"Piggy" (and yes, the quotation marks are part of the actual title) is a story that has lived with me for some time. And it has punished me for some time.
It originally saw life as a short film, or at least, an attempt at a short film. It was a short script I had written that I had wanted to direct and sort of use as my "edgy" directorial debut (at least, my directorial debut in the film world, as I had already directed several plays.)
The fact of the matter was that I wasn't ready and much of what I shot was terrible. I was helped along by several people that I have the pleasure of saying that I still work with, but all of its problems were related to me jumping in without a second look. Sometimes, I don't let planning get in the way of action, which can be a very bad thing.
But the biggest problem with the short film wasn't how badly it was shot, or how inexperienced I was. I don't regret the decision to try to make the movie. I regret what it did to me after the fact.
The subject matter of "Piggy" is something that people aren't generally comfortable with. The short film dealt specifically with the titular character, who happened to be a child molester. Having a pedophile as your lead character is something of a struggle. The film doesn't paint him necessarily as a sympathetic character, in fact quite the opposite, but having to spend even a short film's length with the guy is difficult.
I should have known better. The other problem with the film was that it has cost me opportunities to work with very talented people, and almost cost even more. Several people I still work with have told me that if they'd had a better idea of the subject matter going into the short film, they probably would never have worked with me in the first place. Kind of heart-breaking to hear, but I guess I could see their point.
The funny thing is I've never experienced anything like what happened in the story. I'm not a victim of molestation. To the best of my knowledge, I've never really known a pedophile. I've never been around the emotions that come with that awful subject. But I felt somehow that I should write the script. Maybe it's because I'm a father and I, like any sane human being, hate pedophiles with a burning rage. But I'm not sure why I felt like I needed to get on a soap box and make a very preachy movie. One that most people would generally agree with. And those who don't... Well, I don't want to know them.
And that might have been the other part of the problem. The film didn't challenge people. It basically restated what most people felt; pedophiles are awful.
There's not really an interesting story.
For a long time, I didn't let myself think about the story. Until one night, when I wasn't exactly in the best mood, (I was actually quite annoyed with several people, and projects not taking off, and an assortment of other minor nuisances) I wrote a summary of the short film. But it wasn't really a summary. It was like a stream of conscious exercise where I wrote many of the events of the short film as prose.
I'd labeled it Chapter One, and then started working. Why? I'm not sure. But when I'd first written this chapter one, I wasn't sure where I was going next. Then, Emma James appeared to me. See, the short film never dealt with the victims. But that's the problem. We all know how bad the act is. What's it like to experience things afterward?
But, there was something else itching in my mind as I wrote what would become the second chapter. Justice, a character who is only ever referenced in the short film, is Piggy's daughter. And I realized I wanted to have her in this story.
And then it clicked. These two girls needed to meet. And I wanted to see what would happen when they did.
That was a story. Piggy was never supposed to be the most important character. But he, through his selfish, sick act would serve as the impetus for events that would irrevocably change the lives of these two girls in a way that was very fascinating to me.
I can't regret the short film. Without it, the novel doesn't exist. And of all the things I've written, I dearly love this book. I love the characters of Emma and Justice, who have become very real to me, as have all the characters in this book.
I enjoyed writing the book, with the exception of a couple of scenes involving the titular character which were difficult to write, and I will forever cherish the memory of the process.
While I'm excited to write future titles (and I might just be returning to some of these characters in the near future) this book will always hold a special place in my heart.
And if you'd like to read it, head over to its Amazon page and give it a try. Thanks!