Radiation Level: Free and clear
Listening to: Royals by Lorde remixed
Yes, today’s the day we celebrate all those fab women of tech!
I usually write about Ada herself, but since I’m in the middle of writing the novel about her, I’m going to include an excerpt so you can get a sneak-peek!
From AdaL by Shanee Edwards:
After breakfast, Ada and Puff climbed out an attic window, reaching my rooftop. Ada thought today would be a fine day for human flight as a flock of pigeons soared through the overcast sky then landed on my uneven stone chimney. Ada brought with her several papers and other materials she would need for her latest science experiment.
Ada laid on her stomach and wrote in her notebook entitled Flyology. Ada paid no mind as Puff chased the birds dangerously close to the edge of the roof. Still in her soft cotton nightgown, Ada’s long, wild caramel-colored hair tangled in the breeze. Her mop of spidery tresses belied the brilliantly organized brain beneath them.
Next to a drawing of a pigeon, she wrote length 11 inches, wingspan 18 inches. Next to a drawing of herself as Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (wearing clothing, of course), her arms and legs outstretched inside a square inside a circle, she wrote length 61 inches, wingspan equals X and completed an algebraic equation. With a ruler, Ada measured a pair of large paper wings attached to a harness then trimmed them accordingly. Ada strapped the winged harness onto her back and tied it tightly around her chest.
“The world will refer to me as the first flying lady. Don’t worry, I’ll say I knew you when,” she said to her kitty-cat.
Puff trotted in the opposite direction, scattering the birds. My fox-shaped weathervane pointed eastward. “All I require is a little wind,” said Ada.
In my poppy garden sat Ada’s mother, Annabella and Dr. Cole, who also resided here, at Fordhook. Annabella was in her early forties and had a fragile beauty to her, much like an aged porcelain doll. Her features were small and delicate, her teeth nearly perfectly straight.
Dr. Cole was a rather tall man in his fifties, with a receding reddish-brown hairline and wore a beard year-round. He had been employed by Annabella for nearly seven years, attending to her many nervous ailments (we’ll explore more of those later).
On this morning, Dr. Cole glanced up from his Holy Bible to see the scattering birds. As one of the pigeons landed on a plate of biscuits, Annabella forcefully shooed it away. “Bloody scavengers,” she said with a huff just as a ray of sunlight cracked through a cloud overhead. Her grey-blue eyes glistened like shards of glass, broken and sharp.
“Gospel says birds will fly you to the Kingdom in the sky,” said Dr. Cole.
Annabella quipped, “I’d prefer to walk.”
On the roof, Ada felt the breeze on her face. Determined, she took a running leap into the sky. With her winged harness she soared. Briefly. It was exactly 2.4 seconds before she crashed into my hedge next to where Annabella and Dr. Cole were seated. Her paper wings busted with a loud crunch. “Ow!” she screamed.
“What in heaven’s name?” said Annabella. “Ada?” she called as she raced over to the hedge. Dr. Cole followed right behind.
Ada, with knotted hair and pink face, clutched her ankle. “It hurts!” she blurted. Dr. Cole picked up the girl and rushed her into the house.
As Dr. Cole carried her up the staircase, Annabella barked at Miss Stamp, “She fell off the roof!”
Miss Stamp jumped to attention and began to follow them up the stairs. She said, “But why was the girl on the roof in the first place?”
Ada called, as if it was perfectly normal, “Testing my flying machine.”
Miss Stamp replied, “Needs work I take it.” For which Annabella shot her an irate look.
Dr. Cole poured Ada onto her bed which was in my Scapegrace room, nicknamed for all of the original owner Lord Bloodwood’s ornery nieces and nephews who would visit every summer. Currently, the room appeared to be a mad scientist’s laboratory dedicated to the science of Flyology. Broken wood and paper wings in a multitude of shapes and sizes littered the floor. The walls were filled with sketches of birds in flight, insects buzzing and even a sketch of a steam train with wings. Ada prized her pigeon skeletons that sat on a shelf between her beetle collection and jar of mostly live moths. She herself boiled every dead pigeon she could find until just the bones remained.
