My latest novel, There She Goes, is one of a series of stand-alone books set in and around London’s Theatreland (the first is The One That I Want, but the books can be read in any order) which is one of my favourite parts of the city. There’s nothing like the heady atmosphere of the West End on a Saturday night when audiences are streaming into the theatres to see a play or a musical!
I visit the theatre as often as I can, and I knew for a long time that I wanted to write a novel set in that world. Not that I’ve ever had any ambition to be a professional actress (I did take to the amateur stage as a teenager, but I always wanted to be an author), but most of my relatives and many of my friends are actors or dancers, or work as film-makers, choreographers, or casting directors, and I find their work fascinating.
My first chance to find out exactly what goes into putting on a professional show came when my now adult children were young and my eldest daughter (now a professional dancer and choreographer) was chosen as one of the ‘babes’ in the juvenile chorus of a local pantomime. This is how I became a ‘stage mother’ – although I hope I avoided turning into the pushy stereotype! It was so exciting to watch from the wings as my kids performed!
When I was writing There She Goes, I was lucky enough to have backstage tours at several London theatres, and I must admit that standing on a West End stage and looking out into the auditorium at the rows of tiered seats was thrilling. How wonderful to step into the spotlight six nights a week and twice on Wednesdays and Saturdays, to sing and dance and hear the applause!
There’s no denying that acting is a glamorous profession, but I know from the experiences of my relatives and friends how tough it can be, the years of gruelling training that lie behind a seemingly effortless performance, going to castings and then waiting anxiously for the call from your agent telling you whether or not you’ve got the job – especially when you’re just out of drama school like Julie Farrell, the heroine of There She Goes, and you have yet to land your first professional role.
Julie is an aspiring musical theatre actress, and when she meets actor Zac Diaz at an audition, she can’t help wishing that her life was more like the shows she longs to star in, and that he’d sweep her into his arms and tap-dance her along the street…
I hope that There She Goes, as well as being a love story, will give readers a glimpse of the hard work it takes to be successful in the dazzling yet demanding world of Theatreland that inspired me to write the book.