Neither did it have to do with the Easter Bunny, or any various and sundry muses, unless you switch out muses for informants, and then you might get a better idea how I got the inside skinny on many things beguiling—and not so—in Hollywood.
The unleashing of the novel, six weeks from this past Sunday (sounds nice, doesn’t it) has a great deal to do with unceasing support of the Mister, the efforts of two wizard-like gentlemen in Manhattan, and an editor in that fair city who knows how to dot those i’s and cross those t’s. Across the ocean I owe another debt of gratitude to an intrepid giver of notes who helped slap the manuscript into shape—and was altogether too nice about it. I’ve convinced him to write a little piece about what we went through…
You’ll have to forgive me if I’m not very good at this (after all “Hello Everybody” isn’t a grabber of an opening, is it? It’s hardly “Call me Ishmael”) but I have finally given in to the blandishments of the most persuasive person I’ve ever known. Who? I think you know already, none other than the reigning queen of Beguiling Hollywood herself: Madame Vickie Lester!
You may be thinking to yourselves: “Who is this guy?” Well, I’m the lucky fellah who was given the opportunity to help out Vickie with her soon to be loosed on the world Magnum Opus, It’s In His Kiss, and it’s through a little intense urging on the part of Mrs. Lester that I finally acquiesced to stop lurking behind the scenes like the Phantom of the Opera and summon up this brief piece about my time spent giving her just the little bit of support and boost to her confidence she needed to add just the slightest polish to the extant brilliance and wit of her work. And, to be frank, I’m pleased to put aside my habitual shyness – at least this once – in order to deliver an encomium for Vickie and to declare what a Joy it was to collaborate with her on the revision of the book.
I first came into contact with Vickie through a certain George Kaplan last year. I, much like George, had been impressed, engrossed, and entertained by Vickie’s writing, not to mention – but I will! – her wit, warmth, and insight. I can feel you cringing now, Miss Modesty, but it has to be said! Around the Fall of last year, Vickie needed someone to go over the book with her, making notes where appropriate and generally bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the work and for some reason she thought of me, I think partly because I had helped Mr. Kaplan with a few things, and also – and this is pretty amazing to me – because she had faith in my judgment and whatever storytelling nous or literacy I may be said to possess. When someone has (much) more confidence in you than you do in yourself it would be a kind of sin not to do all in your power to live up to that confidence, that belief.
And, so it was that I set off an incredible adventure, with the sort of collaborator – heck, the kind of person who made every day fascinating and new. Not that we always agreed on things. Vickie and I could be said to be united in stubborness, and entirely invested in what we each thought was best for the book. What I’m trying to say is: “Baby, sometimes sparks did fly!” I would sometimes feel that Vickie had worked so hard on IIHK for so long that occasionally – infrequently – she would lose sight of the through-line and the essential “Vickieness” of the book and defend aspects that were beside the point or too kooky; on the other hand I would dig my heels in in an OCD fashion and push for even KOOKIER things to be expanded upon because they were just so fantastic! Honestly, though, I think that intense engagement with the book and my belief in Vickie made our collaboration work wonderfully well. Even when we’d wear each other out fighting our corner!
After that revelation I think it’d be a neat idea if I gave you a little insight into how we’d try to persuade each other that we were correct to defend or decry an aspect of the original MS or an alteration. Here we go, in no particular order:
1. Crying. (Ernest Hemingway used this technique on his editor, Max
Perkins. It’s true! Although, this was my cunning subterfuge to gain
my way! Bwahahaha! As a friend of mine says.)
2. Stamping feet.
3. Holding of breath until turning puce. This method in particular
isn’t advisable whenever working by email.
4. Pretending that a note has not been received.
5. Maintaining that you believe yourself to be reincarnation of Mad
King Ludwig until such time as a change is implemented.
DISCLAIMER: Some or all of the above list may have been manufactured by me to entertain myself (if no one else, right, guys?)
Back on the planet Earth, I’d just like to say, sincerely, that working with Vickie Lester on her fantastic book has been one of the most transformative and wonderful experiences of my life. Reading her novel and coming across sections of hilarious or sharp or moving pure Vickieness was astonishing but helping Vickie herself to whatever extent my ability would allow me, simply collaborating with her and getting to know her better was, well, words fail me. Sometimes, words are not enough. Ach, before I completely embarrass myself, I better flee behind the scenes once again! I’d like to say before I skedaddle that I hope all of you get even a tenth as much fun and entertainment from It’s In His Kiss as I did helping out with it.