Friday, May 22, 2020

Fair Game?



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: A million years ago, I did a TV story about the supermarket tabloids. The following is, as best as I recollect, a conversation I had with the executive editor of the publication called The World.

Hank (holding up an issue of the paper): The headline of this issue says: “Woman Gives Birth To A Baby Who Looks like a Chimp.” But, um, this is a chimpanzee in a diaper.

Editor: And so?

Hank: It’s not a baby. It’s a chimp.

Editor: Well, the woman said she gave birth to it, and she says this is a picture of it, and that it looks like this.

Hank: Maybe so. But clearly, it’s actually a baby human. It’s a chimp in a diaper.

Editor: Who are we to say?

SO reds and readers, it continued, but you can see where this was going. Nowhere. In the end, we just ran the whole thing.

But as the wonderful Barbara Monajem, (a dear pal from Sisters in Crime Guppies, yay) says—this is not a new phenomenon.

(And I might ask: Is “political cartoon” redundant? But that might be pushing it.)


 

It’s How You Look At It
   By Barbara Monajem


Do you read the tabloids at the supermarket? (Assuming you even go to the supermarket now. But if you do. Or used to.) I don’t, or at least not usually. I’m more likely to roll my eyes at the absurdity of the headlines, or get outraged at what seems like obnoxious, even disgusting, intrusion into the private lives of famous people.

In contrast, I enjoy the English caricaturists of two or three hundred years ago. 


Imagine a combination of political cartoonist and tabloid photographer, add some moral commentary and/or sexual titillation, mix well, et voilĂ ! Caricatures were printed from etchings or engravings and distributed all over England. 


Wealthy patrons might have subscriptions, while others purchased copies at stationers or printshops, and even illiterates benefitted from the artists’ spin on current affairs (double meaning intended), as the prints were displayed in shop windows, and a literate onlooker might helpfully read the captions aloud.

I couldn’t resist putting a caricaturist in a story. Years ago, I was writing short, sexy Regency novellas for Harlequin. In To Rescue or Ravish, a wealthy, well-bred lady being forced to marry against her will is rescued in a timely and dashing fashion by her first and only love, who whisks her to safety in a nearby tavern. 


Amongst the convivial crowd is a caricaturist named Bird. The heroine drinks too much mulled wine and is tipsily indiscreet about her escape. Bird seizes on this—such a coup will make his fortune—but the hero is his friend. Together, they spin the story so the resulting caricature will show her in the best possible light, and her persecutors in the worst. Tabloid journalism at its purest!

I delighted in the character of Bird, so when my new Regency mystery series needed a caricaturist, I wondered about resurrecting him. But he wasn’t right for the story, so I cooked up someone new and dubbed him Corvus, which is Latin for crow, so he’s my darling Bird but not really. His caricatures mock the British ruling classes—their capriciousness, their immorality, their mistreatment of the lower classes, etc.

Corvus is not his real name, of course. He must remain anonymous, because if his cover is blown, most of his opportunities to dig up unique dirt on the rich will vanish. If he’s a gentleman, he’ll be shunned, and if he’s a servant, he’ll be sacked (or flogged and then sacked. Or worse… Hmm… Please forgive this author’s imagination, which has a tendency to wander).

I admit it, I’m totally in love with Corvus, and to me, he’s mostly a good guy. What surprises me is that I find modern tabloid journalism anything from despicable to just plain dumb, but go back two hundred years, and the same sort of thing seems admirable. Maybe it’s because much of Corvus’ mockery is valid, or because his victims are imaginary. Maybe it’s because he needs the money (as Bird did). Or maybe I should have him satirize me or someone I care about, and see whether I still adore him. ;)

So…what do you think of tabloid journalists and paparazzi?
Are celebrities fair game, simply by virtue of being public figures, or should their private lives be allowed to remain private? Do some celebs consider the tabloids useful publicity? Does utter nonsense qualify as free speech? Are there any novels that portray modern-day tabloid journalists or paparazzi in a positive light? (Since I read mostly historicals, I truly don’t know.)


HANK: Ah. I’ll just say one thing, and then sit back and let you talk. Hasn’t covid made it clear how silly the fascination with “celebrity” is?

What do you think, Reds and readers?




