Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


From Paris to Oz: An Extraordinary Summer

I have found through experience, that if you follow your muse and work on the things you love, sometimes life lifts you up and carries you off to new lands and chance encounters never even dreamed of. That is what happened to me this summer. It all began when my book, When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky, became the inspiration for an author residency at the American School of Paris last May.  I met my daughter, Ruby, in Paris and her expertise in dance and choreography enriched the residency with movement while I led creative writing and book-making activities. What a team!

Ruby in Paris
I was able to not only visit the Theatre Des Champs Elysees where the legendary riot broke out during the premier of The Rite of Spring, (the subject of When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky), but I was able, through many amazing and magical circumstances to get a seat and actually view the centennial performance of Le sacre du printemps. 

In front of the Theatre Des Champs Elysees.
Two years ago, I began a story set in Venice. When I began the story, I did not dream of visiting Venice. I researched photographs and read books on the city and used my imagination. Then with the McKnight Fellowship, I decided to visit the city of my story...
View from the Accademia bridge
I spent ten days there walking, floating, photographing and soaking in all of the light, water, weather, sounds, smells and tastes that I could.
Watery streets and gondolas
I met two friends from my past there and together we saw two operas at La Fenice, visited many museums and explored the islands in the Lagoon.

I found the most fantastic bookstore in Venice- books everywhere!
Ten days was not enough. I think I need to move to Venice for a year at least! 

Before returning to Minnesota, I stayed in London for a few days. I filled myself with art by visiting two museums a day, attending a performance of The Tempest at the Globe Theatre, and even visited Circus Space, an amazing circus school in the heart of London.

My favorite publisher and bookstore- Persephone Books!
Circus Space
 Upon returning to Minneapolis, I did not even have time to download my travel photos before returning to painting sets at Circus Juventas. I had Witch's castles to paint, and Emerald City towers, trees, gateways, magical caravans, and poppies too. There were volunteers to help me, but basically I painted Oz for two months, taking breaks to watch the rehearsals of these amazing young performers.

painting the Wicked Witch's castle
Rehearsal and view of Oz partially covering the Witch's castle, and gateway.
When the rehearsals turned into performances, there was no hint of a circus school or arena, instead it was the magical land of Oz with tornadoes and poppy fields, emerald cities and gorgeous performances. I ushered nearly every show just so I could see it from every angle. What those kids create with all of their hard work is truly magical.

Poppy Queen with Emerald City in background. (Dan Norman- photographer)
Triangle trapeze with a house- tornado. (Joey McEachron- photographer)
4 man high in Teeterboard- Emerald City (Dan Norman-photographer)
Cooper, my son as the Tin Man, on Cyr Wheel (Joey McEachron, photographer)
And now it is fall-- or nearly there. My son has started his final year of high school and will soon begin classes at Circus Juventas again. My daughter is returning to Europe, via Iceland. My husband continues writing his novels. And I am returning to new stories, but that is another story. 


mark said...

What an awesome summer, Lauren! I envy your travels in Europe (and the inspiration you gained). Your sets for Circus Juventas seem to be getting larger and more intricate. I'd love to catch a show there sometime.... Good luck with your fall endeavors!

Edie Hemingway said...

Oh, Lauren, what an amazing, magical summer! And I still plan to get to Circus Juventas some day, preferably when Cooper is still performing in it.

Stephanie said...

Such an amazing trip. I still haven't ever been to Europe, one of these years:)

Christy said...

It all seems charmed. I know you work hard at what you do. How wonderful that you can enjoy this richness and fullness of life in so many places and in so many ways.

David LaRochelle said...

I think you have enough material for many books, Lauren. All these amazing things you saw this summer were indeed the result of opportunities that you created. I think you are pretty darn amazing.