"I didn't do anything and people want me dead. It's wrong. Why do people do the wrong thing?"
AUTHOR’S REVIEW OF
by Norman Boutin
If an author reviews his own work he must not wander far from the facts. I'll try to remember that.
First of all, here's a very brief review from "Iggy" on the Amazon listing: "Nice work, Norman Boutin. Keep up the good work, I enjoyed the story thoroughly." Short as it is, it said everything I hoped for. Iggy enjoyed the story thoroughly. An author could not want anything more than that.
When I was young I read some stories that I thoroughly enjoyed and couldn't get enough. If you've had that experience you know the feeling I try to share with other people. I wrote Empress Theresa with that feeling in mind.
Nearly all works of fiction are about characters trying to work their way through a minefield of irresistible, immutable forces. Empress Theresa is about an individual's endeavors changing history and making the world a better place.
A story written solely for the purpose of being a story must have a limited audience, the group of people interested in that kind of story. Empress Theresa aims at a larger audience. The meaning of the kind of person Theresa is is applicable to all people. Notice that she has no job. She is a student with only one year of college. She could be anybody. What the story says about human nature is more important than the plot specifics, and addresses all people's needs.
At the beginning of chapter five, Prime Minister Blair tells Theresa the world population is threathened with starvation. Only Theresa can stop it. She doesn't like this turn of events.
"I feel like running away. You couldn't stop me."
"I know we couldn't."
"All I wanted to do was be a high school math teacher."
"You can teach millions something more important. When the world falls apart around us we look within ourselves and find ourselves. Show us what's within you."
I had no response to that. How did I know what was within me? Nothing could have prepared me for this kind of challenge!
But Theresa is wrong. We know she's prepared because we've already seen what's within her. The first four chapters showed she was raised in a good family environment. She has no attitudes or ax to grind. She believes in something greater than herself which is essential to being a full human being. Such a person is the most effective. She is courageous even in the face of what she believes is certain death.
She's a nobody from nowhere who rose up to become the most powerful and important person on Earth. All she wanted was the one thing she couldn't have, a quiet, private life.
Every human being must consider his mortality and the question of eternity. Somebody may pretend to be indifferent, but this pose is only in the intellect. The will must decide! Theresa has made her decision and her soul is at peace with it. She shows the way to a happy life.
Is Empress Theresa a "Christian novel"? If an alien from another planet read the story, he would have no idea what a Christian was. No religious dogmas are explained. In chapter four, Theresa makes a few general observations about why she believes in God, but these ideas apply equally to people of any faith. Someone might accept these ideas and never step foot in a church building all his life.
The opening paragraphs give much information about the main character. They deserve close examination.
I’m Theresa, the only child of Edward and Elizabeth Sullivan, and I hope it’s not bragging to say I was cute as heck at age ten. Everybody in the family said so. I was the princess in the Sullivan clan of Framingham, Massachusetts because besides being cute I was a whiz in school and had a good disposition. All the relatives expected great things from me.
We've learned several things about Theresa. She's cute, smart and has a good personality. She has good family support.
She uses the word disposition in the modern sense of personality, emotional affect, but it also has the old meaning of habitual tendency or inclination towards certain manners of behavior, especially towards good of evil. Theresa's disposition in the old sense will become very important to the world.
So far she seems no different from a million other girls.
Nobody could have dreamed of what I would do a few years later, and nobody would have believed it if they’d been told. Prime Minister Blair said I’d still be remembered in a million years. But when this story began I was a little girl who didn’t have much of a clue about anything. My job as a kid was to figure out what the heck was going on and what to do about it. It’s not easy when you’re young and everything is brand new.
Whoa! Theresa will be someone history will find worth remembering for a million years. Suddenly we realize she will not be like other girls in her actions.
An important story theme is introduced. Theresa will have to figure out things. Later, when serious world problems arise, it will be Theresa, with the help of Steve, who will figure out the solutions when nobody else can.
Theresa is telling the story from retrospect, but she will tell it from beginning to end so that we will learn things in the same sequence she did.
My father once served a tour in the Navy. He said I had to be the captain of my ship but sometimes the seas would be rough. I had to learn all I could about the world. I wondered why should I be worrying about it in the fourth grade? I’d soon find out.
She'd have to start worrying about it on the third page.
Everybody has pressures. There are two kinds. One is threats to your life and health. I had more than my share of that with a thousand assassins wanting to get me. The other kind is bearing responsibility for other people’s lives and welfare. That’s really tough if you care about them. I set new world records in that department. People were sure I’d crack under the pressure, but I didn’t. It will take smarter heads than mine to figure out why not.
Theresa will have to deal with enormous pressures. Only someone with a strong belief system can get through pressures without major personality changes. Prime Minister Blair will later tell the House of Commons, "A woman who puts her trust in a higher power will be unchanged. Theresa will remain Theresa". Her priest, Father Donoughty, will tell reporters, "Somebody who wants to do the will of God has an unconquerable ally. Theresa can't be defeated".
