Monday, July 16, 2012

Thesis Inspiration Part 1--Disney's "Mulan"

First—the answer to the question posed in last week’s post.

Which actor has been in every Pixar movie, and who did he play in “Brave?”

Answer—John Ratzenberger, and he played Gordon.

All right.

“Let’s get down to business to defeat….”

Actually, we’re not defeating anything. This Monday and the following two Mondays will be a triplet set. I will introduce, comment on, and explain my connection to the three movies that inspired the novel that is my thesis for Seton Hill.

First, a little background on my thesis. Last week, I did an interview on a fellow SHUer’s blog—Amarilys Acosta. Check out the interview and her blog here. My thesis novel is—at least for right now—titled “Saving Edalya” and may be summed up by the old adage “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


Jayleen Rothwell (daughter of Edalya’s army general and Royal Guard captain) and Crown Prince Kylander Cammoleer (air to the kingdom’s throne) paths would never have crossed if not for the academy. Jayleen—out of a desire to protect her home—and Kylander—on his father’s orders—partake in military training. It is an off-base assignment, and the attack on Jayleen and Kylander’s force, that bring them, if reluctantly, together. After Jayleen saves Kylander’s life, the two form a tenuous alliance. But, as time passes, relationships are strained, and attacks become more frequent, Jayleen and Kylander must learn to put aside their differences—and even grow together—to keep one another alive. Evil has a way of slipping into the night, and it’s not until it’s too late that the two realize just how deep corruption can run.


So many details, not enough time.

In any event, back to the interview I did. You can see in said interview, that the three movies in question are Disney’s Mulan,” “Quest for Camelot,” and “The Swan Princess.” Yes, these are all children’s movies. No, my thesis is not a children’s book. But, as you can see in my post from a few months ago about Disney’s “Tangled” and last week’s post about Pixar’s “Brave,” there is much to be found in children’s movies that can be applied to adult audiences.

So, without further comment and to keep with the quotation above,” this week, I begin with Disney’s “Mulan.” The story of a young Chinese woman who can’t seem to fit into her role in society, “Mulan” shows the courage, honor, and caring of the title character as she disguises herself as a man and takes her ailing father’s place in the imperial army.

Right away, there are a lot of adult themes here—responsibility, doing what’s right even if it means putting yourself in harm’s way, protecting those we care about. All of these themes make an appearance in my thesis novel. There’s more than that, though.

As is probably obvious, the military figures prominently in both “Mulan” and my thesis. I loved “Mulan” growing up—still do—and the reason I love it so much is because it’s different. Mulan takes matters into her own hands. She does what she needs to do to keep her father alive, regardless of the consequences.

Originally, Jayleen was the only female ever to join the Edalyan army. I quickly replaced this idea when I realized the logistics of making it work. Not that I couldn’t do it but that it would take away from the story I really wanted to tell. It wasn’t about a woman making a stand. It was about a person doing what’s right, protecting those she cares for, and chasing her dreams. Mulan represents all of this and more to me. She’s not the traditional Disney female—nothing wrong with the traditional Disney female. She is a strong, brave, strong-willed young woman—what I have made Jayleen.

The other thing I loved about Mulan is that she didn’t need a man. Yes, she falls for Shang, and if you watch or Google “Mulan2,” you will see ***SPOILER ALERT*** that she and Shang do marry. But, that’s movie 2. I’m talking about movie 1. Mulan goes and does—love comes later.

As is the case for Jayleen. Yes, she and Kylander are main characters. Yes, they work together. Do they end up together—read the book when it comes out. That’s the power of authorhood—keeping readers wondering—oh, and killing off characters for fun. Anyway, I wanted Jayleen to be her own person. She has a twin brother who makes her nervous, but everyone has a weakness/issue. That’s hers. I’m confident she’ll work around it…

That concludes Part 1. Tune in for next week’s edition—“Quest for Camelot.” That one had probably the largest impact. ***ERR, was that a spoiler?***

P.S. Check out my recording of “Reflection” on YouTube.

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