Friday, July 21, 2023

What Motivates Amanda

It's my hope that I can show you more than I tell you in my book, but since these are imaginary people, I have to decide what to tell you before I show it.  Although my characters are all imaginary, they all have qualities and histories that match people I've known in real life, but none of them have the same combination of qualities and histories as people I've known in real life.  It's kind of fun to say, "What if they're like John but with a father like Mary and a smoking habit like Tom?"   

Some of the faculty and administration do have pretty close to a one-to-one correlation with real-life people, like George Harmon and Lance Goss.  I even include Frank Hanes just so I can give him a happier ending.  None of them are exactly one-to-one, but they'll be recognizable.  None of the students or their parents match up with any living person in every aspect.  They're all amalgamations.  They're all imaginary and not meant to be taken as my opinion of any real person.

 Amanda Moore is eighteen.  At 5'8" she considers herself tall for a girl.  She'd much rather be six inches shorter.  She has light brown hair, with tremendous hazel eyes, and a few acne scars that aren't nearly as noticeable as she believes they are.  Most would say she was pretty, but she practices not looking friendly or approachable.  Her looks get her attention, and she knows how to work that, but her looks give her very little satisfaction or confidence.  

Other parts of her personality get in the way of her education.  Without that, she'd make a remarkable lawyer one day.  If she had any confidence, she could do just about anything, but despite the attitude she projects, she has none.  She's always done well in school because she was usually the brightest one in the class, but now that she's in a school full of kids who were the brightest ones in class, she's lost her seat at the table.  

Amanda is from Pascagoula, between Camille and Katrina, and before gulf coast gambling.  She's the only child of her mother, who was the second wife of her father, who now lives with his third wife, who is twenty years younger than him.  She has three half-brothers and sisters, including the four-year-old, that now gets all her father's love.  At four, he's decided that this will be the big strong son he always wanted, even though he's only four and still eats his boogers.

A modern psychologist would diagnose Amanda with Histrionic personality disorder.  Amanada's only ever seen one psychologist, a marriage and family counselor, ordered by the court when her mother sued her father for more support.  Since then, Amanda has refused to see any "head shrinkers," even after she started cutting her arms and thighs at fifteen.  Her mother, who is never sober after five o'clock, accepts Amanda's promise to "get help at school," even though her school counselor isn't a psychologist.  She's not even a counselor.  She's a nice Christian lady her private academy hired because she had an education degree and the right political attitude.  

Amanda has been experimenting with sex and drugs since she was fifteen.  A pretty girl can always get free drugs.  Sex gets her attention but never warmth, passion, compassion, or companionship.  Sex sometimes gets her better drugs and more of them.  

Amanda chose Marsh for college because her father and grandfather went there.  Her mother sees it as a chance for a new beginning, away from those nasty boys who she knew were leading her precious only child down the wrong paths.  Her mother went to community college.  She was her father's secretary before she became his mistress and would have probably remained his mistress had she not confronted Amanda's Father's first wife with a tremendous pregnant belly and some bad news.   Her father's first and second wives are now pretty good friends who mix a drink and call each other on the phone to talk about how much they hate the third wife and her stupid son.

Marsh College could be a fresh start and a new beginning for Amanda.  Her life could be very different, but she doesn't want that.  She wants more of what she had in Pascagoula, only this time with smarter boys, better drugs, and nobody to talk her ear off if she comes home four hours late.  

I'm trying to figure out ways that Amanda can eventually find happiness and peace later in life.  With all my characters, I'm telling the story of the moment but showing glimpses of both their past and their future.   That's kind of the point.  College isn't a destination.  It's a transitory point between the future and the past, even for the people who work there.  I'd like to say that what happens in the book is a painful moment that passes, and life becomes better; I just don't know how I'm going to do that just yet.  I'm not going to leave Amanda in the state she's in, though.  These are my creations, and I do have a fondness for all of them.  

Amanda will come off like a bitch, and somebody you don't want to be around.  It's my hope to show that she really never had a chance.  The cards were stacked against her.  Bradley tries really hard to find some good in her, but he's looking in the wrong places.  His attitude comes from an unstated belief that women are always good at heart, and men are always bad at heart, and someone like him has to mediate a safe place between them.  That's kind of the premise of being a gentleman, a myth Bradley believes more than he believes anything else and tries to apply in his life, but never with the results he hopes for.  People are never good or bad.  Their choices might be, but they themselves aren't.  Everybody tries to do good, even if they're wrong about what good is.

Amanda and Bradley, and Laurel aren't real, but I want to make them feel real.  That's one of the reasons why I'm setting them in a place that's very real, so real that some of my readers will recognize even the trees and the hills.  I'm not promising solutions to social problems.  This is just a story about people.  These are just observations about things that are in all people.  I'm not strong enough to shape a solution to what happens in the world, but I can maybe tell you about it.  I hope readers will see something they can sympathize with and understand in both the nicest and the meanest characters.  

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