The Butcher Shop Girl

Carmen Kissel-Verrier

Book Cover

GENRE

DRAMA MEMOIR ROMANCE

    Core Theme

    COMING OF AGE AND LEARNING TO LOVE ONESELF

    TIME PERIOD

    20th Century (multiple decades),1980s & '90s,2000s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    SHOWGIRLS, HUSTLERS, ALMOST FAMOUS, PRECIOUS.

    CHARACTER LIST

    CARMEN: 18-21. LEAD. FIERCELY DETERMINED, CONFIDENT, INTELLIGENT, ADMIRABLE, BEAUTIFUL.

    YOUNG CARMEN: 9-14. YOUNGER SELF.

    FRANCOISE: 40S. MOTHER.

    ALLEN: 40S. FATHER.

    TOM: EARLY-30S. LOVE INTEREST.

    SHAY: EARLY-30S. FRIEND/MOTHERLY FIGURE.

    Logline

    The Butcher Shop Girl is a compelling memoir of resilience and persistence that captures the vivacious spirit of a small-town girl determined to succeed by any means necessary. A coming of age journey that will leave you feeling empowered and cheering for more! This book shatters many stereotypes.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Prairies of Alberta Canada, Hells Angels Clubhouses, Bolivia, Toronto, Texas and Florida

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: FriesenPress Canada

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    The Butcher Shop Girl opens with the author's (entertainer) daring escape from the clutches of a cartel family in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 1999. Then it takes the readers back to the beginning, on a farm in northern Canada. Next, it follows the wild coming of age journey that leads to the climax.

    Ending Description

    The Butcher Shop Girl ends as the heroine leaves love behind in the United States and moves back to Canada to start her life (at 21 years old) with a giant bag of hard earned cash.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-1-5255-8820-4

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence,Nudity,Substance Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions

    Plot - Premise

    Quest,Voyage and Return,Rags to Riches,Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Carmen

    Age: Child-Teen-Early Adult

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Naive,Secretive,Badass,Charming,Heroic,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Alter ego, Alexa (Stage name)

    Age: teen, young adut

    Gender: Female

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Underdog,Narcisstic,Aggressive,Charming,Blunt,Power Hungry,Desperate,Engaging

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Francoise

    Age: Adult (Mother)

    Gender: Female

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Insecure,Naive,Manipulative,Power Hungry

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Haha! I'll give it go! But, I'd love to see TaleFlick's pitch, as I've upgraded the plan to include that feature. . .BUT: A good story never goes out of fashion. It's even better when it's an original TRUE-life good story. This story is hard to put down when you dig in. Carmen Kissel-Verrier is a completely peculiar girl who had an even more peculiar coming of age journey. Born on the prairie lands of northern Alberta, Canada on a farm, the heroine battles for independence and autonomy while escaping a physically abusive mother who owns a slaughterhouse. Carmen makes ALL the mistakes and poor decisions you can imagine along the way! Her beauty, lust for money and independence leads Carmen to an unusual career as an elite world-travelling entertainer. This career pit-stop leads her to the basement of Hells Angels clubhouses, highlights drug abuse, charming wayward souls, money laundering and features a burgeoning love story with a sexy southern U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent—who rescues Carmen from a Bolivian cartel family. Think Julianne Hough *swoon* Ultimately, The Butcher Shop Girl is a story about a girl who ran up the gut of the patriarchy and took all their money on her way out, all before she turned 22 years old. At the end of endless adventure, Carmen found herself and learned how to start her adult life, leaving that world behind forever.

    Genre

    ROMANCE, DRAMA, MATURE AUDIENCE

    Brief

    At 17 years old Carmen leaves behind a broken family in rural Canada to move into an apartment in the city. Before long she becomes an elite exotic entertainer which leads her to the Hell's Angels biker gang in Canada and culminates in a daring escape from a Bolivian drug cartel, with adventure, friendship and romance along the way.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The logline should be rewritten to become more professional and direct. "Young adult" and "Family" selected as genres are inappropriate. The selected target audience is too limited--this story could be marketed to adults of any age.

