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  • Writer's pictureD. Michael Flanagan


I never really knew a thing about Mary Shelley, the person or the writer, other than that she wrote Frankenstein. But upon a little digging, many lunatic writers, she now fascinates me!

Celebrating 200 years of Frankenstein, the Capital Film Arts Alliance recently held a contest for screenwriters to write a full-feature script with the only prerequisite that it remain faithful to Mary Shelley's original story. At first, I had zero interest. Zip. Seriously, writing a script is a major undertaking. You gotta be passionate and just a little crazy to even consider writing one in the first place. But Frankenstein...that big, flat-headed, green goon...yeah, no. It held no interest for me whatsoever.

Until, as I mentioned, I did a little research on Mary herself. The woman was completely out of control and out of her mind. I won't go into detail regarding her outrageous sexual appetite or her pension for Laudanum, a potent, mind-altering tincture of opium, morphine, and codeine...but suffice it to say, I think I now understand the influence behind her rather dark and twisted tale.

It was this research into the person behind the famous story in which I found, aside from a woman trying to define herself, a fellow writer struggling to build her life, facing insurmountable trials, including the death of her children, then her husband, and yet somehow still able to scribble those words down on paper. In addition, it was during a time when women simply were not considered "real" writers. Unable to attend college, for the most part, few could even write or read, yet alone craft a world-changing novel. I admit, the more I dug, the more I fell in love with Mary Shelley.

And thus...a new story began to unfold: THE LOST JOURNAL of MARY SHELLEY. I became enthralled with this wild woman and created a script that dared to tell the story-behind-the-story. Fictional, to be sure, it entertains the idea that possibly, much of her frightening tale...was true. My story takes places in a modern-day bookstore in which a young college student happens upon an old, leather diary, while unpacking a box of old, dusty, forgotten books. As it turns out, the discovery is the priceless, lost journal of Mary Shelley herself, and the journey by which she created Frankenstein.

Then, to tie a nice little bow on my own adventure, not only did I manage to finish an entire screenplay in a mind-boggling short amount of time (my record to-date,) but also somehow managed to walk away...with FIRST PLACE in the contest and a very pleasant $500 check in my pocket. Not too shabby for having zero interest or passion. Amazing what a little craziness will do.

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