This is the start of my experiment in serialized fiction. Every week I will post one, short chapter from Waltzing in the Snow. This is a first draft with, no doubt, a few typos and the usual errors. I hope you enjoy the story and that your feedback will help me shape the final draft of this short, mystery novella.
Waltzing in the Snow
Chapter 1: Unsought, Love is Better
And now back to our in-depth conversation with Tony Award-winning playwright Daniel Blake on “Theater Rap”….
Daniel, I’ve got to ask this question — why a novel? Why not tell the story as you have in the past — in a play?
(Chuckles) That wasn’t for lack of trying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attempted it. But there was something about this particular story that simply lent itself to a novel.
For those of you who’ve kept managed to keep your head in the sand for the last six months, Daniel Blake’s new novel — his first — has been hovering in the top spot of the bestseller lists since it debuted. In my humble opinion “Waltzing in the Snow” is a very theatrical work of fiction and will make a great movie soon. I understand you’ve been asked to write the screenplay.
Well… that’s in flux now. We’ll see what happens. If working in the theater teaches anything, it’s not to count your chickens until the curtain opens.
“Waltzing in the Snow” is based on a real incident — the real life disappearance of your friend Candace Gregore.
It’s more accurate to say, “inspired by” as this is not a documentary, it’s a work of speculative fiction. My college friend, Ace, simply disappeared one day. In the novel, a group of friends speculate on what might have happened to a missing girl —an extraordinary girl, very much like Candace. A lot of people disappear each year and an alarming number of them are young women. Ace was just one story of many. The novel focuses on the friends left behind. It is the stories they imagine, and, of course this tells the reader more about the friends than what actually happened to the missing girl.
This was back in the early 1980s, when New York was a notoriously dangerous city.
1981, to be exact; it was a year after we graduated from NYU. Yes, New York was a scary place then, but it was also an exciting place — a lot of great art, music, theater… Ace and I would do our homework in the lobby of the Public Theater, waiting for discounted tickets, leftover seats…. Lots of experimental off-Broadway theater and some plays that later went on to be considered classics. It was a great time to dream of becoming a playwright.
Daniel, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to tell you that I saw your very first play. I believe it was your final project in a college class at NYU. I was in high school, and my sister was a freshman at NYU. She brought me to the play. It was called “Meet Me Under Garibaldi’s Statue at Midnight.”
You saw that (a noise between a chuckle and a gasp). I didn’t think anyone remembered it…. I honestly don’t know what to say….
Well, I’ll say it was moving and funny, too. The young woman, madly in love with her gay friend, her gay friend that struck me as a stand-in for the playwright…
Amanda clicked the TV off. It wasn’t that she was still humiliated by Daniel’s play. It was hearing him talk about it, hearing his embarrassed tone that wore on her. It was uncomfortably familiar and brought back all those old feelings. Back then she had been a shy and naïve young girl. That Daniel was now profiting from Candace’s disappearance made it all so much worse. Salt in old wounds that should have healed years ago.
She still missed her friend. It was more than 30 years, two marriages and divorces, a grown daughter, a successful photography gallery, a foundation in Candace’s name dedicated to continuing the search for missing people, long after law enforcement let cases go cold — an entire lifetime, stuffed with people and yet no one had ever replaced Candace in Amanda’s life. She had been her first and only true best friend and then one day, she was gone.