GOOD VS. EVIL
Earlier 20th Century,1920s & '30s
THE HOWLING; GINGER SNAPS; GANGS OF NEW YORK; BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE
CATERINA: 14-40S. LEAD. DETERMINED AND RUTHLESS, SHE’S A FIGHTER.
ROSINA: 0-16. CATERINA’S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER WHO SHE SUSPECTS IS A WEREWOLF.
ANTONIO: 17-40S. A SECRET WEREWOLF WHO IS UNREQUITEDLY IN LOVE WITH CATERINA, RAPES HER TO GET HER PREGNANT WITH ROSINA, LOOKS OUT FOR HER IN AMERICA.
FRANCESCO: 17-30S. CATERINA’S HUSBAND WHO TRAPPED HER INTO MARRIAGE AND WHOM SHE MOVES TO NEW YORK TO BE WITH.
PAOLO: 0-16. ANTONIO’S SON WHO’S ACTUALLY FRANCESCO’S BIOLOGICAL CHILD, ROSINA’S LOVE INTEREST.
NUNZIA: 0-20S. ROSINA’S OLDEST DAUGHTER WHOSE HUSBAND HAS EYES FOR ROSINA AND IS ALSO A SECRET WEREWOLF.
A turn-of-the-century tale of unrequited love centering on a woman tormented by her own mind and forced into a loveless marriage. She shows her strength and resiliency as she journeys with her daughters from Italy to New York, rising through the Spanish Flu and the violent beginnings of the mafia.
Target Gender: Universal
Sicily, Italy, Ellis Island, New York
Based on a True Story
The story begins in Sicily in 1904, and follows a young woman’s life as she is kidnapped by and forced to marry a man she despises. While she is being tormented by her husband’s unwanted advances and her own mind, she must travel to New York with her five daughters to seek out a new life in America.
After surviving the Spanish Flu, the beginnings of the Mafia and the death of her husband, she pulls herself up to become a successful businesswoman, determined to leave a strong legacy for her daughters. It is at this time that she finds new love in an old friend who forces her to confront her deep
Italians, Sicilians, immigrants
Hard Copy Available
Information not completed
Mature Audience Themes
Plot - Other Elements
Plot - Premise
Overcoming Monster/Villain,Rags to Riches,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Tragedy,Other,Voyage and Return
Main Character Details
Name: CATERINA CUCINELLA
Age: 14 at the beginning
Key Traits: Badass,Charming,Confident,Honorable,Secretive,Skillful,Outspoken,Selfless,Complex,Crazy,Visionary
Additional Character Details
Name: Antonio Baldoni
Age: 17 at the beginning
Key Traits: Aspiring,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Confident,Criminal,Decisive,Engaging,Heartthrob,Leader,Lone Wolf,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Secretive,Visionary,Skillful,Outspoken,Power Hungry,Villainous,Masculine,Sexy,Blunt,Romantic,Seductive
Additional Character Details
Name: Francesco Magno
Age: 17 at the beginning
Key Traits: Aggressive,Desperate,Outspoken,Uneducated,Masculine,Underdog,Crazy,Criminal,Villainous,Secretive,Manipulative
Additional Character Details
Name: Rosina Magno
Age: born in the story and grows to 16 by the end
Key Traits: Complex,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Honorable,Lone Wolf,Secretive,Selfless,Obedient,Modest,Underdog,Strong Moral Code,Insecure
Audiences love a story that takes them out of their world and into another for awhile. My entire life I have heard the tales from my great-grandmother: how her family desperately tried to get to America and how the threat of werewolves was a real thing. So I took those stories, wanting the world to see how hard it really was to get to America, wanting the world to see that the tales of the supernatural were very real and still haunt families. My novel is solidly grounded in historical fact with elements of lycanthropic mythology within the narrative, creating the premise for a hit movie or TV miniseries. Examining a young mother's strength and resiliency through a loveless marriage, the perilous journey to Ellis Island, the Spanish Flu, death, murder, Prohibition, and the beginnings of the mafia, I would like to see a movie or a TV miniseries like this. One that spends more time on the smells, the sounds, the pain of each of these experiences as the characters experienced them. I also believe this story shows how the female characters are strong, and how they don't need to be a man in order to succeed in a man's world.
THRILLER, MATURE AUDIENCE, DRAMA
A young woman in early 20th century Italy is forced into marriage and has six daughters by both marital rape and sexual assault by a stranger. Convinced that her youngest is a werewolf due to believing the man who assaulted her to be one, she spends the next several years keeping her daughter at arm’s length and attempting to undo the curse. Sixteen years later in New York City, after her family has survived everything from the Spanish Flu to organized crime, her fears are realized when her daughter transforms on her 16th birthday.
