My Why? from Maggie Moor
“Skinless: The Story of a Female Survivor” is my debut True Crime Thriller. I thank Austin Macauley Publishers for taking a chance on a new female writer of True Crime.
I began writing the novel Skinless over ten years ago. Being a theatrically trained actress, I first developed Skinless as a stage play, and workshopped it at Stella Adler Studio. This inspired me to flesh out the full novel, a platform that will serve as a springboard for TV, film and stage scripts.
Why this story?
Skinless deals in difficult main themes that I feel are important to talk about, for the evolution of our human condition. I wrote the character Charmay, and the story SKINLESS as an inspiration to young women/people, living through difficult experiences. No matter what life has dealt, experience becomes our super power; None of us can escape our past and many lessons can’t be taught except in life experience. Growth gifts people a strong sense of self protection, confidence and conviction.
I envisioned the character Charmay to empower young women/people to talk about their experiences, and choices. To learn to become empowered by difficult life experiences, rather than cut yourself down, and feel ashamed. Speak up about it. These are stripes of life, and though traumatic experiences are a difficult way to learn and grow, they make us more aware. Skinless was written to serve as a strength building story; Charmay, a female survivor who can inspire others to excavate and understand their own lives, for growth. As we heal, the difficulties help us harness our inner strength. As we heal, these wounds become self love and a deep capacity for empathy.
I offer Skinless to encourage young women/people to learn from their experiences and pass it on to help others heal, to perceive every aspect to life as opportunity to grow stronger, and most importantly more confident in their own gifts and potential.
In my teenage years, I was recoiling from difficult circumstances and found myself hanging out on the streets of Manhattan, and then across the country, reading every book I could. Deeply influenced by Angelou, Kerouac, Sartre, Nabokov, Duras, jazz rhythm and rap lyrics, Skinless’ poetic stream of consciousness, hard boiled lingo and tough street perspective make it a True Crime read, an enthralling twisty ride.
EXCERPT FROM SKINLESS, Charmay Prologue
”This story has characters some may not like or care about because they are considered low life on the barometer of what people are worth in society, but if you choose to judge them you’re probably not looking at something about you. A guy told me recently, “If you knew all the parts of someone, you would love them.” If you could connect the dots. Sometimes I think about excavating all the shit I’ve done– I figure, what’s the point, you’ll think I’m self involved. But despite what everyone and his mother is telling me about just forgetting it and moving on, I figured maybe if I let myself feel the love I had for Sam back then or anger or fear, I can clear stuff out; allow my true voice to lead me in heart-led action rather than fear-based reactions. I recently read words Maya Angelou said, “If I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”
So, let’s move brass tacks. Break it down. Zoom in, detail.
- What is Skinless: The Story of a Female Survivor about?
SKINLESS is told through the eyes of Charmay, a strong young woman who lives out loud to her own beat, navigating an unconventional life while pursuing her goals of singer/ songwriter at the turn of the Millennium in New York City. Homeless and hitchhiking since her mid teen years, riddled by childhood improprieties and self hatred, Charmay has a chip on her shoulder that empowers her with a keen sense for survival, knowing who the predators are and how to make tough choices to protect herself in each iconic and gritty New York City experience. A true survivor, Charmay grows through each obstacle and emerges with a deeper sense of self and confidence that only true life experience and reflection can attain.
Skinless‘ subplots hit you fast-paced with race conflict, sexuality, domestic violence, gun toting, class resentments and entitlements, hard knocks courage and perseverance. You find yourself asking, how far will people go to get their fair stake, the American Dream? Dangling at every turn is unconscious wisdom manifest, and the reader gains hope to realize that we grow through life experiences–– and if we do survive, eventually we strip all the layers away to seek the meaning of fulfillment.
Main Themes & Subplots [link: more]]
Skinless lures us to dwell inside the insidious haunt of a woman living with trauma, getting glimpses through her retro window as a coming of age female enduring repeated assault, coupled by her current day to day self-imploring mind chatter. Desperate to quiet her inner world, Charmay lives with the fatal snake of addiction. Striving to make her singer-songwriter dreams light, she teams with another “misfit survivor” (in Charmay words) and we are taken on a wild New York City glitz ride, two traumatized lovers partnering to build a life.
EXCERPT from SKINLESS, Charmay Prologue
‘They say, killing a person is the most intimate you can be with them. That’s how they brief the vets when they go into the field. A guy who fought Nam told me once. Me and Sam were like two street cats, moving toward, bouncing off each other; each like we got a magnet stashed in our hearts. Who knew in life that people with similar type emotional wounds often hook up as an opportunity to connect deeply and heal. Too bad we couldn’t see the trigger before it got pulled, shown up with some tenderness for one another. It’s a delicate balance; the bullet line or bedsheets.”
From the opening scene, Charmay is searching for her higher self, writing lyrics for her new song, “Girl, dont hide your face from nothing. Pull your hair back, don’t worry you’ re alone. . . “ Eventually, it is through the eyes of the other grifters in her life, that she realizes in her conscious mind: there is a woman inside of her unfound. A woman that she can feel, taste, almost touch, and wants to become. . .
EXCERPT from SKINLESS, words from Carl Jung, p. 9.
”In each of us there is another whom we do not know.”
Why title SKINLESS?
EXCERPT from SKINLESS, Charmay Prologue
“Felt to me like I’d been born with some cursed mongo antennae inside; soaks up all the nasty puss-filled wounds of the world. I often had to hunker down, submerge to re-up–– sometimes get intuitions on how to go back out, handle people.”
