Soap Opera Digest: When did you start writing this book?
Staci Greason: The day before everything went on lockdown [in March 2020], I had stepped off a karaoke stage with my friends and blown out the last of my ACL. I couldn’t walk. My stepson had just moved home from college and my stepdaughter was in high school, so I turned our guest room into an office. I had this book deal and I thought, “I’m just going to write another book because I have to do something.” I wanted to write about the unhealed trauma after a bad relationship and how it affects someone’s daily life.
Digest: How would you describe the book?
Greason: Three smart, sexy women who are slightly messed up join forces to wreak vengeance on the rock star who hurt them all. It’s a love letter to women. We are fascinating, interesting and different, and I started writing about this woman named Dani, and then suddenly, she’s writing a blog where she’s murdering her ex-husband Peter and she’s loving it. And then I start thinking, “Who’s reading the blog?”, and that’s where the other characters, Red and Sasha, came from. Red is Peter’s on-again, off-again lover, and Sasha is his current wife and backup singer that he left Dani for. So I started writing about all these women and the effect of dating a bad guy — smart women who have not made a great choice. I have made poor choices in love, and women I love who are smart and fantastic make these interesting, unhealthy choices. So I was exploring that and then I just knew that it was exactly where I wanted to go. I wanted to have these women go after this guy, go after Peter, and get equality and justice. So often, we don’t get that in the real world. I wanted to write a book where women believe each other and believe themselves and together they have a positive outcome and they get to move forward with their lives. They’re not stuck in this trauma.
Digest: What was the process of writing the book like for you?
Greason: Because I had moved in with [husband] Larry and the kids, it gave me a reason to escape every day. I am a very disciplined person. I have my Buddhist practice, and I have a disciplined writing practice. A long time ago, someone told me, “Writing is like a day job,” so I write every single day. I would go into my office every day at the house and close the door and write from, like, 9 to 3.
Digest: How do you feel now that the book is out?
Greason: I always had stage fright, even when I was an actress. But once you release it in the world, it’s the reader’s book; it’s not your book anymore. I hope that readers have a really great experience with the book. I want them to be encouraged and I want to remind women how amazing they are. After I signed my book deal a couple of years ago, I got really nervous. That typical, “I’m not a writer, it’s going to stink. Nobody’s going to like it,” and I moved through that. I had anxiety on and off, and it’s very vulnerable to put something like this out there. I’m excited to see how it does. I promised myself I won’t read the reviews, so I probably won’t read the reviews because if you believe the good ones then you have to believe the bad ones. Certainly when I was an actress, I got all sorts of mean and terrible comments as well as loving comments.
Digest: Having read the book, which I think is great, it seems like it could easily be turned into a limited series. Did you even consider that when you were writing it?
Greason: Well, thank you. That means a lot to me. When I’m writing, I’m just letting the characters tell me where they want to go, and then I’m trying to fashion some kind of plot around that, but this book pretty much wrote itself. They just took it over and I had a blast writing it. I found the music that they each loved and I just went to town letting them tell the story. But after I finished, I thought this would be a really a great Netflix or HBO Max limited series, but the odds of that happening? You never know. It would be a wonderful vehicle for three actresses.
Digest: Well, what does it mean to you that you made a career pivot years ago and it’s been a success?
Greason: Well, I would say I’ve been prolific at it but not successful at it [laughs]. It’s more, “What does it mean that you decided to leave a secure job on DAYS OF OUR LIVES to never make a living as a writer?” That’s pretty much what happened. When I was leaving DAYS, I remember so many voices of authority warning me, like, “This is a terrible, terrible idea to leave this secure job. You can’t make a living writing poetry.” But I had just discovered that I had a voice and I was so excited and I just wanted to write. So I am a writer. Thirty years of novels and short stories and essays and screenplays and TV pilots. I wrote a really fun TV pilot with my friend, Joey Gironda, called [BOBBI & OLIVIA] that won Best TV Sitcom Pilot at the Studio City Film Festival and that was fun. I did for quite some time pitch a pilot about a personal assistant to a soap opera star, and I really wish that would have taken off. I even wrote a screenplay with Shannon Sturges [ex-Molly, DAYS]. We’re still really good friends. She has a huge acting studio in L.A. now and is very successful, but we wrote a screenplay called Scenes From My Parents’ Basement about a soap star who loses everything and has to move into her parents’ basement, loosely based on my experience, turning 40 in my parents’ basement, which was fun. So the writing life for me has definitely not looked anything like I expected. It has definitely been a roller coaster so I’m very grateful to have not given up and to still be writing and to have this book out, which is so delightful after so many decades of hard work. This book is not political, but it is coming out at a very interesting time for women and it brings up a lot of emotion for me. So I’m really happy that the women in my book win.
