Posts Tagged ‘seven deadly sins’

Part I: The Heiress (Gluttony)

The second deadly sin is “gluttony.” I initially thought of having a model as the protagonist. I considered having a male model as the protagonist too. Eating disorders came into the picture — but then I took a step back, and remembered the theme/concept I initially had in mind for this entire Sins07 “seven deadly sins” series.

gluttony

“Gluttony” by Julie Morstad

–> Image from Julie Morstad / Tiny Showcase

Right from the start, I’d always wanted an element of fun and light-heartedness throughout the books (“light-hearted” in the “cheerfully optimistic and hopeful” sense — not in a completely carefree, frivolous sense). The whole aspect of eating disorders just wasn’t right, with regards to the concept/vision for the series. I watched almost all the episodes of What’s Eating You? on E! Online (I love that channel — that, and A&E). I know a few people in real life who have suffered or are currently suffering from some kind of eating disorder. There is nothing fun about eating disorders. Most of the time, it is something very miserable, demoralizing, and anxiety-inducing. While I can understand the inner turmoil and the seriousness of eating disorders, I just didn’t feel that it’d be a good fit for this YA series I am currently working on.

My “Plan B” (if I wasn’t going to cast a model as the protagonist) was to feature an “heiress” (which immediately brought to mind: Paris Hilton!). The character could still do some modeling on the side, but she would have more money, power, and control, than a super-thin model working for a modeling agency / in the fashion industry. It would also allow for more interesting possibilities and various plot twists, than if I’d gone the modeling/staying skinny/eating disorders route.

I have always believed in providing/creating the changes I would like to see in real life (instead of whining and griping about “things I don’t like”). The heiress can have friends who are models, or who suffer from quite-severe eating disorders (to up the book’s “relevance”)…but this would not be a “defining trait” of the protagonist herself. If it was (which would be the case, if she were a model who binged and purged on a consistent basis in order to “eat all she wanted” but “still remain thin”)…I would have to compromise a lot of the “fun” element in the plot.

One thing remains the same: the focus on wastage. I believe that is the sinful aspect of gluttony — the actual wastage of food and consumption of too much, when others are literally dying because they don’t have enough.

Part II: Gender Balance

I think the third book will feature a lead male protagonist. To even things out, maybe I’ll have 3 females and 3 males (from Book01 to Book06), and a girl and guy for Book07 (I’m very “diplomatic” that way). I think I was thinking of a bisexual best friend for the lead male in Book03 (Sloth) too — though the protagonist is likely to be more heterosexual than heteroflexible. But I thought it’d be more interesting if his best friend were bi/gay/sexually ambiguous.

It might go along these lines (with regards to the gender of the protagonists):

Book01 (Lust) — The Intern / Suzie Q (17, Female)
Book02 (Gluttony) — The Heiress / Female
Book03 (Sloth) — The (Gamer; tentative) / Male
Book04 (Envy) — Female
Book05 (Greed) — Male (something to do with banking/finance, presumably)
Book06 (Anger) — Male
Book07 (Pride) — Male & Female

I suppose it might come as a surprise that I chose to write a mainstream “seven deadly sins” series [though I do have a darker, more “alternative” version I’d like to play around with in future ;)]. My first two books were multiple-genre-crossing — I don’t intend to experiment too much with the writing style which will characterize the SINS07 series.

What I did have in mind was something lighthearted and humorous (without being devoid of substance — I always aim for some level of substance, according to my standards).

I deliberately chose not to glam up popularity, sex, and drugs [(like in Gossip Girl, etc, so if you enjoy those books, my books will probably not be your cup of tea (you’re still always free to check out some excerpts!)].

The psychologist Abraham Maslow studied what he called exemplary people, such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. I think I follow a slightly similar work ethic, with my writing material.

I like to create/write about protagonists who go through a journey, and come out better people — a journey where the character’s true worth isn’t based on superficial traits like one’s physical hotness/drool factor. What makes a real relationship an ultimate experience is the actual interactions between the two people that are supposed to be sharing a love. I don’t subscribe to the notion of “true love” being based on “how hot the person is” — because at the end of the day, there still will be a real, living person underneath the exterior. A beautiful soul and a beautiful body are not necessarily the same thing.

