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by Andrea McGuigan\
 
Writer and actor Eleanor Gwyn-Jones left her beloved England behind to make Scranton her home. In Gwyn-Jones’s new novel, Theatricks, (Omnific Publishing) a young woman named Enna abandons England, and her life in theater, to come to Pennsylvania with a handsome man named Cole. Hmm. Sounds a bit autobiographical, perhaps. I sat down with Eleanor to get the goods:
 
I’m assuming everyone’s going to ask, “Are you Enna?” I know authors have different philosophical approaches to that idea of autobiography in fiction. Some claim it doesn’t matter while others admit that aspects of themselves come through in their characters.
 
Well, it’s autobiographical and it isn’t. My acting background really plays into this in the fact that yes, I took a situation I knew about, going through the Visa process, and doing this transatlantic commute, with a hunky chunky Pennsylvanian, so I knew about that. But there were so many “could have been” avenues that it could have taken, and in the year I was in NEPA and I couldn’t work, it really got my cogs turning as to how differently this journey could have gone and sort of played out different aspects. Now, did I have a theater? No. Was I having this (uh, spoiler alert!) kind of affair with this other actor? Absolutely not. But there were seeds of ideas that had come from other things. So, is it autobiographical? No. But I can’t write about astrophysics. I can’t write about, you know, fracking, but I can write about theater, and I can write about the Visa process. So, I took those nuggets of what I knew and I took this heroine who isn’t me, but there are facets — she likes cheese and wine, that’s me — but she makes different choices. And I think that was nice for me, very cathartic, to think where I could have been had I taken a different path on my journey.
 

Theatricks author Eleanor Gwyn-Jones

Okay, so if you were going to put your book on a display in a store, what other authors would you place next to Theatricks? Like, if the Amazon “If you like this, try this” algorithm came alive, who would it recommend?
 
Well, Jennifer Weiner, definitely. I would say Emily Giffin, in the sort of love triangle, gritty, no-frills infidelity kind of way. And not that there’s anything wrong with it, but there’s a big difference between chick lit and women’s fiction. When you read someone like Jodi Picoult, she writes about rape, murder, abuse, heart transplants, really gritty subjects, but she does so in a really interesting way. She uses symbolism, leitmotif, folklore, and I appreciate the way she layers her writing. It’s so rich. I hope that in Theatricks I can do the same. I have made use of leitmotif and literary devices that make it more substantial than just a transatlantic love triangle. So it does sort of straddle genres. I didn’t know, when I first sent off Theatricks, if that would go over. It’s so hard to make something that’s commercial and sells while still having that great prosaic nature. I hope that I’ve been able to do that and that readers will continue to read on through Enna’s journey.
 
POSH at the Scranton Club Washington Avenue in Scranton hosts Eleanor’s book launch Thursday, Dec. 5 from 5 to 8 p.m. Books will be available for sale.
 

Excerpt from Theatricks

Chapter 1
He flicks open the lid of the small velvet box with an endearing schoolboy fumble. And there it is, gleaming like the spires of Ox, the whole of Emerald City encapsulated in three carats that wink at me from one brilliant crystallized compound.
“Well?”
The small word, filled with hope, balloons within my ears. I scrape my eyes from the glistening green gem to the earnest face looking up into mine. I glance around self-consciously- one hundred pairs of eyes heavy on me- diners suspended with forked mouthfuls hovering, jaws open and waiting. And the noise seems to disappear almost instantly: all the clattering of cutlery on crockery, chair legs dragging on wood, ice cubes jiggling against glass, is sucked up into a silent vortex, a swirling tornado orbiting our table. The room revolves too, spinning on its axis. I think I am about to be sick.
I know that acid churning; I should be well used to it: the routine rebellion of my body, the gastric mutiny before setting foot on stage, enduring those tortuous moments when I realize, “Shit! I’ve forgotten my lines!”
I look to the audience of diners now, panic simmering in my stomach.
And he’s waiting.
Shouldn’t I reply with something momentous, poetic, Shakespearian perhaps? Shouldn’t I regurgitate something other than my rosemary encrusted lamb chops and pomme puree? Something that I can tell our children? Something witty I can put on Facebook?
It’s not as if I haven’t rehearsed this moment: the knight on bended knee, pledging his love for all to see, proffering a great sparkler that will be the envy of all one’s colleagues and childhood rivals which, not betrothed, one will flaunt with unnecessary hand-waving and finger-flashing, all with one’s now ambidextrous left. This fairy tale is exactly how I imagined it. Maybe lacking slightly in backdrop, as we huddle into our narrow table, the bustle of the busy restaurant brushing uncomfortably close and – okay, it’s not the beach tiki bar on some white-sand, sun-kissed tropical paradise, where we stretch out bronzed limbs and sip pina coladas whilst watching the pink sun sink into the Carribbean Sea. It’s London. It’s raining. What’s new?
But all the same. This is the man I imagined my life with: the only man who ever challenged me to be a kinder person, to be more savvy in business, to be a more confident lover, because he already was. He could, and would do anything he set his mind to, and if that isn’t an aphrodisiac, I don’t know what is.
 
Visit the author online at www.eleanorgwyn-jones.com or on twitter @eleanorgj. Theatricks is also available via Amazon.com.