Authors Writing Style: FAIR
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
Yes, the profile accurately represents the book.
Draw of Story
The werewolf mythology is stunning and so fascinating. Often werewolf books and movies do not delve this far into the real fear that people had of these creatures. The paranoia that Caterina has with potential suitors, for instance, feels real and sharp, as does her constant worry about Rosina turning sixteen. This is a fear that will never leave her alone, despite it being a fiction to those around her.
The book is incredibly dark, and nothing good happens to Caterina for a very long time. She’s forced into marriage and to leave the love of her life behind. She’s then raped by her new husband, and often. When it seems like she might get a reprieve when he goes to America, she’s raped by a werewolf. Until Francesco dies and she is able to take over the shop, there is no light in her life. Even that is dimmed by her fears for Rosina and Antonio’s seduction of her. It’s difficult to read a book where the protagonist is frequently sexually assaulted and has no hope for the future. This is doubly true when she forgives her rapist.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY RELIES HEAVILY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
Werewolves in this time period are largely unexplored, and early 1900s New York is a fascinating time period. There would be so many amazing set pieces in immigrant villages and Prohibition speakeasies alone. Caterina’s struggles as a woman and an immigrant in this time period deserve to be seen by a wider audience, as it’s so representative of what it means to be American.
Supernatural creature media can have a large fanbase, the potential is definitely there. However this popularity usually comes from more of a young adult space. By contrast, this book features graphic, mature themes, and spans too many decades to achieve a window into the characters’ lives. By refocusing on Rosina’s story, as she’s a teenager, it could garner a bigger fanbase than the current narrative.
The horror aspects largely precludes this from having awards potential outside genre-specific ones. That said, the fact that it’s a period piece makes it more likely to be taken seriously in a traditional awards space. Having a more cohesive and focused narrative would help this factor.
Similar Films/TV Series
THE HOWLING, GINGER SNAPS, GANGS OF NEW YORK, BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE
What’s New About the Story
The blend of supernatural creatures with historical fiction makes this a unique story. However, the supernatural element often doesn’t feel essential to the story. Instead it feels like an afterthought, or an additional evil to the more horrific acts of men and nature. Better incorporating the threat of werewolves would help this story to shine. As is, the threat disappears for long periods of time, and Caterina waffles in her conviction.
Besides Rosina, the characters are difficult to connect with, and the story is scattered across both time and several characters. Though Caterina’s concerns over Rosina’s parentage are valid, she is a cruel mother because of them. Rosina makes for a more natural protagonist, as she is the victim of her mother’s fears and abuse. If the story could be centered around Rosina, and her own fears of turning into a monster, it would be much more powerful than Caterina’s secondhand worries. Rosina also has a successful romantic storyline with Paolo, at least up until her transformation, which is a nice emotional through line.
Uniqueness of Story
Though the combination of historical fiction with werewolves is unique, the surrounding story does not support the book being a rare gem. Focusing in more so that there is one central protagonist would help. Specifically having a tighter perspective would go a long way, as right now almost every named characters’ thoughts and feelings make an appearance on the page. This means that there is no mystery, and character motivations are spelled out.
Film - Streaming, TV Series - Streaming
WORK IN PROGRESS
This project is a work in progress because there’s not a clear audience for the story. The werewolf aspect is not well-integrated with the rest of the narrative, and the distressing period piece elements feel as though they’re at war with the supernatural horror themes. Supernatural horror can work very well to thematically represent real world horrors — such as sexual assault or women not having agency — but instead it’s all thrown together in the book. There’s also a great deal of real life horror occurring in these pages, so much so that the werewolf part seems tacked on. After all, is the risk of becoming a werewolf all that great in the midst of the Spanish Flu? The novel is unfocused, and it leans heavily into dark themes. Though many of these are historically accurate, there’s no silver lining or hope to the story. This could also work, if there was a greater message at play. However, Caterina is unsuccessful in her quest to cure Rosina, and evil wins from start to finish.
Tips for Improvement
Supernatural (and specifically creature) horror can be successful and popular, but that’s largely in the young adult space. The book is simply too dark and graphic to exist in that world. Narrowing the scope of the story and really focusing in on a specific time frame could help. For instance, Rosina could easily be the protagonist of an adaptation. She’s the most empathetic character in the book, and her struggles with her mother and school bullies are relatable. Pulling out her story line and expanding it could make for a great horror film where she fears becoming a werewolf at sixteen, while still coping with the factual problems she faces in early 1900s New York.
A woman forced into a loveless marriage in early 1900s Sicily has four daughters. She is then raped by what she suspects to be a werewolf which results in twins, though only one survives. Through her immigration to New York to join her husband and her attempt to raise her daughters well while becoming a respectable business owner, she cannot rid herself of the fear that her youngest will transform into a werewolf on her 16th birthday.
