My Novels, My Characters, My Business

You may know I try mostly to keep a relaxed tone here. I’m not interested in being contentious. However, there are times when even a romance-history-fiction novelist has to speak up on suggested public policy initiatives and plant a flag, and I apologize in advance.

On the writing desk, side by side. [Photo by me, 2017]

Back on Sunday night, the TV Baftas here in Britain raised this. Specifically, quoted in the Huffington Post UK, actor James Nesbitt declared:

“…I am delighted to be presenting the award for Best Actress tonight, particularly as I am wearing the badge for ERA, which is the campaign for the Equal Representation of Actresses.”

He continued: “Currently, for every one female role, there are almost three male roles. This is an inequality that is not only about our industry, but it is an inequality that is absorbed by everyone on their screens every day.

“As the father of two children – two girls – this should change.”

I watched him say that live. I’ve needed several days since then to think about my reaction to it. Because as a novelist, I’m underwhelmed.

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Little Big Annoyances

Yesterday, we watched the first two episodes of Big Little Lies starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman:

Screen capture of IMDB home page.

Within moments as the first episode opened, this program felt gratingly familiar. If you are new here, you might have missed where I explained (wow, almost 2 years ago now) how The Affair that was not exactly my favorite program – and why. I got through about 3 or 4 episodes of it before I gave up.

And The Affair has apparently been a success on Showtime in the U.S.

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Viewed From This England

We’ve been watching the political-melodrama U.S. TV series Madam Secretary. But you don’t need to know the details of the program to get this post. I thought I’d use it as a basis for some “fun” today – it’s Friday – mostly due to the episode we just saw and because, as you probably know, my wife is English (and we have been married for, uh, quite a few years).

In that episode from its 3rd season, the U.S. Secretary of State’s twenty-something spoiled, mouthy, annoying pain in the neck for the previous two seasons and now continuing to be so apparently daughter has returned to Washington recently after a summer in Oxford with her English fiancé.

In the kitchen, unexpectedly she gets all emotional and reveals to Mom (the Secretary of State, I repeat) that she was like wow really unhappy with her English husband-to-be when they were in England. Suddenly, she announces she doesn’t want to live there. She says she hated the place.

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Victoria Again Reigns

Have you been watching Victoria? We set up to record it before we went off to France. We came home to find the first three episodes happily awaiting viewing.

Screen capture of the Evening Standard, September 4, 2016.
Screen capture of the Evening Standard, September 4, 2016.

I know I’m a bit behind, but we should be caught up this week. We watched the first episode last night. Based on its reviews and its ratings, ITV seems to have a big hit here.

At my birthday get-together back on Sunday, when I told her we’d recorded it, my 18 year old niece highly recommended it.

I asked: “Who’s playing Victoria?”

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Starring Not That Louis

Caught up in writing and other life matters, I had somehow totally missed promos for this new BBC series. I learned of its existence only last night just after the opening episode was underway on BBC 2. So I didn’t see it:

Screen capture of the BBC web site.
Screen capture of the BBC web site.

I had just gotten back from Luton Airport with the Mrs when I happened to stumble on it mentioned on Twitter. Initially glimpsing only that it was called Versailles and centered around Louis…. briefly my heart sank. “Oh, no,” I thought, “my novel?”

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It’s Not Just About Enjoying “Downton Abbey”

The other day, we had a vital Amazon delivery:

[Photo by me, 2016.]
[Photo by me, 2016.]

It arrived while I had been doing bits of work around the house. My London-born wife was out. That’s one of her preferred teas here in the U.S.

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Talking With The Cast

The other night Sir Bruce Forsyth was a guest on the BBC’s One Show. He has been best known most recently as host of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. The U.S. version is Dancing With The Stars.

Within moments, it became clear why he was on the program. He has a book out about his life and career:

Screen capture of the BBC web site.
Screen capture of the BBC web site.

His life has been “lived” largely before an audience. He was a performer who grew into a celebrity. In comparison, I suspect most authors instinctively feel uncomfortable with celebrity.

Most being the most important word there. There are always exceptions. Some clearly do revel in being the center of attention:

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An NFL Team In London?

My novelist uncle in Rhode Island was messaging me again yesterday. It wasn’t about writing or books, which I actually find useful. This time is was about the NFL’s New York Jets playing at London’s Wembley Stadium this weekend.

Are they? I had no idea. Regardless, he should be writing his next book (I’m still cleaning up mine)…. not messing around on Facebook. Eh, but nevermind, it got me thinking:

Screen capture of Messenger.
Screen capture of Messenger.

I remember Sky Sports, in the late 1990s/ early 2000s, showing the NFL from the U.S. on Sunday evenings to what must have been about “a few dozen” U.K. viewers – half of them probably Americans. (Five hours ahead here, watching the entire “4 o’clock game” E.T. was too late for anyone with a job.) The two anchors – one American, one British – hosted while sitting on what looked like reclaimed furniture. The set would not have been out of place on a U.S. TV cable local access show.

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USA Eagles In The Rugby World Cup 2015

The USA Eagles are 2500-1 underdogs to win the Rugby World Cup 2015. So what? Only 20 countries play in the final tournament – which is being held here in England this year.

If this is all new to you, here is a USA Eagles preview by the Guardian’s excellent rugby writer, Martin Pengelly:

Screen capture of the Guardian.
Screen capture of the Guardian.

Their first game is tomorrow (Sunday, at 7 AM ET), against Samoa. If you are in the U.S. and can see any of the games over the next few weeks, and have never watched rugby, well, if you like NFL football…. give it a watch.

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Crazies And Villains (A Nationality Predictor)

While watching several West Wing episodes again recently, it struck me once more. Remember when President Bartlet’s daughter, Zoe, had the French boyfriend? Jean-Paul?

He resembled Rafael Nadal. He was obnoxious, filthy rich, snobbish, aristocratic, and did drugs. He was, frankly, a stereotypical upper-class French, early 20s, horror.

That led me to recall this:

Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

I’ve never forgotten that film and that laugh.

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