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Awarded December 2013 for MAKE DO AND MEND by Adam Fitzroy

Saturday, 30 March 2013

What goes around comes around ...

It's coming up to two years now since STAGE WHISPERS was published, and I truly thought that it had failed to find its audience.  It is, as Elisa Rolle pointed out in her lovely review at the time, a very 'English' book, packed with parochial concerns, and is set in the less-than-glamorous world of provincial theatre - where, if magic happens, it is often more by accident than by design.

Elisa was in a bit of a minority, though.  Other reviewers didn't like it; one suggested for example that the text had been artificially inflated with the addition of borrowings from the classics, presumably to increase the word count/price - a bit of a disastrous tactic if it had been true, since cheaper books seem to sell in larger numbers.  Another commenter completely failed to recognise that a period of eleven years had passed for the characters in the book, so that by the end their relationship was much more acceptable generally and Jon's daughter was now a young adult and less likely to be taken away from him if his relationship with Callum became known.

Anyway, as I say, I'd resigned myself to not having made much of an impact with this particular book and had already published three more by the time when - quite out of the blue and within the past few days - the first couple of really enthusiastic reviews appeared.

A reader called Jess Candela on Goodreads seems to have completely understood why the characters spout a lot of Shakespearean lines:

The characters were nuanced and realistic, with no one all good or all bad. Many of them, being actors, had a tendency to pepper their conversations with quotations from and references to the classics. Having spent some time with a theater crowd, I found that very realistic too, and it enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

When I read that, I wanted to leap up and down and shout "Yes, yes, that's what I meant!"; there are some people for whom Shakespeare just seems to leak out of their ears ... they can't even hold an ordinary conversation without quoting something or other.  If you've never met anyone like that, then their dialogue would look very strange written down; if you have, however, it suddenly all makes sense.

And then there's bill m, commenting on Amazon, who says:

Adam Fitzroy is probably a pen name for an actor or someone with some acting experience.

Well, I understudied (and went on for) the lead in Rumpelstiltskin at my primary school, but I haven't so much as tried out for the chorus in anything since!  However I am completely besotted by theatre and have spent more time and money than I care to admit sitting in various darkened auditoria watching groups of players strut and fret their hour upon the stage, and I also studied Shakespeare at university.  In truth, I think I probably would have liked to be a classical actor - but unfortunately such things as looks, talent and opportunities were not forthcoming, and therefore I have had to enjoy the experience vicariously.

Mind you, I do like bill m's suggestion that STAGE WHISPERS:

could be the basis of a script for a fascinating play itself.

Sometimes, in my most extravagant daydreams, I imagine it being made into a movie - and, believe me, I know exactly the right person to direct it!  (I could even make quite a respectable stab at casting it, if pushed.)  But these are far-off fantasies; we all have them, and perhaps they're better not shared.  However if my poor orphan book is at last coming to the notice of people who are prepared to invest a bit of time and effort into reading it, and who actually enjoy it when they do, then it begins to seem as if almost anything may be possible.

Meanwhile, I want to take this opportunity of thanking the two readers who wrote such wonderful reviews; they've helped to restore my faith not only in STAGE WHISPERS as a story but also in myself as an author - which, as I am at a very tricky point with my new book, was more necessary than I feel I can ever adequately convey!  You really make me believe that I may be able to cope with this writing business after all ...


  1. I just finished the book and couldn't bear to say goodbye to Callum and Jon and the rest of the cast. Thank you for such a wonderful book

    1. Very glad you enjoyed it, Nikki, and thank you for commenting!

  2. Oh wow - I can't believe you had any doubt about "Stage Whispers". When I finished it, I was so impressed, I immediately re-read it again. And the, I wrote my very FIRST Amazon book review - that's how impressed I was, not only by your book but also by your amazing writing skills. Keep writing - and I will definitely keep reading!

    1. Thank you, China; I'm very glad to have the chance of thanking you for what you wrote on Amazon, too.

      I think most serious writers get very unsure of themselves at times - it's all part of the process, and it's what drives us to work harder and harder at perfecting what we do. But in particular 'Stage Whispers' was rather harshly received at first and I seriously doubted whether it would ever find an audience; thus it's a great relief to know that you and other people have enjoyed it - and have taken the time and trouble to leave comments where I can see them! That makes all the hard work feel much more worthwhile, I can assure you ...