"I need a job, so I wanna be a paperback writer..."by Stephanie Feagan
Now I've seen everything. Or heard everything. I had an email from a fellow Bombshell writer last night - Whoo, you're in audio! - she said. Naturally, I hastened over to see what the devil she was talking about, and I'm still caught between disbelief and uncertainty.
First, let me say that getting my first book, holding it in my hands, and reading my own words on a published page of cheap-ass paper was mind-blowing. I wrote a million-bajillion words to get to that point, and it was humbling, thrilling, and pretty damn good for my ego. Poor thing doesn't get much, so it really sits up and sings with joy when it receives a stroke or two.
But listening to words I wrote went way beyond mind-blowing. Not gonna lie - it was almost a little creepy. For sure, it was funny. The narrator they hired to read Run For The Money sounds like a nice southern girl from Alabama, with a soft, pretty drawl. I imagine Pink sounds like me, with a hard, Texas twang that's perfect for yelling out the back door, "Dayam cat, whaderudoin'? Git in the dayam house and stop bitchin' at those birds!"
I'm pleased they picked my book for an audio book, and it's also available as an ebook, but it sure is strange to hear the book that's been in my head for so long, spoken right out loud.
In other news, I'm just back from the Novelists Inc. conference in New Orleans. I stayed in the Quarter, so didn't witness any of the severe devastation in the city. A guy named Hotel Al will take people on a tour, but I didn't go for it. It seemed voyeuristic, or maybe a bit like ambulance chasing to get in a van and drive by those areas and stare. I mentioned this to Willie Shelby, my earnest driver who took me to the airport this afternoon. He responded by saying that a lot of the onlookers take photos, which they send to their senators and congressional representatives, demanding things get taken care of, and soon. I hadn't thought of it that way. Willie was mighty pissed off about those levees, and blamed the feds for failing to build them strong enough. I started to mention that I thought the money was provided for that, and it got spent on something else - a casino, wasn't it? - but I'm not 100% certain of the facts, and Willie seemed pretty convinced his lot in life was the government's fault, or Exxon, so I looked out the window and kept my mouth shut.
At the airport, I stood outside for a time, and met a man from Alaska who works with OSHA. He'd been in New Orleans over two weeks, working up close and personal in the stricken parishes. In one parish, he says there's a road block up and anyone who wants past it must pay $10. I said, who gets the ten bucks? He said, the parish powers that be. Then he talked about the process of razing houses. The owners must sign a release, and most all have done so. There are thousands waiting for a bulldozer, but he says the parish president must also sign off on the razing and the number he signs each day is capricious. Today, maybe 3. Tomorrow, could be 15. The federal government will raze houses for free. Independent contractors charge $3,000. Hmm. Wonder why the parish president drags his feet? My new Alaskan OSHA friend says, at the rate they're going, it'll be the next century before the city is even close to rebuilt. Louisiana has a long history of graft and dirty politics, and it appears Katrina didn't change that. If anything, she brought more of it to an already beleaguered city. I kind of regret not hanging out with Hotel Al - just me and my camera.
It was an interesting trip, and I can report that despite Katrina, Bourbon Street is still skeezy, sketchy, stinky, and downright fascinating. The Monteleone is still swanky and pretentious and wonderful. Cafe du Monde still serves pieces of heaven in the shape of a fried square. You can still get your palm read at Jackson Square. And you can still drop your entire monthly grocery budget at K-Paul's. If you love New Orleans, go there and support the city with your tourist dollars. Eat great food, buy cool stuff, and tell Willie I said hey.