Amy’s note: The original draft of The Academie (before I cut about 50,000 words) began with Allie at college and her brother, Matthew, going off to The Academie. This gave readers an opportunity to see what life was like from the time The Academie began and then experience the horror along with the main character (Allie) when she finds out the program’s been expanded to include her as well, but ultimately it delayed the most interesting part of the story: life from the inside. Here’s a bit of what was cut. (I’ll post it in a series of numbered pieces to keep it easy to read on screen.)

As a recent graduate, I was outside of the school draft, but my fifteen-year-old brother, Matthew, was not. But for him—to my utter astonishment— this wasn’t a big deal. He thought The Academie was a fantastic idea. And since he had no choice in the matter, I did my best to  keep my mouth shut and be supportive. Throughout the summer I drove him by the place countless times to check on the construction progress as our old school was transformed into an Academy facility. While the whole thing seemed to excite the heck out of him, frankly, it terrified me. Personally, I had always found it difficult to tell the difference between public schools and prisons. But when the renovations were finished, I found it nearly impossible to distinguish the two. The only thing that really gave it away were the large signs posted at the front entryway of every facility, proclaiming, The Academie. Beyond this, high fences had been constructed all around—much like those you see at penitentiaries. I couldn’t help but wonder why, when public schools never seemed to need them before, they now found it necessary to keep their students from escaping off campus for a hamburger break or a day off at the ballpark. But the Academie officials I saw interviewed on TV claimed it was all part of their “new plan for better education”.

None of this seemed to bother Matthew. “It’s just to keep the bad kids in check,” he’d say. “But look how nice the additions are! I bet it has a huge library now. I wonder what the new teachers will be like?”

“I don’t know. What do you think that part is for?” To the left of the building a large warehouse structure was being constructed, with the steel siding many modern churches were using.

“It’s probably the dorm.”

“Oh, right.” The thought made me sick. Matthew saw it as nothing different than a college setup, but to me there was a huge difference between the campus I was living on, where I could choose where to live and roam freely from building to building, and the school we were now looking at, with its prison fences and steel-walled housing.

“It’s only for a few years” my mother would remind me whenever I commented on the issue. “And Matthew doesn’t seem to mind. I’m sure it will be much better than you imagine.”

Somehow, I didn’t feel comforted.