Miss Stamp pulled the broken wings off Ada’s arms while Ada rambled to herself, “My wings were directly proportional to the pigeon’s. I had wind, speed. What was I missing?”
Dr. Cole removed Ada’s left boot, causing Ada to scream in pain. He examined her ankle. Annabella sunk her head into her hand as she sat on the edge of the bed. “She’s going to be hard enough to marry off without being a cripple,” she said.
Ada looked over at her and said, “I almost made it!” with indignation.
Dr. Cole interjected, “Everyone calm your nerves. Appears to be just a sprain.” Annabella sighed with relief. “She’ll need to stay in bed for a least a week, he said.
“But tomorrow I’m fixing a pair of wings on a steam engine,” Ada said vehemently. Annabella picked up a hand mirror from Ada’s dresser and held it in front of Ada’s face.
“Look there. What do you see?” Annabella asked.
“See?” asked Ada, not grasping her meaning.
“In the mirror, child.”
“Me,” answered Ada.
“Any thing else? Feathers? A beak?
“Of course not,” quipped Annabella. “Because you are a girl. Girls do not fly.”
With that, Annabella thumped Ada on the head with the silver-backed mirror.
Ada scrambled to make her point, “But Flyology will change the word!” she said.
Annabella collected various books and handed them to Miss Stamp to dispose of when Annabella, using a handkerchief, reached for a dead crow on Ada’s shelf. Ada shouted, “Don’t touch that!” and jumped up to stop her mother from taking the crow, but her ankle gave in and she fell short. Underneath the crow was a book. Annabella stared at the book for a moment as a slow fury built on her face. The book was Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by Lord Byron. Knowing the book for forbidden, Ada looked at Miss Stamp for help, but she scuttled out of the room.
Dr. Cole also felt the need to escape and offered, “I’ll get a cold compress.” No soul with a sound mind wanted to witness the tongue-lashing that was sure to follow.
Annabella closed her eyes and shook her head. “Now I understand everything.” Ada took a moment to gather her courage. This was the showdown she’d been waiting for.
Calmly, Ada asked, “Is it so wrong for me to read my own father’s poetry?”
The question hanged in the air for what seemed like minutes (unlike Ada’s flying machine). For seventeen years, Annabella anticipated this question, secretly hoping it wouldn’t be asked. But now was the time to reveal just a morsel of Ada’s dark history.
“Lord Byron is so dangerous a poison, I do not wish his name to even touch your lips,” she said with a solemn certainty Ada had not witnessed from her mother before.
Ada replied, “But Miss Stamp says he’s the most brilliant and handsome man in all of England.”
Annabella’s fragile facial features grew severe, “He is a monster. There’s a reason God marked him with a clubfoot. His mangled toes are evidence of his vile soul. He…” But she could not finish her sentence and simply left the room, taking the book Child Harold’s Pilgrimage with her.
Ada called to her mother, “Please, I need that book!”
But Annabella was gone and Ada couldn’t walk on her damaged ankle, making her consider her father’s clubfoot. What exactly was a clubfoot? Could it be walked upon without the assistance of a cane? Could it be repaired by a surgeon? Or should it be amputated altogether? A clubfoot must look like a club, but how much so? Does it have all five toes? Are the toes monstrous? Or, is a club foot a regular foot that appears to be beaten with a club? If only she knew. Cursed or not, Lord Byron was her flesh and blood – her father. Ada couldn’t help but feel as if she were also cursed.
To read more, leave a comment below!
Radiation Level: Mega Moon
Listening To: Missing Pieces by Jack White
Okay, so I have some new projects in the works, yo! Let’s see what fate has in store for FalloutGirl.
New Project #1!
I’m directing a short film. Yes. Not with kids. A real short narrative film that doesn’t involve fake blood, bar mitzvahs or a history lesson. The film is called Wink and is based on my play Ring Around the Collar which was produced in Arizona last year. Wink is about the perils of internet dating and hopefully will make every guy on Match.com think twice before “winking” at a girl he doesn’t truly fancy.
