Andy Warhol once said we are all entitled to our 15 minutes of fame but I don't think I quite understood what I had let myself in for when I was approached by the producer of "My Secret Arts Life", a segment of ABC Arts Nation, to see if I would be interested in appearing. He explained that the segment was looking at people with busy full time jobs who had secret passions for artistic pursuits. For example an eye surgeon who did ballet...and, yes, a senior executive (in a fire service) who wrote romantic fiction would be perfect!
It could have been awful. Writers of romantic fiction are used to being held up to ridicule as latter day Barbara Cartlands or bored housewifes in fluffy slippers. It is one thing to bear that burden in your writerly guise but quite another to carry it over into the real world where, yes I am, a senior executive in a very male industry! I should have had more confidence in my work mates, after all the first question I was asked when I went for my interview was where my books were available. Still...
I tried very hard not to think about it and put off the dread date till as late as I could possibly make it, only to have it brought forward on me. They would need at least a couple of hours at my workplace and would then film me at home. As luck would have it, the date and time we chose for the filming at work coincided with a rally by our friendly neighbourhood union which would culminate in a noisy gathering outside my window. The last thing we needed was a film crew pushing its way through ranks of annoyed workers! It was agreed to delay the filming session to the afternoon.
I had envisaged a discreet hand held camera and maybe one other person, not a film crew consisting of the producer, the camera man and the sound man, all hoisting huge amounts of gear! All very disruptive to a work place. So under the bright lights, I held imaginary conversations with my PA (who was choking with laughter in the outer office), checked files and stared intently into the computer screen (OK - my job really isn't that interesting!). Bemused work colleagues got dragged into my office for instanteous meetings, one of my fellow Directors had to quickly don a uniform for a one on one interview (which sadly wasn't used) and the afternoon receptionist had to bid me good morning (no less than 3 takes). It all culminated in a visit to the Fire Station (downstairs - I work above the shop!). Two charming, but amused young firefighters were commissioned to show me over the Mk5 pumper truck (I do love those big red trucks).
It was with some relief we adjourned to home (thankfully the cleaning lady had been!), for the interview, the book reading and more filming of me typing on my computer. My dear friend, Anne Gracie, came along for moral support and DH arrived home in the middle of it all. Having declared he wanted no part of it, he found himself dragged into the filming and acquitted himself with all the aplomb of a true hero. Admittedly he did announce on national television that while I am a romantic person who loves flowers, he himself would never buy me flowers because he'd hate to think he was manipulating my emotions. Any wonder I write romance???
I was told the piece would go to air on May 9 and would include a re-enactment of part of the first chapter of THE KING'S MAN. While we all long to see our work on film, I cringed inwardly at that prospect.
Last weekend we went camping with friends and just by sheer chance I checked my telephone to see a SMS from the producer telling me it would be going to air that afternoon at 5.30pm! Stupidly we had forgotten to pack a TV but our friends came to the rescue. Their new car, they told me, had TV reception so at 5.30pm 8 of us crowded into the car to watch ARTS NATION. The five hours of filming had been reduced to 5 minutes and the result was respectful of both myself as a writer but also of romantic fiction. Even the re-enactment worked (and can I please have the actor for Kit in the full screen version???).
Unfortunately while it is available on the internet, for copyright reasons (apparently) it is not viewable outside Australia, so my vain hope of the snippet being picked up by some bored Hollywood producer anxiously searching for new ideas, has been scotched and I have had my few minutes of Andy Warhol fame!
Watching Arts Nation on a 6" TV screen while camping!
BREAKING NEWS: Both THE KING'S MAN and BY THE SWORD will be re-released shortly as electronic books only. Watch this space....