All too often I’m amazed at the things that have happened because I started writing historical crime novels. Things I could never have anticipated or imagined. I’ve helped with an exhibition, The Vote Before The Vote, that showcased the 19th century Leeds woman who worked towards a proper franchise. I was commissioned to write a play about Dark Briggate Blues’ Dan Markham by Leeds Jazz Fest, and ended up with something that included a live jazz quintet and sold out two performances. I’ve become the writer-in-residence for Abbey House Museum in Leeds.
But Saturday was perhaps the most surreal experience of them all. I was in Chesterfield for the matinee performance of The Crooked Spire, the murder-mystery music that had been made from my novel set in the town in 1360.
Full disclosure. I’m not a fan of musicals, so I approached this with a degree of trepidation.
But it was outstanding. A very professional production, with full credit to all the backstage people who helped make it that way, A superb band that was always spot-on. Wonderful direction and production, a great set and costumes.
Of course, it’s the actors that we see and hear. They were great. The audience loved it. So did I. I knew it wouldn’t quite be my book on the stage, and it wasn’t. It would have felt wrong if it had been. This told its story beautifully. Some of the songs were quite transcendent and deserve a life beyond the five performances of the run. I hope they have that chance.
After the show, I took part in a Q&A with the director, musical arranger, set/costume designer, script writer, and producer, and felt embarrassed when many of the initial questions were for me. After all, the others were the ones responsible for what they’d just seen. But at the end, when people came up and brought out copies of the book or their programmes for me to sign (one man had his autograph book, his “memory book” as he called it), I was moved. Dumbfounded.
The Crooked Spire had gone beyond anything I’d envision when it was published nine years ago. It’s grown far beyond me.
I’m told that the performances were recorded and something will be available online soon. I’ll let you know.
Strange things happen when you write, and some of them are wonderful.