I was wandering my small southern college's theater building in a state of despair, having just fled a disastrous rehearsal of my play. Unable to face my unruly actors and doubting that I could ever be a writer, I found a hiding place backstage in the main theater. And suddenly there she was, stepping onstage through the curtain, dressed in a black gown, her long red hair falling over white shoulders. Who was this beautiful creature?
…Opening night came and, amazingly, it wasn't so bad. More amazingly, there she was again, seated in the back row. I tried to find her afterward, but she'd vanished. The next day, I came upon her yet again, reading in the Indian summer warmth of a magnolia-shaded clearing on campus. This time I wasn't about to let her go. She was from London; she'd worked in theater; she thought my play had potential. Somehow talking to her made me feel as if I could be a writer after all…Twenty-five years later, Caryl's presence in my life is still tinged with the miraculous, the unexpected.
Stephen Amidon's most recent novel is Human Capital (Farrar, Straus and