In the few days since the publication of “India’s Summer” my writing has received the kind of recognition authors barely allow themselves to dream about. The Golden Globes coverage eclipsed much of the news in LA and as my PR, Lucy Hamilton explained, Johnny Depp’s breakup with Vanessa Paradis kept me off the cover of People magazine again this week. She has apologized for the lack of media coverage. Those of you who attended the event will bear testimony to the glamour of the occasion and I will share the photographs soon.
The statue is strikingly beautiful and to be the first non –native of New York in history to receive this trophy is an exceptional honor. It is difficult to express my gratitude to Matt Goldman, co- founder of the Blue Man Group for flying out to make the presentation.
Unaware that I had even been nominated, I was rendered speechless for quite a few moments. Unaccustomed to receiving awards, and the other side of several glasses of wine, I think I came across like Sally Field receiving her Academy Award for Norma Rae “I can’t deny the fact you like me …right NOW you really really LIKE me!”
And so… as I tackle Amazon… as I head out into the world my torch held high… ready for the Free Promotion this weekend…these words will be on my lips and in my heart; “La Liberté éclairant le Monde.”
I am at a new and very exciting point in my life. For the first time there’s something tangible to show for my work. I’ve written a novel and it’s published TODAY !!!!
Never before have I had so much positive affirmation, so many congratulations, so much delight in what I have achieved and yet this feels like the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Bring on the standing ovation for the years spent teaching, raising my family, running a business, creating a home, caring for my parents and supporting my husband’s work. A round of applause, thank you, for the days spent cleaning and cooking driving back and forth to school playgrounds, cooking dinners and dealing with all of the crises that happen along the way. Let’s hear it for the thirty- five-year marriage and the friendships that have survived the years. Yes I am appreciated and loved and yes I know I’ve done my best and had a productive and exciting life. I’m rewarded on a daily basis by all of that love. Even so, I get a tremor of excitement at the physicality of this book.
Writing a novel has been one of the most satisfying rewarding, pleasurable things I’ve ever done. It took me into a world of my own creation, where I was totally in control. When one of my characters went on an adventure I went along for the ride, curious to see where they would take me. My only limitations were self- imposed. I wrote for the guilt-free pleasure of being locked in a world of my imagination, without thought for whether it would make money, get published or flop. I wrote whenever I could and probably at one of the busiest and most stressful times of my life. I wrote instead of shopping or reading or doing any of the many other things that usually give me space and time for myself.
The more I turned up, the more easily the words flowed. I could hear my ‘voice’ getting stronger. There came a point where I wanted someone to share what I’d written and as a result became more confident with my writing and more confident in myself; thrilled to learn that my friends had escaped into this fantasy I had created.
I had no idea starting out where this would lead and still don’t. What I do know is that once I committed fully to writing India’s Summer the project took on a life of its own. I used to think that what I needed more than anything else was time. What I’ve learned is that time expands to fill the space available.
Blogging is fun and self -indulgent, it keeps the muscles working but it doesn’t give me energy or preoccupy me in the same way. I’m working on the sequel. Something tells me India still has far to go…
Note-to-Self – Am not door to door salesperson.
Next time the publisher asks how many advance copies of my book I want to buy, I might give a moment’s thought to where I plan to store them and whether anyone in the family might like to eat at the dining table. I might also ask myself exactly what I think I’m going to do with four hundred copies. I was thinking the couches could do with being a little higher and maybe next year with the right lighting and enough Sancerre nobody will notice the color of our tree…
Is everyone watching the costume drama Downton Abbey? Get to iTunes fast and catch up if you aren’t. It’s brilliant. It’s a wild success over here. Most Americans are intrigued by the English class system as well they might be. It’s complicated. There are so many British cultural nuances in the series that a quick guide might help.
There are broad categories: upper and lower working class, upper and lower middle class, upper and lower upper class. It doesn’t stop until it gets to The Queen.
