Writers as celebrities
As I remember it John D. MacDonald once spent five grumpy minutes at the tail end of a Johnny Carson show complaining that writers like himself should be given more time than they received. He was never on Carson again. Of course.
Tales of TV and writers abound. My own relates to the time Barry Gifford hauled my then current novel on to the Today show where he was guesting as the screenwriter of Wild At Heart, a very hot film at the time. I could glimpse my book resting on a table. And just before commercial I knew that the next small segment would see my book held up to the millions who would make it a bestseller. Well, Al Roker, windier than ever, ran long and when the interview was resumed basically all that was said was goodbye.
Barry did very well on the tube. Al Collins does very well. So did Evan Hunter. But face it folks most of us just aren't that exciting or even interesting to the masses because the masses don't read books. If you wrote your book in a whorehouse; or while driving a Nascar; or while having sex with a starlet--then maybe you'd be ready for TV. Otherwise forget it.
I thought of this tonight when I read Ruth Jordan's excellent piece on John Ball in Crimespree #16. In The Heat of The Night had an impact few genre novels ever have. And Ball would have been great TV because as Ruth details the guy packed enough occupations into his years to make you wonder if he wasn't four different people.
That's why non-fiction writers are in demand in radio and tv. They come with hooks. You know, how to lose weight, how to cheat your business partner without him knowing it, the real secret life of Dick Cheney (God spare me the details).
About fifteen years ago a Japanese magazine did an article about my Jack Dwyer novels. Big splashy full color magazine. The woman who wrote the piece even flew to Cedar Rapids to spend a day with me. She did a very nice job and I was thankful that she made me seem a lot more interesting than I am.
The one thing we laughed about was my life history. I wish I could've come up with a few years of mountain climbing and cancer research and having an affair with Princess Di. But as I told her except for four years when I wrote and produced commercials and documentaries all I've done with my life is sit in a variety of rooms and type.
And that sure ain't gonna get you on the Today show.