So, as I was saying…I believe there is a lot more to life than popularity, sex, and drugs. And while these elements are common in the subject matter of teen books/products (and aren’t completely left out in the SINS07 series — that would be a little bit unrealistic, especially since it *is* a “deadly sins” series), SINS07 will feature such elements in a fun (and purposeful) way.

I respect my readers that way.

One of the reasons I like love Vladimir Nabokov’s works so much is the attention he gives to “the details,” such as the names of characters. Now while I’m not making any comparisons between 1: The Intern (first book in the SINS07 series) and Lolita, I did spend some time tweaking the names of characters and places (as I always do with all of my writing material — if the names aren’t right, nothing is).

1. SUZIE Q (Intern #1)

Yep, directly as a result of listening to “Suzy Q” on repeat — I like the song, I like the beat, I like the guitar licks. I just wanted the girl’s name to be musically/lyrically linked to a rock-n-roll song :) [it’ll make more sense once you link the lyrics to the first page in the book].

2. CHESTER TAYLOR ADAMSKI (Intern #2)

Because I was playing around with his name being “Chester T., and his nickname being “Chas-ti-ty” (he’s referred to as “Chester” mostly, throughout the book), since the theme/concept of Book 1 in the SINS07 seven deadly sins series is “lust” after all.

I changed his name to Chester Evans (based on feedback that the last name “Adamski” was “too weird”), then I changed it back again. I thought it sounded more interesting / better suited the character (no offense to any “Chester Evanses” out there).

3. JO.ZEE (21 year old dance instructor/choreographer)

A.K.A. “Josh/Joshua Zee” — I thought adding the dot in the name was a contemporary touch, like Will.i.am and Linkin Park’s song, Figure.09. Probably subconsciously influenced by a dance student I knew, whose name incidentally, was Joshua. Damn, he was really hot.

4. FUNKY FUNKY (night club)


— Image from Atlanta Exchange.

A dance battle takes place at a club called Funky², in the book (the club is first mentioned in Chapter 2, when the interns are on their way to their hotel). There’s a real club in Seoul called Club Funky Funky (a small club which combines a live band with a DJ who plays anything from rock and funk to hip-hop).

5. TRESOR ACADEMY (Hairdressing Academy)


— Image from Toni & Guy HK.

Trésor means “treasure” in French (mentioned in the book too). This is really a fictitious version of the Toni & Guy Academy, which I practically visited on a monthly basis during my late teen years. They were/are really good.

6. ROXETH (Setting / City)

City Nightscape
— Photo by MARKNKL.

Roxeth is actually a real place (in the UK / 5 seconds’ research on Google will tell you where exactly). I liked the sound of the name (something cool, and a little bit edgy). The cities in my writing projects tend to be generic/fictitious cities, instead of the actual names of the real places. I feel there’s more room for variation/reader interpretation, that way.

P.S. I grew up in Singapore (the picture above), so every urban city is always going to have an element of “familiarity” to me, heh.

7. LYSISTRATA MUSEUM (Site of Internship)

I had to always check the spelling of “Lysistrata” at first. It’s a play written by Aristophanes.

* Side Note: The whole idea of the museum internship was influenced by some blog posts I read by a museum intern.

* Book #1 (Lust) in Jess C Scott’s Sins07 “seven deadly sins” series—a teenage version of Dirty Dancing meets Punk’d.

One-line summary: A 17-year-old intern must choose between trusting an irresistibly suave dance instructor—or her instincts.

Summary: Suzie Quinn, smart kid and closet dance enthusiast, travels with a classmate to a world-class city for an internship program. She finds herself undeniably attracted to the suave hip-hop instructor, Jo.Zee, who recruits her into a dance fitness DVD he is producing. When Suzie sees (or thinks she sees) the real Jo.Zee, she has to decide if she will trust him…or her instincts.

