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***April Sanchez’s screenplay DAUGHTERS LOST TO THE DESERT is #192 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt. All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this pieceName of screenplay? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? The name of my screenplay is DAUGHTERS LOST TO THE DESERT. It was originally called “Daughters of the Desert.” What is the date you began writing this screenplay and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I cannot remember the date I began, but it has been perhaps four or five years since I started it. It has been through many rewrites. I don’t really consider it complete just yet as I still get notes and make adjustments here or there. I guess I’ll consider it complete if I ever sell it or can make myself put it aside and move on from it.Where did you do most of your writing? And please describe in detail. I tend to write in my tiny office in my house. I don’t write at a desk like other writers, I always write on my office couch, a purple, velvet loveseat that has a fun, wavy design. I have a tapestry from my trip to northern India on the wall above it that is purple and blue and there are scarves over the lamps to make it moody at night. There are pictures and paintings all over the wall above a small table covered by a large scarf that I rarely sit at, but instead use as a spot to dump random things I need to sort or toss. There is a small bookshelf by the door to the room and a west facing window across from my couch that illuminates the room so if I’m in there during the day I don’t have to turn on any lights. It is a very small space but one of my most favorite spaces in my house.
What were your writing habits while writing this screenplay - did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I don’t have a ritual as far as consistently doing the same thing every time. I do drink water and save cocktails or coffee for before/after I write in order to be in a neutral zone (coffee makes me want to jump ahead, alcohol can make me overwrite). If it is a quiet, still day or night I usually write without music, but sometimes I’m in the mood for it. If the neighbors are outside listening to their music and I can hear it, then I definitely write to music to drown out theirs. I listen to instrumental or foreign music where I don’t understand what they are saying because listening to contemporary music is distracting for me. I used to write with pen and paper, but nowadays I save that for notes and do my writing directly on my laptop. I prefer to write in the mornings, but am not always able to so I will write whenever I can carve out the time be it in the afternoons or at night.
What is the summary of your screenplay? A protective mother seeks justice for the murder of her youngest daughter amidst systemic corruption and accusations of being a murderous vigilante herself, which causes tension with her surviving daughter.
Please include just one excerpt. This one excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.
INT. EDUARDO’S HOUSE, BEDROOM - DAY
Tomasa enters the small bedroom where Soledad sits on the edge of the bed sobbing. She is unable to look her mother in the eye and instead lays down with her back to her.
Tomasa lays down next to Soledad, putting her arm around her in an embrace. She kisses Soledad’s tear-stained cheek and brushes hair out her face.
The women say nothing, but the mother/daughter love between the two is palpable. Two fierce women, allowing their vulnerability, grief and warmth to take over in the moment. All that matters is that they still have each other.
Why is this excerpt so emotional for you as a writer to write? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? *and humor is one of many emotions. It is emotional for me because even though the story contains violence, the essence of the story is about a relationship between a mother and a daughter. My emotions were really this feeling of bittersweetness and also love for these two characters and how they become fully human at this moment because it is the moment in the story where the daughter, Soledad, allows herself to be the most vulnerable and the mother, Tomasa, finally shows the affection that Soledad had wanted from her. It’s the moment where they finally come back together to heal after their relationship was torn apart through their immense grief and inability to find a healthy way of coping with their loss. There’s something so wonderful and human in these two larger than life women stepping out of their shell and quietly reconciling when their lives had gone so horribly out of control. This scene was the missing link for a while… the story didn’t have it, but desperately needed it and it really changed the story for the better. So I really enjoy the love I feel for this scene and these two complex characters, but it is really bittersweet because of all the sad and scary stuff that they went through.
Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. There weren’t any deletions from this excerpt as I wanted to make sure that it was short and without dialogue so as to focus on seeing their emotion and connection… in other words there is no need for them to say anything as they already understand everything. So of all the scenes, this was probably the only that didn’t change.
Has this screenplay been made into a film? And if NOT which actors would you like to portray your characters in this screenplay? No, unfortunately not yet, but I have hope that it will eventually be made into a film. I think Selma Hayek would be perfect for Tomasa, Rosa Salazar would make a great Soledad and Michael Peña would be wonderful as Deputy Coronado.How many pages? What does that equate to how long the film would be? It is currently 108 pages which is roughly a little more than an hour and a half, but I do think it would be closer to two hours if actually filmed due to some of the action sequences. Award-winning screenwriter April M. Sánchez was born and raised in El Paso, TX, which borders Juarez, Mexico. Growing up in a bicultural city has inspired her stories, which reflect the beauty, wonder, and traditional elements of border town Latinx culture. April holds a bachelors degree in Screenwriting and a Latino Media Studies certification from the University of Texas at Austin. Her scripts have made their way to the finalist round in screenplay competitions such as the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and as a Semi-Finalist in The Academy Nicholl Fellowship and the Universal Writers Lab. She has participated in the NALIP Screenwriting Lab, the Stowe Story Labs and the Athen a Film Festival LA TV & Screenwriting Lab.
When she’s not writing or creating short films, April can be found traveling around the world, from India to Europe to Central America and beyond. Especially fond of road trips, April will eagerly take an open road in any direction with friends or on a solo adventure. Through her travels, April has discovered just how unique her hometown is, describing El Paso as a gray area of the U.S. where two countries, languages and cultures converge into one dreamy landscape that is both lovely and forsaken.