I am super excited to have today's stop on the blog tour of new awesome book 'Fans of the Impossible Life'
Before I let Kate take over here's a little bit more info about the book.
Fans of the Impossible Life
Published By: Macmillan Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2015
Genre: YA - Contemporary Romance
This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.
Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over as a new student at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to act like a normal, functioning human this time around, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.
Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with a mischievous glint in his eye.
Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.
As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.
A captivating and profound debut novel, "Fans of the Impossible Life" is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.
And now I'd like to introduce the wonderful author Kate for her next "What I Love" Post
What I Love: "The Great Gatsby"
Like most American teenagers, I first read “The Great Gatsby” in high school. I still have my paperback copy of the book from back then, all marked up with notes about the symbolism of the green light and the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. I remember that the paper that I wrote on the book was an in-depth analysis of the idea that T.J. Eckleburg and the Owl Eyed Man represented God.
I didn’t relate to the book at all back then. It was just another American classic novel that we were supposed to read. And I’m not sure I would have revisited it if it hadn’t been for the theater company that I joined when I was twenty-one.
The company was a collaborative, experimental group called Elevator Repair service. I started working for them in 2002 with the idea that I wanted to learn enough to start my own company. But it soon became clear to me that running your own theater company was a ton of impossible and endless work, and I would be better off just sticking around and making work with this excellent group of people.
In 2003 our director John Collins wanted to revisit an old idea that he had been playing around with of using “The Great Gatsby” as source material for a show. The company had a history of using text that was not meant for the stage, and we became interested in what it would mean to present a book on stage without actually adapting it, to somehow preserve the integrity of the original book, rather than try to force it into being a play. We decided that the only solution was to read the entire book, cover to cover, including every “he said” and “she said,” and to build a show around that.
The result was called “Gatz,” and although it sounds like a crazy idea, it was very successful, and we spent the next eight years touring the show on and off. “Gatz” lasted eight hours total, and it was performed in a single day, usually starting around two or three pm, with a dinner break in the middle. The setting of the show was a dingy Long Island office. A scruffy office worker would come in to his paper-pushing job one morning, find that his ancient computer wouldn’t turn on, pull out a copy of “The Great Gatsby” and start reading it out loud. As he read, the people around him in the office started to take on the personas of the characters in the book. The cute mail girl became Jordan, the burly janitor was Tom, and the boss of course was Gatsby himself. Scott Shepherd played Nick, both in dialog and as the narrator, and the rest of the company took on the roles around him.
Me and the marquee at the Noel Coward Theatre
We performed the show hundred of times, in the US and on tour around the world. We were at the Sydney Opera House for a month, at theaters in Norway, Singapore, Vienna, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Zurich, all over the world. In 2011-2012 we did a long run at the Noel Coward Theatre on the West End in London and two runs at The Public Theater in New York.
I played the secretary in the office, a mostly humorless woman who would suddenly come to life when alcohol appeared and it was time to reenact a tipsy office party version of one of Gatsby’s famous gatherings. File folders and rolodex cards would go flying.
It is a strange and remarkable thing to listen to one book being read hundreds of times. I’ve often wished that someone had studied our brains before and after this experience. But what was sometimes mind-numbing repetition was also often an incredible opportunity to let Fitzgerald’s poetry sink in to our brains in a very significant way. There were so many times that I would be waiting backstage to make an entrance, and I would hear a sentence as if I were only really understanding it for the first time.
I do think that helps a lot to be older than the characters are, as Fitzgerald was when he wrote the book. All of the ideas about longing and self-delusion and creating a façade and unattainable dreams become much more poignant when you have lived at least a version of these things to some extent, and seen others live them. Gatsby started hitting me hard around five years into my experience of literally living the book. And it was during this time that I started writing my young adult novel “Fans of the Impossible Life.”
As the secretary in the show, I spent a lot of “Gatz” in a cubicle where I could only be seen by the audience from the shoulders up. For the first few years, still nervous about making sure I got all of my cues right, I would sit and do “fake work,” pretending to edit the piles of scrap paper that found their way to our set from the offices of the many theaters we visited around the world. As I got more comfortable with the show, I started reading magazines, making sure to stop a moment before I was needed on stage to deliver a line. And then for the last two years I got a tiny laptop, and I sat on stage in my cubicle and wrote and edited FANS.
