Original book cover

Empress Theresa is an indie published book written by Norman Boutin about a young girl who, after bonding with an alien force, begins to exhibit great powers. After an attempted assassination by the US president, she goes on to use those powers to resolve several world problems.

The book has been universally panned in internet reviews, and the antics of its author - including his numerous responses towards critics as well as his irrational behavior - have made him a model of "what not to do" for authors.


Conflicting accounts have been given by Norman Boutin about how much time he's spent on Empress Theresa. At one point, he claimed to have "spent 19 years writing" the book,[1] while at another time he said it was "over a twenty year period."[2] On Facebook, he said that he began writing it in 1974.[3] Elsewhere, Norman said that eighteen years ago he had "the kernel of an idea" for the book in 1994,[4] but he "actually started writing it" three years ago.[5] This would put the starting year of writing Empress Theresa around 2009.

Norman said the idea for the novel "came entirely out of [his] head."[6] Amazingly enough, he accredits the initial inspiration to the attack on Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan:

Being in between jobs and having plenty of time I became interested in the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan figure skating scandal of the 1994 Olympics. It was never proved that Harding knew about the plan to whack Kerrigan’s leg before it happened. I thought how interesting it would be if a man could read minds, could prove that he could, and then revealed that Harding was innocent. But I don’t believe in mind reading and threw out that element. Then I thought a story should concentrate on the girl and threw out the male. Later, Harding, now called Theresa, had psychokinetic powers and used them to get revenge on her accusers. Not believing in psychokinesis I threw that idea out too. Then I had an alien give Theresa power to seek revenge. Not that was promising. Soon I thought few people could relate to an Olympic figure skater and made Theresa somebody in an ordinary walk of life, maybe a Wal-Mart cashier, who had suffered a wrong from somebody.[7]

Norman "spent years editing Empress Theresa in [his] head before [he] wrote down a single word," and "could see it as if I was watching a movie."[8] He said in an interview, "I began writing down words on paper, quickly switching to the computer, but the whole story was already in my head."[9] He later changed aspects of the story to remove the revenge plot:

Now Theresa would use the power given her by HAL as she calls him to right wrongs in the world. Her power would be global in scale. This was around 1998. Later, I rejected the alien idea because I don’t believe aliens will ever visit us because of the enormous distances involved. But a robotic device might reach us. But why does a robotic HAL get here in our time rather than a billion years ago? HAL then became a natural phenomenon that came to Earth “before the dinosaurs” as Theresa says and merged with animals until it saw Theresa’s pregnant mother raking leaves in the back yard.[10]

Norman also admitted to not doing any research in writing the story, save for "the amount of gold in Fort Knox, the tectonic source of Antarctica, and the density of xenon."[11]

He's explained that the book was meant to answer the question: "What would a good girl, Catholic or something else, do with limitless power?"[12] Theresa was meant to be "a heroic Catholic main character."[13] He's likewise said that he wanted Theresa to be "an example of a good person,"[14] and to serve as a character who would "edify young people and help them reach their potential."[15]

He considers the book to be the "greatest novel ever written,"[16] and considers it his "magnum opus," admitting, "I can’t imagine writing anything else."[17] Amazingly enough, he's also stated that his "real objective is that the book be made into a movie," which he believed would be "an instant hit," adding, "If the movie is made and made well I don't care if nobody but the movie producer reads the book."[18]


Introduction Edit

Norman Boutin asks the reader, "What would you do with limitless power?" He introduces the character of Theresa, who is an eighteen-year old "suddenly burdened by global responsibilities." He also attacks those literary critics who say "every character must have serious flaws," defending his treatment of Theresa by suggesting that people would have gotten mad at him for not making a "loveable, inspiring Theresa." However, Norman assures us "a girl as fine as Theresa can be found in any high school," and that this book is a "tribute to the common, decent human being who quietly builds the world but hasn't gotten enough attention lately."

Chapter 1 Edit

Theresa Sullivan introduces herself to the reader as the "cute as heck" ten-year old daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Sullivan. While home alone, and spending time on the porch overlooking the neighborhood pond, Theresa notices a red fox appear out of the woods. It draws close to her and stops. Suddenly, "a softball sized white ball" comes from the fox and right into Theresa's stomach. She panics and runs into the house, while the fox departs back into the woods.

Theresa tries to shrug off the event, but soon hears fire trucks coming into her neighborhood. She hears the firemen recording extreme heat, though they are unable to discover the source. Two days later, Theresa's mother notices some men parked outside the house. As a test, Theresa calls for Alice Pizza, which tells her they weren't wiretapping her. However, Theresa notices men following her around Barnes & Nobles, as well as McDonald's. When she returns home, she calls for Alice Pizza again, except the operator doesn't connect. Somehow, this tells Theresa she's now being wiretapped.