The exciting thing about this project is so far, everyone I’ve
begged asked for help has said YES. I’m used to NO, as in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women saying NO. NO is my default and easier than YES because it means I’m stuck and can’t move forward and it’s everyone else’s fault. But this isn’t the case right now, so far, here’s what’s happened:
Hey can I shoot at your apartment?” YES
Will you be my DP? YES
Will you be my art director? YES
Will you, a professional casting director, help me with casting? YES
Will you be my actor/actress? YES
I am humbled by the yeses. So now, I have to step up and move through the safety of NO and embrace the wild unknown of the YES.
New Project #2!
I have officially started writing my YA novel about Ada Lovelace. It is pretty crazy to go from screenplay to novel, it’s usually done in the other direction. It’s a pretty big adjustment to go from thinking visually and using minimal dialogue with heavy subtext to using as many freaking words as I want. It’s intimidating and 50,000 words seems like oh-so-many-words, but I’m going to do it.
With summer coming, I won’t be teaching and I’ll have the time to get the words in (when I’m not shooting/editing my short). When I write a screenplay, I try for two to five pages a day (seven to 10 if I’m on a caffeine-induced roll and on deadline). Can I do 1,000 words a day in novel format? I’m guessing that’s a bit ambitious. It’s going to be a great summer!
Radiation Level: 451 degrees Fahreinheit
Listening To: Joey by Concrete Blonde
So, it appears that my manager has figured out the next phase of my writing career. I’m to enter the world of teen fiction. Fiction as in FalloutGirl is going to write a Young Adult novel. Tiger blood!
I’ve never wanted to write a novel. To be honest, it just seems like a lot of punctuation and internalized self-loathing (sort like my own daily thought process). With screenplays you have action and dialogue to buttress the architecture of the the moving images you’re creating. With a novel, you have lots and lots of words, sentence structure and grammar. It invokes English class. Don’t get me wrong, I love literature. Nabokov’s Lolita and Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible are my two favorite books. Iconic, masterful works. Completely untouchable. So much so, I’ve never even wanted to try to touch. Okay, so YA novels aren’t going to be “great literature” so I shouldn’t get so intimidated. But there’s a different duty here. These are TEENS. Don’t writers have a responsibility to write great role models for them and not the self-absorbed, tortured, selfish Bella from Twilight? I honorably pass the torch to these young geniuses.
When I was a teen, I read EVERY Flowers in the Attic and Heaven book VC Andrews wrote. Even when I found out that VC Andrews had passed away and a ghost writer had taken over, I was still hooked on these siblings who fell into dark, obsessive, incestuous love. Hmmm…Bi-winning?
Okay, I read those trashy books and didn’t turn into a meth head, so maybe there’s hope for the kids reading Twilight. Maybe I don’t have to be as responsible with creating positive role models as I thought. But damn, it just doesn’t feel like it’s the right thing to do. I’m entirely sure, however, that Miss Meyer is sleeping well at night, her pretty little head untroubled by the dismal state of American youth. Warlock.
Forbidden love seems to be a popular theme and I have to admit it appeals to me. Shall I indulge my inner-teen, the 17-year-old who cried for days over a bad boy before waking up and smelling the bitter coffee of Women Who Love Too Much? You’ve been given magic. You’ve been given gold.
So now that I’ve settled on a theme (oh god, “theme” is such a literary word…), I need to find that element of fantasy and magic that fascinate teens. I know, how about a story about vampires? Ha, ha, bi-losing. I need to figure out the evolution of vampires. Something animal. Something mythical. Something dangerous. A platform to explore sexuality without having sex. Something undead? Dying is for fools. Amateurs.
So what would Charlie Sheen write about? Probably himself and his winning lifestyle. The goddesses. All his money. And his success. Maybe that’s what I need to do – channel Sheen’s Adonis DNA and go into a narcissist state…I work on that now and let you know how it goes. I guess I’m just that bitchen.