Lady Rosamund Phipps, daughter of an earl, has a secret. Well, more than one. Such as the fact that she’s so uninterested in sex that she married a man who promised to leave her alone and stick to his mistress. And a secret only her family knows—the mortifying compulsion to check things over and over. Society condemns people like her to asylums. But when she discovers the dead body of a footman on the stairs, everything she’s tried to hide for years may be spilled out in broad daylight.

First the anonymous caricaturist, Corvus, implicates Lady Rosamund in a series of scandalous prints. Worse, though, are the poison pen letters that indicate someone knows the shameful secret of her compulsions. She cannot do detective work on her own without seeming odder than she already is, but she has no choice if she is to unmask both Corvus and the poison pen.

Will Corvus prove to be an ally or an enemy? With the anonymous poison pen still out there, her sanity—and her life—are at stake.



BARBARA MONAJEM

Rumor has it that Barbara Monajem is descended from English aristocrats. If one keeps to verifiable claims, however, her ancestors include London shopkeepers and hardy Canadian pioneers. As far as personal attributes go, she suffers from an annoying tendency to check and recheck anything and everything, usually for no good reason. Hopefully all this helps to explain her decision to write from the point of view of a compulsive English lady with a lot to learn about how the other ninety-nine percent lived in 1811 or so.

As for qualifications, Barbara is the author of over twenty historical romances and a few mysteries, for which she has won several awards. On the other hand, she has no artistic talent and therefore is really stretching it to write about an artist who draws wickedly good caricatures. But she’s doing it anyway, because he’s irresistible. To her, anyway. Not so much to the aristocratic lady. Or at least not yet.


Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087BBLLNL/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087BBLLNL/

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087BBLLNL/

Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087BBLLNL/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lady-rosamund-and-the-poison-pen-barbara-monajem/1136829963

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/lady-rosamund-and-the-poison-pen

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/lady-rosamund-and-the-poison-pen/id1507264864



Social media links:

Website: http://www.BarbaraMonajem.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/barbara.monajem

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BarbaraMonajem

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270624.Barbara_Monajem

90 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new book, Barbara . . . I believe I’m going to enjoy meeting Corvus!

    As for those supermarket tabloids with their eye-rolling stories . . . no, I don’t read them [they’re absurd and often their stories are so outrageous as to be intelligence-insulting] although I do suppose that, technically, they are free speech.

    As for the camera-wielding paparazzi chasing after celebrities . . . no, I don’t believe that being a celebrity means becoming fair game for all the intrusive pictures and stories; private lives should remain private.

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    1. Thanks, Joan. (Corvus doffs his hat with a flourish, bows, and kisses your hand.) I often wonder who does read some of those tabloids. I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually *buy* one.

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    2. That is such a fascinating observation! You are so right… I have seen people read them in line, and put them back, but never seen anyone purchase one.

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    4. (Sorry, I tried to edit a typo and ended up in the Removal room!)
      To reiterate: Has anyone had this experience: you look at the covers of those tabloids and have NO idea who those people are?

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  2. I find this idea of the caricaturist Corvus fascinating, Barbara. In fact, I find the whole history of a caricaturist interesting, and I'm sure I'll be doing some more Googling on that. Corvus certainly has hooked me into wanting to read Lady Rosamund and the Poison Pen. I can see why you're so smitten with him.

    I don't give any notice to the supermarket tabloids, and I do feel sorry for the celebrities having to endure false stories and being misrepresented in those rags. Most celebrities are involved in making some form of art, and I don't believe artists should have to sacrifice their privacy to excel in their work. However, there are some celebrities who aren't artists, they just want to be famous. I think they are making the deal with the devil, so to speak, to forfeit their privacy by using the paparazzi to get their name out there. That doesn't mean that I have no sympathy for their children, who might not have signed on for the chaos, but, unfortunately, the children of those kinds of celebrities are already fighting an uphill battle for any normalcy or stability. The difference is that of someone like Meryl Streep and the Kardashians (take your pick). Meryl Streep is an artist who is famous for her talent, and she should be left alone except when she chooses to do photo ops. The Kardashians depend on the press to keep them famous and have little talent, so let the games begin for them.

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    1. Hi, Kathy. I think it has become even worse now that images are so easy to manipulate. And I agree about the children of some celebs. Kudos to those famous people who manage despite the craziness to give their children normal lives!

