What happens when your novel comes to life -- before you've even finished writing it?
Timing, according to the old showbiz adage, is everything. When my novel Face-Time was published in 1999, it was both beneficiary and victim of timing. But not as a result of anything like calculation. The timing, good and bad, was purely fortuitous.
The novel concerns an affair between a president of the United States and a young female White House staffer. I began writing it in 1998. I was about 40 pages into the first draft when Matt Drudge broke the Monica Lewinsky story.
Appalled -- first as a citizen and then, more selfishly, as a writer -- I phoned my agent, who had been reading the pages as I produced them. "What do I do now?" is what I asked him. I liked what I had, and was reluctant to stop, but at the same time, it was impossible to deny that events had overtaken me. I was relieved when he offered his guidance: Just keep writing. It was actually more a directive than a piece of advice.
If I was naive enough to entertain any hopes that this particular scandal would have faded from public consciousness by the time the book was completed and published -- and I don't recall being that naive -- then those too were overtaken by events. The book appeared and I went on my promotional tour while President Clinton's impeachment trial was in progress.