I’ve added the first chapter of my most recent rewrite of Phineas Caswell, the novel, variously called Marigold’s End, Phineas Caswell, The Journal of Phineas Caswell, and The Treasure of the Tres Hermanas. Those are the ones that come to mind – I guarantee there are more.
My brother told me a story once about an old man who carved elaborate, beautiful wooden doors. He would sit at them day after day, whittling, cutting, shaping, without end. Someone asked when he knew a door was done. His answer was simple: “when someone takes it away from me.”
Phineas, the novel, is headed for online publishing: I’ve been told precisely 753 times that this story doesn’t lend itself to the young-adult publishing model. I was actually told that by the head editor at Disney – yes, that Disney. I believe that one was the Journal of Phineas Caswell…
Suzanne, the love of my life and my editor (all the same person), prompted this last rewrite. And believe me, this is the last one – I’ve twisted this poor kid so many ways from Sunday his name may as well be Larry. Reach inside, she suggested, but not for what you know, what you feel.
Beyond queasy, I didn’t know quite what she meant, but eventually figured it out.
Chapter One, over on the page called Phineas the Novel, comes from down inside. It comes from a place of regret, of something lost than can never be regained. It’s not a generated feeling – I have some regrets, believe you me. I sold that hillside, ocean-view house for $175k when today you can’t touch it for under two million… just kidding (although, I did sell that house, and I do regret not having two million bucks).
My daughter cried when she read it and said “you can’t start a children’s story this way.”
Tells me we’re on to something!
Do me a favor and visit the Phineas the Novel page and let me know what you think.