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Bill Hayes Susan Hayes Interviewed by Danita Minnis
Veterans of the stage and screen, Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes are an unbeatable creative force. Still working the day job at the beloved soap Days of Our Lives, Bill and Susan enjoy collaborating on lush romances with pen and ink.
Bill and Susan, you are the king and queen of the soap opera world and star in the long-running fan favorite Days of Our Lives. What made you go from acting to writing the historical romance Trumpet? Was it a natural extension of your own timeless romance? Susan: “Write about what you know” everyone says, and indeed after forty years of deliriously happy marriage off screen and dramatic situations onscreen, I believe we do know what love feels like, both the highs and lows. Then too, we are actors first of all, so we spun a story of an actress in another age (The age of Napoleon, Jane Austin, and the discoveries of ancient tombs and temples in Egypt). Trumpet took seven years to research and write. Too long, perhaps, but we traveled to every location we described and had a delicious time. Twenty years of history are crammed in there amid the trials and passions of an English actress. Many of the experiences described we had lived, but I won’t share which ones. For the final draft we sat side by side at the computer reading it all, aloud, making the final cuts, changes and edits. Talk about a bonding experience! I recommend collaborating on a work of art, if you want to deepen a relationship. Bill: Susan and I are both romantics. We breathe romance, we think romance, we fantasize romantic situations. For us to write romance is our natural expression. We love to travel back in imagination to exciting times in history. For us to write of life during the Regency Period is pure joy. Theatre—acting, singing, entertaining—has ruled our careers, our studies, our lives. What else could we have written about? It had to be the story of a dreamer who dedicates mind, heart and soul to a life in theatre! Of course Lizzie Trumpet makes mistakes along way; who of us doesn’t? But she does fall in love, she does hone her talent, she does taste the heady wine of success. I love her. 180 | btsemag.com
Acting, singing, dancing and writing; you’ve done it all. With a career that started in the Golden Age of television, what is your inspiration for longevity and keeping it fresh in multiple venues? Susan: Believe in the material. Commit everything you’ve got to the story, the song, the moment. Half-hearted critical performers (thinking they are better than the play, the scene, the character), soon lose the audience’s faith because they had lost it themselves. Just get on with it, show up on time and don’t bump into the furniture. Bill: The infancy of our careers coincided with the childhood of television. We were trying our wings at the same time TV emerged from the cocoon of experimentalism and began to supersede radio and vaudeville, to distinguish itself from cinema, to create its own individuality. Equipment was primitive. Except for a few early John Wayne movies, programs and commercials were frighteningly LIVE-LIVE-LIVE, so that when you goofed, the entire country saw it happen. The result—inspired or dreadful—was exciting for both performers and viewers. That excitement became a part of us. Whether we are onstage in a play, or doing our act in Australia, or playing a Doug and Julie love scene, that feeling of LIVE-LIVELIVE has never left us. That’s who we are!