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    2. Many years ago I wondered whether there would be a way to make someone famous just by having people assume they should know them. Like introducing someone with a flourish, and a reverent wow, that’s… Fill in the blank and then the other person thinks oh, I should know that person — And simply accept they are famous. No, I thought, that would never work.

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    3. It would work in a book, Hank!

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    4. Barbara, the manipulation of photos must be especially frustrating to those celebrities who are truly just trying to practice their arts. Hank, I think that could absolutely work, especially within a select group, where people are socializing at parties and wanting to appear in the know about who's who. The movie Six Degrees of Separation with Will Smith comes to mind, in which Will, playing a young man, convinces Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing that he is the friend of their Ivy League children. The movie was inspired by the true story of con-man David Hampton, who convinced people he was the son of Sidney Poitier.

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  3. I'm a reader, what can I say? I read the headlines in the supermarket while I'm in line. If they had giant ingredients lists there, I would read that instead. Or in addition depending on how long the line is.

    But I also take those headlines with a pitcher of salt.

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    1. Heh. I used to read the cereal boxes while eating breakfast. (I still would, except that I don't eat cereal anymore.)

      Sometimes I wish the supermarket lines were longer, so I would have time to finish reading something intriguing. (Rarely in a tabloid, but I can't claim total innocence. Research, you know...)

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    2. Oh, sure, I have read them in the line! But it’s so funny how the stories are never really anything! there is no story at all, really like: Brad Pitt’s secret passion! And then it turns out to be chocolate ice cream.

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  4. I have to admit I pay no attention to tabloid headlines when I’m at the store, which I haven’t been to since March? As for papparazzi they have their places: public events, premieres, etc. I don’t think they have the right to invade people’s privacy when it is obvious the subjects are off the clock.
    I would love to see some of Corvus’s work! The cartoons of that era could be absolutely brutal.

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    1. Hi, Pat. I too wish I could see some of Corvus's work! My imagination does a pretty good job, but as for putting it down on paper...no hope.

      Corvus can definitely be brutal when his victims deserve it. (Fortunately, they are all figments of my imagination, but even so, I sometimes feel their pain.)

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    2. What a terrific idea for a character!

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  5. No, I rarely paid attention to tabloid headlines while in the grocery store in normal past visits. And now, I usually use the self-checkout feature so there are no tabloids to be seen.
    I also do not have cable TV, so I rarely see anything tabloid or entertainment news (mainly from the USA). And I stopped reading a physical daily newspaper a long time ago. That was one of the few places I saw (satirical) political cartoons on a regular basis, but no longer.

    I find that Canada is generally not as celebrity-obsessed and paparazzi do not stalk celebrities on a regular basis. When I lived in Toronto, the city went a bit gaga during the Toronto Film Festival each fall when a bunch of A-list people came to town.
    But think about Prince Harry and Megan who lived in relative quiet on Vancouver Island. The neighbours left them alone, and we rarely saw any mention of them in the news in Canada.

    Corvus' work sounds pretty cool, Barbara! And I agree that those English caricaturists could be nasty.

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    1. Hi, Grace. I agree with you about Canada -- I grew up in Vancouver, and the only celebrity incident I recall was long ago when Pierre Trudeau was adored by all the ladies. He arrived (by helicopter, I think) not far from where I lived, and there was a crowd of starry-eyed fans awaiting him.

      When I visit my sister in Canada, I often read her magazines, which almost always treat the royals with affection.

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    2. Isn’t it funny, now, how there is little or no mention of Harry and Megan? That’s what I mean… It all just fades.

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    3. Oh yes, Pierre Elliott Trudeau had both his adoring fans and haters. He was very polarizing Prime Minister. And now, his son Justin (our current PM) does have a loyal following as well, esp. when he is travelling. Justin is on the news even morning giving a daily COVID-19 briefing so he is hard to avoid but we do not go gaga over him.

      I live in Ottawa now, and find that even Justin is left alone by the general Ottawa citizens.

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    4. Most of the comments I hear here about Justin is that he's so CUTE! (Yes, he's a good-looking man, but jeez... I am SO tired of the emphasis on appearance.)

