Behind the Scenes of Life in the Pit

Behind the Scenes of Life in the Pit

The idea for Life in the Pit came from some of the feelings I had as a teenager. Like the main character in this book, I had a best friend who was a “male magnet”. I had a double-whammy though, because I had an older sister who was one as well.

My best friend, Dawn, was often in the school musical theater productions, although she wasn’t always the star of the show. She did have an amazing singing voice.

I played in the pit orchestra for several school plays. I played the clarinet–a very unromantic instrument. I’ve always thought cellos sounded beautiful and that cellists looked very graceful while playing. Compare that to a clarinetist flattening her chin and tightening the corners of her mouth to get her embouchure correct. Very unflattering. So, I made my main character a cellist. Bellow is a picture of me in my concert blacks, holding my clarinet. At least I think I’m holding my clarinet. It’s hard to tell since the picture is so blurry. Didn’t we have autofocus in the 80s?

Kristen with her clarinet in concert blacks.

Kristen with her clarinet in concert blacks.

Dawn did go through a lot of boyfriends, but not nearly as quickly as Amanda in the book does. I don’t think I was quite as insecure as Brittany, and I did go on a respectable number of dates.

Dawn and I were in a history fashion show at our high school and got to wear vintage 1940’s dresses. The hair was definitely 1980s, though. I promise, it was in style at the time. I’m on the left in brown.

Kristen and Dawn modeling 1940s outfits.

Kristen and Dawn modeling 1940s outfits.

When Dawn and I weren’t busy with school things, we liked to goof around. Here, bellow, is a picture of the two of us doing our favorite cheerleader pose. I’m on the bottom. No, neither of us were cheerleaders.

Dawn and I met when we were in the first grade. She lived two houses down from me. We remained friends all through high school and were roommates together for two years in college. With busy lives and active families, we don’t get to see each other much anymore, although we do keep in contact.

Dawn and Kristen practicing cheerleading poses.

Dawn and Kristen practicing cheerleading poses.

I thought about having my characters involved in a play that already exists. In junior high I was in the pit orchestra for The King and I and Once Upon A Mattress. In high school I played in the pit for The Music Man and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It’s been quite a few years, but I saw each of those plays so many times I could probably still quote lines from them. I ended up using a make-believe play in the book so I could manipulate the scenes to suit my own purposes. A dark scene on stage parallels a dark moment for Brittany in the pit. Action in the play mirrors action in the book. Or I might need Amanda alone or with Kyle onstage in a particular scene. Being able to create a scene in the play to fill whatever need I had worked well. Also, I didn’t want to worry about copyright infringement by quoting too many lines from a published play.

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