I got started in writing a year after I retired in 20** – well let’s not go there. No need to be exact. My daughter got married a few months later and got a job in Washington DC as a consultant. Her first love then was acting so at the same time, while living in Crystal City, she did various small filmed roles, commercials and appeared as the lead in an area play. Anticipating her husband’s transfer to San Diego, she got her SAG card and while he was in San Diego she lived up in Studio City pursuing what she thought was her life’s dream.
As long as she was in La La Land* her and I thought we’d pass the time and earn some money by doing screenwriting. We both had computers so distance wasn’t a factor. We both learned the craft, but naïve us found that just as you can’t get a novel traditionally published without an agent, you can’t get anywhere in the movie business without an entertainment lawyer to submit things. Unlike literary agents, most of who take submittals from new writers, TV and movie studios would not accept unsolicited work. We had developed treatments and scripts for a screenplay we called Road to Annapolis which was based on her time at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis but no one would even look at it. Finally an independent producer friend of hers suggested we should write it as a novel, sell that, then we could get someone to look at the screenplay. Height of Naivety, I know.
With her living in Studio City and I in Illinois, we started the novel version, Academy Daze. Time passed. Lots of time. She and her husband did 18 month tours in Memphis, Coronado CA, back to Washington DC, then back to Coronado. Academy Daze was rewritten many times and considered for long periods by several agents. However, eventually it was returned as it didn’t fit anyone’s genre. First they called it Chicklit, then tried to shove it in YA but the character, a high school graduate and then in her first year of college, was considered too old. Now, of course, there’s a niche, for that age, New Adult, but not back then. It was like there was not a market for teen-aged protagonists planning on going to or starting in college.
When my daughter’s husband received orders to Singapore, she said enough is enough. By now she had a son and daughter and was determined to do other things like being a mom.
However; because of the long time between agent submittals and times when my daughter was doing rewrites, I needed something else to work on. One day I came across the story of the Piasa. It brought back to me my interest in mysterious and strange animals and I thought what about a story that brings an obscure mystery like the Piasa brought up to present day? She was living in Memphis then and we needed to do a lot of work on Academy Daze. Since it was advantageous that we do it together we agreed to meet somewhere in between. It’s 483 miles from Schaumburg to Memphis. I wanted to research the Piasa so I suggested Alton, Illinois, where it all happened. A quick check found it was 286 miles for me and 306 for her so we met there and Piasa was born.
- Not referring to the movie. La La Land is a term for Los Angeles.