What We Liked
Weaving together elements inspired by true historical events with legendary creatures, this story is unique and manages to have something for everyone. Lovers of period pieces and supernatural horror alike can join together in enjoying this narrative, which exemplifies the real life horrors of being a woman and an immigrant in the early 1900s with our animal fears of the unexplained.
Film: Inspired by true fears of supernatural myths that immigrants had, a film adaptation could delve into this terror and create a creeping atmosphere that serves a perfect backdrop to the story and blends in well with the real world horrors of the early 20th century. The pain that Caterina and her daughters experience is representative of the real life dangers women just like them faced, and still face today. The fact that it’s truly a story about women at its heart is powerful, and Caterina’s perseverance is inspiring.
TV: This book makes so much as a TV series due to how much time it covers. Beginning in 1904 and ending in the 1930s, the world changes dramatically within Caterina’s lifetime and that could easily be expanded into several seasons. There’s also a wide range of characters who can be explored, and who already have their own subplots. Entire episodes could be spent on Caterina’s individual daughters, or on the members of Antonio’s pack/gang. There is no shortage of possibly storylines here.
Key points: Setting and time period; Woman protagonist; Female-driven storyline; Historical details; Supernatural horror elements
In 1904 Sicily, CATERINA and her SISTERS often visit an OLD WOMAN who warns them to beware of werewolves. She claims they’re not just a folk story, but Caterina’s FATHER, who secretly hunts werewolves, doesn’t want them going over there anymore. Because Caterina knows what to look for, she tests PIETRO, the boy she loves, to ensure he’s not one. Once she’s engaged, other boys in the town are jealous, specifically ANTONIO and FRANCESCO. Antonio is a werewolf who feels possessive over her, and he encourages his FRIENDS to watch out for her. Francesco, who is human, kidnaps Caterina and keeps her in his house for days so she is forced to marry him to protect her and her sister’s reputations. He maritally rapes her often, and professes his love despite her not returning it. She bears four DAUGHTERS by him before he moves to New York in an attempt to make more money for their family.
Before Caterina and the girls can follow him, Antonio corners her while transformed and rapes her. She’s impregnated with TWIN GIRLS, and she’s convinced at least one of them must be cursed. She doesn’t know the werewolf was Antonio, but she does suspect it was a real werewolf. Because werewolves don’t transform until they’re sixteen, Caterina spends the next several years trying to break the curse on her youngest daughters ROSINA and ANGELA MARIA. While the girls are still young, they attempt to travel to New York to join Francesco. However, Angela Maria falls ill and dies, despite another immigrant VIOLETTA attempting to help. This solidifies Caterina’s belief that only Rosina is a wolf. The boat sinks, but Caterina and her remaining five daughters escape. They finally join Francesco a year later.
Meanwhile in New York, Francesco and Antonio have each made a home there despite having no love for one another due to Antonio still being in love with Caterina. Ironically, Francesco is having an affair with STEFANIA, who he does not know is Antonio’s wife. Antonio’s other children are werewolves, and he has his own pack in New York. Francesco has set up a successful grocery business with his UNCLE. Francesco tries to break things off with Stefania now that Caterina and his daughters are there, but Caterina catches them having sex outside of the store. This gives her the leverage she needs over him to force distance between them. They are largely estranged by the time the 1918 Spanish Flu hits. Caterina realizes Rosina is the only daughter who can’t get sick because of her true nature. Caterina doubles down and continues to try to break the curse on Rosina however she can. She keeps the girl at arm’s length and never tells her why she’s doing these same things.
Rosina grows closer and closer to Paolo as they get older, and Antonio realizes that Rosina must be his own blood while Paolo is actually Francesco’s son. He catches Stefania with Francesco and transforms, murdering them both in a jealous rage. Finally free of her husband, Caterina expands the store and is extremely successful. Rosina finds her mother’s books and realizes Caterina thinks she’s a werewolf. She and Paolo do all the tests on herself, but she passes them. Caterina and Antonio grow closer and begin to fall in love. Someone from his GANG spills the beans that Antonio is the werewolf that raped her so many years before, but Caterina can’t help but still have feelings for him. She also puts it together that Rosina must be half-werewolf then, and she’s a danger to everyone as her sixteenth birthday is coming up. However, the teenagers aren’t aware of this and flee their controlling parents the day before Rosina’s birthday. They make love and hide out in a church, but at midnight she transforms and attacks Paolo, killing him. In an epilogue dating back to 1915 and the first ship they were on which sunk, it is shown that helpful Violetta drugged Angela Maria (Rosina’s twin) to make Caterina think she was dead. Angela Maria is also a werewolf, and Violetta takes the child with her to her own pack. This means both werewolf twins have survived.