Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Blog and Giveaway! "Spellcast" by Barbara Ashford

I love the theater. I remember going to a lot of plays while I was in college-- I frequently volunteered to write reviews for my college newspaper just so I'd have an excuse to go. Maybe it's my love of Shakespeare that makes me think that fantasy and theater are a natural mix, but I've always been drawn to stories that featured bards or travelling troupes. Yet seldom have I seen fantasy that exists within the theater itself. So when I read the blurb for Barbara Ashford's new book, Spellcast, I was interested-- and was lucky enough to get Barbara to say 'yes' when I asked her to write a guest blog for me. And thanks to Penguin Books I also have one copy of "Spellcast" to offer for giveaway to one lucky winner.

When Worlds Collide

I never planned on cannibalizing my life to write Spellcast. I was just going to sprinkle in a few memories from my days as an actress to add “flavor.” Like the bats that made appearances inside the Southbury Playhouse (but never during the run of The Passion of Dracula when we would have welcomed them). The roadside grill that we nicknamed the Ptomaine Stand. And the strangely mottled black-and-gray backdrop that we likened to the Shroud of Turin.

Before I knew it, I was pouring my life into my protagonist. Maggie loses her job at a telephone helpline; I worked at one while I was writing for the musical theatre. She grows up in Wilmington, Delaware; so did I. She falls in love during her season in summer stock…well, you can see where this is going.

Sometimes, the line between fact and fiction got so blurred that I had to remind myself that I was writing a novel, not an autobiography. That helped me keep Maggie Graham and Barbara Ashford separate. But Maggie and I share a lot of qualities, including a deep and abiding love for theatre.

One of the memorable lines in All About Eve (one of the best films about theatre ever made) states: “Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience – there's theatre.”

In writing Spellcast, I wanted to capture that magic for readers: the joy of stepping out of the everyday world into the imaginary one onstage; the sudden tension as the house lights dim; the excitement of knowing that anything can happen in live theatre.

It’s that excitement and uncertainty and magic that makes the world of the theatre such a perfect setting for a fantasy novel. Take one part theatre magic, throw in a generous portion of the otherworldly variety, and the stage is set to explore what one character in Spellcast calls “the impossible possibilities” of life.

In Spellcast, Maggie Graham encounters more than her share of “impossible possibilities.” I hope readers will enjoy her journey of discovery – and exploring the magical world of the Crossroads Theatre.

To learn more about Spellcast and read an excerpt, visit my Website:

When Maggie Graham stumbles on the Crossroads Theatre, reviving her acting career is the last thing on her mind. She’s just looking for a bed and breakfast in Vermont where she can retreat, relax, and regroup after losing her job. But a week later, she’s back in summer stock at a theatre unlike any she’s ever known.

Director Rowan Mackenzie is even odder than the collection of misfits that comprise the cast. What kind of director casts people in the roles they need? And never leaves the grounds of the theatre? And possesses the power to transform a train wreck of a show into something... magical?

There’s a secret at the Crossroads, and Maggie is determined to uncover it before summer’s end. She never imagines that she'll discover secrets about her past – and Rowan's – that will change their lives forever.

To win a copy of "Spellcast" just add your information to form below to enter (all information is guaranteed confidential and will be discarded once the contest ends) and I will randomly pick one winner by Thursday May 5th. No multiple entries please-- all multiple entries will be discarded. Open everywhere.

Good luck!

**Contest Closed**


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a very heartfelt story. I find that my characters come to me easier if there's a lot of me in them.

Diana said...

Thank you for the giveaway! Book has an amazing story.

SQT said...

Charles-- Those are the best kind, don't you think?

Diana--you're welcome. I look forward to reading it myself.