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Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Snow Day

November 27, 2017    Tags: , , , , , ,   

So, I wrote a play.

I didn’t exactly plan to do this. I’m a theatre nerd, and I’ve done lots of acting, and I’ve written lots of fiction about characters who are fellow theatre nerds (see DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” in STARRY-EYED…), and a few years ago I wrote a play for kids called “Under the Bed” that was premiered by a local middle school. But I’d never really thought about writing a play for adults.

And then, a few years ago, during the polar vortex, this idea hit me. And I knew this wasn’t a book or a story idea. This idea was play-shaped. It was about a bunch of small town Minnesotans, trapped indoors by a climate change-driven Ice Age, trying to deal with their new reality without completely losing their minds. I wrote several pages, and then I got busy with a bunch of other things–having a baby, releasing a book, writing a couple more books, blah blah blah.

And then the presidential election happened. I finished the play within a few weeks.

That climate change–that even basic scientific fact–has become politicized seems crazy to me. But here we are. And when we can’t agree on facts, even the most basic ones, what kind of discussions can we have? How will we all deal with what’s happening to our environment when we can’t ignore it anymore? With science? Religion? Anger? Denial? Knitting and crafting? Lots of beer?

I guess that’s what I wanted to explore onstage with SNOW DAY.

The play opens here in Red Wing, MN next week — and I couldn’t be more excited. Soapbox Players is putting it on at Hobgoblin Music Loft at Stoney End. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on December 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9; tickets sold at the door.

It’s a funny play (at least it’s supposed to be). The cast is hilarious. There’s lots of broad, goofy stuff in it: A would-be caveman grad student. A woolly mammoth. Baby Jesus in a Tupperware tub. But I’m sure my fear for the future, and my grief over what we’re doing to the planet, and my hope that somehow collective action and love for each other will save us are woven into it too. If I’ve done my job right, people will see the show, have a good laugh, and then go home and get into big, passionate, political fights with each other. Or they’ll just have a good laugh. That would be great too. ūüôā

All profits from the show will go to the Red Wing chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group dedicated to influencing national policies that address climate change. https://citizensclimatelobby.org/

Here’s a write-up that just appeared in our local paper:

http://www.republican-eagle.com/entertainment/theater/4363946-wests-bleak-winter-comedy-reflects-life-red-wing

(My fellow townspeople: I didn’t say life in Red Wing is bleak. Don’t hate me.)

 

 

Spectacles

The Big Fat Book Wrap-Up of the Year

December 30, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   

2013 has skidded to an end so fast that I know I’ll be writing the wrong year on checks (yes, I still use checks) for weeks — or, if I’m honest, months — to come.

It’s been a year of massive revisions and small beginnings.¬† I started a new play (yeah, I’m surprised too), wrote the first several chapters of a new MG trilogy, revised THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FIVE: STILL LIFE, edited some short stories, dug back into an old MG stand-alone, and rewrote the lumbering YA project for the eighth time, longhand, and am just now typing it in its nearly (I think…) finished form.

I appear to have written just four poems this year, which makes it the least poetic year of my life since 6th grade.¬† I wrote zero new short stories, which saddens and surprises me, but I should be back in the short story saddle soon.¬† I saw one novel published — THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS — in July, and an anthology — STARRY-EYED: 16 STORIES THAT STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT — released in October, and I completed a novel — and series — with VOLUME FIVE: STILL LIFE.¬† I’m looking forward to some new adventures and some fresh starts in 2014. Lots more news on those fronts soon.

Between revisions, travel, and school visits, I plowed through about a third of the books that had been waiting in increasingly dusty piles all around my house.¬† Here’s 2013’s reading list.¬† As before, titles in bold are rereads, and asterisks denote books that Ryan and I read aloud together.

