Sunday, November 13, 2005

Miss Swanson Regrets chpt. I

One of the things that we've been discussing at The Third Estate Sunday Review is a possible ongoing novel. Ty especially enjoyed the idea and came up with a premise.

The title of this novel is Miss Swanson Regrets. Will you see a chapter every edition? Probably not. But if it captures our fancy or the readers, we will be continuing it.

Hilda Swanson, the lead character, is not based upon any woman. She will be a combination of various details of various real life people, some in broadcasting, some not. C.I. and Ava will be filling in details based upon one woman in particular ("Because we doubt we'll live to write her obit since she seems to have made some pact with the devil") but it's not intended to be a biography of one person, it is intended to be a commentary on the press.

This is the introductory chapter and, if we're inspired, you'll see more of it in the future. There was a debate as to whether Miss Swanson should be female or not. However, at a time when there is talk that Condi Rice or another woman might run for president in 2008, one of the themes we wanted to underscore was that a "first" isn't necessarily a "best." Kat just stated our intro was longer than our chapter, so we'll shut up.

Chapter One

"Goddman you," she screamed, her wig askew, "Don't be a f**king smart ass! Of course I lied! We all lied! We all agreed to! That's how it works!"

Staring at the "break through woman" who had "broken down" barriers against women in broadcasting, Randy couldn't believe the transformation in mere minutes from the sympathetic smile and gentle tones to the raging, out of control lunatic looming above him.

Hilda Swanson was a someone who "looked good for her age" -- a topic on which there was a considerable dispute. Though some records listed her year of birth as 1930, officially the line was she was born in 1935.

Five years may not seem a huge amount, especially for someone who was at least seventy, but they had prolonged her broadcasting career and forestalled the semi-retirement for a number of years. She was now in semi-retirement.

"Kept on moth balls until they need to pull at the goddamn heart strings!" she roared.

Randy's prof at J-school had suggested he interview Miss Swanson (always "Miss Swanson") for his semester poject. The prof had officially worked for Miss Swanson three decades prior and, unofficially, had a brief, five week fling with Miss Swanson.

Hilda Swanson had found the idea interesting since she was working on yet another book and her last few had been dubbed "PowerPoint presentations masking as books for the nonreading public" by Salon. The agreement was that Randy's notes and paper could be used by Miss Swanson for her latest book. Credit for Randy's contributions was something Miss Swanson felt was best dealt with "later, when we can see how valuable they are or not."

The first fifteen minutes had been without incident except when Miss Swanson admonished Randy for having made small talk with "the help." Randy had not known that Miss Swanson was infamous for staring right through the servants who attempted to engage her when she was visiting friends, especially one who lived on Fifth Avenue.

All Randy had known was that she had scored many interviews over the many, many years and that she was something of an institution.

Face to face, she was something of a nightmare.
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