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    5. True, a lot of early focus was on Justin's appearance. We have not had a youthful PM since 1979/80 (Joe Clark). And of course, plenty of comparisons are made with his charismatic father.

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  6. I love hearing about both Bird and Corvus, Barbara (waving hi to my fellow Guppie!). But isn't the difference between caricaturists and tabloids that the former is mocking and the latter tittilating under the guise of celebrity "news"? It seems the caricaturists were political cartoonists. I would National Enquirer is anything but.

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    1. Agreed, definitely different! Two ends of the spectrum…

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    2. Waving back, Edith! You're right that many were political cartoonists (the Prince Regent was a popular target), but not all. Some commented on immorality in general, while others took on specific libertines. For example, there's a caricature of an orgy presided over by Lord Barrymore, and another that I recall is of a long line of men waiting to have sex with the wife of a well-known gentleman -- apparently with his approval. Yucky stuff, but it makes interesting story material.

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    3. It seems to me that even the caricatures that were not "political" were social commentary, not just stupid and titillating.

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  7. I must admit that I do read the tabloid headlines and usually have to laugh; I can't imagine anyone taking them seriously and yet there must be people who actually buy them.

    Am I correct in recalling that those caricatures were a big thing that caused problems for Queen Victoria? Or maybe not if they helped change things in some way.

    Definitely looking forward to reading all about Corvus!

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    1. Oh good question—I have a wisp of a memory about that, too !

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    2. I wouldn't be surprised about Queen Victoria. My research into caricatures ends before her reign, but there was definitely speculation (and still is) about her relationship with a particular gentleman in the royal employ.

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  8. First, let me say that I love the name Corvus, especially in this context, Barbara. How clever. And that I'm impressed that you are using a caricaturist as an antagonist. It's an unexpected choice. Poor Lady Rosamund, having to battle an unseen enemy.

    Tabloids in the US jumped the shark a million years ago. Woman gives birth to chimp. Woman gives birth to alien. Woman gives birth to two-headed calf. I mean, really. How gullible do you have to be to buy into that craziness?

    But that's not satire. It's straight-up fantasy. Satire implies razor-sharp wit and precision skewering of a person, activity, or social more. Today's tabloids are more voyeuristic, don't you think? All photos of celebrities without makeup, or in other not ready for primetime states, as if a curtain is pulled back to expose their actual humanness.

    I'm like Mark, I'd read the ingredients, too, if they were legible. So if the line is long I do glance at the headlines, and marvel at the sheer invention. One of my daughters, very intelligent, working in a stressful and demanding job, is addicted to US and People Magazines. It's pure escapism for her, but I can see why someone with a different viewpoint or level of sophistication might choose a tabloid as their own entertainment.

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    1. True! People made an entire empire about chitchat about celebrity. remember when that first came out?

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    2. There was plenty of chit-chat in Regency-era newspapers about famous people (although usually they didn't spell out whole names).

      Yes, celebrities without makeup and/or grimacing with rage. Juxtapose that with another celeb with his/her new lover...honestly, it's all so dumb.

      I like reading ingredient lists in foreign languages -- mostly on jam jars. It's fun to make a stab at Romanian, Turkish, Lithuanian, etc. With the same list in English right there, it's not hard.

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  9. Welcome Barbara! I enjoy reading the headlines as I pass by--or used to pass by anyway:(. Your characters and ideas are so wonderfully different than anything I would think of.

    We watched the Becoming documentary about Michelle Obama this week--it reminded me just how awful it is to be famous, beloved by a huge segment of the population and hated deeply by another. No thank you!

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    1. Oh, that is on our list! Do you recommend it?

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    2. Hi, Lucy -- and thanks!

      My daughter is reading Becoming and really enjoying it -- she keeps telling me bits of it. :)

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    3. Lucy, I am enjoying Michelle Obama reading Becoming (audiobook) but did not know about the documentary. Is that on Netflix?

