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Peggi Peacock

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  1. Fragments of Quinn by Peggi Peacock 1. STORY STATEMENT Young scientist Quinn is uploading her mind to erase her painful past and a life where she is unlovable but, when she is blackmailed, she refuses to do what is asked and escapes. Quinn realizes her escape has put the life of Jaskaran, the one person who may actually care, in jeopardy and she must choose between her plan and saving Jaskaran, which also means facing her past. What she doesn't know is that, in his desperate attempt to find and save Quinn, Jaskaran has unknowingly revealed fragments of her past by downloading Quinn's uploaded data into the minds of three dream research subjects. The fragments of Quinn the friends experience reveal the misinterpreted history she was trying to escape and provide clues in the race to save her. 2. ANTAGONIST & ANTAGONISTIC FORCES Fragments of Quinn flips between past and present. Not only is Quinn Beckett trying to escape the blackmailers who are trying to force her to take down the very project that is the key to Quinn 2.0, she also faces her own demons etched from a family history of lies, omissions and misunderstandings. Past—Quinn’s mom, Amelia Slater, is manipulative, controlling and totally disconnected from human emotion. She is a brilliant and highly successful woman, used to controlling everything in her world, that is until she became a mother. When Quinn’s father, a former Olympian and Quinn’s primary caregiver, descends into deep depression after nearly letting Quinn drown, Amelia sorts them both out in her usual, efficient manner. But her actions nearly destroy both Quinn and her Dad, resulting in a family rift that, over the ensuing years stretches into a chasm of distrust and betrayal. Amelia believes all her choices are made to protect both Quinn and her father but what they have really done is destroyed Quinn’s ability to trust or to love herself. Present—Zeke the aging hired gun leading the blackmail attempt, didn’t really want any more jobs. He wanted to retire in peace. But his damn ex-wife is draining him dry. This one final job, forcing this wunderkind Quinn to take down the freakingly cool DreamDraw clinical trial, sounded like easy money. But the religious fanatics paying Zeke’s bill are about the worst clients he’s ever worked for. And he’s being forced to work with an amateur, another damn geek with local and technological knowledge Zeke doesn’t possess. Not his fault he can’t keep up with the world. And this damn target, this Quinn kid, she’s a lot tougher than he anticipated. That pisses him off royally, but she’s earned his respect in a weird way. 3. THE BREAKOUT TITLE Fragments of Quinn. Mind Share DreamDraw 4. COMPARABLES Near Future Kate Morton X Black Mirror Fragments of Quinn is: • a near future Kate Morton tale, full of family secrets and lies; • like the series Black Mirror, ratcheting up ordinary human experience with plausible near-future tech; • like Paula Hawkins’ Into The Water, revealing secrets and lies through first and close third POV; • like Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, built on a Sci-Fi backstory simply to provide the mechanism necessary to make the story work. 5. HOOK OR LOGLINE Young scientist Quinn is uploading her mind to delete her painful past but, when she’s blackmailed, she refuses to take down the very tech enabling her plan. Quinn escapes her blackmailers and disappears. Her friend, Jaskaran, desperate to find Quinn, downloads the very memories she hoped to delete into the only system possibly able to interpret the data: other human brains. Three friends participate in DreamDraw, the clinical trial for the cool new tech that turns dreams into images. After DreamDraw, things change. Dixon, the commitment-phobic player, pukes his brains out every time he attempts a new conquest. Beth’s carefully constructed grief vault quakes, about to blow. Ali, the painter of muted watercolours, presses intense oil images onto massive canvases with her fingers. When Beth and Dixon attend Ali’s art show and see the images from their heads on graphic display, it becomes clear that DreamDraw is at fault. They confront Jaskaran and the braided narratives collide. Realizing their experiences originate in the mind of Jask’s missing colleague, a sad young woman they now feel connected to, the friends decide to help Jask find Quinn and save her from the blackmailers and herself. The fragments of Quinn the friends experience reveal the misinterpreted history she was trying to escape and vital clues in the race to save her from the blackmailers and the potential fatal impact of her accelerated mind upload. 