Once upon a time in New Orleans, I worked with a theatre company called Running With Scissors. For 15 years, we put on shows at any venue that would have us–bars, legit theaters, other bars, and occasionally, a death trap of a nearly abandoned warehouse. We imagined ourselves edgy but cute: edgycute.
Some of the shows that Running With Scissors performed were written by other people (Camille, Hedwig, and a number of plays by Ryan Landry), but most of them we wrote ourselves. We had a very specific group of actors at our disposal, and we created shows to suit their very particular set of skills. Most importantly, writing our own stuff meant that we didn’t have to pay royalties.
One of Running With Scissors’ most successful shows was Grenadine McGunkle’s Double-Wide Christmas, an always-trashy, sometimes-flashy holiday musical set at a trailer park called the Everlasting Arms. We mounted our first performance in December 2001 and the last in 2014, rewriting the show each fall to suit the performers who were available.
A few years ago, our theatre company fell apart. There was no big dust-up, no fussing or fighting. It just fell apart. I didn’t mind, to be honest–we’d started doing shows in our 20s and 30s, but by 2015, most of us had hit middle age. We had other priorities, other gigs: mortgages and yoga and kids.
The only thing I had trouble leaving behind was Grenadine. Maybe that’s because it was such a fun show to produce. (I laughed as much in rehearsals as our audiences did during performances.) Maybe it’s because our fans loved, loved, loved Grenadine, and it felt great to create something that people identified with so strongly.
Or maybe it’s because I knew the characters so well. Even now, four years after we faced that final curtain, I still hear the voices of Gladys, Loretta, Tater, Sally Ann, Crystal, and China in my head. (Sometimes, they even drown out the other voices, which is nice.) Grenadine herself is the loudest, though–which isn’t surprising, since she’s based on my adoptive mom.
So, because the characters keep shouting at me and because our audiences keep asking, “When are y’all doing Grenadine again?”, I wrote a book. It’s a small book–more of a booklet, really–but I hope it makes everyone happy. The characters can have their say, the fans can hear them out, and I can finally get a little peace and quiet.
From today through Christmas day, the electronic version of Grenadine McGunkle’s Double-Wide Christmas will be free. (I’d make it free forever, but five days is all Amazon allows, dangit.) The paperback costs moolah because, as anyone who works in journalism will tell you, printing is outrageously expensive.
If you’re inclined to give it a go, I hope you enjoy it. And whether you are or not, I hope you have a very happy holiday season.