My Dear Hubby has the rather endearing habit to borrow DVDs for movies he’s never heard of. Sometimes, we watch half of it, look at each other and give whatever it is a pass. And sometimes, we sit there until the end and still talk about whatever it was a week later.
An example of the latter case happened a few years ago when we watched Memento. As the story goes back and for the between past and present, we were very confused for a little while, but the story was enthralling and that one DVD was granted a second showing before it was returned. Memento is a good movie, and the treatment of the story and the plot itself work wonderfully together.
I forgot all about the topic of Memento – anterograde amnesia, which is the inability to form new, lasting memories so that the person afflicted forgets everything that happens after the accident or illness that causes the amnesia – until I saw another movie with the same theme, 50 First Dates. It couldn’t have been more different from Memento, but the question was the same: how does a person live a meaningful life when they’re stuck reliving the same day or having to relearn the same thing all over again?
I don’t know what made me think of these movies and amnesia recently, but once I had anterograde amnesia in mind, I could hardly think of anything else. In Memento, the hero lost his wife before the movie started and is motivated by his desire for revenge; in 50 First Dates, the heroine was single before she lost her memories and the plot revolves around the hero falling in love with her and trying to get her to return the feeling even though they’d never met before so she has to relearn who he is every time they meet.
What if, I wondered, the memory-impaired character was already in love when the amnesia appears, and ready to tell the person he loves about his feelings? What if his feeling were returned? What would it be like to discover, day after day, that your biggest hope came true and you are loved, even if you’re not quite sure how it happened?
And that’s how I started writing Anterograde. Remembering Memento’s scrambled timeline, I tried to do something similar with the two heroes’ points of view. Calden, whose memory is impaired, takes us backward into his story, all the way back to the illness that struck him, while Eli witnesses Calden’s illness, recovery and slow progress from the beginning onward. That’s where having this story has an ebook is so much fun: I’ve added links at the end of each chapter, so the reader can decide how they want to discover the story: in chronological order, from beginning to end, or back and forth, with small mysteries being explained progressively.
If you give this story a try, I’d love to know which way you read it, in the order it was presented or chronologically… or maybe once each way?