Warning: possible brain dump.
I was lucky enough to have a guy who reads pitch-decks for a living take a look at mine. He made some suggestions, many of which I already suspected needed revision. It’s way too long, for one, and not as demanding attention as it should. Now, I have a whole bunch of changes to make that will make it look even better.
I know any pitch is a total long shot, but there are nibblers out there who think The Pomegranate definitely worth pitching, so I am more than happy to jazz and snazz it up as much as possible so someone else who reads pitch-decks for a living is gonna want to make this limited series. But it requires upping my game.
The most difficult question that was posed in this process was one I knew had to be answered:
Why this book now?
I needed a passionate, compelling answer. Believe it or not, this is really hard for me. My tendency, when not writing fiction, is more dispassionate. Yeah, you can argue about me and my variety of soapboxes, but when I write about my own book, I tend toward less florid, hyperbolic prose and more towards just the facts, ma’am.
I like DRAGNET, okay? But here’s the thing Jack Webb’s Joe Friday really didn’t say that on the TV show. Dan Ackroyd, who played Joe Friday in the movie, said it. Which was kinda a parody anyway. It’s one of those quotes that didn’t really happen like Rick saying, “Play it again, Sam,” or Cary Grant moaning, “Judy, Judy, Judy.” Not that any of that matters, but right here, right now, you’re reading a research dump because I wasn’t gonna use the quote unless I was sure it was right, which it’s not. Get my drift?
I may write fiction, but it’s historical fiction. The actions of the characters are consistent with the time period. This is a huge deal, I detest authors who do not do their homework. Yeah, we had this conversation already And yeah, it’s fiction so we make stuff up. Regardless, there are, at the very bottom of the morass, facts involved, and in my world, facts are central to storytelling. So it becomes important to me that this book pretty much mirrors the reality of life in the 12th century. Is it totally perfect; no. If it was, I would’ve written a lot more about how bad London smelled before sewers.
But that doesn’t answer the question: why this book now?
The snarky answer is that not all Jewish stories are Holocaust stories, and Jewish women are not princesses; I am seriously exhausted by both. A most beloved friend, a survivor himself, once summed up my frustration with Holocaust novels by pointing out, “If there were as many good Germans in real life as there are in novels, only three people would’ve died at Auschwitz.” With the exception of Elie Wiesel’s NIGHT, which is a memoir, I’m not sure there was ever a book written that sears the brain and impacts the soul the way NIGHT does.
Batsheva is definitely not from the whiny princess division. Challenged by events, she figures out how to deal with the challenge, then dispatches it. Frankly, that’s the real story of Jewish womanhood even if the image doesn’t match the preconceived stereotypes. Ergo, it’s of no interest to the general public.
Wrong. It should be of great interest to a general public that has been brainwashed into believing women of ye olden tymes were helpless creatures. And yes, at the end of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, Blanche really does say,
“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
And that’s where the brainwashing comes in. That statement is the reason Blanche cannot function. She is unable to take responsibility for herself, and she is completely detached from reality by the end of the play. She represents a whole class of women that were manipulated into believing they were helpless, and to be honest, that class was manufactured in and by the Industrial Revolution. But that’s a whole other blog episode, but again….you see where I’m going on this streetcar, right?
There are a whole lotta stories about Jewish women that have, for whatever reasons, never been told and should be told. This story is just one of them. Batsheva, near as I can tell from research and reading, is not unusual in the history of Jewish women. She does what she has to do. She is Everywoman.
And then there’s this other part, the one where everyone who writes, films, or carries on about the Middle Ages even at Renaissance Fairs, tells the story from the Christian/Crusaders’ perspective. You have heroic Templars in while tabards with bright red crosses, knights in shining armor, blonde damsels in distress, castles breached, falcons launched, relics discovered. But how many people write about other side, where Jews and Muslims living in their own, historic land, are attacked by Christians who think they have a right to be there, to desecrate holy places that aren’t their holy places, to plunder, pillage, rape and kill the local population at will? Not too many, and even in those, the knights manage to come out on top. But that’s not the truth about the period. It was not godly monotheists against heathens. It was guys in armor going after an agrarian people who actually live regular lives in relatively peaceful coexistence. No, it wasn’t perfect; far from it. Jews and Muslims didn’t see eye to eye on lots of stuff and certainly had their issues, but it was generally accepted that the history of the two peoples were intertwined in both the narrative and in the land. But when it came down to fending off invading infidel Crusaders, they joined forces.
I mean, be real. If a bunch of tanks showed up in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you do whatever you could to stop them? Who ever heard of doing such a thing in very recent years? That behavior is preposterous.
Repeat after me: Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan.
Those places are why Batsheva’s story is so compelling right now. Her plight is not new and the women in some of those countries face brutality not unlike that which Batsheva initially faced. What may be new, however, is the possibility of mass destruction that comes with modern weaponry. There are plenty of brave women in all those countries trying to stand up. They might not have access to the book or a television, but Batsheva’s story just may resonate with American viewers trying to understand how those women fight back in places where modernity as we know it does not exist.
Honestly, their world probably resembles Batsheva’s more than ours.
End of brain/research/frustration dump.
Now, how do I say all that in ten words or less? (Just kidding. I get at least twenty.)