How did I choose the name Charmay for the lead female?
This answer is a bit more “fun fact.” I looked into an earlier draft of “Skinless” from 2014, and found this story. This story got cut from the final book, as much backstory does 🙂
Here, I share it with you.
“The Story of Charmay,” excerpt from a draft of “Skinless: The Story of a Female Survivor,” by Maggie Moor
“Hey, Charmay!” squawked Jesse, clearly geeked out, paving a beeline my way through scads of drunken late night patrons and leggy, young fawns. Jess was a drummer I’d met a few times while singing at a Nightingale’s jam sesh, East Village. Charmay was my then current moniker in life. I’d been through a few already. This one was delivered to me in a dream. A little girl in a sheer dressing gown, descending endless rows of whitewashed spiral stairs from midnight sky. Fragile thing sunk bare knees to earth reaching out with her unsure longing, desperate to touch. I met her eyes, could see her soul held an amorphous incandescent fluttering, distant horizons from other lands trapped in the hidden closets of her mind. Trembling fingers wrapped around my wrist, she whispered hoarsely, “Cold.” Apparently this maybe had something to with the child part of me asking for help, which apparently I had been chastising since I was about nine. As she faded, she said her name was Charmay. I was so shock-and-awed by this night visit I even told my mother about it on the phone long distance. Well, just the basics. She likes to chat on the phone for hours, and I would rather throw myself over a bridge than engage telephone chat, but I was healing a compression fracture at lumbar one, smack in the middle of my spine, after hurling myself into eventual temporary paralysis at a local library fundraiser in West Marin, Cali. I’d been all excited ’cause I love libraries and didn’t want this one to go under.
I was doing flip circus tricks off a springboard in the Rec Room. It was the end of the library party, had a blast, ready to split, turned to do that last perfect front tuck fly and, well you know the story. Woke up in a hospital bed with a morphine drip, watching elephants float over my foggy head. Funny, I had just taken a book from that library on dance in pre-Hindu religions. Elephants are revered as earth-dwelling deities. Call it a blessing I broke my back ‘cause at the time I was homeless, hitching the Wild West country solo. The whack got me out of crashing cold April showers in Jodie’s old chicken shack. Got me a spot on the couch of two artsy girls who made fresh juices and went to yoga all day. The doctors ordered lie down and surrender. Heal, breathe, stretch, long walks, straight spine, arms swing free, swim as often as you can. I swear, I must have been born for invalid living. Couldn’t stress survival even if I wanted to. My mother mailed me a couple gigantic t- shirts as get well presents to fit over the Judy Blume Deenie-like scoliosis spine straightening brace I had to wear for six months and I indulged her in a few more long telephone jags.
On this particular roundabout Mom shared old family histoire. My Vaudevillian performer great grandparents had an infant named Charmay who died at three months. Mom said she hadn’t thought of this story in years and never pondered passing it on to me. She said nobody in the family ever talked about it.
“Ya know-” she did this throat clearing raspy thing she does “—I don’t know much else, I mean these things happened all the time back then. I know that Charlie and May named my mother for May’s mom and combined both their names for little Charmay.” “Were any birth records instituted,“ I inquired. My attention pinged away from the crayon I was scrawling with while idling with Mom, fire-strewn feathers on the phoenix I’d started months back camping out in Utah. “Or did anyone keep a journal?” I knew Mom had a box of old family stuff, but I never cozied to her yakking memories. On Thanksgivings I’d heard her sis talk about how we had these Vaudevillian song, dance, performer great-grandparents, Charlie Brown and May Newman. Charlie’d run away with the circus as a teen; jumped Gold Rush wagons to San Fran; made his way East, met May. Formed a tap dance duo, toured the world: Vaudeville circuit, 1929 Stock Market Crash Instead of bouncing over to Hollywood Talkies, they’d settled on Coney Island, helped my Mom’s mom raise her daughters, after her flophouse Irish lighting designer baby-daddy had jumped ship. Charlie drove cab, May cashiered at Saks.
“She wasn’t alive long enough. If they had been more religious I’m sure it would have been inscribed in a family Bible or some such, but they were just theatre people.” I laughed. “Yeah, theatre people have their own religions for sure.” I could see Mom’s big smile through the phone. We always could jive in my family over theatre jokes.
I’ve longtime believed in soul evolution through reincarnation. Don’t ask where or when I took that knowledge, just seems natural. It could be I came forth with Charmay’s soul in this lifetime a few generations later.
Maybe my mother wasn’t supposed to be my mother. I could have been her aunt. I’ve always imagined that our souls are borne of this kind of universal life force energy and we’re here to learn lessons. We often travel alongside the same souls or groups of souls. I hate talking about this stuff¬¬; it sounds lofty. But when I was eleven or twelve I’d sit in my room and write about it. I’d go in the closet, shut the door and write letters to the Energetic Flow asking for things that I wanted. Like a boy to like me. Or to get the steps down in dance class. Or for my mom or me to be safe from her crazy boyfriend. I guess I was trying to make sense of things, but eventually I would learn enough lessons that I could exist without my body, my soul would go through enough alchemical cleansing to become vibration and sound; the universal life force light which constructs the galaxies’ necessary energetic holding pattern.
Back to Broadway: “What are you doing here?” Jesse asked. I turned from gazing at endless rows of ruby jewel-lit cars while trying flag a cab, flashed him my best sarcastic smirk.
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