Thursday, November 21, 2013

This Isn't Alice's WONDERLAND

One of the important rules of writing I subscribe to is: if you do something that’s been done before, do it differently. This was certainly the case with my novel Wonderland. Treading into the sacred ground of the Lewis Carroll classic is risky to say the least. The images are iconic. The characters are unforgettable. The story is timeless. No matter what adaptation emerges, there’s no way to build upon greatness.

It was never my aim to retell a tale that’s already been told. Instead, I paid tribute. Growing up, I was an avid reader. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was certainly a part of my young life, encouraging me to dream and imagine. Like so many other children, I dreamed of a colorful place rich with adventures and fun – a wonderland to escape to. I brought all of this with me into the creative process while writing the novel.

Although I was constantly aware of Carroll’s classic, I was determined to stay true to my characters, stick to my original vision, tell my own story. The end result is a tale of a young girl who – through love and magic – discovers that despite the sadness she’s encountered along the way, life promises to improve greatly.

In Wonderland, you will certainly recognize certain familiar elements: a young blonde protagonist searching to discover whether or not she believes in magic, a somewhat mystical place she finds herself stumbling into that is filled with hope and possibilities, the sudden presence of love in a time and place it is least expected. Even a white rabbit makes an appearance. But, truly, that’s where the comparisons start and end.

The focus here is grief. Destiny Moore is a fifteen-year-old girl whose mother has died from cancer. Even though she’s lost someone she loved and everything she’s ever known has changed, life for Destiny must go on.

As a writer, I was fascinated by the transitions Destiny experiences as she walks through each stage of grief. To her experiences, I added many components: she has to leave her hometown of Chicago and live with her two gay uncles on an island in South Carolina, she’s befriended by two misfits who – through their struggles – teach her what it means to be different in a place where different is not cool, she meets a boy named Dominic with whom she falls in love with only to find out their relationship could be doomed before it even starts. Through all of this, Destiny is slowly coming to terms with the loss of her mother. By incorporating supernatural and paranormal elements into her story, I was able to heighten Destiny’s journey. Much like Alice, Destiny discovers the greatest source of strength is within. Along the way, she also discovers she believes in love and magic.

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