Phew – I just sneaked in under the wire there! When a book’s back cover description starts with It’s summer 1976; London is languishing in the sultry heat… well, I really just had to be part of the blog tour, and I’m so delighted Julia was able to add me as her final stop. And when that book is written by Julia Roberts – I so loved her Time for a Short Story back in September (you can read my review again here), and I was really looking forward to reading a novel by her. Alice in Theatreland – published for kindle and in paperback – just looks so “me”…
Beautiful and talented nineteen-year-old, Alice Abbott, arrives in the city with high hopes of one day seeing her name up in lights but first she must impress Richard, the producer of a new West End show, Theatreland.
Alice is befriended at the audition by the more experienced Gina, who, although burdened by her own dark secrets, is determined to protect the newcomer from the sleaze behind the glamour. She also attracts attention from the male lead in the show, Peter, a former pop star struggling to escape his playboy reputation.
Alice’s star seems to be rising as fast as the temperature until she naively accepts an impromptu dinner invitation from Richard. What happened that night? And how far will Richard go to protect his guilty secret?
You all know about my recent problems by now, and I’m sadly going to struggle to read this one before September – but I’m really looking forward to it! Until then, I’m delighted to welcome Julia Roberts as my guest…
Thanks so much Anne for being the concluding stop on my blog tour for Alice in Theatreland and inviting me to write a guest post. Throughout the tour, I have written at some length about the key characters in my latest novel and certain elements of the plot, and also about knowing my subject matter without doing too much research as I was a professional dancer, like Alice, in the 1970’s. A couple of things I did have to give some thought to though were the fashion styles of the mid-seventies and also the music.
I wanted to introduce some of the songs I remember listening to on my trusty old cassette player, (I can almost hear younger readers asking, ‘What’s a cassette player?’) as I believe it really helps transport you back in time and feel an era. As a professional dancer, I was away from home a lot at a very young age and often experienced loneliness and home-sickness. I found that music helped me through these periods, even if it was music to cry along to as Alice does at one point in the book when she is listening to All My Myself – the original Eric Carmen version, of course.
I also mention Barry White and his Love Unlimited Orchestra as they helped me through a couple of summer seasons in Jersey, and Barry Manilow’s Could It Be Magic when Alice is first falling for the star of the Theatreland show, Peter. I guess it gives an indication of the type of music I was listening to when many of my contemporaries were listening to rock! I wasn’t actually in the UK in the long hot summer of 1976. I was in Barcelona, working at the Teatro Apollo, and I definitely recall having the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar playing almost incessantly.
I think the same can be said for variety in terms of the fashion of the day. Alice’s wardrobe mainly comprises of actual outfits that I wore, from crochet tops and trousers to flowery print dresses. Hemlines were quite fluid too – I had maxi, midi and mini-skirts side by side in my wardrobe, although not the micro minis of the late sixties. I’ve added a photo of one of my ‘styles’ from the mid-seventies… I’m not sure Alice would approve!
Shoes though were rather more consistent. Lying in the mud rather prominently on the cover for Alice in Theatreland is a gold sandal which is integral to the plot. This is almost a carbon copy of a pair of cream platform shoes I owned which I described to my cover designer, Angela Oltman, and she then sourced a photograph of.
Speaking of the cover, I hope you like it? It is quite different from the original image I had in my head which was the façade of a theatre with ‘Alice in Theatreland’ up in lights and the back view of a young female gazing up at it. I like Angela’s idea much better, particularly the slimy mud taking the place of the wooden boards of the stage – quite sinister.
If the seventies is an era you remember I hope Alice in Theatreland will transport you back there.
Julia, I haven’t read it yet and I’m already transported – I think I had that same pair of cream platforms, and the Love Unlimited Orchestra was the soundtrack of my mid 70s too. So looking forward to reading this one!
Have you all been following the tour? You’ll find some excellent reviews and great content from Julia on all these blogs…
About the author
Julia Roberts’ passion for writing began when, at the age of ten, after winning second prize in a short story-writing competition, she announced that she wanted to write a book. After a small gap of forty-seven years, and a career in the entertainment industry, Julia finally fulfilled her dream in 2013 when her first book, a memoir entitled One Hundred Lengths of the Pool, was published by Preface Publishing. Two weeks later she had the idea for her first novel, Life’s a Beach and Then…, book one in the Liberty Sands Trilogy, which was released in May 2015.
Julia still works full-time as a Presenter for the TV channel QVC, where she has recently celebrated her twenty-third anniversary. She now lives in Ascot with her partner of thirty-nine years and occasionally one or other of her adult children and their respective cats.