Last week I was interviewed over at Books for Little Hands. One of the questions asked what had been the highlight of my career so far and I found it a little difficult to answer, partly because of my maddening tendency to want to unpack the nuances of every word put before me.
I wanted to wrestle for a while with the word ‘career’ and what that really meant for me and whether it was the ‘right’ term for what I’m doing with this whole writing thing. And the highlights I arrived at had nothing to do with ‘career’ really and more to do with small creative satisfactions. So it may be that my response was a bit disingenuous. Possibly even pretentious.
And then the very next day something happened. I had a genuine career highlight, and it was this:
In April this year, my book Duck for a Day was adapted for musical theatre by Tony Bones Entertainment.
Since they only tour on the east coast, I didn’t get to see the show, but last week, the lovely Tony himself sent me a DVD of one of the performances. And I feel a little ridiculous, but watching it made me a bit teary.
Firstly, it was gorgeous. It was so well done – so cleverly adapted, so professionally and engagingly presented. The kids in the audience were clearly completely absorbed by the show. Then at the end, Tony talked about the book – why they chose it and how they adapted it, which I found really interesting and which in fact taught me a bit about narrative structure, and what I was doing without even realising it.
Secondly, it made me remember the few shows that I got to see when I was a kid, when performers came to our school, or we walked into town in a long crocodile line (“Just remember who’s in front of you and who’s behind you and we’ll all be okay”). Those experiences have stayed with me. They have a certain glow that persists to this day. And I can’t help but be moved by the possibility of that being true for some of those kids, that my story, brought to life so wonderfully, will stay with them. I know that books can work in the same way, but having Duck adapted feels different somehow. Which brings me to my third point …
Seeing other creators adapt my work made me feel like my story was becoming, in a small way, part of the fabric of things, becoming more embedded in the creative landscape. It’s hard to articulate what I mean, but it’s something I found enormously satisfying.
Fourthly, and finally, Max as a marionette. Just saying.
So, there you are. A career highlight. A real one. Thanks, Tony.