    Draw of Story

    The premise of a very young woman leaving behind a broken home to navigate the big bad world on her own two feet, which takes her from working on oil fields to exotic dancing, meeting Hell's Angels bikers and Bolivian drug cartel members on the way, is certainly an interesting premise. Carmen is a ferociously determined and independent young woman who many women will identify with and admire. Although Carmen makes many mistakes, she learns from each one and shows a maturity far beyond her years, and in this way it is interesting to read about her experiences. The book offers a snapshot of what life is like in rural Alberta, Canada, with its often narrow-minded and highly religious culture that is juxtaposed by the hard drinking, exotic dancer-appreciating men who know how to have a good time. Carmen is explicitly aware of the patriarchal society she finds herself in and learns to navigate it to her own advantage, using her female body and ballet-dancing skills to manipulate the men around her and in doing so creates a better life for herself than the usual life available to young women in this part of the world. The emotional and physical abuse Carmen and her brother are subjected to by their mother is shocking and builds a deep sympathy in the reader for Carmen, who we root for to achieve her goals and find happiness.

    Possible Drawbacks

    At well over 100,000 words, the book is too long for this kind of story, and the author attempts to fit in too many details to build a portrait of Carmen's life rather than focusing more heavily on defining eras. Because of this, the story becomes a splintered recounting of various periods in Carmen's life and the many people who surround her in them, and each period is glossed over quite quickly, never allowing the reader to become embedded into the story. The author's writing style is heavily weighted toward summary exposition that tells us the story rather than vivid language that shows us the story happening before our eyes, immersing us in scenes as they unfold. Therefore, there is a detached quality to the story that directly opposes the memoir's goal of bringing us deep into Carmen's experiences. As a memoir, the story is less interesting than the author likely imagines it to be. The description of the book paints a picture of becoming caught up with cartels and Hell's Angels bikers and a life spiraling due to bad decisions, but the reality of these events is much less consequential, and often the bad situations Carmen finds herself in are brief and anticlimactic. The story covers Carmen growing up as a child, which is interesting largely because of her mother's abuse but quickly grows tiring, and also covers just three three years of Carmen's adult life, the vast majority of which are spent by Carmen happily earning lots of money as an exotic dancer. In short, the drama factor of this story is low. In order to improve this story, the parts of Carmen as a child should be greatly reduced, perhaps even omitted entirely with key moments weaved into scenes as flashbacks, and the majority of the story should focus on one era in particular, using that era to express the key themes of the story and adding into the story only the necessary moments to round out this story of a bold young woman coming of age in a man's world.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook is the movie's protagonist Carmen being a bold and confident young woman escaping abuse at home and a toxic Christian worldview, determined to succeed in a man's world, and the fact that she achieves this by becoming an elite exotic entertainer. Even in 2021 it is taboo for women to have this job, so challenging this view is an admirable concept and would likely acquire much positive press about the film. Young women would identify with and admire Carmen, and because of this the film could become a hit with this audience.

    Fanbase Potential

    It could potentially have a large fanbase with women in particular because of protagonist Carmen's nature as a bold, confident young woman who escapes abuse and toxic Christianity at home by becoming an elite exotic entertainer. Women would identify with and admire Carmen, and could hold her and this film dear to their hearts.

    Awards Potential

    With the right script in the style of films such as NOMADLAND, PRECIOUS and THE WRESTLER, and an confident auteur-director, this film could rack up awards as a hard-hitting small-town drama.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    SHOWGIRLS, HUSTLERS, ALMOST FAMOUS, SHAMELESS, PRECIOUS, WINTER'S BONE

    What’s New About the Story

    Original about this story is its unapologetic, non-patronizing perspective on sex work and life in small-town Canada, as well as its bold and confident young female protagonist determined to succeed in a man's world. The story could become more unique by focusing more on one specific period in Carmen's life and digging deeper into the details to become more hard-hitting and gritty, while shedding the "happily ever after" vibe the ending offers.

