Cora

Age rating: 13 and older
Hedonists Cora Stewart and Author Stephen Crane cut a thousand day swath through Victorian convention. She became the first female War Correspondent and he changed writing forever.
Synopsis: "Hotel of Dreams" is based on the three years Cora Stewart and Stephen Crane had together before he collapsed on the Eve of the Millennium in 1899.

Cora, an empire widow, had already scandalized English society by taking a number of lovers while her husband served in the India colony. On holiday with a lover she gets pissed dives off his yacht and walks naked into Jacksonville Florida.

A year later, under an alias, she owns and operates the largest whorehouse in Jacksonville- the jumping off point for the filibuster ships arming Cuba for the Spanish American War. Her bordello was the "Ricks" from Casablanca of the time-and its here she meets Crane (recently kicked out of New York by NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt), the most famous writer of the day and also moving under an alias. Two hedonists of a mind- they fall instantly in love.

What follows are a shipwreck, Cora becoming the first woman War Correspondent War, scandal, two wars, friendships with the likes of Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, Henry James and James Barrie, more scandal, San Juan Hill, and one hell of a four day Millennium party. Stephen Crane and Cora Stewart, though penniless most of the time--lived life to the fullest and sneered in the face of convention. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some notes on "Hotel of Dreams": This was a fifteen year project--one of those stories I kept picking up and putting back down. The research effort chronicling their thousand days was back-breaking. H.G. Wells, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Ford Maddox Ford, Teddy Roosevelt, James Barrie, etc. all have speaking roles and, being a true story, it had to be accurate. Not only did I have to research Cora and Crane but also a dozen other famous personalities. I was lucky enough to have friends involved in the project- reading some of the secondary character biographies, that would email or call with insights like: "Hey check this out- Did you know Roosevelt gave Crane advice on this short story before he kicked him out of New York." or "Hey Ford Madox Ford gave a great description of Brede Place (Cora and Stephens home in Sussex, England)" or "Did you know about this classic encounter between H.G. Wells wife and Cora" or "whoa--Cora made it closer to the front lines in the Balkan War than Stephen". I appreciate their efforts-it made the story pull together and added dramatic points I didn't know existed.

I originally envisioned and outlined the project as a three part mini series. They had three years together and the events naturally broke down into three stand alone but linked stories: 1. American story in New York/Jacksonville 2. The England/ Greek story and the 3. The England/Cuba/England end game.

As a mini series each segment had a natural, built-in Three Act Structure with the project as a whole culminating in the four day Millennium Party at Brede, where fifteen of the most renowned authors in the world wrote (with a score by Jane, wife of H.G. Wells) and performed a horrible play, "The Ghost", for local villagers. And Crane's collapse, at age 28, on the actual eve of the millennium.
And Cora, a year later, back running the largest whore house in Jacksonville.

In 2000, with just an outline I even started writing for grants to develop into a documentary. Didn't happen although I had some nice, if formal, rejections. I put the story down for 9 years.
But it was always there and bugged me. So last year I pulled out the old notes and hit the libraries again. Now I also had the benefit of a much improved internet. Friends go involved and the first draft came out in a month and a half. But it was 160 pages and didn't turn anywhere near the right points.
Finally, I started cutting and cutting. Looking for a compression point, to meet and greet a stand alone, three act screenplay. I hope I accomplished it and told a proper love story. Here she be. Read and, I hope, enjoy.
Stay up,
Jack

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