Digest: Do you miss acting? Would you ever go back?
Greason: I would love to go back if it were for, say, an independent film or something where I could just be au naturel. But I don’t ever want to have to go back and try to look pretty. I’m 58 years old. My husband thinks I’m pretty and that’s good enough. And because I’m too chicken to get any work done. I’m just too scared. I’ve had spinal fusion surgery and I’ve had knee surgery and it really hurts to have surgery! The recovery time is quite intense. I don’t have any judgment on a little here, a little there; it looks good. And then I think, “Oh, I want to lift my neck.” But I’m just going to do a Nora Ephron and Diane Keaton and wear turtlenecks in the summer. But that’s the thing about acting. I really, really loved expressing myself that way; it’s so healthy and it feels great to give viewers a cathartic experience. I loved working with so many creative people on a set. That whole family situation is just the best. It really is the best. Writing is very lonely but I love writing, and being in front of the cameras just makes me really neurotic.
Digest: Has being an actor influenced your writing?
Greason: I feel that acting has informed my writing style and I love talking about that. I feel the literary world is not as open to that. In fact, for a while after I left DAYS OF OUR LIVES, people would say, “Don’t tell people you were on a soap opera. The literary world does not respect that.” And I thought, “Does anybody know how hard it is to be an actor on a soap opera? Or how hard it is to write on a soap opera or direct, do hair, makeup or stand there with a boom for all those hours?” I mean, it’s a job, man! The dialogue comes so easily because you’ve been an actor. You can feel it. I loved being an actor but I don’t really miss it.
Digest: As you look back on your DAYS experience, what stands out to you now?
Greason: What a fun, amazing highlight for a life. I had so much fun. I have only warmth and good feelings and it feels like it happened to another person. I had such a great time. Drake [Hogestyn, John] really took me under his wing. I made so many good friends that I’m still connected to today. Shannon and Rob Mailhouse [ex-Brian]. It’s just so many great memories of getting to do what I loved.
Digest: So, if DAYS came calling and said, “Hey, we need Isabella,” how would you feel?
Greason: No, I think she’s done. She’s so dead for so long.
Digest: No one’s ever dead on DAYS.
Greason: That’s true, but everybody looks so great and Isabella is 58 years old in heaven.
Digest: As you look at yourself today, versus the woman who left DAYS, what do you think about the choices you made and where you are in your life today?
Greason: I feel good today, but there was a very long time when I did not feel good. It was very challenging to have been so successful so young. It’s like touching the sun. And then I left and I had that memory of what that felt like, to make a living doing what I love with people I love, and I really beat myself up for a long time when the writing didn’t happen the way I thought it should happen. And I felt embarrassed to be broke and working hourly jobs. I’ve had every day job, part-time job, personal assistant job you could imagine, just scrambling to pay the rent. I felt bad about that for a long time, even though I was writing the entire time. I don’t feel that bad about that anymore. That was my life and these were the choices that I made. So I feel good about it today. I had very real-life experience with illness and poverty and heartache and hopefully, these all made me a better writer, a better artist, but also a better person. I’m living proof that as we say in Buddhism, “Winter always turns to spring.” I did not give up. My 40s were the hardest decade of life, but I’m here and my 50s were unbelievable. So I really feel like, if anything, the most important thing is that I learned to stop expecting it to look like a specific picture and just really live your freaking life. So that’s the most important thing because we don’t get it back. I get to savor a quality of life that I built myself. When I was 28, John Aniston [Victor, DAYS] was like, “Don’t leave. Buy a house, build a guesthouse in the back to pay your rent during the lean years. What are you doing with your money?” And I was like, “I have a savings account and I’m going to be a writer.” And John was just like, “Oh, my God.” I was all New Agey, like, “I’m going to leap and the net will find me.” Well, there was no net. I fell flat on my face and what I realized is that you are the net, you build the net, that’s it. So I built a good, solid net. And here I am.
All The Girls In Town is available now at online retailers and bookstores.