Jack’s a preacher’s handsome son and Jill’s a drunkard’s daughter…
Jill is a melancholy girl, strange to most; cursed to others. Her home is an isolated village where old superstitions are the key to normality. She is shunned by the townspeople because she is different–because she was born with an unusual birthmark. No one will associate with Jill outside her family, and even they treat her as something that ought to be condemned.
And then there is Jack.
Jack is the blessed sort–the son of Minister Hilton. He accompanies Jill to the well every day to draw water for the sanctuary. They are not friends, yet he is the only one who has ever been kind to her.
There is something about Jack that Jill cannot seem to wrap her mind around. He is different from the rest of them but she can’t say how. She tries to keep herself from wondering about him, telling herself that his secrets can’t matter to her. They can never be close. But as time passes and the town grows more hostile toward her, any kind of friend– even an unacknowledged one–could prove valuable.
In celebrating the Kindle release of Jack and Jill on Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014, I’ve decided to delve into the past and talk about the history of this little story of mine. I could go back a long way to the very beginnings of my writing efforts in grade school, to the beginning of my interest in horror, but I won’t do that for now. Instead, I’m just going to focus on this one.
In a way, I’d like to say that Jack and Jill was the story that started it all, but that’s not quite true. I’m fairly certain that I started Neverland (Forsaken Dreamscape) first, but while that may be so, Jack and Jill is the first of my fairytale retellings that I ever completed. Perhaps this is owing to the fact that this story is very short in comparison to my others. It’s only 9 chapters, and weighs in at only 26k. Maybe it’s because I had a clear path for this story and it was just easy to write. It’s straightforward without complications or subplots.
It’s possible that I owe as many of my early fans to Jack and Jill as I do to Neverland, and even to this day, it still gets a lot of attention.
I think I wrote it in 2002. I was 19.
The idea: I had already been working on Behind Sanity (American McGee’s Alice fiction) and on Neverland, so my attention was already on fairytales. I had decided that I couldn’t do just one, but that it was my calling – no, my duty – to bring otherwise innocent tales to a more mature level and to get at the darkness hidden within.
At that point in my life, I wasn’t even interested in thinking about what other writers might have already created. I was only focused on what my mind could do. I’m still a bit like that, but back then I wouldn’t even lend thought to making something no one else had done. Writing wasn’t complicated by those thins. If I had an idea, I went with it.
One day, while walking though Hot Topic, I saw a shirt (I think. It may have been a sticker, that for the life of me I cannot find a reference pic of). It had a drawing of a cartoonish goth girl holding a bucket. Over the top it said ‘Jack and Jill’. At the bottom it said: Jill pushed Jack.
(By the way, that’s not quite how my story goes, for those of you who haven’t read it. Wouldn’t want to spoil anything.) But at seeing that, I hadn’t even left the store before I could already see them in my mind, going up the hill beneath a cloudy sky, on a dreary day promising rain. Jill – a sad and shunned girl with dark hair in braids, and Jack – a tall and handsome preacher. They were contrasted, very different, but they were together. And when they got to the top, I already knew what would happen there.
I think it only took me a few weeks to write Jack and Jill, and since then I’ve edited it over and over again trying to fix the mistakes of my youth. Long ago, I’d had a few ideas for additional chapters and plot points to help the story make more sense, but in reading it this time around, I decided not to change it much from it’s original version. I did tweak it just a bit, but I ultimately felt that changing it too much would alter the entire feeling of the story, and I didn’t want to do that. By making it too supernatural, I felt it would take away from the emotional level of this story, which is really what it’s about, after all. I didn’t want to take away from what makes this story so human.
So, finally, I’m releasing Jack and Jill, to be enjoyed by all once again.
Jack and Jill will only be available in ebook form for now, but I may eventually set it up for print. Get it on Kindle today.
Jack and Jill on Goodreads.