Confined to the limits of 19th century Victorian era and the American “Wild West”, Steampunk, the movement that takes history and pushes it forward into science fiction, then ignores everything we have discovered to date, and invents high-tech conveniences using period-correct technology is the genre in which Adrienne Kress wrote her latest novel, The Friday Society.
At just 11 years old, Adrienne enrolled at The Claude Watson School for the Arts, here in Toronto, where she majored in theater and then began to act. She later graduated from the University of Toronto (UofT) with an honours BA in Theatre, then left Canada to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), in the UK. Djanet Sears (her playwriting instructor at UofT) told her, “I know how much you love acting, and you’re good at it, but I hope you come back to writing because you’re very good at this too.”
“It was a ‘light bulb’ moment” said Kress, “…up until then it was a hobby. It was something I really enjoyed. It was the first time it occurred to me I had [a] real skill.” Adrienne took Djanet’s advice while in the UK. She started work on her second play, but it didn’t work out. She then attempted a detective mystery, but that didn’t work out either. Ultimately, Kress decided to write a book for children. She called it Alex and the Ironic Gentleman. She sold the book to a publisher in the UK, and hasn’t looked back.
The Friday Society was Adrienne’s first attempt at writing a novel for young adults. She now also has two other books published – Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Timothy and the Dragons Gate. Both are geared toward a child audience. I am a huge, huge, fan of children’s literature… Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Phantom Tollbooth.” said Adrienne. “I would say, kids are reading more than ever, thanks to Harry Potter.” The freedom of the genre is what is appealing. “I think you can go to extremes. You can go to some really dark places, but you can also go to very whimsical places without people rolling their eyes at you… you can really play… really go for it. Kids don’t question the absurdity.”
There is a market for authors, despite the exodus from print- to screen-based entertainment. One mother told Adrienne that The Friday Society was the first novel that pulled her son away from playing video games. It brings Kress great joy to hear from a parent that their child wouldn’t put down her book. “I don’t write easy, I don’t write short, I’m incredibly long-winded, my books are twice the length of the average kids’ book. What I do have are relatively short chapters; there’s lots of stuff that happens, and there is lots of humor. It’s compelling, and kids want to keep reading it.”
Adrienne currently resides in Toronto and calls herself an actor/writer. “The world of theater is my home. I’ve done it all – acting, directing, producing, writing… it’s storytelling in many different forms. I like to tell a good story.”