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The Disco: A break to dance becomes a wild, orgiastic romp!
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