Monday, May 4, 2020


By Mary Kennedy                                               

Lights, camera, action, and wait a minute! You mean, here in my incredibly messy house? Oh no.

Here's how it all began.  I was writing teen fiction for Scholastic (35 books, back to back) and in addition, had just taken on a grueling, but exciting job as PR Director for a major travel company.  So I was working 12 hours a day in PR, commuting 2 hours round trip and writing books every night and into the early morning hours. I wrote 8 books that year. 

And now a nationally syndicated TV show wanted to feature me and discuss my teen books. Chez moi! Quelle horreur. 

 It was interesting, but I put the idea on the back burner. Many of these things (film options, network shows) show up from time to time but never come to pass. Ask any writer. A brief flurry of interest and then zilch. 

But this one was different.  I got "the call" on a Thursday night around 8:00 pm. The film company was going to be at my house at 8:30 the following morning.

After my initial shock, I called a friend, a fellow writer. She advised me to take a few black plastic leaf bags and do a run through the house, scooping up everything in sight. Good advice and I only had a few hours to do it. (She also suggested putting out a nice spread of beer, soda and deli food for the crew. Excellent advice.) A quick run to Wawa and the liquor store.

6:30 am. The crew arrives, two hours early! A brief panic on my part when I mistakenly think they've let my cat out. False alarm. The cat has wedged herself behind the massive wall unit in the den. I found myself wishing I could join her.

8:00 am.  Scene #1. They finally set up the lighting and tell me to pretend to be serving lunch to my children at the kitchen table.   The producer says to child #1, "Well, young man, let's talk about your Mom." (Child looks distinctly uncomfortable.)"What does she like about her PR job?"

Child thinks for a moment and then says helpfully, "The free trips." Producer frowns and makes a throat slitting motion to the camera guy. "We'll cut that line," he tells me.  Child #2 appears, sits down, looks baffled and says, "Why are we eating lunch in the morning?"

 Producer grits teeth. "We'll cut that line, too." Followed by a few token questions about why I took up writing, and why I love writing for teens.

Scene  #2. A local bookstore. I'm instructed to look idly over the shelves and gasp in delight as I spot my books. Since they are all arranged face out this seems ridiculous. Producer agrees that it looks silly and suggests all the books be placed spine out and then I can look appropriately pleased. (it still looked silly to me.) 

Scene #3.  A local lake. I'm told to walk around the lake, looking pensive and then settle myself under a tree as if I'm coming up with plot ideas. This was a very short scene. Mud was oozing up into my sandals as I walked around the soggy lake bank and I accidentally sat in a nest of fire ants under the tree.

Home at last. The crew devours the deli spread as if they were a pack of starving hounds. They finally pack up their gear and depart.

The finished product.  They ran the Beatle's song, "Paperback Writer" as I wandered around the edge of the lake. A nice touch. The show got a lot of repeat airings: I think it helped sales.  I had to throw out my Gucci sandals. The cat had a nervous breakdown and was never the same. Such was my brush with fame!

By Mary Kennedy


Lynn in Texas said...

Thanks for the glimpse into your reality, Mary. That made me laugh!

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lynn, it was quite an adventure!

Ferne said...

WoW! What an absolutely supercalifragilisticexpialidocious moment when you heard the news, followed by panic that everything at your house would be just perfect. Kudos to the friend that suggested the quick jaunt through the house with plastic bags. I hope she came over to help re-discover the contents of those bags. I can only guess that you laughed when you discovered some of the things you had thrown in the bags. It sounds like the day created a treasury of amazing memories as well as awesome sales. I'm sorry the cat didn't think the experience was as amazing as we all do in hearing about it and I hope you treated yourself to a new pair of Gucci sandals.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Hi Ferne, actually the friend lived out of state, but I was grateful for her suggestion. You wouldn't believe how much stuff ended up in the bag! I ended up storing the bag in the garage and another bag in the car. It was a wild, but fun day...thanks for stopping by, mary