I was delighted last night to see that Ken Burns paid attention to Lorena Hickok in the fifth episode of his film, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. (Photo above: ER and Hick in Puerto Rico, with Paul Person, governor of the Virgin Islands. Lorena Hickok papers, F.D.R. Library Collection)
As some of you know, I've been working on a novel about Lorena (Hick, to her friends) for several years now, and she is dear to my heart. Burns gave us a little taste of Eleanor and Hick's passionate relationship (he cited one letter, in which ER wrote "You are the light of my life"). But he primarily focused on Hick's professional contributions as an investigative reporter for Harry Hopkins and FERA. He skipped over Hick's help to Eleanor in her efforts to enlarge the role of First Lady (especially her idea for Eleanor's press conferences and her My Day column), but that's understandable. An excellent film. If you haven't seen it, I hope you'll get a chance later--it'll no doubt be rerun.
Book report. I'm finished with the edits for the reprint edition of A Wilder Rose, which will come out with Lake Union in February 2015 and turned in the manuscript of the 2015 Darling Dahlias mystery. So those are done, and I'm ready to work on Hick and Eleanor: A Love Story. Also on the writing desk, the memoir I'm writing with my brother.
Last week, Bill (my husband, the other half of the Robin Paige team) and I had a long conversation with a publisher who is launching a new imprint. He has some interesting ideas for direct-to-reader marketing and interactive (writer/reader) texts. I'm pretty stacked up right now, but the conversation led me to think about some new ways to develop and share books and ideas. Love it when that happens!
Reading. I'm deep in Hick/Eleanor research right now. One of the most fascinating books I'm working with is Maurine Beasley's Eleanor Roosevelt and the Media, about the ways ER (with Hick's help) developed strong relationships with women journalists. I've also reread Watergate: A Novel, which is one of my favorite historical fictions. Mallon knows how to pull together real people, places, and events into his fictional framework. I wonder if younger readers (not familiar with Watergate) can navigate the book, but for those of us who are old enough to remember it as-it-happened, the novel is a tour de force.
Gardening. On hold this fall, I'm afraid. I'm going to a conference in October and then on to New Mexico, and I hate to leave Bill with both the garden and the animals. But I've ordered my spring seed potatoes for November delivery, which will give them time to sprout before they go into the ground in January.
Reading note. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.--Steven King