Saturday, April 29, 2006

Not a lot of people know this ....

Hello, I’m Jackie Winspear, and I’m late. I had planned to write on the flight from New York yesterday, but my laptop was out of battery power. However, while we’re on the subject of flying ....
I have a confession, something I have not made widely known – not that you would, if you were me. I have become afraid of flying. Yes, even I can see a joke or two there, but the fact remains that I have come to hate flying - a bit of an impediment when looking at my travel schedule for the summer, which includes a major book tour for my fourth novel, MESSENGER OF TRUTH. Booksellers and readers, do not worry: I will be there. I will not run from the ‘plane, my arms flailing, like Meg Ryan in French Kiss. This little issue of fear will not ground me.
Of course, it is a bit rich, because nigh on thirty years ago I was a flight attendant, only we were called airline stewardesses in those days, and wore natty little uniforms with hats and gloves. Three years of tertiary education had left me penniless, so I thought the easiest way to accomplish my goal of major worldwide travel was to work for an airline. It’s a bit like when I decided the most effective way to indulge my book habit was to work in publishing, only I ended up in academic publishing – as far removed from general books as you can imagine - and found nothing gratifying in compiler design or graduate-level accounting. Mind you, I was lucky to get the job, being an ex-airline stewardess.
As soon as I board a flight, I scope out the exits. Then I scope out the people sitting at the exits. When I was flying, our chief safety officer – a stocky man with a wicked sense of humor who’d been a Battle of Britain pilot and later flown into Templehof Airport during the Berlin airlift – always said that, in an emergency, it was important to delegate a few passengers to help, but never pick the Adonis because he’d be the first to crumple. Choose the people who look ordinary, he’d said, because ordinary people will always rise to the occasion. I’ve never had to test the hypothesis, thank God, but I still case the candidates.
And it’s not as if I’ve ever been in a serious emergency, though I was a “stew” at a time when every terrorist group in Europe seemed to be hijacking. I’ve been on the flight deck jump seat for take off and landing loads of times, and – wait for it – even took the controls of a DC-10 over the Libyan desert. Really, I did, but I had better shut up before the FAA and CAA want to know more.
So, as the book tour looms, I am trying to get to grips with this fear. I close my eyes on take-off – even though landing is, statistically, more dangerous – and I mutter a mantra I learned in a yoga class a few years ago. When I started work as a stewardess my parents bought me a gold St. Christopher. It was like a gong, a huge thing that hung around my neck and sometimes bounced up and hit me on the nose. I asked them whether they thought my chances of survival were in direct proportion to the size of St. Chris. They didn’t admit it, but of course, that’s exactly what they thought. I took it off, eventually. There seemed something risky in displaying such an obvious coin of safety’s realm, along with a semi-permanent bruise on my snout. But now, every time I go back to my parents house in England, I take the necklace from the box and hold it for a while, as if it has the power to fly me safely back home again.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


by Paul

ERRATA: That's a Latin word meaning "You dirty rat." In my posting the other day, I mentioned the Rock Bottom Remainders Concert Saturday, April 29th at UCLA. Due to technical difficulties including but not limited to stupidity, I made several mistakes. The 2:30 p.m. concert is FREE. The 8 p.m. concert costs $25 and tickets are available at (310) 825-2101. I also stated that Stephen King was playing; he is a member of the Remainders, but he will not be playing. Frank McCourt and Roger McGuinn will be playing, however. Finally, I stated that the Rock Bottom Remainders are a band. That is something of an overstatement.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Naked and The Deb

By Cornelia

A quick glance at this page's right-hand sidebar will reveal that I'm the rookie of the group--a babe in the woods, so to speak:

My stalwart co-bloggers each have multiple published titles to their credit... that would be plural... more than one... the word books with the all-important letter "S" at the end. And then there's me, still a few weeks away from the May 8th debut of my first novel, A Field of Darkness.

If this were a baseball movie, Patty, Jacqueline, Paul, and James would be the sage mentor characters with the wry grins, a la Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, only with far more kickbutt-stellar batting averages.

I'd be the goofy Tim Robbins type, meanwhile--the one who's not exactly clear on the lyrics of "Try a Little Tenderness." The one whose best-intentioned first-season fastballs will probably end up knocking out "the sportswriter, the public address announcer, and the team's bull mascot... twice..." before he gets the slightest clue about how to comport himself on the mound.

(A confession--as baseball movies go, I far prefer this one:

because, hey, Walther Matthau and Tatum O'Neill could have made CURLING look like a great time, plus they got to have beer in their dugout.)

Last year, Sarah Weinman kindly invited me to try my hand at guest-blogging on her very fine Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

Field had been picked up by Mysterious Press the previous month, and I wrote a post about my state of mind in the aftermath:

The existence of a complete novel on my hard drive still surprises the hell out of me on a daily basis, and I'm not exactly sure how it happened. It's like suddenly remembering I built a cabin in Alaska all by myself, in between buying milk and frozen enchiladas and catching up on the laundry. It is very very cool.

It is also scary, in the same way that having to actually live in a cabin in Alaska that I built all by myself probably would be, especially because I still have to do the laundry and defrost enchiladas and everything.

This year, I'm working toward the existence of a second complete novel on my hard drive, and I'm weeks away from going on tour with Lee Child. HELLO... that's just downright surreal, for God's sake.

And as Peter De Vries once wrote:

Surrealism may be the last of the mayonnaise of romanticism oozing from the disintegrating club sandwich of the western psyche.

