Blog tour: A Theatre For Dreamers

Welcome to the blog tour for A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

Today I am pleased to (virtually) take you all the way to Greece to go behind the scenes with the author herself. Ready? Let's go!

Hi Polly! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of A Theatre for Dreamers! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about? 

A: Thank you! A Theatre for Dreamers is set on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960. Erica Hart is eighteen years old when she leaves London for Greece in search of freedom and sunshine and sex. She arrives to find herself swept up by the dramas of the bohemian community that has been fostered there by the warring Australian married writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston. The novel mingles real and imaginary characters and has a cast that includes Leonard Cohen, Axel Jensen and Marianne Ihlen.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: I had a framework of facts and chronological real events and a firm idea of how it would end but in between I left my characters to their own devices.

Why the choice of Greece as the setting for your novel? How important is location for you?

A: The novel was inspired by a trip to Hydra in 2014. In the house we rented I came across a copy of Charmian Clift’s extraordinary memoir, Peel Me A Lotus, and falling in love with that book, and then researching the author and falling in love with her too, was the starting point. I can’t complain because it’s no hardship to research a novel on Hydra. I was lucky enough to write parts of it in the house where Charmian Clift and her family lived during their eight years on the island.

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, do you have an idea of who you’d like to cast for any of the roles?

A: There is a huge amount of film interest which is exciting. I’ve always thought that Ethan Hawke would make a fine George Johnston and having just watched Normal People I can imagine Daisy Edgar-Jones in the role of Erica.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: I wrote a scene where Charmian Clift decides to follow a May Day pagan ritual and climb to the top of the highest mountain (Mount Eros) to watch the sunrise. I wrote the scene and the next time I was on Hydra decided to check I’d got it right. This meant climbing the mountain at four in the morning and it was a spectacular night and best of all I didn’t have to change a word, somehow my imagination had got it right which was a lovely feeling.

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: Yes, lots of things, particularly about Erica’s London life and the mystery concerning her mother.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect? 

A: I am not yet working on another novel just yet. I am also a lyricist and am currently working on some songs.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: I am reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule? 

A:  Thank goodness for the internet! Having published this novel at the start of lockdown it has been a blessing. I have yet to meet a single reader in the flesh so it has been especially lovely to hear from people via all the sites. However, when I’m writing it can be a distraction and I work in a shed on a computer with no internet access. I keep a list of all the things I need to research once the writing session is over for the day. With this book Twitter was so helpful because there were constantly things I needed to know. For example, Norwegian Twitter was vital when I was working on Marianne and Axel’s dialogue.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

A: Try to forget that there will ever be a reader. Think of it as something you are writing only for yourself.

Thank you for your time!

A: It’s a pleasure. Thank you for reading.

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