Genre: Young Adult / Humor / Contemporary / 65,000 words.

***

1: THE INTERN: First Chapter

“Hey—check out the first song on the list.”

I glance at the catalog Chester Taylor Adamski, my internship partner, is showing me. The page lists the radio channels provided by the airline. There’s the Top 40s channel, Adult Rock, Blues/Swing channel, and so on. The one he’s pointing at is Classic Rock, and “Suzy Q” is the first song.

“Your all-time favorite?” I wink.

“Right on,” Chester says with a mighty grin.

His chin rests on his hand that’s propped up on the armrest between our seats. A couple of fingerprint marks smear the lenses of his black, plastic-framed glasses. His dusty blond hair is neat as usual, and pretty much unstyled.

I smile. I’ve gone with “Suzie Q” after Chester introduced me to that rock song. It has more flavor than “Suzie Quinn” anyhow. Chester told me about the song when we were thirteen or fourteen. I was surprised he listened to hard rock. I thought he’d be more into something like classical music.

Once in a while, in moments like this, I almost think Chester might be the one.

But then I get real. Not Chester. He’s more like a brother to me.

“Oh, and take a look at this.” He points to a small image—a close-up shot of a woman’s mouth with bright red lips, with the caption: Devil or Angel.

“What’s that?” I enquire.

He speed-reads the rest of it, then turns the page.

“Nothing important?”

“Yep,” he concludes. “Just another bunch of silly people, brought to you by yet another brainless reality TV show.”

We both laugh. I’ve always had a love-hate kind of relationship with reality shows. There’s something addictive and entertaining about even the worst of them.

The kid behind starts kicking the back of my seat, adding more distress to the slight migraine and blocked ears I’m experiencing during my maiden flight.

“Are you excited about the internship?” Chester asks suddenly, rubbing his chin lightly. He does that sometimes, when he’s deep in thought.

“Are you?” I ask in turn.

“Sure, aren’t you?”

“Yeah,” I lie. “It’s a privilege we made the cut for the Spring Break internship.” While the internship is the highlight of Nova Academy’s junior year, I was half-hoping I’d be thrown into an exotic location, like India or Japan. I’ve lived all my life in Essex, Vermont, a quiet and scenic region in the northeast.

“We’re Nova Academy’s finest.”

“Wear your t-shirts with pride,” I reply, imitating the shrill voice of our advisor, Mrs. De Sousa.

Chester’s wearing the shirt right now, and he points to it. The t-shirts have our school crest and school name emblazoned on the front.

“You are the crème de la crème, the best of the best!” Chester raises his chin up slightly, the exact way Mrs. De Sousa does when she’s drilling it into our heads that we’re from a super school.

I hate it when they say such things. I think it’s too elitist. But Nova Academy is one of the finest high schools in the country. It’s a school for gifted and talented students, and has spawned some prodigies and now famous people.

“I still remember Pixel Wallace.” Chester continues flipping through the pages of the catalog. “Accepted into Harvard at the age of fourteen.”

Stuff like that makes me wonder what I’m doing at Nova.

Pixel and I had some classes together. She was discussing “projective geometry” with the teacher, at the speed of a bullet, while the rest of us worked on some algebra. Math whizzes like Chester T. (a.k.a. “Chas-ti-ty”) understood “projective geometry,” but not me. I tested into Nova’s program because of my high score on Languages and Linguistics. It’s probably due to my interest in cultural studies.

“Did you get a chance to check out The Lysistrata online?”

“A little bit. It looks posh.” I am halfhearted about the fact that we won’t be getting paid as interns though, as with many other interns…

“It does look posh. It’s about the number one museum around!” Chester must have sensed my lack of enthusiasm. “Come on, I know you like history. It’s going to be fun.”

Suddenly, the seatbelt signals above start to flash. My ears hurt. The pilot’s voice comes on. There is some audio static before anyone can hear what he’s saying.

“Ladies…and gentlemen…”

But the static takes over again. I feel like lurching. My hands are freezing.

“You look stressed,” says Chester. He’s right about that.

