Here are the mere ideas, the fitful starts that didn't even qualify to become the Unfinished Novels (see previous page).
On the following pages, Mickey Scantlebury will share with you some of the plans and dreams that she went through before coming up with the novels that people so dearly love.
Read, sample and enjoy.
Then give us your comments, (see 'Comments' page, link on left).
We will be delighted to hear your thoughts.
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Maybe some of these plans deserve to be more than they are.
Maybe they need writing, need finishing.
What do you think?
What do you all think?
For instance, here's a story with potential - - -
It's fun being right at the heart of things, thinks ROMEY PATTERSON. She's in charge of Wardrobe at 'T.V. Northwest', one of the biggest, most go-ahead television companies in Britain. That particular week, Romey is in charge of getting together costumes for a lavish production of Shakespeare's 'Troilus and Cressida', and is rushed off her feet. Still, she finds time for her young assistant, JEZ HALL, a student from the University on placement at the TV centre. Also, her many friends in the different departments of the enormous building, Many of them turn to Romey for advice on clothes and fashion, and the practical help that her team of seamstresses can give them with repairs and alterations.
Romey goes up to the Third Floor, Production, to deliver a gown to her pal Fiona. It's for a lavish ball the company has organised for charity. Fiona is distraught: she is in charge of sending out invitations, and one has been returned by the Post Office, marked 'Resident Gone Away'. The ball is that evening, but despite many calls Fiona hasn't managed to track down the celebrity. Ah well, Fiona says jokingly, maybe I can give the card away! Then she has a better idea - she'll give it to Romey. Romey is flattered, but baffled: how can she possibly go to such an occassion? Fiona laughs: you'll certainly have the clothes for it, she says.
Back in the basement, Romey reveals her invitation to Jez. Of course I can't possibly go, Romey says. Nonsense, the student tells her, and begins hunting for a suitable costume. But they'll recognise me, Romey pleads. Jez gets organised and finds a make-up assistant and a wig man to work a transformation on Romey. In hours, she is coiffured and beautiful, the Belle of the Ball. It started as a joke, but looking in the mirror, Romey is convinced: it's worth a try.
The Ball takes place in the new Television Theatre, a grand, recently completed building paid for and designed by TV Northwest for prestigious new productions. Celebrities from art, sport and the media mix with business people and sponsors. The Guest of Honour is young Prince Rauer, from the recently restored Royal House of Moldovia, a country that languished as a republic under Russian rule for two generations but is now enjoying a recently gained independence and a happy future as a new member of the European Community. As if in a dream, the Prince chooses to dance with Romey, and they share some heart-stopping moments as all eyes turn towards them. The Prince is attentive, charming, a wonderful dancer, and full of admiration for his partner. Romey is literally swept off her feet. All would be perfect, but there is a wail of sirens and the police arrive. Romey doesn't stop to find out what the problem is, and - fearing discovery - makes a hasty exit. (She doesn't know that there was a bomb scare: it was nothing to do with her.)
The next day at work is a torment for Romey, having reveled in the attention and glamour of the night before, only to have had it so rudely snatched away. She is not impressed when Jez brings in the newspapers and points out that the gossip columns are full of speculation about the beautiful stranger who won the heart of the Prince, and full of quotes that the young man wishes to find her again. The headlines say: 'The Modern Cinderella'.
Romey is hard pressed at work. The production of 'Troilus and Cressida' is only two weeks away, timed to coincide with Shakespeare's Birthday, and - unusually for television - is to be broadcast live. The stars are from the world of American films, and will only be flown in at the last moment, but the rest of the cast are busy rehearsing and Romey has to arrange costume fittings and alterations around their full timetables. To fill the places of the American stars, the producer has brought in two stand-ins, who will be used to work out the moves and be in place while the other actors rehearse around them. The job is one of the most demeaning in the theatre: they are not required to act, merely to stand where told to, wear the costumes and be in place while the lighting and camera moves are choreographed.
It's all routine to Romey, but her world falls apart when something strange happens: she recognises the male stand-in. His hair is different, his voice and manners are not the same, but she can see something in his eyes: it's 'Prince Rauer'! By asking around, she gets the story; his real name is BRENDAN DANTON, and he's a small-time actor. The genuine Prince was ill and rather than ruin the night for TV Northwest, they sent along a stand-in! Romey is destroyed: he was a fake, she was a fake, then what was happening? It felt like they fell in love that night; were they BOTH acting?
Something else is strange: if Bren is a more than competent actor, so why is he merely 'standing-in' and not understudying the part? She finds out that the television company never bother hiring understudies when they've got a big-time star for a show: if the star is incapacitated, the show is postponed. Simple as that. But why would a good actor like Bren agree to such a demeaning role? She actually gets to ask him, (he doesn't recognise her), and he reveals that he is a single parent and has responsibility for two young children. He is happy to take the work - even if lowly and low-paid - and get some money, rather than be the prima-donna and hang out for bigger roles and possibly risk having no food to put on the table.
Romey's heart goes out to him; he's thoughtful, caring, a good provider. He's a wonderful person, she discovers as the days go by, warm, humourous, full of concern for everyone in the company. Several times she sees him selflessly helping others, delivering a service even when not asked. The director values him, the cast love him, but he's so 'professional', he doesn't seem to notice the Wardrobe lady. Romey fusses around him, but it's almost as though she wasn't there.
She soldiers on but the week is draining her emotionally. Will she ever get to talk to him, really talk, share her feelings and find out if the night at the Ball was real or just a wonderful dream? She is sure he felt something for her that night, but was it just for the beautiful woman in the ball gown? What would he feel for the workaday girl in front of him?