Class isn’t all about money. It’s more like in Chess. Imagine the pieces as people. The queen doesn’t move around a lot but when she does she can go a long way in one direction. Everyone wants to be her friend and bask in reflected glory. She has a large family; Prince and Princesses, Dukes, Earls, Dowagers, Ladies etc. A pawn can turn into another piece but only at a certain point, maybe by winning the lottery or making a lot of money. The Bishops bring that little touch of religion people seem to need. The Knights are all classes nowadays but still pretty busy protecting things and popping up in odd places.
The class system is all about social mobility. The reason it’s more like Chess than Ping – Pong is that the rules are complicated, there’s more than two players and an awful lot of metaphorical and real balls in the air. It’s about your accent, your clothes, where you live, who you know.
Downton Abbey captures all of this exquisitely. Ultimately it shows that behind the veneer and the opulence lie real people dealing with the universal themes of money, career, health and love. Issues that cross the barriers of time, place and class. So you see it isn’t so different from California after all. Five days and counting until my book gets released and India Butler has to navigate her way through the social terrain of Los Angeles. Five days and counting…
“I used to think that what scared me most was the idea of being abandoned until someone said to me, ‘only children can be abandoned. Adults can’t be abandoned because we have a choice.’” – Demi Moore, Harper’s Bazaar
Don’t you feel for Demi, or anyone who has to go through their heart -break in the glare of the media. Okay, we all know that there’s a love/ hate relationship between the paparazzi and anyone craving attention, but the last time I saw Demi she was onstage at an event my husband was hosting for “The Freedom Awards.” I saw a woman giving her time and energy to publicize the outrage of modern day slavery. Go Demi.
Now, I know the week before my first ever novel gets published ( YES !! Wahoo etc…), I should be rallying every one I know to Twitter and Tweet and email and be as excited as I am about “India’s Summer.” According to the publicists, I should be using stories as “hooks” to make links about themes in my book. I should be at my wittiest, drawing new traffic to my blog. Instead, the connection that came to me this morning was in the word ‘traffic’ and I’m outraged all over again about ‘human trafficking.’ Please check out the link.
Having said that, I’m not turning into “Mother Thérèse” either!! Will be back with highlights of the build up in LA to the book launch and all the very exciting things you have to do after you’ve written a book, found an editor, re- written a book, hired a copy-editor, had rejections, landed an agent, pre-ordered so many copies nobody in the house can move, paid for a book party, worked out how to tweet, hired a web designer, hired a party planner, bored the ass off your friends and family, alienated everyone around you and gone into a blind panic that the whole venture was some kind of mental breakdown and you should have just gone to the beach.
PS…This is a very long sentence but in between doing everything in the sentence I haven’t time to re- draft it and want you to read the other blogs so you can see I’m not illiterate.
“Very few, if any authors, write prose with the thought that one day they might have to read it standing on a stage in front of an audience hell bent on having a good time.”
– Howard Marks
This was a quote I fell upon by chance the night before my recent debut at Seven and a Half Minutes of Fame.
How true, I thought, but it’s okay. It’ll be a small crowd, an intimate setting, informal, a good opportunity to showcase and read a couple of short extracts from my upcoming novel. How bad can it get?
Very bad is the answer.
I struggle to describe my horror when the MC said he would be introducing me next. Next that is, after the young comedienne who was channeling Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman to thigh-beating, chair-rocking, belly-aching, sidesplitting, foot-stomping gales of laughter.
The terror in that moment came from the awful realization that this was not the right environment for a reading. My writing style was not suited to the occasion. I was about as out of place as Lady Gaga in her meat dress at a PETA convention.
Focus. You can do this. I told myself. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
This turns out not to be true. There is plenty to fear. For one simple reason – it is terrifying. Nothing had prepared me for getting on stage and being blinded by klieg lights. Unable to make eye contact I had no sense of the audience that had fallen deathly silent with expectation.
Judging from the applause and feedback it went well. I remember nothing except feeling like I was about to be interrogated by the FBI or had somehow wandered onto the set of Dead Man Walking. If you ever decide you want an adrenaline kick like this, I suggest building up to it gradually by bungee jumping one weekend, walking on fire the next, and maybe trying out the high wire a couple of times in between.
Much as I find myself endlessly amusing, I am not a comedian. I am a writer and it turns out I am also clearly mad because I have absolutely no idea why I agreed to perform at the aptly named Witzend in the first place.