Saturday, November 21, 2009

True Confessions

Norb Vonnegut is back. Because he has a confession. And we could not resist an object lesson.

That Morning in Brisbane

I have a confession to make.

It took me about thirty years to become a published author overnight. Top Producer is my first novel, and after a career on Wall Street where everybody avoids the limelight, you might say I wasn’t ready for primetime.

And every word is true.

First a little background: Top Producer will be published in other languages and in countries outside the USA—Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, and Hungary. My Australian publisher, Murdoch Books, released Top Producer on September 1, 2009. They were first to print my novel and will, therefore, always occupy a special place in my memories.

It was exciting to attend the Brisbane Writers Festival. During my first week as a published author, I was having a blast Down Under. There were parties and author panels. After three or four radio interviews and at least one television appearance, I began operating under an illusion.

I’m a celebrity.

I woke up—literally and figuratively—on a Friday morning at 1 am in Australia. My publicist had scheduled an interview with Buddy Cianci (ex-Mayor of RI and radio talk-show host) at 2 am Brisbane time which was noon in Providence. I had set the alarms on my BlackBerry and the clock next to my bed. When the hotel reception also called at 1 am, the three ring tones sounded like a four-alarm fire in the neighborhood.

Hey, I didn’t want to sleep through the radio interview.

After a week of big parties and late hours, I was a wreck waking up in the middle of the night. Bed head. Groggy. Not a pretty sight. I pulled on a pair of old shorts but stayed with the flannel pajama tops that have been part of my wardrobe since last century. Outside, BlackBerry in hand, I tried to wake up in the fresh air by replying to e-mails. What did I care how I looked.

Nobody’s out in Brisbane at 1 am in the morning, right?

Wrong. I sat on the bench in front of my hotel, slowly gaining consciousness before my radio interview. Two guys and a woman approached me from the distance. They were returning from a big night out, Aussie style, and the woman pointed at me.

Not now, I thought. I don’t want my fans seeing me like this. Bed head.

Nasty pajamas.

The trio drew closer, and the woman pointed again.

They want me to autograph a book. I’m not ready for fame.

“Look,” The woman said, “he’s homeless.”

I glanced back over my shoulder and, finding no one behind me, realized she was talking about me.

The woman persisted. She shredded my illusions and tore out my heart.

She asked, “Do you think he needs money?”

I gazed at her in much the same way a deer eyes oncoming headlights. My hands rose involuntarily. I didn’t know what to say.

No. No. You have it all wrong.

And the woman sighed, a note of relief in her voice, “It’s okay. He has a BlackBerry.”


  1. These days, my BlackBerry is surgically attached to my hip. :)

  2. Great story. I doubt I'd have been able to read a phone screen or hit the right keys under those conditions.

  3. TO, it was all I could do to complete a sentence when the radio interview started at 2 am.

  4. Great story. I hope you put it in a book!
    I've done that--radio interviews in the middle of the night with a bright perky morning show host when it's 3 am for me, so I identified strongly

  5. I think perky is good under the circumstances. In my case, Buddy C. helped me rally to the occasion.

  6. And the winner in yesterday's contest is Laura DiSilverio for both the Spanx and Diet Pepsi phrases.

    Laura, please email me your mailing address and I'll put a book in the mail. My address is

    Thank you to everyone who participated yesterday. Tough, tough decision.

  7. The Harvard-Yale game is not going well.


  8. I wrote too soon on the last comment.

  9. Nothing like a dose of reality and a Blackberry. (Hugs)Indigo

  10. The alleged homeless people in my town carry cell phones. They call their buddies and tell them they're "working."

    Thanks for the giggle!

  11. In all honesty, there are days when I'd like to toss my BlackBerry into the Hudson.


    DARCY O!

    Darcy, email Hank at
    hryan at whdh dot com
    And I will tell you how to claim your prize!

    Norb's winner--coming soon!