An analytical discussion of my novel, Alice and the Warden. Aka, ego tripping. I will be discussing spoilers, so feel free to skip this post if you aren’t currently caught up.
So … I could never be a Hallmark movie writer. Truth is, while working on the Damon chapters, I could hear my mom’s voice lamenting, “Why can’t you write nice stories?”
*insert childhood issues here*
But anyway, we don’t need to get into the reasons why I’m drawn towards the darker side of reality. I just am, and that’s that.
Miranda is a foil** to Alice, and most of her decisions are opposite of Alice’s. Where the novel begins with Alice recovering from her life with Damon, Miranda in turn gets sucked into his world through the course of the story.
I don’t hate either Miranda or Damon — I’m actually fond enough that I’m writing “fanfiction” of them, that takes place after AatW ends. So hey, if you want more D/M, it’s coming.
When I began writing the Damon chapters, my goal was to illustrate how he draws people in, then manipulates and destroys them. I wanted to give a clear example of the sentence from chapter 3, “After four years, Alice had disappeared completely underneath Damon, to the point that when he asked her to confess to murder, she did it without hesitation.”
My secret worry is that others would read that sentence and immediately assume that Alice was a weak-willed doormat who passively allowed herself to be abused. In fact, Alice’s broken family left a giant vulnerability in her that Damon exploited for his own selfish gain, and she was very much the victim.
The exact tactics he used with Miranda were different, but the approach is generally the same. He found something to tie her to him, then oscillated between “perfectly wonderful” and “abusive psycho.” She can’t tell if she loves him or hates him, because he’s constantly throwing both at her. Since Miranda is a prideful sort of person, she isolates herself rather than risk the shame of revealing what she had gotten herself into, and Damon relies heavily on that fact. In essence, he deliberately gives his “girlfriends” Stockholm syndrome, and he’s smart enough to pull it off.
Internally, Damon wants to be better, but he doesn’t know how to deal with his own demons.
The Damon chapters were almost draining to write. They don’t have the cute cotton candy fluff of the first half of AatW, and they strike on my own insecurities far more than the Alice/Hackett chapters. Like I said before, I can just hear my mom’s voice chastising me for writing them.
But they’re an essential part of the story, because they give perspective on the depth contained in the first few chapters. Alice didn’t whimsically decide that she wanted to keep her baby — it was the first time her soul cried out for something after four years of psychological abuse and a broken childhood.
I have entirely too much to say about my own works.