For the last few years, I’ve been working on a new novel, tentatively titled Mrs. Cole Porter. I actually got the idea for this book back in 2002, when I was finishing up The Circus in Winter. I spent almost a year doing research, even wrote up a novel synopsis to submit along with the Circus manuscript, and then something happened: Variety announced that a little movie called De-Lovely had just been cast. The editor who acquired Circus wasn’t interested in my Cole Porter idea. Actually, nobody was. The timing was wrong. So I put the project aside for a few years and wrote a book about dating and football.
Never let it be said that I have a narrow set of interests.
For reasons that only make sense after the fact, I needed to write Comeback Season before embarking on this new book. I needed to teach myself how to write a novel, how to sustain a novel-length reading experience. I’ve talked about this in more depth here.
The novel is about the life of Linda Lee, and right now, I’m focused on who she was before she met Cole Porter.
In the course of doing research for the novel, I discovered that 86 volumes of her personal scrapbooks are held at Harvard. During the summer of 2009, I spent three days looking through them. They provided me with a rare glimpse into her cultural milieu, and so I applied for some research fellowships to work on a related project: a nonfiction article about Linda’s scrapbooks.
I’m pleased and honored to have received a Beatrice, Benjamin and Richard Bader Fellowship in the Visual Arts of the Theatre from Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Each fellow is expected to be in residence at the Houghton for at least four weeks during the period from July 2011 through June 2012. My project is entitled, “Looking for Linda: The Scrapbooks of Mrs. Cole Porter.”
P.S. If you liked the “bossy narrator” and the “artifactual-ness” of The Circus in Winter, then you’ll dig this new book, too.