The two weeks in upstate New York were entirely fruitful. An immersion in the sensory world was really important – I rely so much on environmental detail to tell my stories. One particular case in point was how noisy the American countryside is, with all the crickets, cicadas, katydids, coyotes, chained up guard dogs and dirt bikes. I had remembered it as being really quiet. And then there’s the different feel of American grass underfoot – coarse, almost sharp – when compared to the more silky British lawn.
I stayed with my good friend Carmela in Franklin. She is artistic director of the Franklin Stage Company, who we have worked with over several summers. There is a theatre company in novel #2, but it is entirely fictional, and I would like to say very, very firmly that it has no relation to the real Franklin Stage Company, which is entirely wonderful and marvellous! The day we arrived, they put on a reading of The Cocktail Party, so a lot of great old friends were up from the city to take part.
We went to NYC a second time to pick up our friends Anna and Leon who had flown over to spend a week with us. Then it was back into town to visit Tom Campbell, an old school friend (ex boyfriend from my teens, in fact) who happens to be the new director of the Metropolitan Museum. He now lives with his lovely wife Phoebe, their two children and a big soppy dog in the director’s grace-and-favour place – the biggest apartment I have ever seen in New York, on 5th Avenue, overlooking the park. A very late dinner in a very hot restaurant ensued, with 11 year old Leon putting up a great show of strength and managing to stay awake, even though he was still on UK time.
I’ll be sad to leave this steamily hot, beautiful, big country, but I’m looking forward to seeing Old Man, Daughter and Bigson in a slightly chillier Edinburgh.