Theresa says she had good parents who made her promise to get through the school years without the common adolescent problems. She tells us very little about her parents who are probably unremarkable, but this first page shows us her parents did a very good job in getting Theresa started on her journey.
This was a sufficient introduction to Theresa's character. The rest of the chapter us straightforward. The entity she will soon call HAL jumps into her on page 3. She does not suspect the importance of HAL until she notices Jan Struthers's 'watchers'. Jan visits her to find out what the young girl knows. HAL gives Theresa superhuman strength and accuracy in throwing things but she doesn't tell Struthers these things. She confides in Father Donoughty, the only person she believes will keep her secret.
Chapter 2 is found in the Amazon LOOK INSIDE! for the KINDLE edition.
Six years have passed. HAL has been inactive. Theresa and Jan Struthers meet for an update.
We can see that Theresa has matured. She speaks in longer sentences and with more complicated thoughts. She has a dry sense of humor.
“Tell you what. Give me the money and I’ll give you HAL.”
"If I have that much time I’ll major in alien relations.”
Jan Struthers disappears. A representative of British Prime Minister Blair meets Theresa and Father Donoughty. They all agree the new President is not happy about the situation with Theresa and HAL. The representative offers Theresa sanctuary in England. Sixteen year old Theresa makes her first critical decision. She will stay in the U.S.
Most of chapter 3 in on the Amazon KINDLE edition LOOK INSIDE.
Theresa begins her first and only year at Boston College. Steve Hartley quickly spots Theresa at the cafeteria, but it's Jack Koster who walks over to talk to Theresa. They start dating.
The campus police ask Theresa over to the police office. Two of Theresa's governement 'watchers' have been spotted following her around campus. Theresa tells one of the 'watchers' to call his supervisor. The supervisor calls the Director. The Director calls the President of the United States who reads the police chief the riot act. Theresa walks away, leaving the police wondering why she's so important.
Theresa discovers Jack with a secret hometown girlfriend. It's all over as far as she's concerned, and when Jack says he'll be up in a few minutes she puts on a short dress to show him what he'll be missing. But it's Steve Hartley who comes to her room.
"Steve and I were perfect for each other. Within a month we knew we wanted to get married and we wanted it to be soon."
They marry at the end of the school year. Theresa has just turned eighteen.
Chapter 4 is on this website.
Theresa is abducted by a group of government men who Theresa realized must be working for President Martin. She is flown by helicopter for to the South to a military base. She's lead to a 'nondescript building 39' which has a cafeteria. She grabs some food and twelve Coke bottles. She put eleven Coke bottles in a garbage bag.
The internet trolls on Amazon have attacked this scene. They say it's unlikely the government men would not ask Theresa why she wanted the Coke bottles. The answer is they can see for themselves that she has nothing but the Coke bottles. Obviously, they would have to think, she can do nothing with them. What they don't know is that HAL gives her superstrcngth. As we saw in chapter 1, she told nobody about this except Father Donoughty.
She is flown out to an aircraft carrier in the South Atlantic and put in a jet fighter loaded with an atom bomb. The jet is launched by remote control.
The internet trolls also attacked this scene. They said the Navy doesn't use the F-22 Raptor, it cannot be flown by remote control, and it can't land on a carrier. Interestingly, none of them noticed that the U.S.S. carrier Ronald Reagan is based in the Pacific, not the Atlantic.
I pointed out to them that in the original 2010 version of the book, there was fourteen months between Jan Struthers's 'disappearance' shortly after President Martin entered the White House. This was plenty of time to equip the jet fighter for remote control. The Raptor did not land on the carrier. When it was ready it was loaded onto the ship. Landing a jet fighter on a carrier by remote control would be next to impossible. Having it take off by remote control would be simple. Finally, in the original book, the President orders Admiral Ruck to bring the Ronald Reagan around South America to the Atlantic. Two carriers were needed to get the two propeller plane carrying Theresa and the government men far out to sea beyond shipping and airplane lanes. These are the kinds of things I've had to deal with with the internet trolls.
Theresa empties eleven Coke bottles, secures their caps, and puts them inside her jumpsuit. The plane reaches 55,000 feet. She used the superstrength HAL gives her to push out the canopy and leave the plane. It takes three and a half minutes to reach the water. She's knocked out, comes to, and screams as the cold water hurts her extremities. The cold makes her pass out again.
Theresa wakes up in a London hospital and learns that HAL has stopped the wind. Without wind there will be no rain and no food crops. The human race will starve to death. Theresa is the only person who has a chance to prevent this catastrophe.
Theresa meets with Prime Minister Blair on live television viewed by four billion people. By a series of gentle questions, the Prime Minister helps Theresa figure out what HAL is, how he operates, and what might be done with him. Theresa says she will try to get control of him.
