Jennie Nash’s “winning” debut novel, The Last Beach Bungalow, was released in trade paperback in February 2008. She’s here today to share with us her thoughts on fame and celebrity in the book world in a guest post. You can check out Jennie’s web site at http://www.jennienash.com/pages and an article she wrote for The Huffington Post.com HERE.
Jennie Nash is also the author of two other books. The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming: And Other Lessons I Learned From Breast Cancer and Raising a Reader: A Mother’s Tale of Desperation and Delight.
SUMMARY ~ The Last Beach Bungalow
FOR SALE: THE LAST BEACH BUNGALOW
The owner of this 1928 original bungalow is
seeking a buyer with heart. What would you give— besides money—to live here? Bring your offers, your stories, and a promise to preserve and protect. Winner will pay $300,000. Open House, Saturday 1 to 4.
After five years cancer-free, April Newton should be celebrating, but instead she’s suffering. She feels her husband slipping away, and though the spectacular, stylish house he’s building for her should be a fresh start, April finds herself resenting it. As their move-in date approaches, she becomes obsessed with winning the right to buy the last Redondo Beach bungalow, convinced that the quirky, lived-in little house represents everything she is missing in her life—comfort, completeness, survival. And though her quest for the bungalow will take some surprising twists, it may put back together the pieces of her heart…
The other day, I met a 17-year-old girl named Katharina, who had just arrived from Germany as part of an international exchange program. She came to my house to meet some of her new classmates – including my daughter — before the first day of school. She dazzled us all with the fact that she could speak four languages, that she was spending a full year away from her parents and that she was eager for every new American experience anyone proposed. When she learned that I was a writer and saw the (small) stack of books with my name on the spine, she lit up even more than before. “Are you famous?” she asked.
I have been asked this many times before, in many different guises (Have you been on Oprah? Have I heard of your books?), and I have often felt defensive about it, because the fact is that fame is a country very far away from the shore where I sit every day and write. But there was something about the way Katharina asked the question – in such a straightforward manner, with such innocence and such disarming hope that fame could be so close at hand – that made me wish that I could have said, “Yes! I am famous.”
You can’t write a novel with the intention of becoming famous. You can’t spend whole years of your life spinning a story and hoping that it will hit a bestseller list. Fame, after all, only comes to a tiny percentage of writers. I write because I’m a storyteller. I write because it’s the way I make sense of the world. I write because I have found a (small) audience for my work out there in the book-reading universe. And all of that is more than enough motivation to continue doing what I do. But I also can’t pretend that I wouldn’t wish for a certain amount of fame, because unless you’re J.K. Rowling, writing-fame is very different from Brittany-fame or Angelina-fame. Writing-fame mostly means that you get a bigger paycheck, get invited to speak at really cool conferences where other writers congregate, and get the pleasure of connecting with a bigger, broader audience.
What I ended up saying to Katharina in answer to her question was among the most honest things I have ever said to anyone about my writing. “I’m not,” I said, “As famous as I wish I were.”