Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grief. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Mouth Full of Ashes

In a few days from now I’ll be releasing my new book “A Mouth Full of Ashes” and I’d like to share with you how this story came about.

A couple of years or so ago, I came upon a news story that grabbed my attention in a way that many others don’t. It involved a murder, but of course we read about murder, death, and all manner of tragic events on a daily basis. We read them, lament them, and then move on. This one, however, had a different angle to it that gripped my imagination.

In a small town somewhere in the Midwest (I believe) a young pastor was delivering his Sunday sermon to his congregation. A young man with no associations to either the town or the pastor drove into town that morning, walked into the church and shot the pastor dead in the middle of his sermon. It was one of those inexplicable, mindless, random and tragic events that defy reason. The pastor was married and had two young girls who would now grow up without a father.

Fast forward just a week or two later (if that) and the pastor’s widow (and this is where it got interesting to me) is on one of the major networks telling Diane Sawyer or someone like that about how she’s forgiven her husband’s  killer and feels absolutely no ill will towards him. She kept insisting that God would forgive him and so she would, too, and hoped that he knew that and wasn’t suffering too much for what he’d done. Her tone was kind, calm and very, very giving.

Now, I consider myself a pretty kind and forgiving person, but this struck me as just a bit too much. I was quite taken aback at how a woman who just had her husband shot dead in cold blood, her children just denied a life with their father in it, could turn around and be so magnanimous. In her shoes, I knew I couldn’t. Then, just at the very end of the interview, she was asked if perhaps not enough time had passed since the tragedy and that maybe she hadn’t been able to process her grief properly yet. To my surprise, this woman who had been so insistent and sure of her forgiveness suddenly revealed a little glimpse behind what was now clearly a defense shield, and admitted that, yes, she probably hadn’t had enough time and that there were likely to be difficult times on the road ahead.

This reaction of hers got me to thinking – what if something happened to someone’s child and one of the parents reacted in this way and the other didn’t? How could they survive together? Could they? Would they not only lose their child, but then lose each other as well? Is there a limit to forgiveness? All of these questions gave rise to what is now “A Mouth Full of Ashes”.

In my story, a young college student has been brutally raped and murdered. Her parents are left to process their grief and come to terms with the horror that has visited their lives. The ways in which they do it, though, couldn’t be more different. The husband makes a point of publically forgiving his daughter’s murderer, while his wife has withdrawn into a deadened world of suppressed rage and bitterness that has left her incapable of seeing beyond the terrible tragedy that befell her daughter.
At this most difficult moment in their lives, a wedge has been driven between them, threatening to destroy the only thing they have left - each other. On this explosive evening of final reckoning, as home truths and simmering resentments are laid bare, each will learn painful, often brutal lessons on love, hate, and the elliptical nature of forgiveness.

I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy and letting me know what you think of it when it’s released. It’s a short novella in length and should be available this coming Sunday, April 29th or Monday, April 30th. I’ll be sure to let you know!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Meanwhile, Back in Theatreland...

All of the work I've been putting into publishing and marketing The End of the World these last few weeks has taken my focus off of my plays, which have been quite active of late. This week my one-act Carbon-Based Life Form Seeks Similar opened in New York as part of the Curan Repertory Company's Notes From The Underground festival. I received a lovely email from the director this week, telling my what a fantastic experience it's been for her and the actors to work on the play, which was very gratifying to hear. I wanted to get up there and see it myself, but at such short notice (the run ends today) it just hasn't been feasible, which is a great shame.

I will be in New York this coming Thursday, however, for the reading of my full-length play The Treachery of Images. It's being given a reading by Heiress Productions, a great company that donates money from all of their productions to various cancer charities. The play was selected by Heiress as a winner in their 2010 Playwriting Competition. From everything the director has been telling me, I've a feeling this is going to be a very intense and memorable evening. The play is very raw and emotionally honest, and if done right has the potential to be a very affecting piece of drama. In it, a husband and wife are dealing with the loss of their daughter, who was brutally raped and murdered. While the wife has withdrawn into a deadened world of anger and bitterness, her husband has taken the unusual step of forgiving his child's killer. This is their night of reckoning.

I'll report back on how it goes. Am I nervous? You bet.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Treachery of Images

I was very pleased to discover that my full-length play ‘The Treachery of Images’ has been selected as one of three winners in Heiress Productions’ 2010 Playwriting Competition. As a result, the play will receive a staged reading in New York in May or June this year (exact date to be confirmed).

This is very gratifying, as this play was one of the most difficult plays I’ve written. The subject matter (a husband and wife dealing with aftermath of the rape and murder of their daughter) meant that I had to immerse myself in a very dark, painful place every time I went to work on it. There’s a lot of emotional sweat equity of mine in that play – if that makes sense?

The other gratifying aspect to this is that Heiress Productions is a truly unique and eminently admirable company. A not-for-profit theatre production company that raises awareness and funds for cancer organizations, they partner with one cancer organization for each production and donate a portion of the proceeds to their charitable cause.

It feels good to have had ‘The Treachery of Images’ chosen as a winner in their competition, but all the more rewarding for having it involved with such a worthy organization.

I’m looking forward to the reading, though I know I’ll probably be nervous wreck on the actual night.

In other news, don’t forget – the End of the World is almost upon us!