Western Song by Leigh Podgorski Book Tour and Giveaway :)
Leigh Podgorski’s stage plays have been produced in Los Angeles, New York City and regionally. She had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for her one-act play Windstorm, which was presented as part of the annual festival CelebrateWomen that Leigh also co-produced. We Are Still Here, the story of Cahuilla Indian elder Katherine Siva Saubel, was premiered at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum as part of CelebrateWomen 2000. The play has been presented throughout Southern California at college campuses, Universities, and Indian Reservations and Casinos.
- Western Song was first created as a ten minute play. My husband, actor/director Dave Florek, belonged to The InterAct Theatre Company and I was a member of their playwriting group. They produced a delightful series called The Last Gasp, which had been presented to their playwrights as a writing challenge: write a ten minute play that takes place in the judge’s chambers right before the couple’s divorce decree is decided.
- We had a lovely friend, let’s call him Bob, who was very shy. We used to joke: “The only way Bob will ever get married is by a mail-order bride.” This was soon after the Vietnam War. There were many mail order brides coming across the seas from Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Thus, a storyline, a few decades later, was born. My handsome husband played Weston, and a beautiful young actress named Janice Chow played Song. That little eight minute play was a big hit!
- Friend Stephen Metcalfe, playwright, screenwriter, and novelist read that eight page play and said, “This has to be a full-length screenplay.”
- Alas—getting it there and getting it done are two very different things. Western Song won a number of screenwriting awards and placements—all very lovely, all in the end non-preventative of the proverbial collecting dust on the shelf.
- A Very Favorite Memory: Another dear friend Don Toner who runs a theatre in Austin, arranged a reading of the screenplay. After the reading, a delightful Mom approached me with her ten year old son. “He wanted to shake the hand of the writer,” she told me. He looked up at me with his charming bespectacled face and thrust out his hand.
- We were able to get a director/producer interested in the script. Of course the first thing was my talented husband for whom the script had been written would be out. He was a working actor, but he wasn’t a movie star. Second: Asian was out. Black was in. Of course, never mind that the entire core of the script depended on Song being Asian.
- We never heard from Mr. Hot Shot again. But here’s a very important point, a diamond in the rough, a gem amongst bewilderment and even dismay. This same guy had brought up what turned out to be one of the most salient points of Western Song the novel. Prejudice. When I penned the screenplay, I had made Wild River a charming small town, but I’d forgotten humanity. That humanity is made up of the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I began writing the novel, this man’s apt critique echoed in my head. As hard as it is to listen to our critics, especially the unctuous ones who get everything else so wrong, it is so important to keep our hearts protected but open. You never know what you will reap blowing in the wind.
- In 2010, after having turned from playwriting to screenwriting, I turned to novels. There is so much more freedom. Both plays and screenplays require very strict form. Novels can be as short as 25,000 words, known more as a novella, or as long as 125,000, known as epics. Of course the writer needs to keep in mind marketing and publishing, but she always has the option of self-publishing. You can be a one-man or woman band if you must.
- Having said that—I was a one-woman band for my first five novels. Western Song was my last hurrah. Writing, publishing, marketing are exhausting. I sent Western Song out in search of agent or publisher. I had some interest re agents, even did preliminary re-writes for a few, but eventually those contacts fell through. As we entered the New Year, I was ready to throw in the towel. I had retired early from my professorship at a community college to be able to write full time, but I was burned out. And then, in early January, I opened my lap top to check my mail. My husband sat at the other end of the couch. I spoke in a low voice: “Dave? I think I just got an offer on Western Song.”
- Of course it was an offer. And so now, thanks to Solstice Publishing Western Song is on its way. And in 2017, I have had three short stories published in Solstice anthologies and one standalone. And here comes 2018, and yeah, I’ve got plans.
- Takeaway: Never give up your dreams. Whatever they may be. Dare to dream. Dare to believe your dreams will come true.