In my cubicle on stage, Scott Shepherd on the left
Photo by Chris Beirens
This became a necessary strategy as the years went on and the repetition started to get to many of us. Those of us who had been in the show from the beginning had to come up with strategies to get through the long hours. My friend Mike practiced piano backstage. During one of our runs at the Public Theater in New York, Tory took care of her newborn son (with the help of a babysitter when she had to go onstage for a scene). Vin organized his bootleg Frank Sinatra iTunes collection. By year six or seven, you had to have something going on off stage that was actually more engaging than what you were doing onstage, because your onstage work had become a kind of meditative labyrinth walk where you couldn’t think too much about your performance because you had a hundred of them behind you and a hundred more to go. If you thought about what you were doing too much you would just psych yourself out.
Working on FANS onstage, it was as if I actually were a bored secretary, clocking in at the beginning of another eight hour long workday, secretly writing her novel in her office when her boss wasn’t looking. If you looked carefully you could see the glow of my little laptop in my glasses, my shoulders moving slightly if I got excited about what I was writing. And I say with great pride that in eight years I never missed a cue.
“Gatsby” has snuck into FANS in obvious ways. There’s a major plot point in FANS that happens around a classroom discussion over the mysterious end of chapter two, when Nick has gotten drunk with Tom and Myrtle and the neighbors Mr. and Mrs. McKee (I played Mrs. McKee in “Gatz”). After the party, Nick ends up downstairs in the McKees’ apartment, and Mr. McKee is “sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.” Then there’s a break, signified by an ellipsis, and Nick ends up “lying half asleep in in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station.”
I included this part of Gatsby in FANS because this is the one conversation around the book that I do remember from high school. Does something happen between Nick and Mr. McKee here? Impossible to know for sure. Fitzgerald either doesn’t want us to know or couldn’t say. But it’s a fascinating omission.
Pictured L-R, Scott Shepherd, Annie McNamara, Me, Vin Knight, Laurena Allen
Photo by Mark Barton
And then there are the ways in which Gatsby makes its way into my work that aren’t intentional. I often come up with sentences that I think are completely original, only to find that they’re a little too similar to sentences from “The Great Gatsby.” For this reason, Scott (who unintentionally memorized the entire book and can recite sections on demand) has to read everything I write to monitor for these accidental tributes. Sometimes I’ll even text him while I’m writing.
“How about ‘Outside the street lamps were illuminating an unfortunate scene,’” I’ll text.
“A dozen headlights illuminated a bizarre and tumultuous scene, ” he quotes Gatsby back to me.
But even though a large portion of my brain has been colonized by Fitzgerald’s words in a way that is probably prohibiting me from accomplishing practical tasks like finding my keys (as a cast we often make the not-so-funny joke that we’re all going to end up in a nursing home together just quoting Gatsby to each other, unable to say or remember anything else), I will always love this book. I love it for giving me the opportunity to travel the world, for teaching me its incredible poetry, and above all, for inspiring me to write my own story.
Spoiler alert: Gatsby dies
Me, Scott, and Jim Fletcher as Gatsby
Photo by Chris Beirens
A Guardian article about the show, in which I talk about writing FANS onstage:
A story from the New Yorker website about the time that we went to see the Baz Luhrmann movie together as a company:
Kate Scelsa is the author of the young adult novel “Fans of the Impossible Life,” out 9/10 from Macmillan in the UK and 9/8 from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray in the US. Kate grew up in New Jersey, went to school at Sarah Lawrence College, and now lives in Brooklyn with her wife and two black cats. She spent much of 2002-2013 traveling the world with theater company Elevator Repair Service, performing in their trilogy of works based on great American novels, including an eight hour long show called "Gatz" that used the entire text of "The Great Gatsby." Kate is currently collaborating with her dad, the legendary free form radio DJ Vin Scelsa, on “The Kate and Vin Scelsa Podcast,” now available on iTunes and SoundCloud.