The Field would never exist if I hadn’t been abducted in May 1993. That was the seminal moment, the catalyst that fueled what would eventually become The Field, published in 2018. That May, while playing hide-and-seek in the field behind my neighborhood, I made a wrong turn on my bike and was chased down by two older boys on their bikes. After several hours of terror, they let me go; it’s a life event I will never forget.
But life rolled forward, and around 2003, I remembered that horrible time from a decade ago. It had always stuck with me, but I felt it was time to tell the story. I took some time and wrote out the events as I remembered them in first-person POV, recounting what led up to my abduction until I was safely home after being released by my captors.
It was cathartic, and I felt a weight lifted by writing the facts on paper. But I knew there was something more that could be done. Maybe what happened to me could be expanded into a larger story.
Could it be a novel?
Up to this point, I had written plays, short stories, and screenplays but had never jumped into the deep end with the idea of writing a novel. I had just graduated from UC Davis, so I had some time to sit down and flesh out some ideas.
The initial results were not pretty.
The original story of The Field – titled Taken at this point – was about Daniel Robinson’s father teaming up with a cop on the verge of retirement to find Daniel. Kyle was stuck at his house, worried about his best friend, while Daniel was trapped with Austin and James in the field.
The draft was short – under 40,000 words when I was done – and I had my mom read it. She thought it was pretty dull and boring, and after I reread it, she was right. Unsure of the story’s direction, I set the draft aside and moved forward.
Meanwhile, a film called Taken came out, so my title was unusable. The manuscript went in a box and was forgotten.
In 2010, after graduating from Cal State Northridge, I pulled the manuscript out, gutted it, and started over. I decided that Daniel and Kyle were the actual main characters. Daniel’s dad was given a small role; the cop was deleted entirely. It was a story about unconditional friendship, an overarching theme that would play out over the course of the story.
There was more action, more suspense, and more for the teen characters to do. I was really enjoying the process and taking the time to craft a strong narrative. After a few drafts, I let a few coworkers read it. They liked it but had good feedback about making Daniel and Kyle more distinct from one another. This note would help me flesh out the two teens more and give them more significant distinctions in their personalities and actions throughout the story.
It would be this next reader that would lead me down a road I never expected.
See you in Part Two.