East Hampton Library Authors Night

Hope signs THE TUTOR at the East Hampton Library Authors Night, August 14, 2010
Hope signs THE TUTOR at the East Hampton Library Authors Night, August 14, 2010

On Saturday I participated in the East Hampton Library’s fifth annual Authors Night, a fundraiser for the library and its programs.

The weather was sublime, more like early spring than late summer. Seated beneath a massive tent set on the library lawn with the more than 150 other participating authors, I sipped wine and nibbled on tuna roll and sesame chicken, and of course signed copies of The Tutor.

Throughout I chatted with attendees, both readers and fellow authors, including romance writer, Barbara Metzger. And yes, I indulged in the occasional Fan Girl Moment with Alec Baldwin, the event’s Founding Chair, Candace Bushnell, and Lois Stern, to name a few. And before the crowd grew too crazy, I had the pleasure of meeting a charming gentleman from New Orleans, Bryan Batt. Bryan, who portrays Salvatore Romano on AMC’s wildly popular “Mad Men,” was there to sign his new memoir, She Ain’t Heavy. She’s My Mother. As a latecomer but passionate devotee of the show, I was thrilled.

Mad Men's Bryant Batt signs his memoir.
Mad Men's Bryan Batt signs his memoir.

After the signing, my handsome date and I were treated to cocktails and dinner on the water front terrace of bestselling author and former Letterman writer, Jill Davis. Biographer Robert Caro, whom I first met at the Empire State Book Festival in Albany this spring, was the dinner’s delightful guest of honor. Between bites of caviar dressed oysters, quail eggs, and tempura shrimp, we collectively picked Robert’s brain for behind the scenes details on Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, the subjects of his seminal works, The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson (multiple volumes). Witty, wise, and infinitely charming, Robert did not disappoint.

Founding Event Chair, actor Alec Baldwin, was thronged with eager book buyers, especially the ladies.
Founding Event Chair, actor Alec Baldwin, was thronged with eager book buyers, especially the ladies.

Alas, my Cinderella evening ended far too soon for all that it began at 4:30 PM and didn’t end until well after midnight. Sunday morning began with an 8 AM eight-mile training run for the upcoming Hampton Marathon & Half, followed by a brief jaunt to the beach for a cool down wade. A quick shower, a hasty cup of coffee, and then it was on the road headed home to New York City and dare I say it, Real Life.

Now I’m back to work, plugging away on two new projects as well as promoting my newest release, A Rogue’s Pleasure, out today with Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first publishing imprint. Originally published with Berkley, the book has a beautiful new cover and a fresh new look overall, so if you didn’t read the original print issue back in 2000, I hope you’ll have a go at the e-book version.

Under The Big Top at the East Hampton Library Authors Night.
Under The Big Top at the East Hampton Library Authors Night.

As for the East Hampton Library Authors Night, I’ve already begun the countdown to next year!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun?

“I want to meet Mr. Big, get married, and live in New York.”

I am freezing my butt at the outside bar of the Bryant Park Grill, sipping shiraz, eating french fries, and fielding questions from two twenty-something German chicks who’ve come to New York for the first time, ostensibly on vacation. For tonight at least, they are on a fact-finding mission more so than a holiday. They want to know where to find Mr. Big and a good deal on American jeans–in that order.

The Dynamic Duo from Deutschland
The Dynamic Duo from Deutschland

The more animated of the two, or at least the one with the better English, is leading the charge. Even though she has barely touched her sweet-looking drink, she is more than slightly drunk. She waves her stick thin arms in the air a lot and slides her Size 0 butt around the stool a lot, and steals my fries when she thinks I’m not looking. So far, though, she’s more amusing than obnoxious, certifiably happy to meet me and anyone else who lives in New York. Even if it’s partly vodka-induced, that kind of unbridled, unjaded, over-the-top enthusiasm is well, kind of refreshing.

She smiles frequently and broadly, and I can’t help noticing her teeth could really do with a bonding. Still, she is lovely in that haphazard, waifish, just-breezed-out-of-my-bunk-at-the-youth-hostel sort of way, a look you pretty much stop being able to pull off the day you turn thirty-five. With her straight brown hair, full mouth, and pencil thin body, she also bears a striking resemblance to the 80’s supermodel, Paulina Porizkova. I’d tell her so only she probably wouldn’t know who Paulina is. You see, she was born in 1981.

“No, really, I want to know,” she persists, plumping her full lips into a pout which if I were a guy I’d probably find really hot. “Where do the Mr. Big’s go?” She tosses her bangs out of her eyes for the umpteenth time and slants her big round eyes at her friend, whom until now she seems to have forgotten. “We want to go there.”

Yes, well, good luck with that. Not that I say anything so remotely bitchy, of course. Instead I smile back and shake my head and admit it’s a worthy goal–and one hell of a good question.

Just what my friends and I need, another nubile twenty-something model look alike swimming in our dating pond which even though it’s Manhattan sometimes feels more like a puddle. Supposing I do know where Mr. Big hangs out? Does she really expect me to give it up out of what, the goodness of my heart?

The German educational system is reputed to be among the world’s best, but I’m thinking the curriculum must not include any Darwin.

To segue from science to literature–that’s litter-ah-chur–I’m reading or rather re-reading Candace Bushnell’s SEX AND THE CITY. It’s interesting how living in Manhattan has altered my perspective on the book as well as the HBO series. Before moving here, references to The Bowery Bar (B Bar and Grill now), Bicycle Boys, and yes, Modelizers seemed about as relevant to me as Ancient Egypt. I mean good to know, fascinating even, but really what does any of it have to do with my day-to-day? Now nine months into my Single Girl in Manhattan Life, I find myself sighing and shaking my head. And groaning occasionally. Okay, a lot.

The Paulina girl interrupts my momentary musing, her eyelids listing toward closed though her drink is more than three-quarters full. “You are Carrie Bradshaw, yes, but you have brown hair.”

I don’t smoke, either, but well, when you’re being compared, even remotely, to Sarah Jessica Parker, is it really any time to quibble?

Candace Bushnell, whom I met last month when she stopped by the Barnes and Noble in Union Square, is frequently likened to literary icon, Edith Wharton. The only Wharton books I’ve read are ETHAN FROME and THE BUCCANEERS and well, it’s been a while. (As for THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, so far I’ve made due with the Daniel Day Lewis film). For sure both authors offer an insider’s sometimes scathing perspective on Manhattan culture, though Bushnell’s take is a lot closer to the Age of Un-Innocence. And even though SEX AND THE CITY was first published in 1996, dating some of the references, it’s amazing how much of what she wrote in the 90’s still holds true. If you have any doubts, see my 9-22 blog on “Keeping It Real.” Believe me, modelizing is alive and well.

Fortunately, so are dreams. Yes, “girls” of all ages still want to have fun. But along with the fun, we want the fairytale. Sure, Prince Charming is now Mr. Big, the castle is now an Upper West Side high rise, and the glass slippers are Manolo slingbacks with some sort of really amazing detailing on the vamp, but otherwise the story, the fairytale, plays out pretty much the same.

And I for one am holding onto it with both white-knuckled hands. Even Bushnell’s Mr. Big got it right in the end, at least in the television and film adaptations of the book.

“Sometimes you just want to be with the one who makes you laugh.”

Happily Ever After–and Happy Halloween,


PS In celebration of the day-long Witching Hour, I’ll be pulling out my Inner Princess along with my ghoul-friends Liz Maverick, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, Leanna Hieber et al as the Goth versions of popular fairytale princesses. I’m going as Goth Snow White and in addition to that Poison Apple, my costume’s corset is well, murder.