Friday, October 29, 2010


There is something so complete about hedgehogs.  So stubby and round and right.  I love them.  I am reading a wonderful book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  I say 'reading' but I am only on page eleven.  The research for second book has sort of eaten my reading life for breakfast.  It has done it in a terrific, active verb, gracious kind of way but done it quite thoroughly all the same.

I am writing about early 20th c. figures this time round and they are just so recent.  I walk by the places they lived and the same stone on the same doorsteps, some of the same banks and bookshops and restaurants are sitting on the same corners, and the same trees are growing in the same parks--astonishing as WWI, WWII and the 20th c have all brutally happened in between.

All this reality and scenery from these lives makes the researching truly immediate--but it is at the point where it is so immediate that it has moved into my living room and taken up all the space.  And so I am taking action, reclaiming my recreational reading and starting with hedgehogs--French hedgehogs on the Rue de Grenelle at that.  The book already has a charming, drown you in melted butter and crooked streets and warm you into fluffy pastry sort of feeling to it--impressive by page eleven.

On other fronts, I am discovering Goodreads.  It is a slow toe dipping in giant ocean sort of discovering as Goodreads is vast and dedicated.  A lovely man called Rick has set up a thread for Exit the Actress.  It was so sweet of him!  I am consistently astonished by the random, goodwill Nell has found in her adventures in publishing.  It is wonderful.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Exciting News!

Wonderful, wonderful Mari from the thoroughly lovable blog, Bookworm with a View and the brilliant Manic Mommies Book Club  has just emailed to tell me fantastic news!  Exit the Actress was chosen to be on the 2011 reading list for the Manic Mommies Book Club!

They choose twelve books a year--one book to read and discuss every month and it looks like Nell will be the book for May!  I am thrilled!  The Manic Mommies are amazing!  They: have a weekly podcast with 50,000 downloads a week, write for Real, were just ranked the third most influential mother's group by Forbes Magazine and have adorable calendars at Target, Wal Mart and most big bookstores.

Their entire demeanor is generous, forthright, astute and kind.  And, they discuss books I really love.  I just listened to Mari's marvelous interview with Elin Hildebrand who wrote The Island.  I loved it.  I loved the book and I loved the supportive, creative, inquisitive tenor, timbre, tone and pitch of the discussion.  I am so thrilled Nell is going to be part of this...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

History to Story

There comes a point when the bits of research start to hop out of their prescribed, neatly labelled boxes in my head and go visiting.  Time lines start to figure skate into curlicue loops and dates play hopscotch in my brain.  It is a mutiny.  It is anarchy.  It requires a total lock down and reorganization of all notes/outlines/scribbles.  It is also the moment when the dates are changing from history into story and it is fun.  Well, once everyone is re-labelled and reorganized, it is fun. 

It happens to characters too.  They change their hair, their walk, their breakfast, their shoes--history to story.  They are their own people now and they will not be dictated to.  Everyone suddenly has places to go and people to see.  This one is off to an art gallery.  That one wants to buy a hat.  After trying to Frankenstein these historical people into storied life, they suddenly step out of the Mary Poppins chalk drawing and run amok and my job becomes crowd control--very: 'first the hat, then the gallery and then we will all go fly a kite'.  It is an energizing, exciting, terrifying, fun time in the writing process and now that I have been through this once, I realize how valuable it is.  Chaotic and messy--but valuable.

By the way, thank you to all the wonderful Plum Bean friends who met me over at Goodreads.  It was lovely.  It was like being met off the plane with a pink plumeria lei and a ride from the airport to the beach. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Goodreads and the Other Priya

So, somewhere out there there is an author who must really not like me.

One of the perks of having an unusual name--a name that you have to initially repeat three times and then subtly drop into conversation in order to remind people as you know they cannot remember it--is that you get a gmail account with your name on it. Nope.  Did not happen.

And yet people really close to me, family included, send email to priyaparmar@gmail and this is not me.  Whoever that Priya is, she has received attached documents up to 600 pages (my book included as well as my doctorate), emails about the dentist, the beach, the Honda, the birthday party, the bonfire at the beach, my friend Tora's haircut, the centipede in my brother's room, a broken toe and every other type of email that you really do not want other people to see.  I do not blame my family and friends for doing it as I have done it myself.  The funny thing about email?  You cannot get it back.

