Today, my interview on the Wrote Podcast goes live. I've been a fan of this podcast for a while now, and it was a real treat to go from listener to guest! The hosts do a wonderful job of shining a spotlight on LGBT artists. While the focus of the interview was centered roughly around “The Role,” I really enjoyed the chance to speak more generally about the theatrical world as well as the business and craft of writing. It was also a lot of fun to to participate in the rapid fire questions. I thought my answers were rather illuminating, even though I was terrible at answering the first few in one word or less!
The moment has arrived. As of today “The Role” is officially published in both e-book and paperback. To properly thank everyone, I’d have to write another book, and honestly, it would probably be longer than my novel!
In the theatre world I have had the esteemed pleasure to work with a cavalcade of talent that is truly humbling. Every cast is like a small family when a show is rehearsing and being performed, Years go by, wherein we barely communicate with one another, but I still think fondly on them and always mean to write! Furthermore, I would like to thank my teachers. From Jeremy Clay, who gave me my first shot at a non-chorus role in high school, to professors David Jilg, Cookie Ewing, Laura Cannon, and Tony Horne at Rhodes College, I blessed to have had mentors show me how to bring truth to the stage. Without those lessons, and the comradery of my fellow cast mates, I could never have written “The Role.”
In the writing world, I quickly learned that being an author is not nearly as solitary as I thought. From my fabulous critique partner Vicki L. Weavil, who always helped me keep my belief that this day would come, to my amazing editor Nancy Beranek, who helped me shape my manuscript into the novel you can now hold in your hands, I’ve been truly blessed. I thank goodness my friend Chris Paradis put a copy of Steve Berman’s “Trysts” in my hands all those years ago. My love of Steve’s work gave me the courage to reach out to him, and ultimately led to my publication with Lethe. Steve truly helped my dream come true.
In my life, I’m blessed to be loved by many people. As a kid, I struggled to make friends, which seems insane to me now, because I have friends all across the world, each of which are near and dear to my heart. I thank most of them in my acknowledgments, but I feel I have to mention that every time I hear/sing “Stars” from Les Miserables, I cannot help but think of Sara Davis. I am so thankful she answered my message board plea for the sheet music to that song 16 years ago.
Finally, there is my own little family. While my parents and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, I consider it a true miracle to be their son. They gave me a life worth writing about. My daughter Natalie is a joy, and while her cries to understand the world certainly made editing “The Role” harder, I am so glad that for the rest of her life, she will always know a special part of me when she reads it. Lastly, there is my husband, who made writing about love both easy and incredibly difficult. No book could ever contain enough words to fully express how much I love him. Even after all our years together, I still feel as giddy as the day I met him, and yet also so much more. It is rare to find love that runs as far as a river but as deep as an ocean.
This is it! As of tomorrow, my book will be out, and I’ll be officially published in both e-book as well as paperback! I will save my rather long-winded post about that for tomorrow, because I feel like as a theatre person who wrote a book about theatre, it is imperative I discuss the Tony Award Nominations that came out early this morning.
As I am not a millionaire (or anywhere close to it) I’ve not seen every show nominate (or not nominated) but I did want to speak to a few things:
1. Congratulations to the cast of “Hamilton” for their record breaking 16 nominations. I had the great pleasure to see a matinee a few weeks ago. The show lives up to the nearly impossibly hype.
2. I am dying to see “Waitress” even more now! Congrats to all nominated. I do think Sara Baralleis should have been nominated for “Best Orchestrations”
3. As a longtime fan of Laurie Metcalf, I hope she wins. I wished I’d seen her in “Misery.”
4. It is impressive that between “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical” and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical” the cast of Hamilton has 5 people nominated. I suspect Lin Manuel Miranda will win Best Lead Actor (though if it goes to Leslie Odom, Jr., he certainly deserves it!) and that Daveed Diggs has a lock for featured actor. Mr. Diggs performance in Hamilton as both LaFayette and Thomas Jefferson is probably the best thing about Hamilton (which is saying something!)
5. While I think Hamilton has several things on lock, the two women (Phillipa Soo and Renée Elise Goldsberry) in Lead and featured actress in a musical have very tough competition. Pretty much everyone nominated in those two categories should win! That being said, both of those women are truly phenomenal and I am pulling for them!
6. Many congrats to Megan Hilty (and Andrea Martin) for being nominated for “Noises Off!” Ms. Hilty deserves to win for that one, every aspect of her performance was truly incredible.
7. Finally, I just want to say that Deaf West’s production of “Spring Awakening” was probably the best piece of musical theatre I’ve seen in many years. It is probably in my top five of all time. The production has serious competition in all of the three categories for which it is nominated. The most heartbreaking is that the director,Michael Arden, is going up against Hamilton’s Thomas Kail (as well as others) for best direction. Honestly, while Hamilton is very good, I would say Arden should win this award. That’s how good his vision of “Spring Awakening” was.
Thinking of the Tony Awards always gets me giddy. In addition to it being one of the best night’s of television ever year, I’ve always had it in my mind how the characters in “The Role,” would handle the drama of being nominated and winning. As the Tony Award’s draw ever closer I will post some of the acceptance speeches I think they’d make. So stay tuned!
It’s Monday, but I’m far from sad about it. This week promises to be unforgettable! I am thrilled that in just two more days “The Role” will finally be in bookstores across the country. Over the weekend I had a lot of time to think about what it will be like to have “The Role” out there in the world. One thing I really love about it is that the story is now out of my hands. When I finished my rough draft, I felt a real accomplishment, but when I read over it a few weeks later I was devastated. It needed a lot of work, and I was sad that it ended up taking years of re-reading, rewriting, and revising it to get into shape. During that time, I felt a certain amount of guilt, my characters had done so much for me. They truly haunted my dreams when I was drafting the novel, and often times those dreams ended up making it onto the page. I knew that, as their author, it was up to me to make the book good enough to publish. So now that we are only two days away, I feel a bit like a parent sending their child off into the world. Together, we’ve made the story strong enough to make out into the world, and while I’m sure it won’t be loved by everyone, I am confident that it will find a way to the hearts of the readers it was meant for.
With only three days remaining, I am taking Sunday to prepare for the coming week. A good friend of mine suggested a very good tactic for handling reviews. He told me that I should write down every possible critique I think I’ll get hit with, and that way, if I do, I can look at the list and at feel better having prepared for it. He also said that if I get hit with something not on the list, I am entitled to feel a certain degree of justified surprise. When I was in college the theatre department had a similar policy on sour grapes when it came to being cast in a show. Basically the idea was this: If you auditioned for a show, and were not cast in the role you wanted (or not at all) you were entitled to a full 24 hour period of time to wallow in misery. After that, you had to get over it, and move forward. As both a freshman and sophomore, I struggled to get cast in any of the shows. This made sense as I was competing not only with the incredible talent that came into the department on my year, but also competing with actors who were older than me, that the faculty had more knowledge of. However, I am always thankful that I came in as a messy (I had a lot of bad actor habits) underdog. Having a whole series of people to look up to, to compete with, really forced me to practice my craft and eventually get better.
In writing, finding rivals is harder. Most authors I want to emulate are older (or dead) and have reached a level of success that makes them less likely to mentor new writers. However, there are some shining examples (Steve Berman who runs Lethe Press for example) of successful authors who reach out to younger writers and do what they can to lift them up. I like the idea of paying it forward, which is one of the reasons I agreed (for the 3rd year in a row) to be a judge for #QueryKombat. While I certainly hope that “The Role” and the other books I hope to one day get published will eventually make me an author others aspire to be like, I hope that I’ll always remember to make time to give those that reach out, a helping hand.