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