The Pledge Mistress Ch. 47 Postscriptbycaligula97236©
The Pledge Mistress - Thoughts from the author about the novel and its creation
The Pledge Mistress, the fourth novel out of the erotic discipline series that I have created, continues my effort to bridge my first novel The Wanderings of Amy and my second novel Maragana Girl. Upon finishing my third novel The Freshman, I realized that my fiction and the world in which my characters pursue their lives focuses on two locations: a fictional university in suburban Chicago, and my imaginary country of Upper Danubia. Rather than attempt to create a new setting for any subsequent piece of fiction, I knew that if I chose to write a fourth novel, the plot would take place either at the university or in the Danubian Republic.
I also knew that in any future novel I would want to further develop the life story of at least one secondary character from a previous novel; that I probably would utilize characters already created instead of trying to think up new ones. As I pondered where I wanted to go with my fiction, four previous characters seemed likely candidates to become the main character of a new novel: Tiffany Walker from Maragana Girl, Suzanne Foster and Ruth Burnside from The Wanderings of Amy, and Lisa Campbell from The Freshman. In the end I decided to go with writing a novel about Lisa Campbell, because there were several details about Lisa's life that I want to develop. Telling the story of Lisa Campbell allowed me to further explore the life story of Ruth Burnside without having to dedicate an entire novel to her. I was also interested in developing Lisa's relationships with her boyfriend Ken and in exploring some of her psychological issues that were not developed in The Freshman. Along with the story of Lisa's life and sexual adventures I wanted to create an erotic environment through the fictional Four-Beta Sorority. It is through her membership in the Four-Betas that Lisa has a chance to explore her sexuality, develop herself as a leader, and finally become a vital part of many other people's lives.
My fourth novel mostly takes place in and around the Four-Beta House and the associated Tri-Alpha Fraternity. At this point I must emphasize that the Tri-Alpha Fraternity and the Four-Beta Sorority are complete figments of my imagination and not based on anything I ever saw in real life. The names of both the fraternity and sorority were something that I invented off the top of my head, and I later checked the Internet to make sure there are no active "Greeks" that go by those names. I am fully aware that both organizations are completely unlike the fraternities and sororities that currently exist on U.S. college campuses. My fictional fraternity and sorority are not intended to be accurate portrayals of the "Greek" system, but instead serve as the setting for various episodes of erotic fantasy.
Apart from the subplots and erotic events, I tried to deal with a few serious issues as well, an example being college binge drinking. The pledging abuses that surface towards the end of the novel are loosely based on real events. Also, through my characters I try to examine various personal issues such as sexual identity (Lisa's boyfriend Ken), peer pressure (Bernadette), and depression and Asperger syndrome (Kathleen).
Like my second and third novels, The Pledge Mistress, which is my fourth full-length novel, was written from beginning to end. I started with a basic idea, but instead of working off an outline I simply let events unfold from chapter to chapter. On the surface the story's concept sounds simple, following the life of a university sophomore as she seeks to join a sorority. However, I felt obligated to follow the life stories of several characters simultaneously, as well as describing the sorority and its pledging program, which accounts for the novel's length and complexity. Along with developing the lives of the people surrounding Lisa, I sought to explain why they think and act the way they do, which comes out in the story's subplots. I want the reader to understand what motivates characters to do seemingly irrational things, and also I want to avoid stereotyping characters as purely good or evil.
As I mentioned in the above paragraphs, The Pledge Mistress was not intended to be an accurate portrayal of a typical sorority in real life. An example of where I took liberties with reality was the idea of "summer pledging". In my novel both the Four-Beta Sorority and the Tri-Alpha Fraternity have two pledge seasons: summer and fall. I had Lisa pledge during the summer because I did not want her participating in a group of 20 or 30 faceless companions. Instead of giving her a bunch of anonymous fellow pledges, I gave her only three: Cherine, Bernadette, and Kathleen. I sought to make Lisa's three companions interesting and complex individuals who were very different from each other. Personality issues facing the small pledge group were an important part of the story and how Lisa's views of herself changed over time. If the pledge group were larger, I don't see how I could have done justice to the novel's secondary characters.
