Throwback Thursday – Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed

When I worked the dreaded day job, I would stand at the photocopier every single day, and dream about a publisher finally giving me a break. On Good Friday 2006 – after having left my job for two years – I received the amazing news that my book, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed had been accepted by Constable and Robinson. I was absolutely ecstatic and three months later I headed to London for an editorial meeting with the director of the company, the editors, sales and marketing people, and my agent.

For someone who had dreamed of becoming a full-time writer for almost all of her adult life, I can’t begin to tell you what this meeting meant to me. I sat at a huge table in a book-filled room, surrounded by people who actually wanted to talk about my book. MY book! I remember that we spread out dozens of photographs, and Nick Robinson – the head of Constable – picked up the one that had been given to me by Marilyn’s early boyfriend, Bill Pursel. It is a little frayed around the edges as a result of being in Bill’s wallet and on his college pin board for years, but something about that photo intrigued Nick and he told me right away that we had found our cover photo. I was pleasantly surprised because I thought he’d want to go for something more conventional, but I loved that photograph and I knew it was the right choice.

The remainder of the meeting consisted of everyone excitedly telling me about plans for publicity and book design, (I was thrilled when my idea for a pink ribbon bookmark was okayed!) and when it was over, I went to lunch with my agent. It was a sunny day so we sat outside, where we were met by the sales director, who had been hurrying past. He couldn’t stay because he was rushing to a meeting with booksellers to talk about my book, which he assured me they were all excited about. When he told me this, I was completely blown away, and as I made my way into the tube station after lunch, I kept looking at folks and thinking, “You don’t know my secret! I have a publisher!” That afternoon I wandered around Foyles and wondered what it would be like to see my book on their shelves. (I later found out and actually signed books in there!).

Over a year later, the book was finally published and my husband and I headed to London for two days of radio interviews. On the first night I invited some of my Marilyn friends to the hotel for an informal celebration, and then when my publisher and agent arrived, it became a full-blown book launch party! The evening was complete when photographer Horace Ward arrived and took my photo. He had photographed Marilyn when she left London in 1956, so to have him take my picture too was nothing short of marvellous!

Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed was published in the UK and the USA, and the revised edition went onto become a bestseller and has been translated into Russian, Polish and Bulgarian. September 2017 marked ten years since the first edition was published. I have written many books since then, but I still gaze at this one sometimes, run my fingers over the cover and smell the glossy pages.  Because after all, I’m just a bookworm at heart, and Private and Undisclosed was the book that started EVERYTHING. Colour me grateful. 🙂

Until next time,

Michelle x

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