to the characters themselves. One of the reasons for Teenie’s mom’s depression is that the “village” where they live has lost all the jobs and so the family has had to split up (economic distress).
The first few chapters introduce the concept of writing letters and keeping journals — both are from concepts in Narrative Therapy. I envisioned this as maybe having a little box with a tiny journal and pen in it — like Teenie’s — that might go with the book — in a kind of package. Sort of art therapy? In a sense.
So, I did a lot of things with this novel that are bigger than the novel itself, maybe. I think that the dream sequences would be really fantastic on film. The plot is character-driven and there are only a few characters in it? Here they are:
Teenie (a young teen)
Devlin (a young teen)
Devlin’s grandfather Jess.
Characters in storyline that are absent are Teenie’s and Devlin’s fathers. (Both work elsewhere).
As the story moves along more of each character is revealed. Almost as if windows open into each of them — and we learn how Devlin copes with loss of a parent, and meeting a new friend in Teenie.
I wish that I knew how to explain all of this to an agent, I really do — in simple terms. I just have to sit here and think about it. I am very tired right now and I want to get my writing out and into the places where it needs to go. Soon. I was thinking of asking a colleague to read it, maybe.
I just have to not give in to negative introjects, either internal or external in this mo.
Link to the story is here:
ps: I wasn’t thinking about this when I wrote it, but after the fact?
The novel Heart of Darkness — no, I wasn’t thinking of Conrad as I chose the title for this but how ironic!