It was with deep regret that I read about the death of Judith Krantz on June 22, 2019. Why hadn't I asked her to be a guest? She was 91 years old and probably would have liked to be asked to do an interview.
One of the problems for authors is that unless they have a new release, they are not considered newsworthy. They are -- unfortunately -- forgotten.
Of course, Judith Krantz hadn't released a book in years -- but nevertheless her insights into writing bestselling books would have been fun to talk about and to share with my listeners. The author of Scruples, Princess Daisy and Mistral's Daughter certainly knew what it took to write a bestselling book.
Years ago I had missed the opportunity of just saying hello to her and shaking her hand. I was young and shy. I had recently read her bestselling book, I'll Take Manhattan, which I loved. In fact, I love any book about New York City -- the ultimate goal of any would-be-author. A few years ago when I read Jill Block's The Truth About Parallel Lines, I thought about Judith Krantz. Both authors bring Manhattan alive -- that magical place that Ella Fitzgerald sings about so beautifully.
Unfortunately, I missed my opportunity to tell her how much I enjoyed her books. I was sitting in the office of a literary agent -- I'll call him George -- at one of the top literary agencies in the Hollywood, when someone stopped her in the hallway. George had left me alone for a few minutes and I turned around to look at the beautiful woman dressed in a dusty pink Chanel suit. A real one. There is something about a real Chanel suit. Her hair was perfectly coiffed. She was someone. An older woman, but still someone. I wasn't sure who exactly. I could see her only in profile. I was trying to think of an actress -- until someone came up to her and said, "Judith!"
Then it clicked -- Judith Krantz. Wow! I might have made a sound. A gasp of sorts. My mouth fell open and the people in the hallway noticed me. I could have jumped up and held out my hand. She would have been gracious. You could tell from looking at her that she would have been gracious. But I didn't jump up and for years I blamed George. He had so intimidated me that I was a nervous wreck.
Although George looked about sixteen, he was a real 'big shot' in the business. He had important clients. He made seven figure deals. And he didn't like me. Well, not me personally. The truth is that Hollywood agents don't want to work with people from the hicks and I had come in from Houston, which was perhaps even worse. And I wasn't dressed properly. Not that anyone in Hollywood is shallow enough to judge a person by their clothes, but I was wearing a suit from Target and he was wearing Italian loafers with no socks. There was definitely a line of demarcation between us. I saw in my head the logo of In-N-Out Burger. He was 'in' and I was definitely 'out' of his universe.
Okay, I will say it. He was snooty. I'm sure if we met at shul he would have been sweet, but in his fancy office with piles of scripts on the credenza behind him, he probably wanted to emphasize his importance. After all, he did look young. He looked like he had just gone through his Bar Mitzvah a few years earlier. He needed to command respect. And he did.
I don't think Judith Krantz would have been snooty if I had jumped up and stuck out my hand. She would have been nice. So what if she wore a real Chanel and I wore what at that moment felt like a gunny sack. She would have been charming. She was charming.
I never did get a deal with George, but later on I did have three of my spec scripts optioned and they did appear in the Hollywood Reporter.
JUDITH KRANTZ WAS VERY TALENTED
I am an eclectic reader and am usually into two or three books at a time. I can just as easily read Camus one minute and an hour later sit down and enjoy a Judith Krantz steamy bestseller -- when I needed a break from deep thinking.
“My novel gives women a big bubble bath. It’s a chocolate eclair. It’s the kind of novel people love. I loved it myself.” --Judith Krantz
That's how Judith Krantz at the age of fifty described her first book, Scruples. I guess there were a lot of women out there who needed that bubble bath and chocolate eclair because four months later it hit the New York Times bestseller list. (Camus won the Nobel Prize, but he never did make the NYT bestselling list.)
For all you writers out there, Judith Krantz is a great example for all of us. She was dedicated to her craft. She was disciplined and turned out 10,000 words a week working from her sound-proofed writing room. With twenty-five years experience as a journalist she was diligent about the research and her books are well-known for being historically accurate.