By this time tomorrow night Devil in the Red Dress will be launched and will have officially been sent on it’s way. As the launch gets closer I’m reminded of the days I spent working backstage in the theatre.
I thought I would be more nervous about tomorrow night but I suppose growing up as a theatre brat has prepared me for first nights. My folks are both actors and I spent a lot of my teens going to both first and last night bashes. My first jobs, in my summer holidays, were ASMing (Assistant stage manager if you’re not familiar with the term) for shows they were in.
Actually my title tended to be student ASM but came with the the same duties. I would organise the props and change the scenery and help the actors with quick changes.
I’ve seen plenty of actors suffering from first night nerves but being back stage just felt the adrenaline rush of knowing that you’ve done all the preparation you can and now it’s in the lap of the gods.
That’s how I feel about tomorrow night. The book is written and printed. There’s nothing more I can do about that; the editing is finished and tonight it’s probably already on the shelves in some bookshops. Now it’s up to me to step into the spotlight and play my part.
As the hours pass and we head towards tomorrow my mind keeps going back to those provincial theatres and the feeling as the audience took their seats when the play was about to start. It was my job to call the time for the actors; the half, fifteen minutes before curtain up, ten, five and finally three – overture and beginners to the stage.
I remember sitting staring at the back of flats in the blue light of backstage beside the prop table. Taped to the back of the flats were the prop lists, marked out scene by scene and the prop table was covered in a sheet of paper, similarly marked with outlines of the props drawn on to make keeping track easier.
There was always a hole somewhere on the flats through which you could peer out into the audience unseen and unblinded by the lights. This time however I’m going to have to take centre stage. It’s my name on the cover of the book and it’ll be me doing interviews to publicise it.
But when it comes down to it, this is the bit I recognise. The waiting for reviews, getting an audience, talking it up. This might be the first time I’ve had a book published but I feel as if I know where it goes from here.
So tomorrow night I’ll put on the slap put on my costume and step out. And we’ll see where it goes from here.