Six Januarys ago, Elizabeth Searle and I stole away from lunchtime at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA residency in Freeport, Maine, pulled chairs up to the fireplace in my hotel room, read one more time the proposal we’d done for a book we’d been dreaming about, then each placed a finger on the keyboard to three-two-one… send!
Off it went into the universe of publishing possibilities. And we began to wonder… Would it be of interest to anyone? Who might want to represent it? To publish it? We knew we’d have to “stay tuned” to find out. The drama we felt in these hanging questions seemed appropriate, as the subject of the book we were hoping to create would be soap operas.
Elizabeth and I are longtime friends, fellow writers, teaching colleagues at the above-mentioned Stonecoast MFA program, and life-long soap fans. Somewhere in comparing notes on “our” shows over the years, we began to notice how many friends (and, often enough, strangers) would chime in on our conversations, noting the soaps with which they’d grown up, a character they’d followed for decades, a program that currently was throwing the spotlight on an issue. And some of the people chiming in were fellow writers. “Wouldn’t it be fun…” we began to think. “Wouldn’t it be fun to do a book on soap operas? Writers on their favorite shows, characters, what soaps mean to them, how they figured in a life.”
I’m here to say it has been fun, and a lot of that fun is just beginning, as “Soap Opera Confidential: Writers and Soap Insiders on Why We’ll Tune in Tomorrow as the World Turns Restlessly by the Guiding Light of Our Lives” hits the shelves today. Published by McFarland Press, the collection features 35 essays touching on topics including soaps as part of growing up, as family affair, as cultural commentary, as insider game and as, of course, life-long passion. We send many thanks to all who contributed to our collection. We are honored to have our essays next to those of the acclaimed authors and poets, soap insiders and even a few soap stars whose work fills this book. Our contributors are
Lisa Borders, Jamie Cat Callan, Rita Ciresi, Ted Deppe, Emily Franklin, Aaron Hamburger, Marie Hannan-Mandel, David Hiltbrand, Nancy Holder, Ann Hood, Allan Hunter, Thorsten Kaye, Marie Lathers, Marianne Leone, Susan Lilley, Elinor Lipman, Charlie Mason, Shara McCallum, Caitlin McCarthy, Leigh Montville, Kyoko Mori, Leslea Newman, Nuala Ni Chonchuir, Brenda Sparks Prescott, Robert Reid, Tigh Rickman, Jose Antonio Rivera, Erin Roberts, Louise Shaffer, Tommy Shea, Richard Simms, Sebastian Stuart and Blake Wandesforde.
Our official launch will be Sunday, April 30, 2 p.m. at Newtonville Books in Newton Center, Mass. Many thanks to our Boston-area contributors who will be giving a brief reading at Newtonville. They are Lisa Borders, Emily Franklin, Allan Hunter, Marianne Leone, Leigh Montville, Brenda Sparks Prescott, Sebastian Stuart, plus welcomes by Elizabeth and me. Coincidentally, that is the same date of the Daytime Emmy Awards, which will be held that night. Perfect!
A Western Mass. launch is scheduled at Broadside Bookshop in Northampton on Wed., June 7, 7 p.m. Readers will be Elizabeth Searle, Leslea Newman, Tommy Shea, Sebastian Stuart and yours truly.
Readers in the D.C. area should mark their calendars for Sun., July 9, 1 p.m., at Politics and Prose in Washington. Aaron Hamburg, Shara McCallum and Kyoko Mori will read.
And for those who’d like to journey to Maine this summer, we’ll be scheduling a reading for Wed., July 12, in Portland. More info to come on this, and other, events.
Please join us along the way. It’ll be fun. Hey, it already is.