    Lead Characters

    Carmen is fiercely determined, smart, fearless, confident, admirable, and simply demands one's respect. Her mother is terrifying as an abuser, and also quite pathetic as Carmen ages and views her mother's actions differently, while the men in the story are each disappointing in their own way.

    Uniqueness of Story

    No, Carmen's story is simply not interesting enough to call it a rare gem. It could possibly become a rare gem if the story focused mostly on a specific time in Carmen's life when times were tough and full of tension, allowing the story to become a more hard-hitting small-town drama in the vein of THE WRESTLER, or PRECIOUS.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    Many reasons, all previously stated, but the main reason is that Carmen's story isn't really all that interesting--at least not as its currently presented.

    Tips for Improvement

    Focusing more on one major period of Carmen's life and using this period to tell Carmen's story, with her abusive childhood reduced to flashbacks. The entire Bolivia section, used to open the book, is a gimmick as it is not nearly as tense and dangerous as it is at first presented and offers little to Carmen's story or the main theme. The real story here is Carmen's time during her first tour as an exotic dancer at 18 years old when she lives and parties with the Hell's Angels biker gang in rural Alberta, Canada, where she experiments with drugs and is infatuated with the gang's leader. It's just a chapter in the book but I believe it gets at the heart of the story and I could see it becoming an excellent film adaptation in the vein of THE WRESTLER crossed with TV series SONS OF ANARCHY.

    Brief

    At 14 years old Carmen leaves behind an abusive, fiercely Christian mother in rural Canada to live with her father on a farm. By 18 she becomes an elite exotic entertainer which leads her to the Hell's Angels biker gang in Canada and culminates in a daring escape from a drug cartel in Bolivia, with adventure, friendship and romance along the way.

    What We Liked

    The premise of a very young woman leaving behind a broken home and abusive, fiercely Christian mother to navigate the big bad world on her own two feet--which takes her from working on oil fields to exotic dancing, meeting Hell's Angels bikers and Bolivian drug cartel members on the way--is a fascinating premise, often thrilling in its execution. Although Carmen makes many mistakes, she learns from each one and shows a maturity far beyond her years over the course of the story, and this makes her experiences all the more enjoyable to witness. The story offers a snapshot of what life is like in rural Alberta, Canada, with its often narrow-minded and highly religious culture juxtaposed by the hard-drinking, exotic dancer-appreciating men who know how to have a good time, yet the story never offers a condescending or patronizing view of this culture . Carmen is explicitly aware of the patriarchal society she finds herself in and learns to navigate it to her own advantage, using her female body and ballet-dancing skills to manipulate the men around her and in doing so creates a better life for herself than the usual life available to young women in this part of the world. The emotional and physical abuse Carmen and her brother are subjected to by their mother is shocking and fosters a deep sympathy in us for Carmen, who we root for to achieve her goals and find happiness. Over the course of the story Carmen grows from a traumatized, sheltered young girl to an incredibly self-assured, intelligent and ambitious young woman who does not let anything block her road to happiness, and who has traveled extensively and experienced much adventure and romance along the way, becoming a character we adore and admire.

    Film: THE BUTCHER SHOP GIRL follows a perfect coming-of-age hero's journey arc which makes it ideal for film adaptation. Over the course of the story, Carmen's broad character arc sees her grow from a traumatized, sheltered young girl to a self-assured, confident and tenacious young woman, which provides a powerful ending to a film about one woman's relentless determination to thrive in a man's world. The story offers authentic insight into life in small-town Canada--analogous to conservative red states in the U.S.--in a manner that is never patronizing or condescending as such portrayals often are, and in this way the story would make an excellent adaptation as a hard-hitting small-town drama in the vain of THE WRESTLER, or a focused drama about a woman striving against abuse and a society that attempts to keep her down, such as PRECIOUS, with the excitement, flair and female sexual empowerment of a film like HUSTLERS. Young female audiences in particular would identify with and greatly admire Carmen, which, paired with the SEX AND THE CITY-like theme of female sexual empowerment and identity, could lead a film adaptation to become a huge hit that would have audiences and publications alike talking about it for months. With its accurate, non-condescending portrayal of sex work and life as a modern young woman, this is exactly the kind of gritty, realistic, contemporary film that young, modern audiences want to see, but would be universally popular with a wide range of demographics.

