Becca Mann, a two-time U.S. national champion and the first-ever swimmer to complete the Triple Maui Nui Channel Swim, has been working on several writing projects over the past few months. Mann is a student at USC’s screenwriting program.
The open water and long-distance swimming specialist recently announced via Twitter that she had reached triple digits on her latest novel project. In an interview with SwimSwam, she indicated that the working title is “Purgatory,” although it’s likely to change.
I have passed page 100 of the new novel I’m writing 🎉💃🏻
— Becca Mann (@becca__mann) July 29, 2020
“As for significance, the novel is a YA Dystopian that takes place in a self-sustaining complex known as Purgatory,” Mann said. “It’s run by children who work until they turn 17. After 17 years, they graduate into a simulation, where they can live their ideal lives for the rest of eternity. The main characters are a pair of twins––Charlotte is a rule follower, so much so that she’s one of the leaders of Purgatory, while Zandra is a rebel who believes that there’s something greater in the world than the simulation. The novel explores their sisterhood and the consequence of defying societal expectations in order to stay true to yourself.”
But that’s not the only project she has been working on during the pandemic. During the early stages of COVID, she finished writing two pilot episodes, two show bibles and rewrote a feature.
The feature is a two-hour historical fiction titled Exiled whose longline takes place in 1868 in Hawaii. Kaia accompanies her exiled 10-year-old sister to a leper colony. Surrounded by cliffs and water, Kaia is willing to do whatever it takes to get her sister home, even if it means abandoning everything she stands for in the process.
The first pilot she rewrote is another hour-long drama, a dystopian political thriller called Project Eve. Its plot takes place six years after giving birth to a son in a nation from which men are exiled. Dylan Secundus decides she must destroy the system she created, including the people she’s closest to, in order to ensure her son’s safety.
A second pilot Mann penned is about the nomadic Kazakh eagle hunters in Western Mongolia called Soar. A street-rat from a small town in Western Mongolia finds herself in a power struggle when she joins a nomadic eagle hunting clan and her affinity for animals causes the bird of the greatest hunter to switch allegiances.
“Once those were completed, I started Purgatory and another hour-long drama pilot – which is a political thriller set in a dystopian, fantasy-esque world with the working title Everest Island,” she said. “I workshop both projects with writers groups that I formed with other writers in my major at USC.”
The longline for Everest Island is the narration of a flood that devastates everything except for Mount Everest. As a consequence, a queen obsessed with the island struggles to regain power when her people deem her too heartless to rule.
When asked what led her to embark on the aforementioned projects, Mann hints at the pandemic has had a force of influence.
“COVID definitely gave me a lot more writing time –it was actually the reason I decided to write another novel,” Mann said. “I figured that there likely was not going to be another time where I could just sit and write all day, so I really took advantage of it. COVID doesn’t shape the narrative of Purgatory, although my characters definitely feel trapped a lot, which may or may not have been me subconsciously getting all my quarantine anger out.”
Although Purgatory does not have a release date nor fixed length as of yet, Mann says she estimates the novel would sit around 350 pages. That would place her one-third of the way. The first draft for Purgatory is currently in the making as is the second draft of Everest Island, Mann said. A snippet for Purgatory‘s prologue and first chapter can be viewed through this link.
As the two-time U.S. national champion readies to start classes again in the Fall, she revealed that she will be working on yet another hour-long drama pilot as part of her thesis.
“I’m taking an additional hour-long drama class (that’s what I want to go into, so I’m trying to expand my portfolio and have as many samples as possible), in which I’m planning on writing the TV pilot version of Purgatory,” Mann said.
Aside from her novel and scriptwriting portfolio, Mann is also slated to release a string of songs on Spotify in collaboration with Ana Telfer and Maya Vyas.
Mann gave up her NCAA eligibility two years ago to go professional, took a gap year and then returned to college last year. She is now one year away from completing her undergraduate degree.
During the Lima 2019 Pan-American Games, she claimed bronze in the 1,500-meter freestyle.