In my late teens I got really serious about playwriting. I saw Pinter and Albee and wanted to "write like that”. I still have a couple of short plays I wrote back then in the style of each. After writing my first young adult novel “Crazy Eights”, I decided to adapt it for the stage. The title became “War in Paramus”.
It’s about a wild, rebellious, fifteen year old girl in a conservative family living in Paramus, New Jersey, who’s conventional older sister, who always does everything right, is getting married because she’s twenty-two and that’s what you do. Tensions rise until the young girl sets fire to Ethical Culture where the wedding is scheduled to take place. Set in 1970, the war in the family is so all consuming that the Vietnam War, happening somewhere “over there”, is an afterthought.
Emily Dickinson is my close friend. She has been for many years and I suspect she always will be. I first “met” her when I saw Julie Harris play her in “The Belle of Amherst” by William Luce on Broadway in the 1970’s. Later I began reading her poetry, which swept me off my feet. She spoke to me, she knew me, my joys, my pain - an infinite and personal voice, meeting me right where I was. My first clue to the nature of this woman was her dog, Carlo. When I learned that her constant and beloved companion for sixteen years was a Newfoundland dog, I knew Emily was no mere hot house flower. Newfoundlands are huge! Like a bear, with thick, shaggy coats, endlessly shedding, lumbering around, drooling! If this was her constant companion, there had to be something bold about her, something fun loving, something rough-and tumble. My exploration continued from there. I spent over ten years writing “A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson" and another four and a half years playing Emily in “The Belle of Amherst”.