I promised a look at my story from Journey to the Center of Desire, which is coming soon from Circlet Press. So here it is, as promised! This is the beginning of a journal that features prominently in the story. Gräuben is a fairly passive, idealized love interest in Verne's original, Journey to the Center of the Earth. It's her lover Axel who has the adventure.
In my version, I decided to have Gräuben grow concerned and follow Axel on her own. The entry below is from shortly after she's taken this step, and it represents only the very beginning of this character's awakening and freedom.
June 22, 1863—This book will likely do no good. Who will read it? If Axel is lost, I am not sure there is any person on this earth I still care for, or who truly cares for me. If he is not lost, I will find him and tell him all my adventures myself, between kisses.
Yet I write anyway, for I have always been such a very good girl. "It is expected that a proper young lady shall keep a journal." I still remember my guardian instructing me that way. Now here I sit with paper and pen. How many things I do because a person once suggested that I should!
All independent thought is not lost to me, however. I may sit with paper and pen, but I am nonetheless changed. Men's clothing, a pouch full of the professor's money at my waist, a man's power to commandeer ships and sign contracts and give orders. What a heady thing Axel has been hiding from me! Had I possessed these gifts from the start, I should have done thrice what he has. I would have traveled ceaselessly, asked every question, demanded every drop of knowledge the world had to give me.
I certainly would not have offered cowardly resistance to this great journey of the professor's.
But I should not slander my love. I am, after all, going on that great journey myself. There is no need for resentment now. And were it not for my dear Axel, for the fear in his eyes and my worry for him, I might still be at home, handling the minerals that are the scientific scraps of the professor's great intellect, offering smiles to all, and painting watercolors.
Perhaps the reason women are not invited on journeys such as this is that they awaken the passions. I know not whether it is the rocking of the boat that currently conveys me or the new freedom of motion bestowed upon me by trousers or the image of encountering my love in a place he would never expect to find me, but I am inflamed at all times. I want to sweep things out of the way, throw myself onto the narrow bed where I sleep, and… I am not sure what comes then. So much has been hidden from me!
Perhaps the knowledge will come to me as I become accustomed to my new way of being in the world. As it is, I have begun some scientific investigations. By starting with what is forbidden, I am slowly unlocking secrets of my own body that have previously been denied.
In distant memories, I recall my poor mother bathing me, slapping my hand aside and telling me never to touch there. Another command I have mindlessly obeyed. Now I have begun to transgress. There is much to overcome. I huddle against the wall of the cabin, moving as silently as possible, slipping a hand inside my trousers as if afraid of what I might find in there. When I do, I can feel the slap from across the years—if only other touches could remain so vivid! But there is something else I find. A wetness, a budding pleasure. Sometimes, I feel as if I am striving for a solution to a question I have yet to properly ask. I think of Axel, my body tenses, and it seems as if, could I but work a little harder, some vision might burst upon me.
If only I could be with him again! Together, we could unlock these mysteries.
I'll let you know as soon as this book is available in its entirety! I had so much fun writing a pastiche of Verne's style.