Pick a Card: Post Mortem

Arthur Rackham
(1867-1939)

My, what a long overdue post this is.

If you did not know, my original plan was to be done with Pick a Card in May 2022; but due to the expanding lengths of the books and a few cover artist changes, Alice ended up taking over a year to complete, and became my longest series to date. What started off as a simple passion project ended up expanding far out of my control and consuming much of my life.

But that’s how books are, sometimes.

Truthfully, Alice has been one of my favorite series to work on, and is overall the series that I’m most proud of, with the City of Diamonds being my favorite book amongst the lot closely followed by the Prison of Hearts. But truthfully, nothing about this series went to plan, and I just want to reflect on that here.

Some of the things you didn’t know.

The original plan for Pick a Card was either going to be Claude or Thomas as the love interests and Kaeden as the antagonist, but as the books evolved, the setting changed, and Kaeden’s personality changed as well, I knew that there were far more interesting dynamics at play.

You see, in the original roadmap of the books, Alice was still living in Victorian England would have spitefully made the choice to dive down into the hole to follow her father; but over time the idea of having more of a mystery element and playing into the notion of a pocket watch grew, which led to the current iteration. Well, that and a failed attempt at a reverse harem that was quickly given up on after the first book.

The decision to set Alice in World War 2 came from old pictures of my family members in England and stories about my grandmother. To be honest, it came from a place of wanting to expand my understanding of the war beyond the America-centric narrative that I learned and connect to my heritage with both of my parents being English citizens. In the end, I still don’t know if that was the right move or not, because while the time period and the setting did give something to the story, I felt like I should have said more about the realities of life in Europe at the time but also grappled with the fact that I didn’t feel like it was my story to tell.

What was my story to tell was my Alice’s, and partially England’s, and I decided to do this through various references and callbacks not only to the time period, but also to art and literature.

Throughout the books, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice several references to a variety of different renaissance, romantic, baroque, rocco, and greek art pieces– particularly whenever Alice looks at the walls in various kingdoms. You’ll also note a variety of references to Charles Dodgson, Lewis Caroll’s true identity, as well as a variety of Oxford-based authors as well with fictionalized versions of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien making their cameos in the party scene in the Joker’s Last Laugh, as well as references to Oxford’s many milestones including their first female professor.

This is because, for the most part, Alice was, to me, a love note to not only England but art and writing as well.

While the books were tremendously hard to write and get perfect (and I still have some things I would change to this day), they were very important for me to learn and grow, and in the end I’m so glad that I wrote them.

As I move forward, I plan to take the things that I’ve learned from writing Alice and continue to apply them to my work, as well as, some day, returning to Wonderland to make sure that every last mystery is solved.

But until then, much love,

B. A. Lovejoy

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