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  10. Barbara, welcome to JRW and congratulations on your new book which sounds like a very entertaining read. Bird and Corvus sound like interesting characters, and Lady Rosamund has the right personality quirk to become the perfect detective.
    Remember the scene in Men in Black where Tommy Lee Jones' character checks the tabloids for "news" of aliens? Such a funny scene. After that, I knew that those papers really serve a purpose! (LOL) At the grocery store, sometimes I notice them but usually not.
    As for paparazzi, celebrities should not have to put up with the stalking. They should be able to get legal protection, especially when their kids are involved. A person should be able to go to the local store on a bad hair day and not see evidence of that in some rag a couple days later.
    Political cartoons are only funny if they're making fun of the guy you despise, not if it is someone you admire. Occasionally, a political cartoon is just funny, but that is rare. POV is important.

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    1. Oh, YES! That was a great scene--and made me rethink the tabloids! (Like remember in Brother From Another Planet,(was that the name of it?) where graffiti was actually the way aliens communicated? WHAT a good idea, and I think of it every time I see graffiti.

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    2. Confession time (blush): I have not watched Men in Black! So I ran to my daughter, who found the scene on You Tube and showed it to me. LOL! Now the family are planning to rent or buy Men in Black and its sequels and sit me down to watch them.

      Good luck to them. I don't object to movies, but I'm usually too impatient to sit through them. (Or too unnerved by the suspense, so I leave the room and hide behind the door, listening but not watching.) A relative who works in the movie industry knows I write books and used to try to talk to me about movies, but I think he gave up after a while, because I'm so clueless. :)

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  11. I love the notion of your Corvus!

    When my kids were learning how to read, they practiced on the tabloid headlines at the grocery store. "A three-headed snake! Is that true?" Truth in journalism--or not--at a young age.

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    1. SO fun! And then you could talk about it..

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    2. LOL. Actually, it must be sort of fun to dream up those crazy tabloid stories...

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  12. Barbara, if your books are half as good as your interview answers, well, I'm in for a treat! And Judy beat me to it--yes, Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black--the scene at the end, where Will Smith is reading a recent issue of a tabloid with Tommy Lee's photo on the cover: "Man wakes up from coma" or some such headline. Loved it!

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    1. Thanks, Flora. It was fun to put myself into the mind of an aristocratic lady of two hundred years ago, with all her flaws and prejudices (some of which are totally unacceptable today), and also to look at her and high society from the point of view of a man who makes his living from mocking them.

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  13. Welcome Barbara! Sounds like you have a lot of fun with your writing!!

    In the real world, getting covered in the tabloids has to be one of the major down sides of fame. They're nasty. The three-headed snake is one of their more benign stories.

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    1. Yes, because that COULD be true! :-)

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    2. Hi, Hallie. I do have fun, and I think it's partly because all the characters are 1)imaginary 2)long dead, or 3)both. No plants, animals, humans, aliens, or three-headed snakes were harmed in the writing of this book...

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  14. Hank, great questions! I detest tabloid journalism and especially the paparazzi. The day after the Princess of Wales was murdered in Paris by the paparazzi chasing her, I started writing a mystery (still a work in progress) about paparazzi who become murder victims at different times. That is how much I hate them! LOL. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by celebrity. Now not so much since I realized that they are people like us. The difference is the celebrities are more likely to be treated better than us ordinary people, unless someone does not recognize them like the actor from L.A. Law who was stopped by the police in Los Angeles because he was black.

    Barbara, welcome to Jungle Reds! And congratulations on your new novel. I loved the description so much that I bought a copy! Interesting mention that you are descended from aristocrats. I have a friend who is descended from the Plantagenets and she looks like one of the women in a painting that I saw in a coffee table book about the Dukes of York throughout history. Is your family background similar to Kate Middleton's family with aristocrats and shopkeepers?

    Diana

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    1. Oh, great idea for a book! How is it going? xxx

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    2. Hank, thanks! I think I need to join the Guppies group and get feedback on my WIP. Harder to write than I thought. It's not going as well as I would like.

      Diana

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    3. Diana, I love your idea for a story! Definitely you should join the Guppies. They're a marvelous group, and so helpful and kind.

      Thank you for buying Rosamund's story. I sure hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

      Re aristocrats, there's a story in my mother's family that we are descended from a cast-off scion of the Earl of Warwick. I have never bothered to dig into it, so for me it remains an amusing legend. As far as I know, the shopkeepers had no aristocratic connections. They lived in Hackney, and some of the sons emigrated to Canada and New Zealand after World War I. But again, I haven't dug into it. One of my sisters found a photo of my great-grandparents' wedding, which was pretty cool. :)

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    4. Barbara, thanks! I'll let you know what I think! Do you have a Facebook page or Instagram account so I can send you an email?

