Reality and Rick Castle
On screen, writers’ lives are the epitome of glamour. Take ‘ruggedly handsome’ Rick Castle, multi-millionaire writer/sleuth with the eponymous television show. Castle lives in a gorgeous New York penthouse, spends his weekdays chasing down plots and baddies alongside the inspiration for his bestselling crime series: stunning and steely police detective Kate Beckett (aka Nikki Heat). In the evenings Castle dates long-legged blondes, smokes cigars with the mayor, plays daddy to a perfectly undemanding teenager, and enjoys a weekly game of cards with writing mates Michael Crichton and James Paterson. The crime-busting novels are written in just seconds at the end of each episode, before being launched in a sparkle of champagne, celebrities, signatures and sell-outs. Consider Jessica Fletcher in Murder she Wrote, Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, Gil Pender in Midnight in Paris, Julia Child in Julia and Me, and mild-mannered Clark Kent in Superman. With lives like these, who wouldn’t want to be a writer?
The truth is somewhat less enchanting. We see no footage of the solitary hours of late-night writing and rewriting, of brutal manuscript assessments and more dispirited rewriting. In reality, the novelist bent over the computer is more likely to be seated just to the left of the grease spot in a Tauranga garage, not high above Paris in a shabby, but romantic, chambre de bonne. And real writers suffer months of self-doubt as they wait to hear from publishers, while television writers have their manuscripts accepted on the spot, with no mention of further editing, proofreading, or preparing promotional material and content for the book’s website.
But the depiction of writers on screen is not entirely incorrect. While we don’t necessarily get together for card nights, the writing community – Tauranga included – is hugely supportive of its members. And writers do go to great lengths (and expense) for a good story or plot: I know of a colleague planning a midnight raid on a pond to ‘poach’ fish – research for a book he’s writing, and another who recently travelled across the world and the centuries to brave snakes at Dascylium in the heart of ancient Persia. And there’s something else. It’s the reason Rick Castle risks his life for the next murder plot, why self-proclaimed green goddess Wendyl Nissen conducts gruelling nationwide tours, and why I love to visit schools and share my story with the kids. It’s that special connection between writers and readers. ‘This is a cool book!’ says Jasmine (11yrs). Believe me, no amount of glamour can compare.