I expected to write a relatively short novel of about 25 chapters, but ended up with a story almost twice as long. In spite of the novel's length, when I finished the initial draft there were several scenes that I originally intended to write that ended up not being included in the novel. I felt that I needed to leave out the omitted scenes either because they no longer fit into the story line as I developed it, or because they strayed too far from the story of Lisa Campbell and the people immediately surrounding her. Here are some of the subplots that did not get included in the novel:
Lisa's visit to California following her summer of pledging - Originally I planned to have Lisa travel to her home in California in August to visit her mother in Santa Cruz and her father in Reno. (Lisa's parents are divorced, but I don't directly say that in the narrative.) I also planned to have her run into her ex-boyfriend Mike. Lisa would have found out that her ex-boyfriend was dating a Danubian exchange student and had gone on to become an organizer of mass protests against Mega-Town Associates. However, I had to give that up because a bunch of other things were going on at the end of August that were crucial to the novel's ending. Lisa did not have time to make the trip.
The exile of Cecilia Sanchez and Jason Schmidt - I wanted to develop Lisa's reaction to the fates of Cecilia and Jason by including some correspondence with them as part of Lisa's personal personal journey. However, like the development of Mike's life, I did not see how that could fit with the story as it unfolded during the concluding chapters.
Tracy's personal life - From the beginning of writing the novel Pledge Mistress Tracy fascinated me and I would have liked to examine her personal life a bit more. There were several ideas that floated through my mind about Tracy. I considered, as part of the novel's conclusion, having her Army Reserve Unit getting mobilized and having her killed in action while fighting in Iraq. I also considered developing a subplot in which Tracy's family was extremely religious and that her brothers had sworn to kill her, which would have explained her obsession with combat and self-defense. However, I decided that both those topics were far too serious for an erotic novel, so that material got left out.
Cherine's personal life - Cherine is another character that did not get fully developed. I had thought about having her join the Four-Beta Sorority as an act of rebellion against religious parents, who had pushed her to join a different sorority. In the end I decided that theme was too complicated for a secondary character and dropped it.
Suzanne Foster - I wanted to bring Suzanne Foster into the novel and develop a personal relationship (non-sexual) between her, Lisa, and Tracy. The time-line of the novel did not really give me an opportunity to do that, because Lisa would not have had the chance to interact with Suzanne until after she had sworn in. I would have had to extend the novel's timeline to incorporate Suzanne, which I did not see the point in doing.
I have discovered, through experience, that I cannot use an outline when I write fiction. Many years ago I attempted to write a political novel from an outline. I made up the outline just fine, but never started the novel itself because my imagination had evaporated. I have to write spontaneously, and then, once I'm finished, I can go back and make revisions. That method has advantages and disadvantages, both of which come out in "The Pledge Mistress". While writing, I was able to adapt my narrative and come up with new scenarios as the story developed in my imagination. As I wrote about them, my characters developed in my mind, I got to know them as complex entities, and over time I made discoveries about them. For example, some of the conflicts that developed in the middle of the story were events I had not yet thought of when I wrote the first several chapters. Writing spontaneously has plenty of disadvantages as well. In the case of "The Pledge Mistress", the story ended up becoming much longer than I envisioned when I started working on it. Also, not working from an outline results in many inconsistencies that need to be corrected, especially with small details.
The future of my fiction. Whenever I finish a novel, I always hope that it is my last. Writing a long piece of fiction is a grueling and time-consuming experience that requires a lot of sleepless nights and sacrifice of personal time. Whenever I finish the first draft of a novel, I am hugely relieved. The following quote from Eric Blair (pen-name George Orwell) best sums up my feelings about writing a novel:
"All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention." - George Orwell - 1947 - from his essay Why I Write
Will I write a fifth novel? Possibly. What I have discovered is that normally about five months go by from the time I finish one novel until the plot of another story starts forming in my mind. If I do end up writing another story, it is for sure that it will take place either at my fictional university or in the Danubian Republic. Any new novel either will develop the life story of a secondary character that already has been created, or if I create a new main character, several characters from a previous novel will make their appearances and play important roles in the new story.