From the Dragon Moon Press Newsletter, March 18, 2011 | Vol. 6 Issue 2
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Why I Wrote Triptych by J.M. Frey
(author, actor and professional geek)
Triptych began with an interesting thought in a strange place. I firmly believe that the natural habitat of the common plot bunny is the bathroom –that’s why so many people get their Eureka moments in the bath. My Triptych Eureka moment happened on January 21st, 2008 (EDIT: Actually, it was 2007 – my friend corrected me this week!). I know this because it was my mother’s 50th birthday, but I wasn’t at the party. I was on the far side of the planet, enjoying a soak in the public baths in Futsukaichi, Japan, near where I lived.
My apartment had no hot running water and no central air, as is common in older buildings in Japan, and to warm up in the chilly January, many people headed to the baths and made an evening of it. There was a buffet (“Viking Style Dining”, they call it, because you just take what you want), robotic massage chairs, beer vending machines, and the famous onsen, hot pools of mineral spring water that you share with dozens of other naked strangers.
I was soaking, pointedly not thinking about the novel I had just completed – titled Dsr, still unsold – and wondering what my Mom’s party was like. I started to think about 50, and what I might be like then. Then I realized that I was exactly half my mother’s age. I began to wonder, what was 25 year old mom like? If I had the ability to travel back in time and meet her, would we like one another? Would she approve of the choices I had made? Because already at half her age, my choices had been significantly different – my mother had moved to Switzerland after high school, then came back and worked, met my Dad, married, had three kids, gotten a wonderful house in a supportive community, a good-fitting office position, and loves to travel to the Caribbean. At 25, I had finished high school, gone on to do an acting degree at University, visited Egypt to do research for the novel I had just completed, switched to a Drama Lit. degree, written a thesis, moved to Japan to explore and pay off the student debt, and had ambitions to be a playwright. I had no romantic partner, no desire for kids, and was thinking of doing a Master’s of Arts when I got back.
In the end, I concluded that 25-year-old me and 25-year-old Mom would get along fine. But then that damned plot bunny swam along and nipped my ankle and I thought, “But what if we didn’t?”
Triptych was originally a short story titled (Back), that focused solely on Evvie and Gwen’s relationship and the tensions between them. But so much of the backstory and subplot was intriguing, and a lot of my responses when the short was published focused on how the readers wanted more, wanted to know about the things Gwen had been through that had made her so different from her mother.
So one afternoon, shortly after I had returned to Canada, I sat down in my parent’s sunny kitchen and thought, “Okay. So what happened next?” If you pick up Triptych, the answer is there.