TEATIME TEN: Laura Pittenger
Welcome back to the Teatime Ten, an author interview series! Today we have the wonderful Laura Pittenger, playwright and novelist, author of Pride and Prejudiced Abridged.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I'm a playwright, director, and a serious, committed goofball. I was born and raised in Indiana and moved to New York in 2012 after graduating from Ball State with a theater degree. You can check out www.laurapittenger.com for the full skinny! In my free time I like to read Russian novels, watch British baking television and explore the city with good friends. I also like to travel - past favorites include Alaska, Montreal, London, Boston, Acadia National Park, and the Badlands.
2) What's your latest publication about?
Pride and Prejudice Abridged, now available at YouthPLAYS. Synopsis (which most people probably know already!): Witty and carefree Elizabeth Bennet despises the haughty Mr. Darcy—a wealthy, proud newcomer to her small English village. Her sister Jane Bennet, so shy she becomes mute around men, falls for Darcy’s best friend, the wildly outgoing Mr. Bingley. Will the Bennet sisters’ scheming mother be spurned in her efforts to ensnare rich husbands for her daughters? Who will Elizabeth fall for: her weaselly preacher cousin, the smooth and seductive Mr. Wickham, or maybe even her worst enemy—Mr. Darcy? We don’t have all day to find out! Bonnets fly. Cravats are loosened. You don't want to miss it.
3) What inspired you to write it?
I took a course on Jane Austen's major works in the honors college, and we were asked to do a short creative project at the end of the term. Pride and Prejudice Abridged was a natural bridge between my love for literature and theater, and who knew a school project would one day end up published?!
4) What was the hardest part of the book to write?
Definitely cutting the text down to 15 minutes is one of the hardest adaptation challenges I've ever had. It's a huge book, but believe it or not, you can cut out characters and plotlines to the bare essentials, which I have done. Anything you read there, it exists because the story falls apart without it. It's as basic as the story can get without me adding anything, besides a few very silly jokes.
5) What's your favorite part of the writing process?
I love that moment when the energy is flowing and the text is just swimming along magically. It's hard to put into words, but it's like time stops existing. Before you know it it's bedtime. I also love handing it off to a close friend and hearing where they laugh. I love making people laugh.
6) What was your journey to publishing like?
I had a couple people tell me how hilarious the piece was, and my colleague suggested I submit the piece to YouthPLAYS, thinking it might be a good fit for a youth market (middle-high school or college). After a few months, they got in touch and said they'd be happy to publish it as a standalone piece! It's my first published play in its own binding, so I couldn't be happier.
7) Do you have any tips for would-be authors?
Even if an idea seems silly, if it made you laugh, try it out. Feel free to fail in the privacy of your own computer or notebook. Odds are someone else finds you funny, too. Also, I write almost exclusively for myself. I'm happy that other people seem to respond to it, and I take outside feedback very seriously, but at the end of the day, if I don't like it, I won't work on it. I write things I wish someone else would write for me.
8) You're walking through Central Park, when suddenly you hear your name being called. It's a very famous composer who invites you to join his/her tea for an hour. Who are you talking to and what do you talk about?
Oh, man, that's a rough question. I would want to spend an hour with Mozart, who hopefully speaks English in this scenario. I say that because I have the feeling that I might actually cross paths with Lin Manuel Miranda or Dave Malloy one day and therefore I don't want to waste this hypothetical conversation on someone alive and living in my city. Anyway - I'd ask him if he ever saw the movie Amadeus and whether there was any accuracy to the rumors about Salieri. I have so many questions. I'd also ask him what goes through his head as he's writing and what he dreams about. He'd probably find the line of questioning a bit invasive, though, so I'd be happy to sit in silence, too. As long as the tea is good. That's probably a motto for my life. Will try anything as long as the tea is good.
9) You're woken up in the middle of the night by one of your characters calling you through a magic door. Who are you adventuring with and where do you go? And how do you get back?
I'd let the little heroine of my novel, Aleksandra, take me to her Moscow in 1872. There's so much I don't know about it. But she'd probably insist we go somewhere exciting like Paris or St. Petersburg. I'd be happy to accompany her by rail across Europe. Maybe we would encounter my other favorite fictional protagonist, the elusive Phileas Fogg, as he traveled round the world in 80 days going the opposite direction.
10) What's up next creatively for you?
Speaking of the novel...yep. I also have a full length play written that I'm looking to stage or get a reading done. Lots of writing projects right now, none that I can talk about. If you want to hear more I also just did an interview for Art Chat inWestchester!
Connect with Laura on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out her official website here.
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