The Three Sisters was first written back in 1977 when I was in college. A friend of mine, Mari Trevalyan, who had gone to Catholic school which ensured that she would never become a Catholic, gave me a picture of three nuns that I had found. They would look perfect on a wanted poster, I thought, so I created one advising anyone who found them that they could drive them into catatonic fits by playing them recordings of Anita Bryant.
Both Catholics and non-Catholics found this funny, so since she had given me another photo with two nuns and an elderly couple, I wrote a second piece about the Three Sisters taking the elderly couple hostage. When fellow students asked me what was going to happen next, the Three Sisters were born, and each week I put up a new episode until the plot of the novel was born. People began checking the wall outside my dorm where I posted them for the latest episode. Catholicism became all the rage at this Presbyterian college.
I didn’t know what was going to happen from one week to the next, but managed to figure out a new episode for the rest of the quarter until the tale of the Three came to its conclusion. All I had were the Xerox machines at the library, scotch tape and blank paper to write on, but I managed to get each new episode up on time.
After I graduated from college and went to get a Master’s degree in 1979, I decided to fulfill my desire to write the great American novel since college always provides plenty of free time to avoid studying for exams. I succeeded in writing the first version of The Three Sisters which could be an object lesson in how to write a novel no one would want to read. This is one of those manuscripts that when you ask the executors of your estate to burn all unpublished works upon your death, you hope they really will. Creative writing courses could use the first version to show aspiring authors how not to write. The characters were poorly developed, the humor was obvious, and it lacked subtlety. I got a couple agents to read it, and luckily they declined to do anything with it.
When I moved to California in 1981 for my Ph.D., I had lots of spare time since I was going to college instead of working, so I decided to revise the novel. The result was a vast improvement. I was able to make the plot more realistic, thanks in part to the addition of Victor Virga, fleshed out the characters, and made changes that should have been there all along.
Nevertheless, I knew of no one in the publishing world, had never had anything published anywhere, and I was beginning to think more about writing my Ph.D. dissertation on the Economics of the Arts than getting published, so The Three Sisters was set aside.
It was 1983 now, and I couldn’t spend the rest of my life going to college to rewrite a novel that couldn’t get published. I completed my Ph.D. in Economics, became a Professor in Economics and Finance, became a stock broker, started collecting data on financial markets, and before I knew it almost 30 years had passed.
The novel had resided in my closet undisturbed throughout those years. The only copy I had was the one I had typed on my Brother typewriter with the dancing ball before I ever owned a computer. When I moved, I rediscovered the manuscript and decided to do something with it. Since it was now 2012, the solution was simple: outsource the nuns. So I sent them to India to be converted into Microsoft Word after converting the original manuscript into PDF.
When I got it back I reread it for the first time in almost 30 years. Being the author, it was difficult for me to independently judge it. Although my friends from college still fondly remembered the adventures of the Three, I decided the real test would be to give a copy of The Three Sisters to someone who had never heard of them, so I cornered a couple friends, got them to read it, and was pleased to find that they enjoyed it. There was hope yet!
One issue I had to quickly resolve was whether to attempt to rewrite the novel as I felt it should be today, or leave the manuscript largely as it is, “respecting” the wishes of the original author. I decided it was best to minimize the changes in the manuscript because that was what I wanted the novel to be when I had written it. If I wanted to revise the novel, add to it, and change the spirit of the novel, I could do that in a sequel, assuming it might be written, but I should leave the original alone. That didn’t preclude making changes in the spirit of the original, but I didn’t want the ghosts of my characters haunting me for the rest of my life.
By 2012, the publishing situation had changed dramatically from 1983. Now you can self-publish the book without an agent or the need to contact one of the main publishing houses. You can produce a physical book, or go straight to an e-book. On the advice of a fellow writer at work, I found a good editor, who provided extremely useful advice and encouragement, and now the book is off and running, and will be published in May 2013, just in time for me to send a copy to the new pope.
If it takes me another 35 years to write my second novel, it should be out by 2048, by which time I think all three sisters will hope we will have our first female pope, or maybe our second. Pope Coito I sounds good to me.
Nuns just want to have fun! But when three former Catholic nuns have too much fun and get in trouble with the law, they become nuns on the run.
Driving back to Washington D.C. where they work at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts, the three sisters are arrested in Tennessee. After defeating the local deputy in strip poker, they escape from jail, and are pursued by the zealous Detective Schmuck Hole, who has personally offered a $10,000 reward for their capture on The 700 Club. Little do they know that when the three sisters visit the Washington Monument, their lives will change forever.
Set in 1979, The Three Sisters is a sacrilegious satire that skewers not only organized religion, but the government, the media, intellectuals, corporate greed and every other part of the establishment. Maybe not the greatest story ever told, but possibly the funniest.
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Genre – Humor, Satire, Catholicism, Politics
Rating – R
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