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Lady Colin Campbell – Georgie to her friends – was born in St Andrew, Jamaica into a privileged family and well-connected family, her father being a descendant of the Emperor Charlemagne and various European kings such as Willliam the Conqueror, and her mother a well-known ‘Society’ beauty. Beneath the veneer of upper-class civility and graciousness, however, lay a cauldron of dysfunctionalism, largely as a result of her mother Gloria’s narcissistic personality disorder. This would have a lifelong impact upon her life, with the result that her success as a writer and socialite was coloured, sometimes for the better, by her familial experiences. She is divorced from the Queen’s cousin Lord Colin Campbell, son of the 11th Duke of Argyll, and is the mother of two sixteen year old sons. They live in London but also have a chateau in France.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Georgie. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
A: I have written several books.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
A: The title of my first book was The Substance and the Shadow, which I wrote in 1973. It as a philosophical treatise and I pulled the plug on it to protect my privacy. Howard Kaminsky, then the head of Warner Books, was interested in publishing it, but needed me to include personal material as a ‘hook’. I felt that doing so would violate my privacy and, rather than do that, decided not to allow publication to go forward. Ironically, within months of that decision, my privacy was violated in a quite inglorious manner, since when I have had rather less privacy than the average person.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
A: It took another twelve years for me to consider publishing another book, but in 1985 I wrote Guide to being a Modern Lady, which incorporated some of the philosophical elements of The Substance and the Shadow, but in a more commercial way. I was fortunate enough to have the first publisher approached accept the work. Heterodox was not a vanity publisher nor was the book self-published.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
A: It was published by Heterodox, who had a good reputation for putting their all into their writers, which seemed a good ting to me. Although much smaller than Warner Books, I liked Graham Lea as much as I had liked Howard Kaminsky, and felt I would be in safe hands – which turned out to be the case. Sadly, he later on developed serious health problems and had to retire. I for one sadly missed him.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
A: It felt delicious to be published for the first time and I celebrated by opening up my address book to Heterdox, who threw me a splendid party at the Foreign Press Association headquarters off Pall Mall – a most elegant building which, if I remember correctly, had once belonged to William Gladstone; the Victorian Prime Minister.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
A: I allowed myself to be interviewed at home by a variety of journalists, which might not seem like a big deal but believe me, it was, because my20experience of the English press had, up to that time, been consistently awful. I had had to sue three of the largest newspaper companies in the UK for libel, and, despite them giving undertaking not to repeat lies about me, they had done so ad nauseum. However, I took the view that a professional writer has a duty to her publisher and to herself to promote her work, so bit the bullet. To my surprise, much of the publicity was favourable.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
A: I have been published repeatedly since, by publishers of varying sizes, from small publishers such as Arcadia (winner of the Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year) to large publishers such as Little Brown in the UK and St Martin’s Press in the US. I have also been published in many different foreign territories such as Japan, Korea, Poland, France, Germany and Spain, to name some but not all. I hope I have grown in ability, and certainly have found the process of promotion far less arduous the older and more established I have become. Although I have always been treated with respect abroad, in the UK it has taken years for journalists to accept that someone can be upper-class and capable – the prevailing view being that all privileged 0Apeople need to be cut down to size, irrespective of their merits – a stupid class-prejudiced viewpoint that has one would have found laughable, had it not been so mean-spirited and senseless. My one saving grace was that, being foreign by birth and upbringing, I was not tempted to take the British class-consciousness personally, and, rather than become angered by it, I treated it with the compassion it deserved. But it really is a pity when otherwise intelligent people view life from a prism of distorting class-consciousness, which, I fear, is something the British do.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
A: Since I was fortunate enough to have my first two books accepted by reputable publishers, I do not think I could have sped up the process.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
A: Being on the New York and London Times bestsellers list.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
A: I chose the profession I wanted.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
A: I see myself continuing to write until the grave. I have several books in me that I would like to get out – and that does not take into account the books that I will want to write in the future. I do not believe in retirement. Death is retirement enough – why retire from life and what you love doing?
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
A: I would encourage anyone who wants to write to do so; not to give up if they find it difficult at first; and to continue honing their craft until they can no longer tap the computer keyboard. Writing is a wonderful career, and those of us who are privileged enough to have it as one, should count our blessings.
Novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein is the author of four novels. In addition to Jesse’s Girl, a thriller about a widowed father’s search for his adopted teenage son who has run away from a drug treatment program to find his biological sister, his books include the romantic triangle Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, the political thriller Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man performed to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival. His other full-length work, You Can’t Grow Tomatoes in the Bronx, is in development. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Morgenstein/1011217889 or visit Gary at Red Room at http://redroom.com/member/garymorg.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Gary. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
Including Jesse’s Girl, I’ve published four novels: Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, Take Me Out to the Ballgame and The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
Oh boy, I haven’t thought of this one for a long time. When I was a senior in college at SUNY at Stony Brook, I wrote a sci-fi novel A Giant Step Back. It was about the discovery of precious indestructible metals on the Moon, which solves humanity’s mineral crisis – but comes at a possibly fearsome price. I came close at Doubleday but never published it.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
St. Martin’s Press published my first novel Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Actually I was pretty lucky here and got accepted by the second agent, who sold it to the first house.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Rejection is so very painful because it goes straight to your heart and your soul. A writer opens himself up, in varying degrees, of self-honesty so more often than not, it’s difficult if not impossible to separate rejection of your work from rejection of you. “Oh, honey, it’s not about you, it’s about me.” Uh-huh, right. All you can do is not sulk (sure) or get depressed (course not) or wallow in self-pity (never). You just have to get off the canvas and keep writing and keep plugging. If you’re not like Rocky Balboa, you won’t make it as a writer.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
St. Martin’s published my first book and I choose them because I was a first-time author and the editor took me out to lunch and I felt like a big shot.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I was so ecstatic that I was almost beyond the need to celebrate. I just sat there and enjoyed the feeling of enormous achievement. I was only 26 when it was sold, 27 when it was published.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
Well I was sitting around waiting for The Tonight Show to call. Which they didn’t, lol. So I promoted myself and got an interview in the Long Island weekly section (now defunct) of the Sunday New York Times. I was living in Northport then, now I live in Brooklyn, the Center of the Known Universe.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Oh no, that worked since it was the only alternative other than vanity publishing. Now there are other options, such as Amazon and e-books, which is great for writers since it is all about getting out there and getting your work before the public.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I’ve now published a total of four novels. I think I’ve learned so much about myself and how to create characters and how to build a story. But the wonderful thing about writing is the learning and the growing never stops.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I think earlier in my career, I tried to write too quickly and that became problematic. I should’ve taken deep breaths more.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Reaching people with my words. When I get feedback about my new novel Jesse’s Girl, about a troubled father-son relationship, it really means an enormous amount. At the end of the day, it’s about touching people, perfect strangers, folks you will never meet. Talk about magic, huh?
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
You mean if I had talent to play center field for the New York Yankees? Otherwise, I would’ve liked to been a college history professor. History is a huge passion for me, especially the era of the 1930s and 1940s.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
Combined the two. Maybe have written historical thrillers! Hmm, maybe it’s not too late
How do you see yourself in ten years?
Writing and enjoying life and waking up every morning with the hope for the best.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
To never give up. Keep working at your craft. Someone once said, a novel is never finished, it is simply abandoned. Remember that one book is really an extension of the previous and that is what being a writer is all about, traveling along on the constant creativity, constant growth, constant search.