Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle: Author's Notes (Chapter 17: Homesickness)

Chapter 17 — Homesickness.

“So you really think he's your father?” Anna asked in a whisper.

“I don't know. Why else would my mother have this locket? But why would the most powerful wizard in America... well, my mom's just a Muggle.”

“My mother is a Muggle too,” Anna pointed out, with a small frown.

This is the first time Alexandra refers to her mother as "just a Muggle." She makes similar disparaging comments about Muggles in later books, leading some readers to criticize her for apparently assimilating anti-Muggle prejudices.

Now, as the author, that's not how I intended her comments - she meant "just a Muggle" from the point of view of a presumably very powerful wizard, whom she has already figured out doesn't seem to be the sort of person who'd marry a Muggle with no apparent connection to the wizarding world.

But it is likely that Alexandra has, in fact, picked up a bit of unthinking prejudice. It's hard not to, and she is very young. Clearly she does not consciously think Muggles are inferior; she speaks up against this attitude and while her relations with her Muggle friends and family may be troubled, it's not because she's started thinking she's better than them. (Well, not because she's a witch, anyway. Alexandra does have a habit of thinking she's better than everyone.)

But to jump forward a bit to book two:

“Of course Muggles are inferior. They can't do magic,” Maximilian replied, as if he were simply stating an obvious fact. When he noticed her scowl, he added, “But it's not their fault. I don't have anything against them.”

Alexandra didn't find that answer very satisfying, but decided not to start arguing with him.

She doesn't exactly agree with him, but she doesn't have quite enough conviction to disagree with him - and as we know, Maximilian will become one of the most influential people in her life. So it's fair to say that yes, all the way back here in book one, Alexandra is probably starting to pick up a few prejudices that she would hotly deny.

(Notice how Henry Tsotsie upbraids her in Book Four over her treatment of the Indian kids who teased her. Of course Tsotsie thinks it was because they were Indians, but in fact, Alexandra would do that to Muggles back in Larkin Mills if she could get away with it...)

“I know who you are now!” Alexandra said.

Charlie shrieked, and Anna suddenly looked nervous. “Alex, maybe you shouldn't -”

“Abraham Everard Thorn!” Alexandra said. “Are you my father?”

There is something to be said for Alexandra's confrontational approach. It's kind of like saying "Fuck it" and ripping that bandage right off. Of course, sometimes all that gets you is a lot of pain. At this point, she hasn't been smacked down often enough to start learning a bit of caution. And she'll never be all that cautious.

Sometimes her imagination ran wild: she was Dark Queen Alexandra, daughter of the Dark Lord Abraham Thorn, dread sorceress who commanded the Dark Convention and made the wizarding world (and especially Larry Albo and Dean Grimm) tremble at her name.

Whatever glee she felt while indulging in these fantasies was tempered by her conviction that she really was in danger. If Ms. Grimm wasn't behind the repeated attempts on her life, she was at least trying to cover them up. And Alexandra was more worried than she wanted to admit that threats to her life might follow her home. She didn't want her mother endangered – or Archie, even, though she would barely admit that even to herself.

Alexandra's "Dark Queen" phase doesn't last long, but this was intended to show that she does have at least the potential to "embrace the dark side." I don't think anyone took it very seriously because, honestly, what eleven-year-old hasn't fantasized about raining death and destruction down on their enemies at some point? And I weakened the point immediately afterward by revealing Alexandra's most important vulnerability, the one thing that will reliably put a stopper on her ruthlessness: she does care about other people.

This chapter was another one that didn't do much to advance the plot. In fact, it did almost nothing to advance the plot. I was trying to develop Alexandra's character a bit here, as well as her friends. And we do get to enjoy a few Ozarker smackdowns.

“Hey!” she gasped, puffing clouds of mist in the freezing air. “I don't think you're simple!”

The Ozarkers stopped, and looked at each other.

“Was that an apology?” Constance demanded.

“It's not my fault everyone's making up stuff about me!” Alexandra insisted. A popping sound was coming from the fire, as kids were thrusting magic skillets into the flames and shaking them to generate endless piles of popcorn.

“Well, you do kind of... encourage it,” Anna said hesitantly. Alexandra looked at her.

“Come on, you know it's true, Alex,” said David.

Even the Pritchards agreed.

“Sometimes,” said Constance, “you and your raven...”

“You both preen,” finished Forbearance.

Alexandra stared. “I do not!”

“Do so,” said Anna.

“You totally do,” said David.

So we do learn a lot more about Alexandra's friends, including the Pritchards' family, David's foot-in-mouth bluntness, and the fact that yes, I totally wrote Anna as a stereotypical Studious Asian Girl.

Alexandra did well on her tests, and felt confident she'd prove that she no longer needed remedial classes after Christmas. Anna scored almost perfectly on her tests, but almost wasn't good enough. Alexandra spent an evening trying to reassure her roommate that her father wasn't going to make her stay in San Francisco and go to a traditional Chinese day-school because her grade point average was only 97.3%.

What would I do with this chapter if I were rewriting AQATTC for hypothetical publication? Honestly, I'd probably have to cut it. I am quite fond of a lot of the dialog in Homesickness, but really the only thing that happens is Abraham Thorn's cameo walks out of his locket (and I'm going to have to pay attention to what happens later - I am not sure I ever actually followed up on that or indicated what the significance was), and Alexandra gets an idea concerning the Registrar's Scroll. It's a chapter with lots of character interaction and not much plot, which is fine for fan fiction, but not so much for genre published fiction. As I work on my SF novel, I've been forced to cut several chapters that I thought were good but which my betas told me, "Yes, this is well-written but no1curr."

Tags: alexandra quick, aq reread, aqattc

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