I met Stace when he graciously allowed the Cisco Writers Club a regular monthly spot on Good Morning, Texas! on 97.7 KATX. The CWC has been on each month, for several months, and I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Stace Gaddy on behalf of the Cisco Writers Club for the Rendezvous with Writing weekly column for Eastland County Today.
Tell us about you. What is your “day job”? What is your favorite part of your day job?
Current day job: KATX 97.7, Eastland. Operations Manager / Host, “Good Morning Texas.” From originally creating and developing “The Midday Mix” to re-shaping and developing “Good Morning Texas,” I enjoy all aspects of my job. I like the challenge of creating an informative and entertaining show every day, and I thoroughly enjoy interviewing local and national guests. I also take pleasure in doing production work—audio editing and writing, voicing, and producing ads, promos, and segments.
When did you discover you were interested in writing, particularly in writing screenplays and musicals? Do your write all the music for all the instruments? Tell me about that process and your current works.
My original training and passion was as an actor/singer. I was blessed with a high level of success as a performer, but, as a Christian, I increasingly found myself at odds with the content in most of the modern theater. I got my MA Degree in Dramatic Theory & Analysis / Playwriting in order to deepen my understanding of both the theory and practice of writing for the stage and screen. I continued that journey at the Doctoral level—receiving a Ph.D. in Speech Communication, with special emphasis in Phenomenology, Ontology, and Epistemology—applied to the field of dramatic writing in its various forms. My goal, and, more specifically, my call was to utilize this intensified training to create and produce plays, musicals, and screenplays that are both artistically and spiritually unadulterated—without compromising my Christian faith nor artistic excellence—in order to employ the performing arts and media as a vehicle for the Great Commission.
Yes, for my full-length musical called, Conundrum, I composed, arranged, and orchestrated all of the music. I also wrote the lyrics. Normally, this would be a collaborative effort between several people, but for this particular project, I wanted to do all of it. I doubt that I will do it again. It is extremely time-consuming, and people exist that are stronger in certain areas of the process than I am. My musical preference would be to compose the music and lyrics and collaborate with a separate arranger/orchestrator for the final score—or vice-versa, to orchestrate someone else’s composed/arranged music.
My original mainstream dramas have enjoyed successful productions in Houston, Chicago, and Off-Broadway. My cantatas, targeting church audiences, have also flourished in several churches around the country. My current works include:
Conundrum: full-length musical (book, music, lyrics, arrangements, orchestrations)
Conundrum: feature-length screenplay (adapted from the stage musical)
The Word Became Flesh: one-act musical cantata (book only)
Centurion Christmas: one-act musical cantata (book only)
Emily & Otto: one-act play
Well House: one-act play
Various scholarly essays, published at Southern Illinois Carbondale Press, Christianity Today Magazine, etc…
Where do you find inspiration?
In God’s Creation—His universe, his earth, His human beings. My base-line philosophy and theoretical standpoint and approach is to apply God’s creative genius to my feeble creative attempts. As part of my Doctoral studies, I developed a form of drama that I call, “Designism.” The fundamental idea is that to create truly enlightened works of art, in any of its various forms, I must thoroughly study and emulate the Master’s work—His Design. Specifically where playwriting is concerned, He is, after all, the greatest story-teller in eternity. Let us not forget, too, that Jesus as well is the “Author” and finisher of our Faith. These are two very basic examples of the idea, but the concept of applying God’s techniques to my work has no end. Dramatic structure is at the heart of God’s creation. Simply, on top of traditional educational training, I ask the Holy Spirit—the best Teacher of all—to instruct me, to give me insight. I study the Master Builder and try to do what He does.
When do you feel most creative during the day?
Most certainly a night person. No matter how hard I try to re-set myself to “early to bed, early to rise,” left unchecked, I always revert to hoot-owl tendencies.
What is your favorite word?
Wow—impossible to choose. A) Seemingly infinite pool of beautiful, evocative words – and in so many languages. B) I don’t know them all. One that pops into my head as I write this is, “indefatigable.” Fun to say, lots of poetic rhythm, and powerfully communicates its meaning. The key to excellent writing is to pick the “right” word – not necessarily the fanciest. The word that entirely and clearly captures–intellectually, poetically, and evocatively—the precise “thing” that the writer wishes to communicate.
What authors do you like to read?
Well, I am a literary sinner. I must admit that I do not read much fiction, nor novels of any kind. The pace is too slow for me. I do, however, read copious amounts of everything for informational purposes—articles, journals, etc.—and I’m a news junky. In general, I’m a knowledge addict. I am a bit compulsive about it. When I encounter a word, concept, or event with which I am unfamiliar, I instinctively research it.
I am praying for the Lord to open the doors for the final, big-league, fruition of Conundrum. It has been tested Off-Broadway, revised, re-revised, and is “finished.” I’m constantly waiting and watching to find some Christian investors with vision and faith to finance the screenplay—to eternally affect millions of people with the Hope of Christ. To set a new standard of excellence in Christian theatre and film, befitting the Savior.
Much of the story-telling skill is similar from one type of writing to another – plot, conflict, characterization, etc. What is your advice to aspiring authors?
Train. Train. Train. Study the craft—really study it. Too many people have a gift and desire to write but don’t do the heavy lifting. Technique is absolutely crucial. Learn all of the theories surrounding it—then, and only then, can a writer add his or her new voice to the field.
Do not do what has been done before. Easier said than done, I know, but make it your imperative to be unique. Don’t use other people’s phrases nor rhythms nor approach—use your own. Influence is inevitable, but avoid imitation at all costs.
In essence, put on paper what in reality you are—one of a kind, never before, nor hence, existing.