6. INNER & SECONDARY CONFLICT Inner Conflict – Unworthy of Love or Life but Desperately Wants Both Quinn’s misconstrued view of her past has led her to believe she is unworthy of love, perhaps unworthy of even living. In turn, this view has led her to the plan to upload and edit out her past, a plan that could really be viewed as a veiled suicide attempt. Quinn’s plan creates direct conflict with her true desire to be loved. She rationalizes that her mother will be so proud of the academic accomplishment – being the first human SIM – that she will finally love Quinn. Quinn’s father, the former Olympian, spent the first five years of Quinn’s life, before he abandoned her, training Quinn to be the strongest girl in the world. Quinn rationalizes that creating a better, stronger, more lovable version of herself will make her Dad proud, perhaps enough to return to Quinn’s life. Quinn refuses to admit to herself that her plan to wipe out her history will eliminate the possibility of earning that love as she won’t even know who her parents are. This conflict is evident throughout the story. For example, why does Quinn not just let blackmailers kill her if she is truly unworthy of living? Because she must be strong and justifies her desire to defy the blackmailers with the rationale that she must protect the technology that will ensure Quinn 2.0. Secondary Conflicts Jaskaran. Damn him. Abandoned by her parents and grandparents and even her dog, Quinn has vowed to not let human connections get in her way ever again. And then Jaskaran arrived in her campus office. She knows that, once her mind is uploaded and she can live as the first human SIM, there will be no chance of physical relationships. But until that time, she must figure out how to deal with Jaskaran. It wasn’t until she realized that she’d put him in grave danger that the true nature of her feelings for him whack her upside the head. But she tries to convince herself that she is only striving to protect him so he can complete the creation of Quinn 2.0, not because she loves him and wants to be with him. She can’t possibly allow herself to love Jaskaran, or anyone, as history has clearly demonstrated that she will only hurt anyone she loves. Additional Conflicts Quinn’s inner conflicts are mirrored by each of the three friends who unknowingly receive her neural download. Emotions Under Wraps—Beth, who lost her mother to cancer, has refused to face her grief, to accept that loss, and has created a psychological grief vault to keep it under control. Quinn’s life has been full of loss and pain that, at such a young age and all alone, she has been incapable of processing. Instead, she has kept it locked away behind her facade of strength. Maintain Strength and Control—Ali, the artist, lives her life under strict control, behaviour typical of the child of an alcoholic. Her father’s chaotic impact left Ali in fear of not having control. In her very early years, Quinn’s dad worked hard to make his daughter strong. His rapid departure, when Quinn was only five, left a need for Quinn to always be strong, what her Daddy wanted and what he, himself, failed to demonstrate when he attempted to take his own life. Quinn has vowed to never be weak like him. Unlovable But Needs Love—Dixon is a serial dater, not because he’s a bad guy, but because he can’t quite believe any woman would really want him long term. He moves on before they do. Dixon still sees himself as the geeky little kid with the buck teeth and coke bottle glasses. He believes himself to be unlovable, just like Quinn. Quinn believes she has caused great harm to everyone she has ever cared about. She refuses to allow herself human connections, they are dangerous. But, deep down, she desperately longs for love and connection. 7. SETTING Fragments of Quinn required a moody, bleak setting with opportunities for optimism and I knew just the place. Simon Fraser University (SFU), my alma mater and childhood playground, sits atop Burnaby Mountain, just west of Vancouver. Designed by famed architect Arthur Erickson, it is a study in concrete and grey, often shrouded in mist and forever damp. But, like Quinn, SFU has moments of brilliance and clarity when it is bathed in sunlight as the city below lies beneath a blanket of fog, mirroring Quinn’s desire to shroud her history and live as a new, bright and shiny version of herself. Perched on top of a mountain, SFU’s concrete campus, like Quinn is solid and strong yet isolated, lonely, and unique. SFU first opened during the height of 1960s unrest and has a history of radical responses to world events. The school is known for leading—and even bleeding—edge research so fits as the location for DreamDraw and for the protests by those opposing the technology. Vancouver, a young, vibrant city, provides a parallel to what Quinn aspires to be: fresh, new, clean, if she can just wipe out her fog shrouded past. Water and woods play a major role in the story, particularly for Quinn and Beth. The Metro Vancouver area is a perfect location, fringed with forest and dotted with lakes. Water is both Quinn’s love and nemesis. It can wash away the past but forms a significant part of Quinn’s traumatic history. The sparkling turquoise expanse of Kitsilano Pool, where Quinn’s story starts, mirrors her childlike optimism and joy. Beyond the pool, the cobalt waters of English Bay lay before Quinn like her life, an endless sea of possibility. But as things start to go wrong, the coastal evergreen forest becomes her happy place, somewhere she can hide The interplay of light and shadow, the physical obstacles and the hidden dangers of the forest perfectly represent Quinn’s inability to see herself and her life clearly. Vancouver and SFU are the home to a large Indian diaspora, including many brilliant young academics and researchers, some who have been my lifelong friends. Jaskaran Menon would fit right in. Sasamat Lake and Camp Howdy, a deserted kids camp, echo Quinn’s lost childhood. The camp is isolated and lonely but possesses great potential for joy when the sun comes out and the children come back.
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