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    Historical fiction writer--Georgian and Napoleonic eras, UK and European settings

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  1. FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Discover family history and craft an independent identity despite a subjugated life. SECOND ASSIGNMENT: Orphan Renna Covert works in a cotton workhouse. In the beginning, antagonistic forces involve her plight to survive and avoid becoming a prostitute or unwed mother. As her opportunities increase, from cotton shelling to scullery maid, she encounters corrupt characters determined to send her back to a fortuneless life. When Renna is given a real chance for redefinition, she meets Danielle Worthington, an aging courtesan connected to Renna’s family, who plunges Renna straight into the world she’d been trying to circumvent. Unbeknownst to her, Danielle harbors a deep-seated hatred for Renna, one so intense she guiltlessly uses Renna for financial gain, with the ultimate aim of selling her into sex slavery. THIRD ASSIGNMENT: · LUNATIC · THE BIRTH OF LUNACY · A LEGACY OF MADNESS FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: LUNATIC is an adult historical fiction novel with YA cross-over appeal, inspired by bildungsroman novels such as Great Expectations and Jane Eyre. It feels like Precious, from the novel PUSH, set against Napoleon’s rise to power. Comparables FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters—This novel takes place in England, and the protagonist is a disadvantaged young girl. The plot splits between two distinct locations and spotlights survival and opportunity but explores insanity, identity, and family turmoil. These themes run throughout LUNATIC. Both novels engage the five senses and transport readers back to 18th century England, as the protagonists avoid street life dangers and insane asylums. IN THE COMPANY OF THE COURTESAN by Sarah Dunant—This novel explores the stakes a young woman endures as a courtesan, balancing a life of sacrifice and prospect. Renna experiences extraordinary adventures in LUNATIC. From street orphan to successful courtesan, she goes from a life without sovereignty to marriage prospects and possible connections to French aristocracy, catapulting her out of poverty into a future of unfathomable choices. FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: After discovering pieces of her haunting family history at a local insane asylum, a restless orphan flees her dank 18th-century English life for Venice, where she is thrust into prostitution by a bitter madam who thwarts her quest for independence and forces her to confront the truth of madness within her family legacy. SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Primary Conflict: Renna strives to rise out of her life of nothingness into independence as she learns of her family history Secondary Conflict: Renna meets two men. One wants to dominate her and keep her as a plaything and lover, and the other wants to free her and foster independence. She falls in love with the first and is protected/rescued by the second. The love triangle is one of the final questions in the book. Internal Conflict: Throughout the book, Renna pieces together how she became an orphan. She learns of the love triangle between her mother, father, and aunt. She discovers her family are both English and French. Her English family is plagued by mental illness, and both her mother and her aunt were treated in insane asylums (English and Venetian). With each attempt to rise out of servitude into independence, Renna compromises her values for the sake of survival. LUNATIC is a question of identity. As an intended first book in a maiden, mother, crone series—stages of female maturation—LUNATIC explores maidenhood in a dangerous world without opportunity or connection. (Being a maiden takes a bit of madness to both survive and develop self-awareness.) Renna strives to define herself but makes questionable choices that change her from innocent to soiled, from naïve to assertive. Each character in LUNATIC suffers from a definable mental disorder. Renna and the antagonist represent complex trauma, but from different viewpoints. If both are motivated to survive with a wounded soul, who is actually the insane? FINAL ASSIGNMENT: LUNATIC was designed with setting as a primary motivation for plot progression. The book is divided into two distinct locations, Yorkshire, England, and Venice, Italy. The opening prologue is a third person recount of the unmet antagonist burning down an English country estate with her sleeping sister and children. The main story is Renna’s, the protagonist, first-person description of her life in York. We find her leaving a priest’s apartment to take up her post on the street outside an Inn. Renna watches for prospective Johns for the older workhouse girls living with her in a cotton workhouse. An Irish tradesman from the British East Indian Company brings Renna in from the rain and escorts her home. As they return, they hauntingly encounter the local insane asylum. Back at the workhouse, home for orphans ages 3 to 16, Renna shares her story with her only friend, the workhouse madame’s son. The two explore the insane asylum and find a mutilated girl with burn scars similar to Renna. Renna’s overseer arranges work for her at the country estate Harewood House as a scullery maid. The estate is full of exciting locations, including a plush library, where Renna eventually gives away her virginity. Her duties have her experiencing the estate’s kitchen, garden, icehouse, chapel, and graveyard, which connect to her family history. The chapel priest invites Renna to volunteer at the asylum. She meets a local seer being “purged” of her evilness. The seer reveals the burned girl from her first encounter is Renna’s sister. As Renna returns to her work at the estate, tensions mount, and Renna’s friend takes her to the priest’s office and shows her evidence of her mother being buried in the graveyard, having died years before, accused of burning down her house and scarring her children. Renna is captured and secluded in the asylum. As she escapes, she visits her sister’s room and sees she’s been subjected to a primitive lobotomy. She flees to the seer’s cave, where she is given a prophecy of her future. Her friends help her board a ship bound for Venice. In Venice, Renna moves into a villa adjacent to a convent, opposite the Venetian ghetto. She spends her first night training as a comfort companion in a courtesan’s library (the antagonist’s home), a very different place from the Harewood House library. She attends a party at the Arsenal for the international soldiers and sailors and reunites with the man who took her virginity and brings him back to her bedroom. She continues her work at the Casino and returns to a derelict villa of a diseased John. Her mentor “cleanses” Renna in a copper tub in the villa kitchen, but Renna becomes ill and recuperates back in her bedroom. She wakes in her bed and discovers she’s covered in leeches. After healing, she researches what cures were administered to her at a ghetto printer’s shop. She returns to her life as a courtesan and watches Don Giovani at the La Fenice Opera House with her Irish friend. He takes her to San Servilo, the Venetian insane asylum, and reveals evidence of her mistress courtesan’s crimes. The story climaxes in San Marco Piazza, on Carnival night. Renna kills her future captor on his ship at the docks and confronts her antagonist in the ship’s cabin. The climax ebbs and Renna contemplates her options in the ghetto campo as Napoleon invades the city. She witnesses the ghetto gates torn down by Napoleon’s soldiers and the San Marco Basilica Horses stollen for the Tuileries Gardens. Renna faces her final choices as she watches an entire fleet of French ships invade the lagoon, and Napoleon conquers the 1000-year-old empire.
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