Once I decided to put out my work as e-books, I started going over my manuscripts very meticulously. It took me about a year to finally push the buttons and throw them into the world. The Conversation books (Capote, Michener, Brando) were easy as they were already done and had reached a fairly decent audience in print. But I wanted to make them different, so I added photos that have never appeared before.
The photographer Harvey Wang took a lot of shots of Capote when I was with him at the Drake Hotel in N.Y. so I put them in that book. For Brando, I found pictures I had snapped of him on his island, and when I blew them up I discovered that they were pretty good, so that has worked out nicely. As for Michener, he was never an exciting-looking man, but I did take pictures of him with his wife Mari and at certain functions where he was honored, so I included those. For The Hustons, I used only the photos that I had permission to use, and added the varioius book jacket covers (as I did with the Conversation books).
Once these books were done, I got to work on my two novels, both Hollywood related, one I would call picaresque (Catch a Fallen Star) and the other a moral dilemma thriller (Begin Again Finnegan). My main characters are based on some real characters, though I’ve certainly fictionalized them. As I’ve always fancied the idea of being a novelist, these are books that are dear to my heart and I’m curious to see what people think of them.
The Book of Shmoga brought me back to my days as a college humor magazine editor. I had so much fun writing this satire on self-help inspirational books, this take-off on the yoga craze. But I also did a lot of research, so it’s not just blowing monkeys out my ass..
ICONS is a collection of 13 long profiles I wrote as cover stories for Trendy magazine in Poland. They do such a terrific job with these pieces, with wonderful and striking covers which I have included in my e-book. I’ve also included photos I have taken with Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry, Anthony Hopkins, Anthony Kiedis, Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone and Kim Basinger. Didn’t have any photos with Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Penelope Cruz or Tom Waits, but those are some of my favorite pieces.
The 3 books that I haven’t yet released are all ready to go, but I’m waiting for covers to be done for the 152 poems about the famous I’ve written (Celebrity Salad)–these are verses that try to capture a moment in time, my own epiphany about each star. The journal I kept about working with Al Pacino on his WildeSalome documentary (“I Want You in My Movie!”) is a true behind-the-scenes of my two years on that project, before Al and I had a falling out and he continued tinkering with that film for 3 more years. If you get a chance to see it, make sure you do. It’s worth your while.
And finally there’s You Show Me Yours, my memoir. It covers my life through 1980 when I left Brando’s island. There are chapters about growing up in Brooklyn and Long Island, about UCLA and the Peace Corps in Ghana, about my start as a freelance writer doing these first-person New Journalism pieces, and as an interviewer and how I wound up at Playboy. There’s a chapter on my year with Barbra Streisand and another chapter on my time with Brando.
It’s a lot of work to put out and who knows if it’s smart to do this all at once. But I must say that I’ve been very discouraged with the publishing world, with agents who don’t read, with publishers who won’t read unless it comes from an agent, with bookstores that keep closing. In the end, I just decided to take my writing life into my own hands. I don’t think magazines will review self-published e-books, but hopefully there will be readers out there who will have their say. I’m proud of all these books. They’re the best that I can do.