The Story of My First Story
I crave your pardon in advance if I’ve already told this story. I think I’ve shared it in bits and pieces over the years (and mentioned a little on my bibliography page), but do not believe I’ve ever posted the entire story at once.
When I was in high school, I dated a guy named Kyle1 through the end of his senior year and the start of his time in community college. Kyle was taking a media issues and television production class with Professor Parker2, whom he got to chatting with one day and confessed his love for the work of director Sam Raimi. It turned out that the professor knew Dr. Octavius at Michigan State, who’d had Sam in class many years ago, so Professor Parker put Kyle and the doctor in touch. To Kyle’s great joy, Dr. Octavius still talked to Sam from time to time and promised to get Kyle an interview with him the next time he came back to Michigan3.
Not the real Professor Parker and Doctor Octavius. Sorry, y’all.
[Had to update the picture in 2021 and now he looks even more like a professor! Nice.]
I want to say, “I don’t know why I said this”, but I do know. I said it, but I also thought there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that it was going to happen.
I had the audacity to say, “Maybe you should ask Sam if I can be in one of his future movies.”
And Kyle had the temerity to do it.
I need to step back from the story a minute, because I believe it’s important to tell you: I have absolutely no reason to believe Kyle was lying to me. Not then, not ever.7
First, because he was deeply in love with me. If I had loved him in return, we would’ve been married several years ago, and his children would also be mine.
Second, I made him tell me the number he was calling, and my friends and I have both verified that it belongs/belonged to Renaissance Pictures (Sam’s production company). It wasn’t some audio spoof that Kyle set up somehow—not only is he not that clever, but the calls I mentioned happened at random times over several years, making it difficult to maintain a phone number and recording for that long. (Plus, this went down in 2001—before the era of Skype, Google Voice and a zillion other such apps.)4
Not that that explanation makes it sound any less crazy when I say “they agreed”.
When Kyle called the first time, he spoke to someone who claimed he was Grant Curtis (pictured with co-producer Laura Ziskin), Sam’s assistant.5, 6 Despite having no demo reel, no resume, no headshot, no audition video or screentest, “Grant” claimed they could use me in the third movie as the Green Goblin‘s long-lost daughter. (I don’t know how they’d stretch the following story out so far, but I wasn’t thinking in terms of that at the time.)
The story would go that—ever paranoid—Norman Osborn had prepared for the event of his death by not trusting his son (Harry) with his fortune. (Nice father, right? But if you’ve seen the Raimi movies, you know this is normal.) Instead, ownership of his company and all his assets reverted to the sister Harry never knew he had, and it would be up to Harry to track her down if he wanted his inheritance. Nothing was ever decided on whether he’d know how to find her, only that she was living in Australia (which I later asked to be changed to Ireland).
I also recall submitting a list of names from which they could choose a forename and middle, and they settled on Ophelia Rhiannon. (I’d hoped they’d settle on Ophelia…it looks So Very Proper next to her brother’s name.)
He could’ve been my first movie daddy. Seriously.
But here’s where my memory gets fuzzy, since this was 2001 or so.
I know they stalled.
They eventually decided they were “going a different way” and they didn’t want me anymore.
Most people would give up, but you can’t give a novelist a storyseed and expect her to ignore it because of copyright.
At least not if you’re me!
A lot has been excised from this entry after this point because (1) it’s old and I’ve changed a lot, and (2) there’s stuff I don’t want to share with the next person to read this! (At least not yet. Maybe someday.)
The short version is that I wrote my debut novel based on this character (and it’s been criticized for being bad, but I was twenty-four, for the sake of all the gods at once!) and it held too close to the Ramiverse movies to be very good—not to mention the copyrighted characters that I never received permission to use! (I wrote to Marvel twice, but never heard back. They probably thought I was crazy.)
Now I’ve taken the novel in a whole different direction (Ophelia doesn’t even have the same pre-story job, for starters; and her prometido doesn’t exist—if she even gets married at all in this one), the copyrighted characters have had their names changed (Peter Parker/Spider-Man is now Taki mac Artair/Night Spider), Night Spider will probably get killed off pretty quickly for being young and stupid, and it will take place on a completely different Earth so certain actors who have seen their character die can be revived elsewhere. (Ahem.)
- Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies took place on Earth 96283
- Marc Webb’s are on Earth 120703
- The current movies (by Jon Watts) are Earth 199999
- Since it appears not to be taken, I’m claiming Earth 517 as my own
Oh and I solemnly swear I came up with the idea of using the symbiotes before I knew/remembered that there was going to be a separate Venom movie. (Which I liked quite a bit, by the way.) When the idea first swam to the surface, it was a leftover from the Earth 96283 days. And these aren’t Klyntar, they’re synthetic, which means no copyright violation and none of that horrendous brain-eating stuff. Huzzah!
I guess when I discontinued Ophelia, the listing left Amazon completely (unlike my discontinued paperbacks), so the current version of the cover isn’t there—making it the perfect thing to end the revised version of this entry with. (That and I can’t reuse it for Sevens.) So here we are:
1Name changed to one of his favorite characters (Modern Age version, according to Wiki) less to protect his identity and more because his real name is boring. Plus, I had a long-term crush on a guy whose name was actually Kyle, so it kind of all fits?
2I don’t know these professors’ real names, so I’m using Spider-Man characters.
3Sam grew up in Michigan, and one of his brother is an emergency room doctor in the Detroit area. The other is a frequent guest star in his movies.
4During the course of writing this, I realized that I’d never asked Kyle if he ever lied to me. So I finally did, and he said no. Which I believe, because—as I said before— I know he loved me.
5That doesn’t make too much sense now when you check his IMDb page and discover that he wasn’t credited as Sam’s assistant back then; but you could also argue that it was meant as “assistant producer” or some such, and you’d be partially correct.
6Kyle spoke a few times with another gentleman who said he was Grant’s assistant, but I can’t remember which times anymore, so I’m leaving him out.
7The numbers got mucked up because I started this in 2018 and didn’t want to rearrange them when I came back to work on this in 2020. Anyway, I found out in 2019 that he was lying and had possibly lied to me by the time I started this post. But probably not about this. (If anyone was lying it was someone on the other end to him.)