Stone Motel - Memoirs of a Cajun Boy

Book Cover

MEMOIR ACTION

1960s & '70s,1980s & '90s

Morris Ardoin

TaleFlick Top Pick!

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Logline

Cajun La., '70s: Zanny Ardoin has a lot on his mind: half of the motel he’s just begun to pay for is destroyed by fire; he and his wife have 10 mouths to feed; and there’s something just not right about their middle child, Morris, who is just beginning to realize he's not like the others.

Genre

Memoir,Action

Short Summary

Pre-teen Cajun boys Morris and Dickie Ardoin are playing outside with Ayla Jane, a child belonging to a family staying in one of their motel's kitchenettes. The scene sets up a common occurrence for the Ardoin children: they befriend the kids of "long-timer" customers in their roadside motel.


After 30 years running the business and raising a large family, the boys' dad, Zanny, is reluctantly led away from his beloved motel to spend his final years, mostly alone, in a nursing home. For years as Morris grew up, Zanny had unsuccessfully tried to "fix" his son, who he suspected was gay.

Setting

Cajun Country, Louisiana / Bayous, Swamps, Mardi Gras / 1970s

Based on a True Story

Yes

Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Tragedy

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions

Mature Audience Themes

Extreme Violence

Main Character Details

Name: Morris Ardoin

Age: 10-16

Gender: Other

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Clumsy,Complex,Empathetic,Engaging,Gracious,Educated,Insecure,Naive,Underdog,Secretive,Sarcastic,Funny,Outspoken,Modest

Additional Character Details

Name: Zanny Ardoin, father

Age: 50

Gender: Male

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Faithful,Heroic,Masculine,Uneducated,Blunt,Skillful,Sarcastic,Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Ortense Thompson, Grandmother

Age: 75+

Gender: Female

Role: mentor

Key Traits: Adventurous,Badass,Charming,Complex,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Heroic,Honorable,Insecure,Uneducated,Blunt,Selfless,Outspoken,Skillful,Funny,Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Eliza, Mother

Age: 48

Gender: Female

Role: emotional

Key Traits: Charming,Clumsy,Complex,Desperate,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Insecure,Underdog,Modest,Selfless,Skillful,Funny

Development Pitch

This is the true story of Morris Ardoin, a gay preteen; his seven siblings; bigoted and violent dad; overwhelmed mother; unstoppable grandmother; and a sordid mix of customers they encounter at their little motel in hot, buggy, Cajun Louisiana in the ’70s. A week before Christmas half of the motel burns in a brutal fire. The Ardoins scramble to get back on their feet and get things going again. The fire rekindles the dad, Zanny’s long-repressed violent nature. He aims his most frequent and ferocious attacks at Morris. The preteen soon learns that his dad can’t accept a gay or “broken” son. It becomes Zanny’s mission to “fix” Morris, and Morris’s mission to survive intact. The boy is aided in his struggle immeasurably by the love and encouragement of a selfless and generous grandmother, Ortense, who provides the story with much of its warmth, wisdom, and humor. This is a detailed, colorful peek into a pocket of American culture–the Louisiana Cajuns in the late ’60s to mid-’70s–before cable TV, microwave ovens, and fast food homogenized it all. This story is relatable to young adults struggling to understand their sexual orientation; to be accepted in an unaccepting time and place. As a film or TV series, the motel setting and the joie-de-vivre of the Cajuns provide a more enchanting, uplifting version of “The Florida Project,” while the gay pre-teen’s struggle to survive his father’s violence calls to mind the heart-wrenching pain and ultimate triumph of “Boy Erased."

About The Author

Morris Ardoin has worked as a journalist, editor, and public relations practitioner, focusing on higher education, immigrant’s rights, and equal access to healthcare for all. He is working on a cookbook companion to his memoir, as well as a collection of essays expanding on the lives of the “regulars” and “long-timers” he and his family encountered at their motel.

Target Audiences

Age: 55+,35-54,18-34,13-17

Target Gender: LGBT Leaning,Male Leaning,Female Leaning,Universal

Group Specific

Cajuns/Southerners/Food Enthusiasts/Child Abuse Advocates/LGBT+

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: with a Publisher

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Year Published: 2020

Hard Copy Available

Yes

ISBN

9781496827722

Genre

DRAMA

Brief

Zanny Ardoin, a conservative and harsh man, decides to buy a motel to start a new business and be able to feed his 8 kids. One of his kids, Morris, is gay and has to face the retrograde and violent side of his dad. After 30 years, the motel is closed because Zanny is too old to take care of the business by himself.

Overall Rating

GOOD

Point of View

FIRST PERSON

Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: GOOD

Characterization: GOOD

Commerciality: GOOD

Franchise Potential: FAIR

Pace: GOOD

Premise: EXCELLENT

Structure: GOOD

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

It does.

Draw of Story

It's well written, and the story is very engaging. Morris' memoirs are vivid and interesting to "listen to," and we feel compelled to follow the journey of this family.

Possible Drawbacks

Nothing. From the beginning, you want to know what will happen to Morris, the motel, and the family.

Use of Special Effects

THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

Primary Hook of Story

There are some different hooks. This family trying to survive during a crisis time starting a new business. Family relations and interactions. A gay man struggling to face the prejudice of society in a time people would believe that homosexuality was "fixable."

Fanbase Potential

For sure. It talks about braveness in front of difficulties and the will to survive. The protagonist is also likable enough to be remarkable.

Awards Potential

It has potential for Awards. The homosexuality theme is very relevant and necessary nowadays, and the story is told in a beautiful yet realistic way.

Envisioned Budget

MEDIUM BUDGET

Similar Films/TV Series

BOY ERASED - A CONSERVATIVE FATHER DOESN'T ACCEPT HIS SON'S SEXUALITY AND TRIES TO "HEAL" HIM. FAIR HAVEN - A FATHER FORCES HIS SON TO TAKE CARE OF THE FAMILY'S BUSINESS AND DOESN'T ACCEPT HIS SON'S HOMOSEXUALITY.

What’s New About the Story

It's told by the perspective (and memoirs) of different characters, so you get to know and understand a little of their attitudes and decisions.

Lead Characters

Morris is a likable character. And the fact that it's a true story makes the main character and the other members of the family more credible.

Uniqueness of Story

Not a rare gem because there are other movies like this, but it's a good story that could find its own audience.

Possible Formats

Film - Studio, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

Analyst Recommendation

RECOMMEND

Justification

It's an engaging story based on true memories, which make it even more reliable, more intimate, and unique. The story is told from different perspectives, which has the power to diminish the villain-hero relationship and provides human characteristics to these characters. We get to know them better, so we can, at least, understand their way of thinking. The author is the protagonist. He lived all those memoirs and struggled to face a prejudiced society, so the story feels reliable, more complete, and complex. The motel is a good background for this family's struggles. The business decay also visually represents the dismantlement of a past that changed these "kid's" lives for good. The theme (homosexuality) is very relevant and necessary. The author approaches the subject with the needed tenderness, avoiding major clichés. The historical side (a Post-War era) is well-built but not based on facts and dates and names. It is based on these people's memoirs of history. The pace and structure feel correct and having the author as a source of research would surely help the production. Of course, the book has some unnecessary parts, less relevant memoirs that should be removed from the audiovisual piece. Also, dialogue and some actions could be developed, improved, but overall, it's a good story.