Sunday, November 15, 2009

Writers' Night Out: A "Busman's Holiday"

This photo was taken at Bookmarks Bar at The Library Hotel last Tuesday evening by fellow history hoyden ( Tracy Grant, who blogged about her recent visit to NYC, her grand time at the grand opera, and the equally grand hours she spent with another history hoyden (pictured to my right), Lauren Willig ( [Sorry, I'm still such a Luddite, I don't know how to type a person's name and have that be the link to their site.]

Over drinks and lively conversation, we wondered if our readers think we live the glamorous life of parties and soirees nearly very evening. Of course if real life were a 21st-century version of The Thin Man, minus the murder mystery, we'd all be hard pressed to get any actual writing done. And both Tracy ( and Lauren are exceptionally prolific, not to mention talented.

As for me, sitting there in the bright pink sweater, my 13th book, NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire, is about to be published (release date is 1/5/10, which I've been referring to as "the eleventh day of Christmas"). I'm neck deep in research and writing for my 3rd nonfiction title (ROYAL PAINS: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Bastards, and Bad Seeds) to be published in the spring of 2011) and just received an offer from Random House to write a historical fiction trilogy on the life of Marie Antoinette.

So much for glamorous parties, soirees, and fancy cocktails. I've often wondered how some of the more famous literary alcoholics (Eugene O'Neill, Dashiell Hammett, Earnest Hemingway, Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams), managed to create such masterpieces on the sauce. I have one drink and my brain cells are no longer zinging with creative alacrity.

But, when in Rome ... and at the Bookmarks bar where some of the drinks are named for famous authors, I had to splurge for one such specialty cocktail in an evening given over to spirited shop talk with two dear friends and immensely gifted authors. Now that you're all dying to know what I imbibed the other night, it was called the "Dickens" and consisted of aged rum, muddled figs, and pumpkin Agave nectar. Why do I think Charles probably never tasted Agave-anything in his life? A good strong Port would probably have been Dickens' beverage of choice, but the Bookmarks concoction was quite delicious, even if it didn't give me the rabid urge to serialize my novels in popular periodicals.

Because I love what I do, and often hate to refer to it as my "job" (career, metier, calling, all being more suitable words for the way I personally view my profession), I often get so caught up in my research and writing that I forget how solitary the author's life can be. Consequently, it becomes such a treat to share the experiences of writing -- both the joys and sorrows of the craft itself, as well as "shop talk" about the process with those who are enduring (or enjoying) the same kind of life.

So, on a fairly balmy autumnal Sunday morning, drinking nothing more potent than a really strong cup of black coffee from a blend that Fresh Direct calls "Sinful Delight" (which in itself sounds like a romance title), I raise my Buckingham Palace mug (a purchase in person from their gift shop ... it has a gilt rim and a pretty black and white 19th c. engraving on it) to writers everywhere and especially to Tracy and Lauren for sharing such a delightful diversion last week.

Write on, my friends!


Tracy Grant said...

What a great post that wonderfully evokes a memorable evening, Leslie! It's so true, the writer's life is really solitary (it was even more so when I first started writing, in pre-internet days). There are times when I welcome the solitude and being able to burrow into the world of my books, but I really love the chance to talk to other writers, particularly good friends like you and Lauren.

I'm so excited about your Marie Antoinette books!

Tracy Grant said...


The photo was actually taken by our very nice waitress and this one was with Lauren's camera (we used both, but mine have yet to be downloaded).

Leslie Carroll said...

I love the solitude, too, Tracy. It feeds the Cancer moon and Cancer rising "nesting" aspects of my personality. But the Libra sun sign side of me loves to get out and socialize and enjoy great debates and discussions and it's a side of my nature that time and money rarely offer me the chance to indulge in. So thanks again to you and Lauren for giving me a great reason to step away from the computer!

Anonymous said...

Ah, I sigh with just a twinge of green at seeing the photo commemorating your lovely evening together. I really must get up to NYC so that I, too, can share in a "Dickens" with you.

Although I must say that drink sounds rather horrid!

But what matter when you can while away several hours with fellow writers??

Leslie Carroll said...

Actually, it's not horrid, Christine, it's rather yummy! I thought it would be very heavy and sort of mulled, but it's more like a summer refresher with autumnal-sounding ingredients.

You could alwys try the "Hemingway" which Lauren and Tracy had. We all agreed, however, NOT to purchase anything called the "Jackie Collins," no matter how tasty the concoction sounded on paper.

After all, girls' got standards. :)

But the bottom line is that we all can't wait for you to pay us a visit!