    TV: Because of the sheer volume of experience Carmen undergoes throughout this story, a TV series offers the perfect opportunity to thoroughly explore each major period of Carmen's life significant to the story in a manner similar to the Netflix's uber-popular THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT series, such as one block of episodes or one season focusing on Carmen's life as a child and young teenager growing up with an emotionally and physically abusive mother, and the next focusing on Carmen's first months as an exotic dancer and her time with the Hell's Angels biker gang, followed by her time in the United States culminating in the job opportunity in Bolivia. A TV series allows for the many people in Carmen's life to feature in the story, providing sufficient subplots and conflicts to adequately fill out each season. Over the course of the series, Carmen's broad character arc, which sees her grow from a traumatized, sheltered young girl to a self-assured, confident, tenacious young woman, would become extremely powerful if explored across multiple episodes or seasons.

    Key points: Accurate, non-condescending portrayals of sex work, life as a modern young woman, and life in small-town North America; Carmen is an excellent protagonist who young female audiences in particular will identify with and admire; The story contains flavors from every genre, from coming-of-age drama to adventure, thrillers, comedy and romance; Does not require a huge budget or special effects; Showcases a perfect coming-of-age hero's journey story arc.

    Synopsis

    SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA, CIRCA 2001: (19 years old, Canadian, beautiful, athletic), frightened, sneaks over the 15-foot wall of a compound, slicing her palms on glass at the top. She flags a cab and asks to be brought to the U.S. Consular Agency. TWO WEEKS EARLIER: Carmen, an exotic dancer, accepts a job offer of exotic dancing in Bolivia. She flies there with two other female dancers. When they arrive, the wealthy owner of the club and compound wants to keep the dancers’ passports—they realize something isn’t right and plan their exit. Carmen meets handsome United States D.E.A. agent TOM (early-30s) in the club and romance blossoms. As Carmen’s situation becomes more dangerous, she escapes from the compound.

    TEN YEARS BEFORE: Young Carmen lives in Alberta, Canada. She looks masculine because of her mother’s styling. Carmen’s parents divorce, and Carmen’s fiercely Christian mother refuses to allow Carmen and her brother to see their father, who works on a farm. Carmen and her brother are emotionally and physically abused by their mother. Carmen works in the slaughter house where her mother also works and from a young age Carmen witnesses and participates in the violent slaughter of animals. At 14, the abuse culminates in Carmen leaving her mother and going to live with her father where she works on the farm and experiments with more feminine style, including makeup. At 18, she becomes an exotic dancer and travels around northern Canada on her own doing work for an agency. She makes huge amounts of money and parties with the Hell’s Angels biker gang every night.

    Seeking more opportunity and money, Carmen takes the Bolivia job. A while after she returns to Canada, she reconnects with TOM and visits him in Florida. They begin a long-distance relationship. Later, Carmen moves to Texas following a job opportunity as an exotic dancer. She goes to school there and sees Tom regularly. She begins to feel that the more intellectual and independent she becomes, the less Tom wants her. Eventually, she ends the relationship and returns to Alberta determined to reconnect with her family, even her mother, having learned so much from all her life experiences over the past few years and ready now to stand securely on her own two feet as a confident, optimistic young woman.

    About The Author

    Carmen Kissel-Verrier is a technical writer and graduate of Mount Royal University. She still loves a wild time spent with peculiar people and appreciates a good ribeye steak, and remains fascinated by the diversity of the human spirit. Carmen lives with her husband and their two children in Moose Lake, Alberta.