The rest of the story moves at high speed. Theresa does get control of HAL. She restores the rain. But other 'impossible' problems soon develop. After solving the natural HAL problems, Theresa is challenged with problems caused by human beings.
There are many reasons people will find Theresa and her story interesting:
1-- it's about a teenage girl which will interest young people and old people who enjoy remembering their youth.
2-- Theresa is a good girl which is a refreshing change of pace and will inspire girls.
3-- the story is narrated in the first person voice of Theresa, “I’m Theresa”, which gives the story intimate immediacy to draw the reader in.
4-- it has unique situations which Theresa handles brilliantly, another inspiration.
5-- loyal husband Steve is also an interesting inspiration.
6-- Prime Minister Blair adds a touch of elegance to the dialogue which an American President probably wouldn't.
7-- having Theresa spend the most critical year in England rather than the U.S. gives the story a more international flavor to interest people around the world. It's not 'America again!'.
8-- Theresa's rescue of the Israelis is a beautiful display of empathy.
9-- likewise her near-suicide-mission to liberate the North Koreans.
10-- Theresa shows a sense of humor sometimes which makes her attractive to readers. She has other endearing characteristics.
11-- likewise for Steve.
12-- by the end of page one the reader already knows all that can be known about the ten year old girl, and the reader can relax and see how the story begins developing on page two.
13-- the reader will wonder if Theresa is the hero, or Prime Minister Blair is the hero for saving Theresa. Just one of a hundred interesting questions for the reader to mull over.
14-- the text is written in the simple, plain English of 18 yo Theresa to make it accessible to grade school readers, but the plot explores the most sublime issues of human existence.
15-- self-esteem, a major issue with girls, is treated in the story. Near the end Theresa contemplates, "How did I come so far". She then explains it herself, which the whole story has already done.
16—Theresa has an easy childhood, which may explain why she isn’t a whining, complaining, ‘victim’ when the difficult times come, and they do come. Just once, when Prime Minister Blair calls on the phone saying the Israeli Prime Minister wants to come to London to talk to her, Theresa gets discouraged and complains, “Everybody wants something from me. I can’t do everything.” But within two minutes she has recovered and calls the Prime Minister back. She has the flexibility and strength of youth.
17-- near the end, President Stinson says, “Theresa’s real power was in her character”, pointing out that who and what Theresa is was what determined how and why she did what she did. So Father Donoughty tells reporters, “Somebody who wants to do God’s will has an unconquerable ally. Theresa can’t be defeated.” And Prime Minister Blair tells the House of Commons, “A woman who puts her trust in a higher power will be unchanged. Theresa will remain Theresa.”
18—you only need to get a few ideas right to be a success. “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things” 1 Corinthians, 2:15 Theresa keeps her eye on the ball. She is in tune with the will of the Father, and knows what to do in all situations.
19— at the end of the story Theresa sums up everything she’s learned: “We enter new eras, but the old laws still rule”.
20—Theresa could destroy the human race but people don’t fear her. She always tells the truth and never threatens or harms anyone. Prime Minister Blair tells the House of Commons, “I spoke with President Stinson last evening. She said everything is known about Theresa. Their intelligence agency has a room full of reports and tapes on every moment of her life for eight years. Teams of psychologists have studied these documents. There is nothing to suggest a fault in the steadiness of her character despite her youth. She is grounded on rock, not sand.” You don't fear a girl like that.
21— a member of the House of Commons asks Prime Minister Blair, “Is the Prime Minister aware it may come to pass Mrs. Hartley acting alone can do anything she wants no matter how outrageous and the whole world can’t stop her?” This House member dared to point out the truth, that if Theresa gets absolute power nothing will be able to stop her. Even if she starts out well-intentioned, her power and responsibilities may drive her mad with power as it has many people in history. Prime Minister Blair tries to convince the House this won’t happen. The reader will believe he’s right.
22--but wait a minute! What is it, really, that's unstoppable about Theresa? Her personality can't be stopped!
In chapter five, Prime Minister Blair tells Theresa, "When the world falls apart around us, we look within ourselves and find ourselves. Show us what's within you". There's something in Theresa that wasn't present at birth.
"Theresa's real power was in her character." --President Stinson
"A woman who puts her trust in a higher power will be unchanged. Theresa will remain Theresa." --Prime Minister Blair
"Somebody who wants to do God's will has an unconquerable ally. Theresa can't be defeated." --Father Donoughty
When I was young books like "War of the Worlds", "The Time Machine", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and, something most people have forgotten today, "The Hardy Boys" series held my attention. All of these books are dated today. The new generations want something placed in their own time. And they're tired of what has become called Young Adult novels. They want to see kids acting in the adult world. The number of such books is discouragingly few.
I wanted to add one more to the list.