As my friend Clare puts the finishing touches on Lily, and I finish working on the cover for it, I thought I would give a little bit of a backstory on Lily.
We started writing it together something like six years ago. It was really, really, I mean really bad. And of course we thought it was like the most amazing thing ever. Which just makes it all the more painful (and I mean it’s literally physically painful, laughing that hard) when we look back at it.
It was originally the story of four orphans (John, Lily, Kyle, and Jessica, aged 2, 6, 10, and 12… I think) who, after running away from an abusive orphanage, lived a rather idyllic life in a clearing in the woods in a log cabin, which somehow they had managed to build by themselves. Oh, wait, no, it wasn’t by themselves. A woodcutter and his wife lived in the same woods and helped the kids out. This was supposed to be historical fiction people, not a really bad fairy tale.
And the driving plot of the whole thing was that they all wanted parents. Understandable, I suppose, but why the childless woodcutter and his wife didn’t just adopt these kids who they basically took care of is a mystery. Anyway, the orphans decide they must go out and find some parents to adopt them………… *cringe*
They met a couple named the Crushers *shudder* who they basically stay with for a big chunk of the story, as if that isn’t just a little bit weird. Meanwhile, they’re being hunted down by… drumroll please… the vengeful orphanage lady.
Then they get mugged by this random stalker (still not sure what exactly he wanted). Oh, have a laugh and just read it for yourself. I take full responsibility for the horribleness of it all. My ten-year-old imagination was… interesting.
The town looked creepy in the dark, and Lily, who sat in the front of Lightning [a horse that they miraculously won in a horserace, of course], felt that someone was watching them. indeed someone was watching them and that was why they had left in the middle of the night. the man that had grabbed the children weeks ago in the dark of night in the town where they met the Piles was waiting and watching for a chance to get revenge.
he crept behind them hardly making a noise until he saw his chance. Kyle was getting off Lightning to distribute food when the man lept! he knocked Kyle to the ground and would have beaten him up terribly if not Lily, who was furious at the man, jumped down and with all her might whacked the criminal on the head with her crutches [she twisted her ankle a while back…]. a loud crack rang through the still early morning air and the man fell limply to the ground, unconcious. Kyle and Jess stared at Lily with open mouths and then John started to laugh.
“Lily,” said Kyle in astonishment, “i didn’t know you could do that. you, you saved my life! wow! i want to make a pair of crutches for myself so that i can do that too!”
(And meanwhile, I am curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth and moaning.) It HURTS!!!!! And the spelling. And grammar. And capitalization at the beginning of sentences. (Or lack thereof… on all of those)
Now, thankfully, Lily has undergone something like five total rewrites (the most recent and by far the best of these was entirely written by Clare), and it’s literally another story.
And because I must at least attempt to save a little face here, please allow me to tell you what it’s about now. Actually, I’ll tell you whether you allow me or not. So, uh, yeah.
Anyway, now Lily and her siblings (who are still four in number, but have different names and different ages) are living in New York City in 1918 (there is no cabin, no woodcutter, no woodcutter’s wife, and no vengeful orphanage lady). The older brother William is an abusive jerk, the older sister Maggie is beaten-down and despairing, and the younger brother John is just kinda a pathetic little orphan.
And Lily hates it.
And because that was probably about the worst explanation of that book ever, here’s what my friend wrote for the back cover:
“Stay with your siblings, Lily, you understand me? Don’t you never leave ‘em.”
In New York City, once you’re cast onto the streets, there’s no getting back up. Lily’s been there for years now, and, even though she’s got the ingenuity to go somewhere, the weight of her siblings is chaining her down.
…but can’t all chains be broken eventually?
So as you can see, the plot’s changed just a little bit. 🙂 For anyone who has read this whole long post, congratulations. Have some cake. For my next post, would you like to see some excerpts from the shiny, new, and much improved Lily? Or maybe some more cringe-worthy ones from the old? Or something completely different? (I could blog about squirrels. Or fuzzy purple socks. Or anything at all.) Please comment; I’d love to hear what you guys think!!!