Though in my case, I gotta say it feels more like getting to savor the fromage-y Dada splendor at the heart of the enchilada--

--not least since I have the honor of group-blogging with such an all-star lineup of writers.

The idea of me hanging out in the Naked Authors' dugout is also both "very very cool" and "a little scary," as I consider Patty, Jacqueline, Paul, and James to be so scathingly brilliant--the veritable DiMaggios of crime writing.

Good thing there's beer.

Too bad I'm still catching up on the laundry.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Naked Scribbling

I'm Professor Levine and welcome to American Literature 472. Today, we discuss visual metaphors involving the fusion of creative and murderous desires in MOBY DICK.

No! Wait. Wrong class.

We’re just a roving band of scribblers who want to have some fun. An eclectic bunch. (I’m not sure what “eclectic” means. I’ll ask Patty Smiley, who has an actual master’s degree).

Basically, we’ll just strip naked and race around the campfire screeching at the moon. In a literary sense, I think.

We’ll discuss popular culture: books, movies, music, theater, TV. We’ll discuss freaks of nature: Donald Trump. We’ll discuss wonders of the world: Donald Trump’s hair.

But enough for now. I’m off to New York for the annual festivities of the Mystery Writers of America. Fellow blogger James (The Barrister) Grippando and I will be on “Catherine Crier Live” on Court TV Wednesday at 5 p.m. EDT. One caveat, however. (For you non-lawyers, “caveat” is a legal term meaning: “there’s a cat in your hat.”) If any real news happens, such as Zacarias Moussaoui suddenly becoming sane, we’ll be preempted.

I’ll be back in Los Angeles this weekend and want to invite everyone to the Rock Bottom Remainders concert on Saturday April 29 at 2:30 p.m. at UCLA’s Royce Hall. It’s $25 with the proceeds going to “America Scores,” which supports inner-city schools. Call (310) 825-2101 for tickets. (The Remainders are a rock band –sort of – featuring Dave Barry, Stephen King, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, among others. “We play music,” Barry says, “as well as Metallica writes novels.”)

News Flash: Prior to the concert, there will be an event of international importance, complete with Secret Service agents and network news coverage. I can’t tell you anything else, because it’s classified. For more information, call Scooter Libby.


It's all about us...

by Patty

Why NakedAuthors? I’m glad you asked. When Paul Levine first agreed to join me in the blogosphere, I asked him if he had a suggestion for a name. He shot back with “ with a team photo, of course.” I laughed because Paul is a very funny guy. You’ll see when you read his books. Then I became reflective. Not only did the name pop, it followed sterling literary precedent set by The Naked and the Dead, Naked Lunch, and that great literary masterpiece Naked Came the Manatee. The name stuck with us. We hope you’ll stick with us, too, as each day one of us posts words that are funny or profound or downright exasperating. We’re going to talk about the naked truth of literature and life, and we invite you to join the conversation. Just so you know what you’re getting into, an introduction of sorts…

Mondays with Patricia (that’s moi)
Patricia Smiley has written two novels and a third in the pipeline about Los Angeles business consultant Tucker Sinclair. FALSE PROFITS received a starred review from Booklist and was a Book Sense recommendation. The Romantic Times selected COVER YOUR ASSETS as a Top Pick. Both books were Featured Alternates of the Mystery Guild and Los Angeles Times Bestsellers. Elizabeth George said of her first book: “Patricia Smiley and Tucker Sinclair are two of the brightest stars to light up detective fiction in a long time.” Lillian Smiley, discerning critic and mother of the author said: “Are there any bad words in there?”

Tuesdays with Paul
Paul Levine is the author of the bestselling Jake Lassiter novels. The Los Angeles Times honored his first in the series, TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD, as one of the ten best mysteries of the year. A screen adaptation of the book appeared as an NBC movie in 1995. SOLOMON VS. LORD, the first in his new series about Miami lawyers Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, has been described as "A sexy, wacky wonderful thriller with humor and heart." His latest book is THE DEEP BLUE ALIBI. Paul also writes for TV and is a winner of the prestigious John D. MacDonald Award.

Wednesdays with Cornelia
If you haven’t heard of Cornelia Read yet, you soon will. Her first novel, A FIELD OF DARKNESS, is hitting bookstore shelves in May 2006, and the buzz is deafening. Like her heroine Madeline Dare, Cornelia has lived a life full of contradictions. She was born into old-school East Coast WASP culture but raised near Big Sur by divorced hippie-renegade parents whose friends included Sufis, surfers, and striking farm workers. Cornelia writes with a strong narrative voice and an edgy sense of humor that will leave you breathless.

Thursdays with James
In his twelve years as a trial lawyer James Grippando learned a lot about telling stories, which laid the groundwork for what he does now: He writes bestselling legal thrillers that will forever leave you sleeping with the lights on. His latest is GOT THE LOOK, the fifth installment in his series featuring Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck and his outrageous sidekick, Theo Knight. If you haven't read the Swyteck series, you're in for a wild ride. If you’ve read all of them and are dying for more, then stay tuned. Another installment is in the works, so conserve electricity while you can.

Fridays with Jacqueline
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the Maisie Dobbs series about a compelling and engaging sleuth in post World War I England. Since publication of her first novel, MAISE DOBBS, for which Jacqueline received seven award nominations, including a nomination for the prestigious Edgar Award for best novel (only the second time a first novel has been nominated in this category), she has won the Agatha Award twice, plus a Macavity Award, an Alex Award, and an Earphones Award for the audio version of PARDONABLE LIES, her third novel. Jacqueline is an impressive talent whose star continues to rise.

Hold on to your hats! We hope it will be a wild ride.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006