“I’ve heard about horror stories, where passengers’ cups and saucers went flying,” I mutter to him.

“During turbulence?”

“Yeah.”

The plane jerks. A baby starts to cry somewhere. I stare out the window at the surrounding dusky, gray skies. We will be landing at night.

“Maybe it’s the wind,” Chester says flatly. He gazes out the small square box of a window. “Unless a bird got in the engine.”

I wish he had not said that. I stare at the motion sickness bag in front of me.

Then, Chester holds my hand. “It’ll be okay in a bit.”

My other hand clutches the edge of the seat. I think he notices.

“Think happy thoughts…” he says, taking a look out of the window too. He lets go of my hand to put his seatbelt on.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

I’d like to rest my head against his shoulder, just to feel safe, but I don’t. I think it might give him the wrong idea. Everyone already thinks we’re a couple but we’re just good friends. Of course people will believe what they want to believe.

I recollect some fun incidents with Chester over the years. Way back in the fourth grade, he got me a lime green pencil box for my birthday, while I got him a giant chocolate bar (our birthdays are a few days apart). I remember being taller than him until around eighth grade when he suddenly shot up, and now he’s a lot taller than me. He’s also been working out these last couple of years, so his name has popped up in “girl talk.”

We’ve been on group dates but never just the two of us, so I don’t know why people think of us as an item. I never give that impression. Like I said: you can’t stop people from believing what they want to.

The plane shakes a little again and I am jolted out of my memories. As I try to think about more “happy thoughts,” I realize how much of a life I am lacking, and how much I am missing out on. Apart from maintaining good grades, reading lots, and going on the once-in-a-blue-moon “date,” what else have I actually been up to? Yes, I’ll be in the world-class city of Roxeth for a fortnight—and work starts on Monday, tomorrow, oh joy—but two weeks isn’t going to make a magical difference. Besides, cities are busy, crowded, and noisy. And I hear public transport in Roxeth is expensive, so I’ve brought extra money for that. If not, there’s always the good old plastic card (thanks, Dad).

I start to fantasize. Something straight out of a romantic novel or movie, with me in the starring role, of course. I dream of someone sweeping me off my feet, someone that would show me something “new,” something that I never knew existed…I will melt in his arms and he will show me what passionate love can be.

Ah…happy thoughts.

The plane lands smoothly. I didn’t know we had been so close to landing.

Chester hits his head when we stand up to get our bags from the overhead compartment. I laugh because he looks cute when he cringes.

It is nighttime now. Everyone’s standing up and getting ready to step out of the airplane. Everyone seems to be in a big rush.

I look outside, and see the bus waiting for us. It’ll take the passengers from the plane to the airport, which is a short distance away.

“Thank you for flying with us,” the poised stewardess at the exit says. Chester and I smile politely. We must look disheveled next to the cabin crew. I’m just about to point out Chester’s dark rings under his eyes to him, when I notice something else when we step out of the plane.

The temperature.

It is a little warm. The air isn’t frosty, and doesn’t bite at your fingertips.

It’s nice and humid.

seven deadly sins, lust

1: The Intern (cover version #2 | Jess C Scott)

1: THE INTERN — Book#1, Seven Deadly Sins

* Book #1 (Lust) in Jess C Scott’s Sins07 “seven deadly sins” series—a teenage version of Dirty Dancing meets Punk’d.

SUMMARY: Suzie Quinn, smart kid and closet dance enthusiast, travels with a classmate to a world-class city for an internship program. She finds herself undeniably attracted to the suave hip-hop instructor, Jo.Zee, who recruits her into a dance fitness DVD he is producing. When Suzie sees (or thinks she sees) the real Jo.Zee, she has to decide if she will trust him…or her instincts.

ISBN: 145368493X

GENRE: Young Adult / Humor / Contemporary.

* SINS07 is a series featuring lighthearted tales that explore each of the seven deadly sins in order, beginning with lust.

EXCERPT: First Chapter

AUTHOR’S MAIN WEBSITE: www.jesscscott.com