For a year in 1990, I worked as a maître d' at the bustling Russian Tea Room, where movie stars, agents and producers hob-knobbed every day, making deals and catching up on the latest gossip.
I always thought it would make a fascinating setting for a novel, an Upstairs Downstairs of the restaurant world.
I finally made time to sit down and write it. With advice from a brilliant agent, the second draft is almost done.
Here is the beginning of The Russian Tea Room...
Julie Smithson hurried down the sidewalk, her heels clicking smartly. She couldn’t wait for her day to begin. There was so much to do. But the newsstand on the corner caught her eye, and she slowed then stopped.
Her eyes flicked over the racks of magazines trying to quickly judge which was the most arresting at first glance. Mascara drenched eyes and plump inviting lips seemed to taunt her from the covers of Vogue and Bazaar. Lurid headlines announcing divorces, facelifts and suspected love affairs were splashed over celebrity faces on the tabloids. So many images vied for her attention. A shimmer of anxiety ran down her back. How could she make her new magazine stand out against all this? In a few short months, the first issue would be off press, but there was still so much to do.
Julie took a deep breath, looked up at the glorious blue sky of this September day, and reminded herself to enjoy the ride. She had to just do her best and hope it was enough. But looking down her eyes fell on the latest issue of New York magazine. There on the cover was a picture of Cassandra Peebles perched on a crane.
Talk about a buzz kill. Julie sighed.
Mistress Rule Number 1: Never have an affair with a man whose wife has a publicist.