One morning I decided to read the printed copy of the manuscript that had been shelved two years before. There is something very different about reading a printed manuscript compared to reading it on the computer, just as there is something very different between reading the printed manuscript and an actual proof of the book. The eye just seems to see what it expects to in each of the formats. The most effective is reading a proof, but in this case I was nowhere near ready for that. Plus, we didn’t have easy self-publishing back then so doing a proof would have been extremely expensive..
As I read through the 600 pages, not having seen it in two years, I was shocked. It wasn’t very good at all. Why had I thought it was a masterpiece? Maybe because it was the first book I’d ever written and we always love our babies.
Anyway, having learned a lot during those years I was “rarin’ to go.” Pulled out the red pencil and sticky pads and really had at it. I also realized that since it was not going to be represented as a true story, but as one inspired by true events, I had lots of artistic license including introducing a whole new set of circumstances for her to navigate and a whole new group of people by the time we reached mid-book. Up until then everything in these early renditions and the now-published Betrayed was inspired by true events .
The real person was a beautiful ballet protege who was kidnapped and sold into a brothel. The circumstances of her discovery were different than what was depicted in Devil’s Dance and now in Betrayed but believe it or not, the reality sounded too much like something that was made up. You know the saying “truth is stranger than fiction.” She was actually found by the police because her younger sister remembered that the woman who kidnapped her –someone she knew and thought was a best friend–made a phone call before they left and wrote the number on a pad of paper.
The friend tore off the sheet and took it with her when they left. This determined little kid, now involved in a real mystery, was a Nancy Drew wannabe, did the old trick of scraping a pencil against the indentations on the next sheet. Lo and behold the number appeared. She insisted that the cops check it out even though they treated her like a pain in the butt. They finally checked it out to shut her up and that’s how they found her sister, drugged, in heavy makeup with a multitude of bruises, but safe.
Now I ask you–would you have believed that or thought the author had read too many cheap novels or watched to many trumped up TV shows? Well, you’ll have to read the book to see what I came up with as the alternative.
The things that followed were also based in truth–the refusal to go back to her mother’s home, the untenable situation at her father’s house, contracting hepatitis from dirty needles used to drug her and running away to California–all true.
MORE ON THE NEXT POST.