25 May 2015

Who were the Murphys?

Sara and Gerald Murphy were incredible people who led incredible lives at an incredible time. They counted among their intimates F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, Archibald MacLeish, Robert Benchley, John Dos Passos, Philip Barry and many, many others who were part of what we refer to as The Lost Generation.

Here’s the story of how I came to write a novel very loosely based on the real lives of real people Sara and Gerald Murphy:

I'm a voracious reader -- biography and history. I love the 1920s and 1930s and have read biographies of all the movers and shakers of that era. In nearly all of them, over the years, I would encounter at least one mysterious reference to a fabulous but tragic couple called the Murphys -- just a word or two but nothing in depth. I would mention this to my spouse, Matt, every time it came up. Who were these people? How were they everywhere with everyone all the time?

One day, we were in a used bookstore (where I find most of my books) and Matt found Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill. He handed it to me and said "This sounds like the kind of book you'd like." When it dawned on me that it was about THE Murphys I started jumping up and down, there, in the used book store, screaming something along the lines of "Do you know what this is about? Who these people are? It's the Murphys! It's the Murphys!" It was one of the most exhilarating moments in my life. I read it several times and then dug in to research their lives in earnest. It was only then that I realized how obscure they really were and set out, with my humble little novel, determined to change that, if only a little.

My book Sarah & Gerald, a novel of Paris in the 1920s, came out in 2012. It’s enjoyed good sales and received good reviews. Soon, I’ll have some wonderful news to share with you about by book, so stay tuned over the next few weeks.

03 May 2015

Number 999!

I started this blog in December 2005. Back then, everyone was doing blogs. I kinda felt left out not having one of my own so, on a lark, I started one. And now, here we are nearly ten years later and the little blog that could is still chugging along, singing a song, side by side. (Sorry, I got off on a little Sondheim tangent there.)

As I was saying, it’ll be ten years this coming December and now here is my 999th blog entry. Everyone writes about their milestones, like their 500th blog. I wrote about my 499th entry back in June 2009. They also write about their 1000th entry but, as you can see, I’m celebrating my 999th entry, instead.

As you would expect, a lot has changed for me in that near-decade since: I married my longtime companion, Matt (we’ve now been together almost 21 years), I left my longtime safety-net job to return to writing full time (which I’ve been doing since the late 1970s!), I’ve published ten books with an eleventh due this summer, I was diagnosed with a potentially fatal genetic heart ailment that was corrected with surgery, we lost a cat, we gained a cat and a dog, and so many other things. Kinda hard to believe so much can happen in so little time.

I plan to keep up with my blog -- even though social media has been stealing the thunder of blogs and replacing it with photographs of cats.

02 May 2015

May Be

Over the years, May has proven to be a bad month for me:
  • my father died in May (on the 20th)
  • our beloved cat, Eames, died in May (the 8th)
  • Joan Crawford died in May (the 10th)
  • I got Valley Fever in May (the 30th)
  • I had my first near-fainting spell in May (the 22nd) that would lead, several years later, to me being diagnosed (just last May, the 15th) with a potentially fatal genetic heart ailment (it’s all better now, BTW). 
What is it with May and me? I understand it’s not an evil month and that it’s all just about probabilities and coincidence. After all, there are only twelve months in a year, meaning any event has a 1-in-12 chance of occurring in May. But still.

01 May 2015

Hair of the Dog

And now, ingrown hairs. I guess it would make sense that, when you carve open the chest of a man with chest hair (for heart surgery), that hair follicles would become buried beneath the scar yet continue to produce hairs that cannot pierce the scar tissue. Those hairs keep growing, becoming lodged under the scar, desperately trying to break through something that cannot be broken through. So, out come the sharp pointy things and the tweezers and the alcohol (the sterilizing kind, not the drinking kind) and the surgeon in all of us. I’ve pulled four or five of these recalcitrant hairs out from under the scar, some with only the hair, some still hanging tenaciously onto their follicle. I think there may be three or four more to excise at some point. Sigh! It’s the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?