Thursday, January 09, 2014

Enchanted, Inc. Origins

It's a good thing I wrapped up that screenplay because last night I came home from choir practice to find a package on my doorstep that was the next round of edits and revision notes on the YA book. Time to dive back into that one! And I had just re-read the book that was so rudely interrupted by revisions the last time and was eager to get back into it.

The children's choir got interesting. My lesson plans went right out the window. We had a shortage of teachers and youth helpers in preschool, so we were spreading teachers out and I ended up helping in preschool because that teacher didn't have help and had more kids. Meanwhile, I couldn't get our CD player to play properly. I could sometimes get it to play some tracks on the CD, but not the tracks I actually needed. But hey, that means I already have lesson plans for next week, since we didn't do anything I had planned.

I made it through the boxes in the office closet and found a lot of hidden treasures, things I haven't been able to find but knew I wouldn't have thrown out. One of these was my initial notebook when I first started working on the idea that became the book that became Enchanted, Inc.

A few funny things I remembered/discovered from flipping through that notebook:

The first book I read to research the series was a history on the House of Morgan. At that time, I didn't know what the magical corporation would look like, so I was looking into businesses that had been based in lower Manhattan for a long time and that might have a multinational presence, which mostly meant banks. Reading that book told me that banking wasn't that magical, though I did eventually use that research for the third book, when Katie was helping Philip track down what had happened to his family's business.

I think I was initially planning the business to be more incompetent, to do a Dilbert-like satire of the American corporation. In fact, I read a Scott Adams book on the workplace. Also something to the effect of "when smart people work for dumb bosses." I ended up using that for the Mimi part of the book, and while there was some corporate idiocy at MSI, I couldn't make myself make the whole operation be incompetent, not once I'd decided that Merlin would be the CEO.

I have a few scribbled notes from my initial research trip to New York, mostly about stuff that happened on the train on my way into the city. Then I have a point-by-point list of things you'd pass walking from the approximate location of the office to the approximate location of Katie's apartment.

I had a real Twilight Zone moment from looking at my initial list of potential characters. I first wrote them down as roles, stuff like "good-looking guy at new office." Then there are a few more notes to flesh them out. When it came to naming them, there's a list of potential names in the margin as I tried them on and then discarded them until I found the name that fit perfectly. I've joked that I like the TV series Haven because it's like alt universe fan fiction for my series, where Katie and Owen are cops in a small town in Maine, since we've got the snarky gal who's immune to magic and the painfully shy but smart and professionally competent guy with a troubled childhood. The TV series characters are named Audrey and Nathan. Well, I'd totally forgotten this, but the first name I have written down for the character who became Owen is Nathan. It's then crossed out with Owen written beneath it. There are already way too many parallels in characters and plot points between the two series, but that almost extended to names?

I'm not accusing anyone of stealing anything because I doubt anyone associated with the show is even remotely aware of my books, and it was in development a long time, and some of the plot elements that have come out that eerily mirror my books happened on-screen between the time I wrote them and the time they were published, so we must have been writing those things at about the same time. No one but me ever would have known about the name thing, the notebook with that information has been buried in my office closet since at least 2007, and I'd even forgotten it. I may need to look into a tinfoil hat, though. Or else contact these writers and say that since we've apparently been collaborating psychically, maybe we should do so deliberately.

Now I need to find new homes for all the stuff I unearthed so I can find it more easily in the future.

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