Friday, September 29, 2006

My Fifteen Minutes

from Jacqueline

Actually, that is a gross exaggeration – it was only three minutes. And it was more than a little scary. Cornelia, I could well have joined you in the upchucking stakes!

The escapade began last Friday afternoon, when I found out that the CBS Early Show wanted to record a segment about me and my novels on the following Monday afternoon. Luckily I had only two days to get my knickers in a twist, as we say in Britain. Some people take to this sort of thing with ease, calmly going forth where more famed ones have gone before, confident of their celebrity. First, as we all know, I am not a celebrity, and second, I almost ran the other way, but the publicity team at my publishers were just about dancing in the streets at this most wondrous thing – an author on the box!

The day dawned. Well, actually, no, it didn’t dawn for me, because I couldn’t sleep the night before. So active were the butterflies inside me, that there was no peaceful coming of dawn. I was on my way to the airport in Pittsburg by seven o’clock anyway. I finally arrived at my hotel in New York and dashed out again. Retail therapy was in order. Being a savvy “on the road” dresser, I had packed only garb in black, white and beige (those safe colors that go with each other) for a month away, and had been told by someone, somewhere, that you shouldn’t really go for black, white and beige on camera unless you’re an established TV presence – a Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour or Madonna. J. Winspear clearly needed help with the old attire. I came back with brown, which may seem a bit, well, muddy, but I thought it would be better than any other color I could come up with. I thought it would be fine. Not so the bill for this insouciant moment.

Despite being sent out to put powder on my face by the cameraman (I am not a big one for make-up, considering myself somewhat inept even with a mascara wand), everything went smoothly, more so than I could have imagined. The crew (two of whom filmed the Katie Couric/Condi Rice interview for 60 minutes – that’s a good two degrees from the White House right there) were delightful, and kept saying how nice it was to work with an ordinary person for a change. And I have to say, it staggered me later, when I reflected upon this adventure, how quickly one gets used to a strange man with headphones poking around one’s waistband with wires and threading more wires up through one’s jacket.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Early Show on Thursday morning, so I took off down to the hotel fitness center, to pound out the time on the treadmill and wait for someone (a friend, a husband) to let me know how it all turned out. And I still haven’t watched it, but if you are interested, there’s a video clip available at the following link:

Of course, one of the slight snafus was in procurement of a suitable photograph of me as a child. As you all know from my posts sent while in England, my parents live in a rural area, have no internet access and even in the town four miles away wouldn’t know where to go to get online. CBS wanted a pic of me as a kid (I possess no such thing) so I ‘phoned my mother, asked if she could track down a place that would scan and send a photo. Then told her exactly - and I mean, exactly - which photo to send. I added that there was no need to send more than that one photo, the only one I could remember that does not make me look like a little devil. My mother – a most efficient woman – had the photo scanned and sent to my publisher within the hour. I knew this because I received a copy of the email, along with a note: “Photos of Jackie, from her mum.”

Note plural. Photos. I opened the file with some trepidation, and all but passed out. There I would be, on national TV with my scraggy braids, that little devil grin and – oh dear – those bangs my mother used to cut herself. She was so scared that she might accidentally poke my eye out, that the line of hair that began above eye level ended up somewhere around my scalp. And – as I have just said – on national TV. Another reason for not watching the show.

So, that was it. My three minutes, over and done.

I’m not at Bouchercon, as you have probably guessed. For some reason my name was on the website as attending, but I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t be able to go, given the book tour. This morning I am Ho-omeward Bound, oh yes, I’m ... Ho-omeward Bound (thank you, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel), then on Saturday I’m at the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival, which should be fun, plus I don’t have to travel that far to get there.

I can’t wait to get into my own kitchen, put the kettle on, make a cup of tea and sit down in the garden with my feet up. I might even watch a little recorded TV.

Until next week ...

PS: My mother has recently discovered this blog. I knew when she began a call with, "So, did you go to the doctor about that clot-like bruise?"


  1. Un-twist those knickers. And major congratulations!

    Mystery Readers International just announced that Jacqueline won the 2006 "Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award" (a Macavity) for PARDONABLE LIES.

    What a quinella. Thursday on CBS. Friday a prestigious Macavity Award.

    Jackie...take the weekend off.

  2. from Jacqueline

    Hey, Paul, thanks so much. I was just going through emails to keep myself awake - the jet-lag is about to get me at any minute - and thought I would check in with the blog. Can't take tomorrow off, but Sunday is looking good.

  3. Major congratualtions! So exciting and so well deserved. Cornelia and I are trying to represent Naked Authors at Bouchercon in Madison, but we miss you all.

  4. from Jacqueline

    Perhaps at the next big event/conferene we can all be there and host a get-together of some sort - I'll bring the bread if someone else can do the peanut butter. And the possible the party names just roll off the tongue don't they? T

    hanks so much for the congrats, and for being the - very wonderful - poster women for Naked Authors at Bouchercon.

    Have a really great time!

  5. Saw the CBS video! You've nothing to worry about. You came across like a seasoned TV pro. And, I see at your readings you have a basket of what looks like "Maise" tea. Is that what those little boxes are?
    So..... the photos....
    The first one came on and I thought, that's not bad at all. Rather cute, even. Then the second.... those bangs.... those very tight braids....
    I've an Irish cousin in the 1970's who grew his hair into a huge Afro to fill his high school yearbook picture with hair. An Irish Afro. That photo was unnerving. You've a long way to go to get in that league for odd youth pictures.

  6. from Jacqueline

    Thank you, Alice - however, those cranky braids and the rat-chewed bangs (looks just fine on Audrey Hepburn ...) were just the start of a chain of less than flattering photos - no wonder my parents didn't buy a new camera after the old box Brownie ceased to function!

    And yes, you can see the small boxes of Maisie Dobbs tea, though the actual teabags inside are from Twinings. They've gone down very well.

  7. About childhood pix.... 'tis not generally taught in schools the typical human adolescent growth patterns. About the time humans hit puberty, normal kids find - often to their private horror - they are not too attractive anymore. It's because normal kids' noses and feet grow faster than the rest of themselves. No kidding. And, IIRC, our tailbones grow out of synch, too, explaining why we like to rock back in our school chairs at that age for comfort.
    So! Not to worry about progressively odd kid pix as one ages. That's normal!!

  8. While nothing anyone can say will make you love that pix with bangs and tightly-braided hair, that childhood photo radiates a winsome wistfulness of a little girl with a dream -- a dream you are making come true with class and elegance -- as displayed in the wonderful CBS video! Congrats on your hard-won recognition, and for those of us who wonder, how is Sara/h (forgive me, I forgot which spelling your equine friend prefers)