There is also an author called Priya Parmar.  She teaches at Brooklyn College and writes books about troubled urban youth.  I have a horrible creeping suspicion that the Priya of the gmail and the Priya of the youth in revolt are the same Priya.  In which case that Priya must really not like me as Goodreads has now conflated our profiles.  I am listed as having written four books--three with ferocious looking teenagers on the covers and one with Nell in a lovely Restoration dress.  I have also been rated with three stars on a book that no one has read yet.

I love Goodreads!  I love the very fact that Goodreads exists let alone the wonderful Seussian book smorgasbord feast that it actually is.  And yet this morning I had to write them a tiny note asking if they could disentangle the dual Priyas.   I felt terrible!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wonderful People

Some people are just lovely.  The wonderful Book Quoter, who has a brilliant blog, A Thousand Books With Quotes, has highlighted Exit the Actress today.  It was a generous, kind, extraordinary thing to do.  Throughout this process wonderful people have stepped forward to help.  On the Facebook page, forty two people have gone out of their way to be sweet to Nell.

Since I have been back in London, my dear, dear friends have been universally thrilled, exuberant, supportive and encouraging about the book.  Tim, an old family friend here in London, literally whooped in the street and made my day.  In New York, my about to be sister in law (a brilliant writer--check out Kelly Cutrone's book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside, And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You), just finished reading it and has been unendingly sweet about Nell.  Keep in mind that she read it while working full time as an editor, writing two books and planning a wedding.

Wonderful blog friends show up here and make me so happy by leaving kind, helpful comments.  It has all made this whole journey wonderful.  It makes it communal.  It makes me so happy.  Really, really, thank you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It is an awful spidery, webby, Machiavellian word.  It implies grease uncomfortable shoes and sweaty palms and all sorts of other unlovely prospects.  And yet, I am finding I was wrong.  I was just sent the information from Simon and Schuster about social networking media (Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads mostly) and promoting the book (now that it is less than four months away!).  I decidd to tackle Facebook first.  It is the name that threw me.  "Fan" page.  And we are back to feeling of the painful shoes and spider webs.

But I found it was nothing like that.  I dove in and set it up.  Put up a photo of the book and the trailer I love and said nothing about it to anyone.  Twenty eight lovely people came along and pushed a button to say that they liked it.  It was lovely!  It made my day!  So here it is:  Exit the Actress!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Fantastic research today!  It is amazing, after spending so  long in the 17th century to be writing about the 20th.  It feels a bit disloyal somehow and I miss the lost in the mists of time fogginess about the Restoration.  The First World War is compelling in its own strange, fantastic hat sort of way but I do miss the bizarre health remedies, superstitions and the sheer, raucous libertarianism of the Restoration.  It is funny but the morals of the Restoration were far looser than the Edwardian period.

It is a heavenly treat to wander over to the square where the people I am writing about actually lived.  Same trees are growing in the same square, same glass in the same windows, same numbers on the same doors.  Marvelous.  And the sun nearly came out for a minute today.  My mother asked me if I have direct morning light in the flat and I honestly couldn't answer her.  I miss blue.

I am walking everywhere.  Even in New York I do not walk this much.  I love it.  But then, there is a tube strike on and so everyone is walking.  I am really odd in that I love the pulled togetherness of national inconvenience.  It is like when the bridge closes for rain in Hawaii and you are stuck in Hanalei.   Inconvenient but communal.  I like that.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Wow, Hawaii to London is a long way.  I love it but I had forgotten exactly how cold, wet and big it is.  The small bright, breezy convenience of Hawaii and the sprawling, beachy cup cake colors of Los Angeles feel far away.  But it is lovely to be back in the country where I lived for so long and to see my dear, dear friends.

Today was the first day that clicked into place.  You know the day where you suddenly collect yourself into one time zone, one city, one life?  Things make sense and you look up and expect to be where you are?  It feels much better.  Now, I can breathe and get started on the mountain of research I have to do for the Second Book.  Yikes...  More tomorrow!