Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ollie at the Exploratorium - Story #2

Now that my draft of the first book in the series - titled "Ollie on the Trolley" - is finished and I'm working on networking and researching literary agents and publishing houses, I've got ideas for additional books on my mind. I'd like to send Ollie to explore the Exploratorium, a museum of "science, art and human perception" in San Francisco that caught my attention when I read through the Wikipedia entry on the city. It is housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, which was built in 1915 and is a landmark in San Francisco (photo is from the Wikipedia Commons and can be accessed through the link above).

The Exploratorium is over near the Golden Gate Bridge and the Presidio. So it's unlikely that Ollie would just wander over there. It could be a day trip with Delia and her Grandpa, and thus also an opportunity to develop those characters further.

The dilemma I've got, however, is that I introduced Ollie at the beginning of "Ollie on the Trolley" as a full grown cat. But if I want to keep Delia in the story, I either have to keep Ollie young or create a further reason why Delia is staying with her grandfather more long term. Should Delia's visit in the first story be a brief one, then later on she comes to stay with Grandpa for a period - a summer or longer?

Back to the Exploratorium. It is purposefully interactive and has a diverse array of sections, about topics ranging from biodiversity and space weather to earthquakes and languages. There is even a special section of the museum devoted to Frogs!

The plot outline could be: Ollie and the trolley gripman (by the way, I'm considering changing his name, as Herb just does not roll off the tongue) have their routines. Ollie spends his days riding the trolley and cruising the restaurants of Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown, keeping his coat shiny and sleek with plenty of fresh fish and seafood. Herb has #24 and his work buddies, and on his days off putters around making small renovations in the row house or meanders about the neighborhood, chatting with Annie (the owner of the corner store, who has a bit of a crush on him) and other locals. Sometimes he even tries to draw out that old curmudgeon downstairs, Mr. Bailey - Delia's grandpa. Delia's arrival for the summer shakes things up. Mr. Bailey is forced to get out and about in order to keep her entertained and busy. And their lives become intertwined with Herb's, due to Delia's connection with Ollie, which is still strong after a year apart. Her playfulness and affection draw out both men, changing their perspectives on family and community. And Mr. Bailey finally starts to thaw out regarding Ollie, who he has mainly viewed as a nuisance, due to Ollie's habit of meowing at his door early in the morning, wanting to be let out of the building.

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