It took me three years to write I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE and it went through 8 major drafts to get to the version that you'll find at the bookstore today. I had chapters told from other points-of-view besides Emily and Louisa. I explored the backstory and motivation of all my characters because I created Carlisle and the people in it entirely from my imagination and I wanted the place and people to feel as real as possible. And mostly, I wrote more than I needed to about Carlisle and my characters because I really loved that world. So if you enjoyed the world of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, hopefully you will enjoy getting to know more about the characters.
I've decided to share some alternate versions and deleted scenes with you. There are definitely spoilers in these and they are not nearly as polished as the rest of the book, so you won't want to read these until after you've read the book or it might ruin the story for you (and you might judge me based on less superior writing!) Okay, you've been warned, so without further adieu...
This is the original beginning of the chapter "The Black Notebooks." My editor felt it was unnecessary and since it was such a long manuscript, I didn't really fight for it. The chapter turned out better as a whole, but I do miss this scene. I had a Oujia board obsession in junior high so it was fun to write, plus it shows a different side of Emily when it comes to her feelings about her mother.
IWBYJR was born from two short stories, one about Emily (which is the first chapter of the book, "Rock Gods") and this short story about Louisa, "Fairytale." In the very first draft of the book, "Fairytale" was the second chapter. I decided quite early on that it gave away too much about Louisa's past too soon in the book, so it was cut. Finding ways to slowly reveal Louisa's past was probably the hardest part about writing IWBYJR. And I changed her story since this version because I felt that her act was too premeditated here. This version was published in Hair Trigger 27 where it was awarded third place in Traditional Fiction by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (as in Columbia in New York, not the Columbia I attended, CSPA judges college/university journalism and lit magazines yearly.), so while it is certainly not as good as the stuff in IWBYJR, I'm still proud of it.
When IWBYJR was accepted for publication by MTV Books, it had chapters from the perspective of Emily, Louisa, Molly, and Michael. My editor advised very wisely that I limit the story to being from Emily's and Louisa's points-of-view. I revised the Molly and Michael sections so they could be told from the perspective of either Louisa or Emily, or I cut things. Molly's chapter was one that I cut. My editor and I were both very sorry to see the beginning of it go because it shows nice moments from the early years of Molly and Louisa's friendship. Giving us insight into both of them that unfortunately you don't get elsewhere in the book. But now here's your chance.
This chapter was cut fairly early on (draft 4ish), but I always saw it as the counterpart of "What Little Girls Are Made Of" as it showcases the early bond of Emily and Regan.
Originally the scene where Emily confronts Michael about Louisa's real reason for leaving was told from Michael's perspective and this introduced it. Some of this we get when Michael tells Emily her mother's story in the chapter "All Roads Lead to Rock 'n' Roll" (which was the book's title for a while, by the way), but cut was the scene where we learn why Michael is estranged from his family. It's unnecessary in the scheme of things, but completely necessary for me to know to understand Michael. Also in this particular section, you'll see how I incorporated and changed some of the "Fairytale" stuff. As I said, Louisa's story was the part I was really working to perfect til the very end.
Even my asshole characters have their raison d'etre. Maybe some people are just born bad, but that just seems too easy. I need to know people's motivations. Here is where Emily learns why Johnny is who he is. This chapter was cut before my agent started submitting the book because we decided that Emily giving Johnny a second chance was not really true to her character and it might piss readers off to see her succumb to his charms. But I was always pleased with the writing and the imagery in this chapter, so here it is.
Somewhere around draft four, this chapter from Tom's perspective was cut. Length was a concern as was the focus on rape in the book. In earlier versions, both Regan and Marissa dealt with date rape type situations. The concern was that this made the book too melodramatic, so I took it out. In my mind, these are still parts of Marissa and Regan's backstory. Maybe it seems like that's a high number of my female characters who deal with being violated in some way, but the sad truth is that a large number of women DO deal with that. Anyway, this section tells more about Tom as well as Regan. And in it Regan cheats on Tom. This was something that was kept in the book until the very last round of revisions (though as opposed to be a pattern with her, it's just one incident) when I cut it out because I didn't feel I had room to explore it properly. Again, in my mind, Regan does cheat on Tom once. It is more realistic given her history and feelings about love and romance. But then again, maybe it is nicer to have her be the romantic one and get the Happily Ever After with little conflict.
What do you think about all of this? Please feel free to leave me feedback about these outtakes on my blog or myspace!