Of course she has ambitions of her own. As well as supplying costumes and advice, she is constantly working on her own ideas, keeping busy, often late into the night, producing fashionable garments in her own time, and building up a small but loyal band of 'customers'. Perhaps one day, she imagines, she could have her own 'fashion house'! That's one of the reasons Jez is so happy to be on placement with her; as he keeps saying, he is learning more and more, and, as his Diploma Show approaches, he relies on her help and support to put the display together.
It's an additional pressure, but Romey somehow manages to cope, ticking off the days but not looking forward to the day of the big Shakespearian production, for that's when Bren will be leaving and with it - she is sure - her chance of happiness.
Strangely, fate conspires to assist her. The film stars fly in and join a run-through of the play on the night before broadcast. They are word-perfect and the stand-ins are able to show them the moves in a matter of hours. All is going smoothly, until disaster strikes. Young Gary Shammell, the American 'Troilus', is too enthusiastic during the sword fight and manages to get himself injured. It's never been known before and the TV Northwest executive fly into a panic fearing they will be sued for millions. The director has a more immediate concern: how can the show go ahead without a star - and, without an understudy! The executives confer: it's a live production, it has to go out on Shakespeare's birthday, it's the 'official' launch of the Television Theatre as well, (and there will be a star-studded live audience present who can't be disappointed). Everything says: the show must go on - but who can play the role? Desparately they phone around the country, trying to track down a Shakespearian actor who might know the part. They draw a blank, (it's not one of the most popular texts). Shyly, Bren steps forward: he knows the part, and he can act. The director is convinced - he's seen Bren at work - and he gives the executives an ultimatum: it's the unknown boy or nothing. They have to choose.
They have one day to put everything together and Romey is rushed off her feet. She needs all the assistance she can get, but there's a problem: Jez has had his deadline brought forward and is putting on his final show that same day. He's not there to help, and is taking equipment and materials out of the store even as Romey is trying to get her things together. She is short with him, but he understands her concern. Meanwhile, there's no time to talk to Bren either; suddenly, he has become the most important man on the stage, everyone is looking to him to make the show work, and Romey is merely one of the necessary supporters.
Luckily, the whole thing starts to gel: the American 'Cressida' takes a shine to Bren, and their scenes together show an energy that is rare. Everyone is suddenly very happy, very confident, and indeed, the night starts well; even when some lighting fails to work and one of the many Lord's costumes starts to disintegrate on stage, nothing can stop the feeling. Romey is on hand for the emergency repair, and she is therefore backstage to see Bren and the glamourous Belle Cassidy take their first kiss on stage. It brings the house down; the curtain falls on the First Act to thunderous applause.
Bren is ecstatic, thrilled with the prospect of coming stardom, and is therefore distraught to be waiting backstage for his next entrance to hear the soft sound of sobbing from behind the set. It's Romey. Like a gentleman he goes to comfort her, but she is angry with him: doesn't he recognise her? What about the Ball? Didn't it mean anything? Bren is devastated; of course it meant something, he says. But she disappeared. He had to live with his disappointment. He didn't know who she was or where to find her. How can she possibly blame him? A Production Assistant gives him his cue. He turns: when this is over, he promises, I'll come back for you.
Romey runs back to her Wardrobe Department in tears, crying her heart out for the love she feels she's lost, doubly hurt by the thought that Bren has turned on a new passion for his American co-star. In her rooms the other staff are watching the whole thing on television, moved by the quality of the acting, and totally complimentary about Bren. Suddenly Jez appears. Romey had forgotten all about him, and his show. It went spectacularly well, he enthuses; buyers were there from top fashion houses. They want my work, he says, - and yours. While Romey flounders, he explains that he took in some of Romey's designs and put them in with his own. The buyers loved them. They were less than thrilled when he explained that another designer was involved, but he sold them on the idea: they can work as a team, Romey and Jez, and it could be the start of something really big. Their own fashion house, he smiles.
The television set is showing the applause at the end of the play. The audience are standing, clapping and shouting enthusiastically. Bren has made it: he's a star. His female counterpart is being presented with flowers, and she generously acknowledges his contribution. In a thank-you speech to the crowd, she says she would be happy to take Bren back with her to Hollywood, where she is sure he will do well.
Romey feels the tears coming down, but she can't begin to explain them to Jez. He thinks she is simply happy at his news, looking forward to developing a fashion business. He goes around the department, pulling out some of the things she has been working on, bubbling with ideas about what they could do together. It's all such good news, he says. What could be better?
The door bursts open. It's Bren. I thought you were going to Hollywood, Romey says shyly. Not without you, Bren tells her. With Jez and the team looking on in astonishment, Bren sweeps Romey off her feet and deposits her on top of the workbench. Then he searches through the racks of hanging clothes and boxes of footwear till he finds a dress shoe. He puts it on her foot with a grand gesture. You're my Cinderella, he tells her, and I've come to ask you to marry me. Won't Belle be jealous? Romey asks, still unsure. Bren gives an ironic smile. Her girlfriend won't want me moving in, he says. Come and meet her, he says. She's a nice person. All of you, he says. It's a party. Be my guests. Jez steps forward. All of us?
Bren offers Romey his hand. Why not, he says; after all, I'm the star! I invite you, he says, to be witnesses to the official announcement. I want to be married to this princess, so let's make this the Engagement Party. Please, he says. Please.
Romey has to smile. I'd be delighted, she says at last.
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