Mostly for tiboribi
, but as I was typing it up I thought that other people might appreciate some of this too!
I made up, but did not write, an epic World War II story when I was twelve. My diseased pre-teen brain devoured SO MUCH Holocaust literature that I was very surprised at myself when I produced "Something Worth Doing," a World War II story set not in the concentration camps or among the French Resistance, but in an operational squadron of fighter pilots.
(incidentally, my high school French teacher was a former Résistante--my French class was ALL OVER the French Resistance. Here she is:http://www.pennlive.com/news/dday/stories/foolingoccupation.htmlhttp://www.pennlive.com/news/patriotnews/index.ssf?/base/news/121038901188150.xml&coll=1
BTW: I am VERY DISTURBED that when I google "Annette Berman resistance" the Number 1 hit is on a website called "white rule"--or something like that--and is a snide comment deriding her hiding and Resistance activities during the war--when she was a teenager, for goodness sake. What is up with THAT. I scorn to link to it but you can try it yourself if you're interested.)
Anyway, what I really wanted to share here were these notes about my GREAT WAR EPIC from when I was twelve - The Danes
, starring lovely blonde identical twins Dani and Dana Norn, both involved in the Danish Resistance. Dani, the younger twin and my favourite, is the one who is captured by the Gestapo and tortured and ends up in a concentration camp. Dana, the older twin, escapes to neutral Sweden with her boyfriend.
You can see the little gears going in my head already. (Sometimes I think I really should be writing manga.)
Earlier this year I dug out my folder of The Danes
memorabilia and it is…amazing. And frustrating. The written storyline amounts to not more than 200 words total, but includes a moment where Jason Frank (the Nazi inquisitor!) and Dani Norn stare into each other's eyes and see mutual understanding reflected there--also a vignette from Frank's p.o.v. where he realizes that Dani is more than his match. And I'm like… Dude, I was TWELVE, where does this come from
? Because essentially I have just been writing the same story over and over all my life.
The lack of notation is hugely frustrating--it's like finding the outline for a novel by some dead writer whose writing you adore, and knowing she will never finish it. There is a supporting character with a made-up Frenchy-sounding name (Mirielle? something like that) who appears to be an Olympic-level swimmer and who swims around rescuing people
--she turns up in a concentration camp shower room in her bathing suit (this is all in pictures that I did when I was 12/13, and no, I am NOT going to scan them!), hushing people to avoid notice. She also turns up, twice, leaping off a cliff (in her bathing suit) with a swarm of Gestapo in pursuit--then later is found senseless, drowned or not I don't know, on a beach somewhere. It occurs to me now that she is meant to SWIM TO SWEDEN to escape Occupied Denmark. Occasionally a boy, also in a bathing suit, accompanies her.
There is another female creature, I believe this one is called Terry, who appears to be 1) involved in Dani's betrayal to the Gestapo, 2) SCOTTISH. There is a hugely intriguing sketch of her, doing something with daggers, dressed in FULL HIGHLAND REGALIA INCLUDING SPORRAN. I am pretty sure she is committing suicide in the sketch, although in a fit of self-consciousness over the melodrama (and quite right too) I have gone through and labelled all the pictures with spurious mockery, confusing the issue and misnaming everybody. So this picture is labelled "Maggie knitting." But I'm pretty sure it is meant to be Terry, or someone, stricken with remorse over we-no-longer-know-what, stabbing herself in the heart. She appears to be standing on the porch of my grandmother's house! I feel sure that the tartan regalia is meant to be her final statement of stubborn Wallace pride. She always seems to wear a Touch of Tartan (at wrist and collar, for example) in the other pictures where she turns up.
I have forgotten who all the supporting characters are and kind of have to match a list of random names with random pictures. The best pictures are actually all of Dana and Kip (the elder twin and her boyfriend). I had forgotten that after they escape to Sweden Kip becomes a glassblower! See, even then all my characters had to have a Useful Skill.
I showed all these pictures to Sara. I was about her age when I made the story up. She was impressed at my so-called "research" (there was a map. I drew a map of Denmark and Sweden and the Baltic Sea or whatever it is, and discussed the pros and cons of setting the story in Elsinore or Copenhagen. I didn't know it was Elsinore then, but that's where I put it.)
Sara and I just about killed ourselves laughing over the picture where Dana realizes the war is over. She is surrounded by idiot smiley faces. Sara nearly died. We were both just rolling on the floor and kicking our legs in the air as we howled over this picture.
I remembered, looking at this stuff with Sara, that Kip is supposed to be Jewish! In the picture where Dana comes in from work to see a Christmas tree (she wears a peppermint candy-striped nurse's outfit, evidence of some of my other reading at the time. Also--note that she has a job too), behind the tree (I hadn't noticed this when I looked at it the first time) there are two menorahs. I do remember now how ridiculous it is that Kip--Christopher--has a Christian name. It took Sara
to point out that his Jewishness is the reason it matters when his papers expire (they are terribly upset over this event in an earlier picture)--which precipitates their flight to Sweden. I'd forgotten that.
Sara has a little diseased brain too sometimes... occasionally makes rather brilliant suggestions for me to include in things I'm working on. She has asked to retain copyright to some of these ideas but allows me full use of the gorier ones.
(My children are both somewhat obsessed with copyright.)