      Sounds like an interesting family!

      Diana

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    5. I'm on Facebook (with a profile, not a page). You should be able to friend me or message me there. https://www.facebook.com/barbara.monajem/

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  15. Hi Barbara, and welcome.

    Tabloids? Who reads them? Who are the demographic they target? Certainly not me. I don't feel a ton better about legitimate newspapers these days. And the media? Forget it. Never in my lifetime have I had to spend so much time separating fact from fiction from complete crap.

    Some celebrities attract the tabloids like flies -- Princess Di comes to mind. Others are never seen. Dame Judi Dench? Maybe she's to old to be having the baby of some Nigerian prince?

    But for fun, I sometimes write tabloid headlines:

    HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN TELLS ALL ABOUT THAT HAIR

    DEBORAH CROMBIE'S LONDON LOVE NEST REVEALED

    LUCY BURDETTE GIVES BIRTH TO FLORIDA ALLIGATOR NAMED BUTCH

    IS RHYS BOWEN THE LOVE CHILD OF GEORGE V?

    DRINKING THE KOOLAID: MY LIFE IN A CULT IN BEL AIR BY HALLIE EPHRON

    JULIA SPENCER-HUGHES TURNS TO LOG ROLLING DURING PANDEMIC. USES HER CHILDREN FOR LOGS

    JENN MCKINLEY'S NEW BOOK: MY BROTHER THE POPE MY FATHER THE POPE MY BROTHER MY FATHER MY BROTHER MY FATHER



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    1. I am laughing so hard! I think you have a new career....

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    2. Yup, definitely a new career, Ann. So funny! I would love to read the stories that go along with those headlines. :)

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    3. Oh, dear. I totally lost it at Butch!

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  16. I abhor tabloid journalism and the paparazzi, especially after they literally hounded Princess Diana to death. I can only imagine how much Prince William and Prince Harry hate them.

    Who comes up with the stupid stories in tabloids? The most hilarious I've seen was the baby found in the ocean in a Titanic life ring -- 100 years later. Who writes and buys this stuff?!

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    1. Hi, Cathy. The more I read the comments here, the more I wonder if it might be fun to write the more absurd stories -- the kind that don't hurt anyone. They're just so crazy! But how do the writers know what will appeal to their readers? Sometimes the headlines make me laugh, but I can't imagine reading, much less paying for the whole story. But somebody must, right? Who? Do I really want to know?

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    2. That's why we did the story about it--yeah, they just have writers!

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  17. My grandma Stella did indeed purchase those supermarket tabloids ever weekend. Yup, she sure did and that would be the only time I would read them because they were in the house and I was trapped there on vacation. If course she was really my step-grandmother. Grandpa had left Grandma before mom was born. Mom and her siblings were raised by grandma and she didn't meet her father until she was a teenager. I didn't know my actual grandma because she was an alcoholic and mom couldn't trust her to be sober when around us when I was a little girl. Grandma died when I was eight so Step-grandmother Stella is the only grandma I knew for that side of the family..... I think my family is a walking tabloid. I don't think I've seen any newsprint tabloids in the grocery stores for awhile or maybe I just am better at not seeing them.
    I promise to read everyone's comments in a bit but I need to get ready for work. Hope everyone had a safe weekend.

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    1. Deana, I replied to you but must have hit the wrong button. Hopefully this response will land where it should, right under your post. Scroll down a bit and you will find my response.

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    2. Deana, as Oprah said, every family is dysfunctional!

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    3. Step=grandmother Stella--what a perfect character! have a good day at work! ooxo

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  18. Barbara, I think Corvus will be irresistible! To the reader AND to Lady Rosamund! What a fun concept. I love the idea of using caricatures. And I do read tabloid headlines if I'm stuck in a supermarket line, and I will admit to occasionally buying an issue of People but never a tabloid. I've never seen anyone buy one, either! I'm wondering if some of the bizarre conspiracy theories that are so rampant on social media have taken the place of "woman gives birth to chimp." Which sounds quite tame in comparison...

