Today, Kelly Swails is telling me how This May Go on Your Permanent Record came about. Kelly is an excellent author and editor. Silence in the Library does great work. I like the way this novel wormed its way into Kelly’s subconscious.
So one day one of my work friends told me about a guy her college-aged son had heard about. (Yes, this is a “girl who knew this guy who knows this kid” story. Bear with me.) Anyway, the son attended Webster University in St. Louis, and apparently, if Webster didn’t offer the major you wanted, they’d custom-make one for you. Also apparently, a kid at Webster wanted to major in World Domination. [Editor’s note: I really want to meet this guy and see how things turned out.]
As soon as my friend told me this my writer-brain started churning. What would a world domination program look like? Political science, obviously. But also mass communication. And science. And one can’t dominate a boardroom, let alone the world, without a working knowledge of military tactics. So after she and I joked about if this kid’s degree would be a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Art (I’m still not sure of the answer to that), we went about our work day. At least my friend did. I kept thinking about World Domination.
I poked at the idea for a while. Wrote a short story with a college-aged protagonist (if you’re interested, you can read it in Time Traveled Tales). Made a curriculum. Had fun naming classes like "Know Your Nemesis" and "Monologues for the Masses". Discovered the main character (Sally) and her back story (alcoholic mother, absentee father, and a penchant for breaking the law). It wasn’t until I realized Sally wasn’t enrolled in a college program but a high-school freshman at the top-secret prep school named School for Extraordinary Youth that the story really came alive. Oh, and by the way, maybe her dad disappeared for a reason…
Ultimately, This May Go on Your Permanent Record explores power on a few different levels. The lengths people will go to in order to get power. How a secret can control your life without your realizing it. The power of trusting someone enough to call them a friend. You know what, though? To hell with themes and meaning and all that. Mostly, I had a whole lot of fun writing this book, and I’m looking forward to learning more about Sally’s world. One book at a time.
Kickstarter link: http://tiny.cc/SITLfall2015