In February 2016, I had a reading of my play, Another Mother, at Horizon Theatre in Atlanta, sponsored by Working Title Playwrights. In April of the same year, I submitted Another Mother for consideration to The Essential Theatre. Starting in May, while waiting to hear if the play was accepted, I wrote the first of what was eventually fifty segments of a proposed novella entitled Worthy, which chronicled the life of a supporting character from the play, Abigail Worthy. I serialized the story from May through July of 2017 with an eye toward compiling and editing it for publication the following year. In January 2017, I was informed that Another Mother, had won The Essential Theatre’s Play Writing Award and would be produced that summer.
Another Mother, in which Abigail is the cousin of main character Genevieve Duchard, has had a rather interesting history. It was based almost entirely on a comment by Leah Walker, who is a main character in Rebecca, Too, the play on which Mother is based, which has never been produced. When asked if she’s married, her reply is, “Not married, no kids — that I can talk about.” In developing Leah’s backstory, I decided that she had (initially) two biological children as a result of donating eggs while she was a graduate student. Development of the play throughout 2017, and especially while getting it ready for production heavily influenced development of the novelization of Rebecca Too the following year. Along the way, I cut the number of biological kids down to one, a daughter named Genevieve.
Following the production in the Fall of 2017, I started reading a lot of Stephen King’s work, in particular the Dark Tower series. As a member of Book of the Month Club in the eighties, I purchased a copy of The Gunslinger, the first volume in the series, but I had never gotten around to reading it. The Dark Tower series is based on an epic poem by Robert Browning entitled “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” which, in turn, was based on a quote from King Lear by Edgar in his guise as mentally-disturbed vagrant Poor Tom: “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower did come and this was his cry, ‘Fie foe and fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.”
King’s work had an impact on Rebecca Too, as I created the character of The Storyteller, but it also inspired the idea for a work I tentatively entitled Regan and Rosie, which would deal with the backstory of Another Mother. The idea was for a non-linear novel or story collection that told how Rosalind Duchard honored the memory of her deceased sister Regan Worthy by creating a daughter using an egg donation from Leah Walker. The story would be bookended by first Regan’s then Rosalind’s story and in between would tell Leah’s.
The project never got off the ground, beyond yielding the story of how Rosalind beat cancer in the year following her sister’s death, and the rough outline of how Regan came to create a series of paintings of a figure she called The Star Childe. I had already deemed the serialization of Worthy to be unworkable in its compiled format and in the meantime had written and released Fables of the New South the first volume in my Atlanta Stories series and was working on writing the novelization of Rebecca and stories for the follow up collection, Reconstruction. So, both Worthy and the sisters project were shelved.
Throughout 2020, especially during the pandemic, I worked on Reconstruction and on compiling my unrelated stories, essays, and poetry into Words Words Words, which I released early in 2020, followed by Reconstruction mid-year. Once they were out the door, I went back to the projects on the shelf and made the decision to combine them, along with prose based on Another Mother into a newly revamped Worthy. I decided to experiment with the narrative a bit, by giving each of the introductory sections a unique voice that reflected the character being introduced.
Along the way, I pruned quite a bit out of the original Worthy and greatly modified the story being told by Regan to include only her history as a teenager, told in her own words. The only section that survived reasonably intact from where I wrote it is Rosalind’s story. The biggest changes are to Another Mother. In the play, a number of background elements are set in motion by Abigail such as a social media alias the cousins use that I realized should be handled by Genevieve, the computing expert. I also removed a great deal about Abigail’s relationship with her father and altered other items about her history that did not add much to the narrative.
I received the manuscript back from the person who reads and offers edits and comments late in 2022, and I’m nearing completion of the changes and corrections. I will soon be uploading the book to the printer. My plan is to have it ready for publication by my birthday, which gives me a little over a week. Worthy has taken a bit longer to get into publishable format (though not twenty years like another of my books), but I’m reasonably satisfied with what I have and am looking forward to releasing it to the public. From there, it’s up to the readers.
Here’s a sneak peek at the cover art from the pocket paperback edition.