Theresa rents the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, after which she meets a young woman named Jan Struthers. She explains that they discovered Theresa after she gave off an extreme amount of heat, and especially after she rented 2001: A Space Odyssey. She reveals that the thing which entered her was, in fact, an alien life force the government had been tracking for some time. Jan continues to ask questions, which Theresa calls "the most important interview since Moses came down the mountain." Theresa reveals that she named the alien HAL, and that the thing doesn't talk to her. Jan asks Theresa to keep everything a secret, since revealing this would bring in other people searching for HAL, as well as a mob of reporters which will take away Theresa's private life.

Later on, Theresa discovers that she is able to throw things with target assistance provided by HAL (basically, a HUD in her eyesight). She goes over to the house of her friend Tommy, pitching a baseball with him and his father, and showing amazing accuracy and speed. Not too long after that, Theresa discovers she has super strength - she's so strong, in fact, that she is able to bend horseshoes as if they were nothing. She has her mother go to Father Richard Donoughty, her local priest. She tells him about HAL, and the agents, and Donoughty confronts Jan Struthers after seeing her in the parking lot. Donoughty promises not to tell anyone except his cardinal.

Theresa does so well in the fifth grade that she skips to the seventh grade. Jan Struthers and the other agents continue to monitor her.

Chapter 2 Edit

Theresa goes through her high school years. She plays for the boys' baseball team, where she pitches 85 mph and manages to become a star. She enters her senior year at 16-years old, and begins to wonder what she should study in college. She meets Jan Struthers at Burger King, where the OOPS agent tells her about the government's knowledge of HAL, and suggests she get a broad education should HAL begin to speak, and Theresa has to act as earth's ambassador.

In March of her senior year, Theresa gets a letter a man named Jeremy Benton, asking to meet him at Framingham Library. She goes there with Father Donoughty, and discovers that Jeremy Benton is personal aide to Prime Minister Peter Blair. He reveals that Jan Struthers mailed "a package of four volumes" to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Turgeon, who then sent it to Blair. It contained full documentation on Theresa and information about HAL. Jan may have done it because recently elected President William Martin had become apprehensive about HAL's presence on the earth. After this, Jan Struthers disappeared. Theresa is given the option to come to England or hide in Rome, but decides to "wait a while and see what happens."

Chapter 3 Edit

Theresa heads to Boston College ("BC"), where she received a "full scholarship plus room and board" thanks to "the work of Father Donoughty and the Cardinal." While having lunch, she first encounters two boys she later learns are named Jack Koster and Steve Hartley. Theresa dates Jack, even though she knows they "were not compatible enough for lifetime commitment," but Jack "was fun to be around for the time being."

After coming back from biology class, Theresa is taken by campus security to their office, where two OOPS agents have been detained. The two men call "the Director" (presumably of the DIA), who then puts them through to the president. After that, campus security lets the two men go.

At a party, Theresa finds that Jack's old girlfriend, Ginny, has returned, and the two are now back together. Angered by this, Theresa goes upstairs and pulls out a "little black nothing" dress, raising the hem until it's ten inches above the knee, and plans to surprise Jack and make him regret breaking up with her. Steve comes into the room instead of Jack, and kisses Theresa, admitting, "I feel guilty about what I'm thinking." The two of them go back downstairs, where boys began to whoop and holler "in exaggerated [sic] manner" at Theresa's dress.

Steve and Theresa fall in love, and decide to marry because they couldn't "go four years without doing it." They get married and hold a reception where Theresa shows off her shoulders and cleavage, which "charmed the crowd."

Chapter 4 Edit

On the way to the grocery store, Theresa is kidnapped by six men with handguns, who force her into a large van. She is taken to two helicopters in a field, placed in one, and taken southward, then towards the east. Theresa is told that she is to be executed "in a plane with an atom bomb," because "nothing could survive an A-bomb." She is taken to "some military airbase next to some nondescript building that might be used for anything." While there, she is allowed to use the restroom.

Three helicopter flights later, she arrives in a southern airbase, and taken to a cafeteria where she is allowed to eat. She takes twelve bottles of Coca-Cola and put eleven of the bottles in a garbage bag. The guards permit her to keep it, dismissing it "as the irrational behavior of someone who knew she'd die in hours." She is then taken to her room, where she is permitted to sleep.

She is woken up at 4AM and put into a "twin turboprop," where Theresa learns that the bomb will go off at 60,000 feet. She is also given a special thermal one piece because it gets cold that high. While on the journey, Theresa ponders the ontological argument for God and prays the twenty-third psalm. They arrive after several hours at an aircraft carrier, where the plane refuels and then takes off again. They land at another carrier where Theresa is brought before the captain and a group of officers. A female officer takes out her cell phone and records a video of Theresa, asking her if she has anything to say for her last words. Theresa paraphrases Tecumseh with: "If people grieve your passing rejoice in the good you did and die like a hero going home."

