Expanded Universe: Rebecca Asher

In the earliest work that bears her name, the 18-page screenplay I wrote in September 2010, Rebecca Asher doesn’t even appear as a character. In this, a woman named Allison Caine wakes up in the hospital following a car accident claiming to be Rebecca Asher. We’re never told, within the context of the screenplay, how the two know one another or what led Allison to take on Rebecca’s personality. Our only clue is a photo of the two young women at Spring Break 1999 which appears at the end of the action. The screenplay did establish several canonical attributes, that Allison and Rebecca were born on 20 April 1981 (my eighteenth birthday), in Northside Hospital, that Rebecca has a younger brother named Steven, that Rebecca’s father was an airline pilot who walked out on her family when she was nine years old, and that Rebecca’s mother died of ovarian cancer when Rebecca was sixteen and Steven was ten. It also established differences in Allison and Rebecca’s looks, Rebecca short, with dark hair and features and Allison tall and blonde. Very little of Rebecca’s backstory has changed since, while her personality has evolved considerably.

Rebecca comes to life the first time in the incomplete first draft I wrote in 2011-2012. The earliest draft of the play I have is dated 11 October 2012 and is fifty-three pages long. Alyssa is still identified as Allison and her mother, Melinda is still a character. The plot involves Allison waking up and walking through finishing several things leftover from Rebecca’s life, then confronting Owen Asher and snapping back into being herself. Many of the scenes survive in some form in the novel, but much has changed in the characters and their situations. Most notably, I’ve finally succeeded in establishing Rebecca as a fully functioning character in her own right.

Rebecca was always problematic while I was developing the play, because her character dies in the very first scene of the play. With the exception of several flashbacks, she’s largely defined by whoever was remembering her, but, since she was going through the worst period of her life at the time depicted in the play, this led to a very negative view of her. Still, Alyssa was her friend, and had a positive view of her, and Alyssa wasn’t naive, so Rebecca must have been better than the play would lead us to believe.

Once I started working on Another Mother, I shelved Rebecca, Too, and when I was finally ready to resume work, over two years later, I had the idea to turn it into a novel. This required a complete rethinking of the plot, and at last gave me the opportunity to fully explore Rebecca’s character. I was approached about doing a reading of a play in development in early 2018, and the only play I had which had not been produced was Rebecca, Too. Reviewing it was a challenge because several of the characters, notably Leah, Alyssa, Steven, and Claire, had evolved in either Another Mother or Fables of the New South while Rebecca remained largely as I’d left her when I shelved the project, leading to my hastily editing her lines to soften some of the rough edges. Fortunately, for the novel, I had already begun to rethink her character, by including her in new stories involving Claire and other characters from Fables. She’s at last becoming the complex and contradictory character she was always intended to be.

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