So, what have I been doing all these weeks? In terms of fiction writing, that is, not everyday life. I've been lurking in theatres, that's what. Doing research—serious, hard-core research.
Here's the thought process that led me there:
1) Orca, my publisher, has a series (Limelights) on the performing arts. What a great idea. I should write one!
2) I have a pretty good idea about a kid who gets a role in an outdoor summer theatre production. (Pretty good, because we have a local outdoor summer theatre in this neck of the woods and I happen to know a couple of kids who spent some summers there.)
3) I pitch the idea. Orca says yes, and gives me a deadline. Gulp.
4) I have coffee with one of these kids (no longer a kid, but anyway) and we have a nice talk about her memories of what it was like.
5) I start writing, and soon realize that while I know quite a few people who are active in quite a lot of theatre, I actually have no idea how a play gets put together. What's the process? What happens in rehearsals? How do all the details get sorted out?
6) I panic a bit, and then buckle down to find out. People are really nice about letting me sit in on their rehearsals and answering my questions, and the whole thing turns out to be really interesting and fun.
So some thank yous are in order:
First, to directors Drew Mills and Terry Convey, and the cast of Princess Whatshername, of St. James Players, who even let me hang around backstage before the play (I did try really hard not to get in the way).
Second, to director Em Glasspool of Mysterious Entity Theatre and the cast of The Blind Eye, who allowed me to watch them rehearse some really tough emotional scenes and a session with a fight director.
And finally (in advance), to Rob Winslow of Fourth Line Theatre, who gave his blessing for me to set the play in a fictional version of his beautiful outdoor theatre property, and to him and his co-writer, Ian McLachlan, for allowing me to use their play, Dr. Barnardo's Children, as the production in my book.