Still carrying the garbage bag of Coke bottles, Theresa is strapped into the F-22 cockpit, and the jet is sent up into the air. After undoing her seat belts, Theresa empties the coke bottles and puts them into her jumpsuit, hoping to "provide enough buoyancy to keep [her] head well above water." At around 55,000 feet she breaks open the canopy and is sucked out of the jet. The bomb goes off "miles away" as Theresa falls to the water.

Theresa hits the water with a hard belly flop, knocking her out. She wakes up and finds herself in the South Atlantic, with her feet and ankles hurting. She can feel her lower legs go numb, then feels her body quiet down, and passes out.

Chapter 5 Edit


Release Edit

Norman finished the first draft of Empress Theresa in January of 2010, with the initial word count being 142,000 words long.[19] In November of 2011, Norman publicly announced that he had written the story, and was looking for a literary agent.[20] He spent the next two years looking for one, which was done "with not an encouraging word to be heard"; Norman attributed this to the publishing system, as well as the fact that most agents he sent the manuscript to probably didn't "even bother to read the query letter."[21] Eventually, Norman self-published Empress Theresa on Kindle in April of 2013,[22] with the final draft being around 96,000 words.[23] Although Norman intended to go to a printing house, he went to Kindle first "to protect the copyright," and because he "didn't want some hack writer stealing the basic idea to throw together some word processor travesty in a month."[24] The first edition of the print version was published on March 14, 2014, through Amazon's CreateSpace, and was 418 pages.[25]

Reception Edit

Empress Theresa received negative reviews from readers and internet critics alike. Many said that they couldn't even finish the book. The main criticisms focused on the many typos and spelling errors, the unlikable characters, Theresa's annoying personality, the focus on Theresa's body, unrealistic scenarios, and the dull, uneven pace of the narration.

See Also:

Post-Publication History Edit

Norman announced in April of 2015 that he has "started sending query letters to literary agents, including paperback copies of the book. "[26] He used this news to further attack his critics, saying that after an editor had accepted his book "all the bull reviews will be irrelevant."[27] Norman showed a lack of knowledge in regards to publishing, however, when he spoke as if his original cover would be used,[28] and a critic pointed out that the cover design is usually decided by the publisher.[29]

In June of 2017, Norman announced in an Amazon review he himself had written for his own product (in violation of the website's guidelines[30]) that, due to constant negativity, he was deleting the Kindle edition, and making Empress Theresa only available in print.[31]

Genre Edit

There has been some confusion as to what genre of fiction Empress Theresa belongs. In some places, Norman Boutin has called it "a Young Adult novel,"[32][33][34] even saying that he was inspired to make Empress Theresa in that genre after reading The Hunger Games.[35] However, in other places he has flatly denied this:

So is Empress Theresa a 'Young Adult' novel? Not really. Theresa doesn't deal with the problems of a teenager's life. She deals with problems that involve all humanity. It should be called an 'Old Adult' novel because old people like me having seen everything will see its meaning.[36]

Some critics have pointed out that the book fits more in the science fiction genre, but Norman has denied this as well, saying on his website: "Science fiction talks about impossibilities such as time travel, or some future or alien world. I explain what HAL is and how he operates. While HAL's existence is highly unlikely, nobody can say he's absolutely impossible." This, however, shows Norman's ignorance of the Sci-Fi genre; the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction defines science fiction in this manner:

...the label sf normally designates a text whose story is explicitly or implicitly extrapolated from scientific or historical premises. In other words, whether or not an sf story is plausible it can at least be argued.[37]

By Norman's own words, this would put Empress Theresa well within the range of science fiction. One critic actually brought this up to Norman, and asked Norman what source he used to invent his definition.[38] Norman initially responded by attacking the supposed vagueness of the definition,[39] after which the critic pointed out that he was going by the standard Norman himself put in place.[40] After essentially being called out on committing another shifting the goalposts fallacy, Norman did what he always did in such a situation: launch into ad hominems and refuse to answer the question.[41]

Norman also seems confused by the definition of the young adult genre. He has stated that Empress Theresa is young adult because the main character is, in essence, a literal young adult,[42] and that To Kill a Mockingbird is young adult because it is taught in high schools.[43] By such logic, Carrie is young adult because its characters are teenagers, and Of Mice and Men is young adult because it is taught in high school.

The book is currently listed on Amazon under "Contemporary Women" in Fiction.[44] One critic contested this, saying, "This is nothing but another of those paranormal books with some science fiction and/or fantasy thrown in."[45]

References Edit

  30. Amazon Review Guidelines
  31. Amazon Review