Stage By Stage is about Beth (an English teacher and mother of two teenage children) whose husband leaves her after twenty-five years of marriage mainly because she is an English teacher and mother of two teenage children. In order to supplement her severely depleted income, Beth opens her Cambridge house to Bed & Breakfast visitors. Three of her guests are Cate - the young ASM-with-attitude of a touring musical theatre company, Seb - the newest actor in the company who happens to be staggeringly good-looking and with whom Beth's daughter Natalie immediately falls in love, and a character actor of about Beth's own age called Owen Pendragon...

Beth came out of her bedroom and - oh my Lord! Her mouth dropped open. It wasn't only downstairs that the guests would be underfoot. Owen was emerging from the bathroom in a waft of 'Aztec For Men'. His dark hair curled damply, his legs were bare and muscled and in his midnight-blue towelling bathrobe he looked the sexiest, most virile pirate ever to have sailed the seven seas. Beth was caught completely by surprise. None of her previous visitors had ever looked like this. Oh hell, she wailed to herself as a massive pulse of lust pole-axed her.

Wicked hazel eyes skimmed her from head to foot. Aztec For Men swirled in her nostrils. "Morning, mistress," he said in an appreciative voice. "Principal Boy legs before breakfast. Lovely."

"Breakfast," repeated Beth inanely. "I'm - I'm just starting it." She flew downstairs and thrust sausages under the grill with shaking fingers. She'd have to ask Nats or Rob to set the places in the dining room. She'd probably drop the cutlery drawer if she tried.

STAGE BY STAGE by Jan Jones, Transita July '05, ISBN 1-905175-086, Price 7.99
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Background to Stage By Stage

My parents were both involved with amateur operatics, so my earliest memories of 'going to the theatre' were their musicals. I saw West Side Story, Oklahoma!, all the old favourites. I was even in Carousel myself, as one of the obnoxious Snow children. I never ceased to marvel at the transformation of the initial, uncoordinated rehearsals to the magic of the final stage performances.

The genes must have been passed on, because as I grew up I acted in every school play and sung in every concert. My daughter has also inherited this enthusiasm. So when the Stagecoach Theatre Arts school she attends on Saturdays was asked to provide the children's choir for the Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat tour stop in Cambridge, I was happy to volunteer as a chaperone. Which is where the seed for Stage By Stage was sown.

Over a three week run, spent largely in the dressing-room and the wings, a writer cannot help but become aware of things like a touring actor's lot, everyday grumbles, backstage badinage and the sizzling high when a performance goes well. And once a seed is sown, it grows...