The question that I’m always asked most is: how do you come up with the ideas for your stories? The answer is that the germ of an idea can come from anywhere and everywhere. It may be triggered by a news headline, an overheard conversation, something going on in the family or a random article posted on Facebook or Twitter.
The idea for A Summer Breeze came about when I was editing my previous book. The radio was tuned into the Elaine Paige on Sunday’s show, a celebration of the musicals. She was talking about the number of shows that had been forced to close early and it struck a chord. Perhaps it is the similarities between authors and actors that caught my imagination but I couldn’t help but feel for the cast of those shows. I could imagine their excitement on landing a part in a big show. The hard work involved in weeks of rehearsals and, on the production side, the enormous amount of money that would have gone into scenery and costumes. What a dreadful let-down it must be when, despite all that hard work, through no fault of your own, the show bombs. Coincidently, a couple of weeks later I attended a play in The Gate. It was a low budget production with a small cast but, while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great either and I knew it was unlikely to be taken up by another theatre. And so the idea for my fifteenth novel began to evolve. What better setting for a story than the glamourous if cut-throat world of the theatre?
The acting profession is an odd one, full of big personalities and bigger egos. But, as a result of its unpredictability, it turns rational people into paranoid, anxious and insecure ones. Let’s be honest, would you be over the moon if your child expressed an interest in treading the boards?
I started to work on my synopsis and characters and was getting quite wrapped up in the story when, coincidentally, two different friends told me that they were in the process of writing a play and my research sources were taken care of. Writing and acting have much in common but life is slightly luckier for the writer in that there is a certain level of anonymity.
It takes a lot of blood sweat and tears to get a play staged these days. Audiences are more selective and slow to part with their hard-earned cash. It’s not enough to have a strong production, they expect to see established, well-known actors on stage too. How difficult it must be for a young actor starting out in this climate and how terrifying if, after performing in a successful production, the phone still doesn’t ring. Imagine the incredible high of having a theatre full of people, on their feet, applauding you and then… nothing. You are catapulted back to oblivion, putting out the bins, doing the weekly shop and walking the dog, pooper-scooper in hand. Yes, behind the glitz and glamour, there is the grim reality that this is a tough and unforgiving industry that can knock people down just as easily as it raises them to dizzy heights. The ideas were delightfully crowding my mind.
You will have heard authors drone on about how the story takes over but, honestly, it’s true. For example, I came up with a character, Sadie O’Sullivan. She is an ageing actress whose star is on the wane and she resents the leading lady, Zoe, simply because she’s young, beautiful and talented. A big name in a small country, Sadie can still draw crowds but is no longer in a position to demand a large salary. She is on shaky ground and after years in the business, the next part is no longer guaranteed. But, in my story, was Sadie happy to stay in the background? No, of course not. In typical diva fashion, she pushed and shoved her way on to centre stage and I’m very glad that she did, because she turned into a strong character who gave the story an extra dimension.
Another peripheral character I invented was Tara Devlin so that Zoe would have someone to confide in and we would get a different perspective of Zoe and her qualities as a friend. That was to be Tara’s only role. But, the child of two actors, it turned out that Tara liked the limelight too, and fought her way into the narrative with her own story.
What started out as a novel about an unsuccessful actress and divorcee, with a troubled playwright brother, transformed into something much more. But one truism remained. The problems and secrets of the cast and crew were cast aside when it was show time. Once the curtain went up, the baggage was left in the wings and they gave it their all. I’m not sure that all casts would end up bonding as well as mine did but illness and tragedy have a way of bringing the most unlikely people together, don’t you think?
Oops. I had better shut up now before I give too much away! Book sixteen awaits, the characters tapping their feet in growing impatience at my procrastination so it’s time to wave goodbye to A Summer Breeze. It belongs to the readers now.
(c) Colette Caddle
About A Summer Breeze
She’s made mistakes, but doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? Zoe Hall has wanted to be an actress ever since she can remember. Her career started promisingly, but she put her dreams second to her husband Ed’s and now it seems she has missed her chance. When she discovers that Ed has been cheating on her, she decides now is the time to cut her losses and start again back home in Ireland. And finally she gets her lucky break – a part in a new play in an acclaimed Dublin theatre – and knows she must grasp the opportunity for independence and happiness. Little does she realise that the rest of the cast all have secrets of their own and when she is drawn inexorably to the director Terence, despite a looming age gap, she will be torn between her past and her future…
A Summer Breeze is in bookshops now or pick up your copy online here – a perfect summer read!
About Colette Caddle
Born and bred in Dublin, Ireland, Colette came to writing late in life after a chequered career that included computer programming and marketing insurance products.
It was only when she grew tired and bored with office life that Colette finally picked up a pen. She sent off a few chapters of her first book, Too Little, Too Late, to Poolbeg Publishers and was offered a three-book contract on the back of it. That first book went to number one and Colette subsequently secured a contract in the UK. She has since produced fourteen novels that are available worldwide. .
Colette lives in north county Dublin with her husband and two sons. When she is not witing she paints, walks, cycles, watches rugby, reads or chats on FaceBook and Twitter with other authors, readers and friends.