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    1. Hi, Deborah. I have occasionally bought People, too, or read it in the dentist's waiting room. Yeah, some of the conspiracy theories are so wacko, and the reporting about them is often loud and inflammatory. The agenda behind them can be quite ghastly -- scare tactics to affect the credulous. I can't imagine taking any of it seriously, but people do...sigh.

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    2. Yes, exactly. Funny--but potentially dangerous. Because people believe ti!

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  19. Hi, Deana. I think many families are walking tabloids, but it's mostly the famous ones who get put in the tabloids newspapers. It must be awful to have your dirty linen washed in public just because you're a celeb, when so many other people have the same problems, but have the good fortune to not be well known! I don't understand why people want to be rich and famous. It must be a real burden.

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  20. Congratulations on the book, Barbara!

    I will admit to reading People or US if I'm in a doctor's office, especially if I'm waiting for a child. It makes the time go by. I will look at the headlines if I have to stand in the grocery store, but like Mark, I'd read an ingredient list if it was posted.

    Mostly I think celebrities should be left in peace. But every once in a while one of them does something so outrageous that, well, you poked the bear, my friend. Deal with it.

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    1. HI, Liz. Heh. Poking the bear indeed! That's such a perfect image. :~)

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    2. Liz, I don't put People Magazine in the same category as the tabloid publications such as The National Inquirer or Star, ones I consider sensationalist publications. I agree that there is an element of gossip to all of these publications, but I don't think People ignores facts, or at least there is some journalistic endeavor in their stories. I do think US is more gossipy or deliberately titillating, although I admit I haven't looked at a copy of US in a long time.

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    3. I love reading People--waiting for a manicure (remember those?) it's really fun. But I wonder if it would seem so silly now? I mean--who cares?

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  21. I'm a fan of anything Barbara Monajem writes. Love how you appeased your muse (and Bird) by creating Corvus. As for tabloids, never ever read them, but there are plenty that do and think it's legitimate journalism. By the way, if you check you might find as an author that you too are a public figure. I believe everyone has a right to privacy. The Paparazzi is paid to hunt/spy and stalk well-known people because it sells. Scary. Cannot wait to read Lady Rosamund and the Poison Pen. I am a proud owner!

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  22. Awww, thanks, Donnell, and back at you. I have Black Pearl on my Kindle, but I'm such a wuss when it comes to suspense that I'm scared to read it. Better get up my courage...

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  23. Love the sound of your new book, Barbara, and can't wait to read it. I look forward to getting to know Corvus! I enjoy political cartoonists of the Georgian and Regency periods--heck, I even enjoy many of our current political cartoonists, although they don't have the impact of those earlier ones. Perhaps because we view them differently these days. (I really enjoyed Jules Feiffer's acerbic outlook.) As far as tabloid headlines--I usually roll my eyes as I read them. Then mourn at the number of folks who will take them to heart. All the best with your mystery series. I know it will be terrific!

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    1. Thanks, Barb! I confess, I had to google Jules Feiffer, but when I saw some of his cartoons they looked very familiar. Long ago, I was a big fan of Pogo -- I probably still have some of the compilations. I even went to the Okefenokee Swamp to see where he hung out. :)

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    2. AND POGO! My FAVE. Awww. Bemidged, Bothered and BeMildred.

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  24. I think that celebrities have a right to a personal life and shouldn't be stalked or have telephoto pictures taken of them, especially the children. I am grateful that the royals share pictures of their children with us since I don't have children in my family. However, I am content with official pictures not stolen ones.

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    1. Hi, Sally. Me, too, re official pictures. They're tasteful and charming.

      It must be so unpleasant to always wonder who has their lens trained on you. It's like having nosy neighbors but a thousand times worse because no matter where you go, they are there watching you, trying to catch you looking less than perfect.

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    2. HI Sally! Yes, they are very cute. :-)

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  25. Tabloids-never ever. EXCEPT-a local radio show hosted by two long time DJs does headlines on Wednesday mornings. They pick one real headline and make up two others. The audience must guess the real one. The program aired as I drove my sons to school. We would listen to the nonsense, make our guess, and laugh and laugh. Really created a special time for me and the kids.

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    1. What a hoot! Such a great idea for a radio show. Thanks for stopping by, Vicki.

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