THE MARRIAGE OF STICKS – Jonathan Carroll
ARCADIA – Lauren Groff
*CINDER – Marissa Meyer
THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET – Brian Selznick
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD – Charles Dickens
ROMMEL DRIVES ON DEEP INTO EGYPT – Richard Brautigan
STUPID FAST – Geoff Herbach
HOW TO BE A WOMAN – Caitlin Moran
AMERICAN ISIS: THE LIFE AND ART OF SYLVIA PLATH – Carl Rollyson
UNDERWORLD – Don DeLillo
TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN – Phillipa Pearce
A GATE AT THE STAIRS – Lorrie Moore
LAURA LAMONT’S LIFE IN PICTURES – Emma Straub
ODD GIRL OUT: THE HIDDEN CULTURE OF AGGRESSION IN GIRLS – Rachel Simmons
ALABASTER: WOLVES – Caitlin R. Kiernan
OUT OF THE EASY – Ruta Sepetys
TOUCHING FROM A DISTANCE: IAN CURTIS AND JOY DIVISION – Deborah Curtis
HOCUS POCUS – Kurt Vonnegut
THE BLOODY CHAMBER AND OTHER TALES – Angela Carter
NEW ORLEANS STORIES: GREAT WRITERS ON THE CITY – Andrei Codrescu, ed.
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY – Jay Asher
PRODIGAL SUMMER – Barbara Kingsolver
THE FLORABAMA LADIES’ AUXILIARY AND SEWING CIRCLE – Lois Battle
MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY – Winnifred Watson
A PROUD TASTE FOR SCARLET AND MINIVER – E.L. Konigsberg
STORYVILLE, NEW ORLEANS – Al Rose
NUTCRACKER OF NUREMBERG  РDonald E. Cooke
A GOOD HARD LOOK – Ann Napolitano
STIFF – Mary Roach
WHITE TEETH – Zadie Smith
THE PENDERWICKS – Jeanne Birdsall
A WRITER’S GUIDE TO EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AGES – Sherrilyn Kenyon
*THE HOBBIT – J.R.R. Tolkien
AN EXALTATION OF LARKS – James Lipton
SHIPBREAKER – Paolo Bacigalupi
THE CLOISTER WALK – Kathleen Norris
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN – Simon Winchester
TRUMAN CAPOTE – George Plimpton
SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM – Joan Didion
*LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS – David Sedaris
THE SHADOW OF THE WIND – Carlos Ruis Zafon
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY – Ruta Sepetys
MIDNIGHT MAGIC – Avi
DE PROFUNDIS AND OTHER WRITINGS – Oscar Wilde
FOUNDING MOTHERS: WOMEN OF AMERICA IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ERA – Linda Grant DePauw
STAG’S LEAP – Sharon Olds
SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT – Beth Hoffman
JOHNNY AND THE DEAD – Terry Pratchett
THE JEDERA ADVENTURE – Lloyd Alexander
BELLS IN WINTER – Czeslaw Milosz
THE RESURRECTIONIST – Jack O’Connell
ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE – William Goldman
*THE WITCHING HOUR – Anne Rice
THREATS – Amelia Gray
GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY, HOLLYWOOD, AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF – Lawrence Wright
DAUGHTER OF HOUNDS – Caitlin R. Kiernan
ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING – Ray Bradbury
THE FANTASY WORLDS OF PETER S. BEAGLE (LILA THE WEREWOLF, THE LAST UNICORN, COME LADY DEATH, A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE) – Peter S. Beagle
*A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES – John Kennedy Toole
NO CONTEST: THE CASE AGAINST COMPETITION – Alfie Kohn
*BLINK – Malcolm Gladwell
GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE PEOPLE TAKER  РAdam-Troy Castro
GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE NIGHTMARE VAULT – Adam-Troy Castro
GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE FOUR TERRORS – Adam-Troy Castro
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES – Ray Bradbury
*OUT OF THE EASY – Ruta Sepetys
*PRIME – Poppy Z. Brite
*THE DARK THIRTY: SOUTHERN TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL – Patricia C. McKissack
THE BOOKLOVERS GUIDE TO NEW ORLEANS – Susan Larson
ETIQUETTE (1960 edition, orig. 1922) – Emily Post
THE 13 TREASURES – Michelle Harrison
TALES FROM THE HOUSE OF BUNNICULA: INVASION OF THE MIND SWAPPERS FROM ASTEROID 6 – James Howe
THREE TIMES LUCKY – Sheila Turnage
STARRY-EYED: 16 STORIES THAT STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT – Ted Michael/Josh Pultz, ed.
THE BRONTES: CHARLOTTE BRONTE AND HER FAMILY – Rebecca Fraser
ELEANOR & PARK – Rainbow Rowell
SMASHED: STORY OF A DRUNKEN GIRLHOOD – Koren Zailckas
MARCH – Geraldine Brooks
THE ILLUSTRATED MAN – Ray Bradbury
WRONG THINGS – Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlin R. Kiernan
*THE SEX LIVES OF CANNIBALS: ADRIFT IN THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC – J. Maarten Troost

 

Not counting much-loved rereads (looking at you, Bradbury and Tolkien), the books that really stuck with me this year are the fascinating GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY, HOLLYWOOD, AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, by Lawrence Wright, the un-put-down-able ELEANOR & PARK, by Rainbow Rowell, Peter S. Beagle’s heartbreaking A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE, Geraldine Brooks’s luminous MARCH, and Lauren Groff’s gorgeous ARCADIA, which is the sort of flawlessly constructed, richly layered, utterly and frighteningly believable book that pulls you into itself and sends you back out into the real world tinted and changed.

Wishing you a 2014 rich with stories, satisfying work, and good surprises.

snowy night in red wing

A snowy night in Red Wing.

 

 

Spectacles

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