Interview with the Author

I came running into the morning staff meeting six minutes late. After six years on staff, you’d think I’d know that the freeway turns into one giant parking lot between my house and the paper. I had to say that I earned that dirty look from my editor when I interrupted him with my belated entrance at the staff meeting that started promptly at nine.

I figured that I also deserved the “Come into my office, shut the door” command just as I was about to take a seat at my desk after the meeting adjourned.

“Listen, I didn’t want to give you this assignment in front of everyone else at the staff meeting … “he started to say.

Good. He wasn’t being his normally dickish self. I was pretty sure I knew where this was going. From time to time there were stories that were so sensitive that my editor didn’t want anyone, even on the staff, to know we were working on them — like the time he pulled me in to investigate a suspected tryst between the mayor and his chief of staff. I blew it wide open. It was pretty much all I covered for a good couple of months.

“There’s a guy in town that’s coming out with a book, Encounter at Green’s Rock, that’s going to be getting a lot of press from what I’ve been told by a friend of mine who’s his editor,” he said. “The publishing company is priming it to hit the top of the bestsellers lists. We have first crack at doing a human interest profile on him before the book comes out next Tuesday. This is something that will put our circulation figures over the top. I had to pull some major strings to get it as an exclusive one-on-one with the author. I think you’re the person who can handle it best. This will be Page One top of the fold of the Arts section on Sunday.”

A human interest profile? That’s what I got called in for? OK, sure. Whatever. I thanked him and went back to my desk to take a look at the PDF galley that he emailed to me.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake!” I thought as I was into the first chapter. This guy wrote a book about a grown woman, probably my age, who had a summertime affair with a guy who was barely of the age of consent? I knew people sex. Heck, even I did and pushed a few boundaries of propriety, but nothing like this.

I went back into my editor’s office. To say that I lit into him was an understatement.

I walked back into his office and screamed, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! You want me to do a fluff piece about a smut monger? Can’t you give this to the book reviewer?”

He told me to lower my voice and said, “I had to let her go last week. Budget cuts. I’m not asking for a review of the book. I really don’t care what you think about it. You do the best job of doing human interest profiles of anyone on the staff. You know how to get into people’s minds, and with the way you handled the mayor’s story, I know you can handle this with finesse. Our numbers depend on this story, not to mention the money we can get off reprints. You really don’t have a choice. I’m not giving you one unless you want to be the next person to be let go when I have to cut staff again.”

It wasn’t an idle threat. After six years on staff, I was now the lowest person on the newsroom totem pole.
I asked him how soon he needed it. He told me by the end of the week.

I called the author to arrange an interview. Surprisingly, he seemed like a very polite, intelligent and well-spoken man. Actually, I quickly got the sense that he’d a dream interviewee. He had already told me a bit about himself and the book before I had a chance to ask him any questions.

Jack Parrott had an American lit degree from an Ivy League university and had been working on this book for the past three years in his spare time. He said he finally pursued the project after several friends told him that he should be writing erotica for profit instead posting it for public access on the Internet and selling high-end real estate.
In no way did he say anything lecherous or untoward. He said he could clear the next morning for an interview at his office. A public place. That was good. At least I’d feel safe.

Once I got off the phone, I started looking over the story. I found myself amazed at the fluidity of his writing. It was lyrical, almost magical, even through passages I would have would have ordinarily taken as raunchy and distasteful. I had to admit that it took a true talent for me to be entranced with a 13-page description of how a grown woman hid behind trees to watch a 16-year-old boy masturbate buck naked on the shore of an island in Maine where the waves of the Atlantic finally made contact with land. I was surprised to admit that I could see myself as being that woman. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the copy to see where it would lead next.

When I got home, I did some digging online and found a trove of short erotic fiction written by him. His stories had Facebook and Twitter likes and shares that numbered in the tens of thousands and were all over Reddit and StumbleUpon. Many of his stories had gotten high …

Read the rest of the story in A Good Woman’s Dirty Mind available in several eBook formats at Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.