So here’s the basic premise of Entertaining Welsey Shaw

Fame. Much as we may denigrate the way the heavens spill onto certain specific people, disproportionate to their importance in our view, and as superficial as the quest for fame may seem, we’d all like it, at least a little bit.  We’d all like to have a fuss made over us as we enter a restaurant or disembark from a jetliner.

paps1But did you ever stop to think what this feels like when it’s all you experience ever?  What if you can’t even walk a block down the street without craziness breaking out?  Can people like that even be sane?  (I was wondering this before Britney and Lindsay became constant front-page fodder.)  You’re a prisoner.  Yes, a well-treated prisoner in a posh prison, a prison that can go wherever you want, but a prisoner nonetheless.

And your friends…well, your choice of friends is very limited.  You can’t just meet people the normal way.  Most contacts come through your work or the social life imposed on you by your work.

This is especially true if you were a child star whose career was managed from age 10 by your stage-mother.

Who are your friends?  And more importantly, why are they?

I hate to quote Oprah Winfrey because I’m afraid it raises the kitsch level in my blog, as well as my blood sugar.  But she was right when she said plenty of people want to ride with you in the limo.  The true friend is the one who will take the bus with you.

In my story, Welsey Shaw, aged 26, actress extraordinaire, is trying to figure out who her friends are, who will ride the bus with her.  Her mother cannot understand why she would even care.  Measure people by what you can do for them, and them for you.  What’s wrong with that, mom wants to know.  Daughter is more grown-up than mom.

Enter Daniel Ferreira.  Thirty-eight.  Freelance writer, ghost-writing stories he can’t even stand.  No one in New York or LA has ever made a fuss when he walked down the street.  The most unlikely person to change the trajectory of the life of Welsey Shaw.

But Daniel has something that Welsey is drawn to: he’s too stupid not to talk to her.  He doesn’t shy away, hound her for an autograph or try to sneak candids with his digital camera.  He’d ride the bus with her, and maybe not even give up his seat if she were standing.

StarbucksNot that he isn’t star-struck.  Just in his own way.  At first he doesn’t think celebrities, particularly pretty skinny blonde ones who’ve been in a dozen hit movies, hold any interest for him.  She is his object of scorn, if anything.  But after several encounters at a Starbucks in NYC that they both seem to find themselves in at the same time, he finds himself drawn into her glamorous world, and feeling, despite his best efforts, just a little bit more important basking in the reflected light of the absurdly famous thespian.

It’s not supposed to be that way, dammit.  He’s cerebral and above that stuff.  Really.

And he comes from a small town upstate, Callicoon, a town that, while lovely, counts tractor parades, farmers markets and pot luck Sunday dinners among its social high points.  He’s the biggest fish in this small town, and now, nearly (mostly, largely) every Friday afternoon at three to about four, sometimes longer if it gets interesting, he finds himself sitting across a little round table from the most famous of actresses, shielded from the prying world by expensive wrap-around sunglasses, listening to her talk about…her life.

Why is she doing this?  And why does she tell him, of all people.

Careful what you wish for, the saying goes.  Eventually Daniel finds out exactly why she has picked him out–and she has–among Starbuck’s denizens, for taking into her confidences.

The answer isn’t one he wanted to hear.  It’s a bit of a blow to his ego to find out she really thinks he’s a bit of a jerk–or a huge jerk, depending on how her day is going.

And he’s not sure afterwards how he feels about her now…or how he feels about himself…

4 responses

  1. Go for it, John! This is a fascinating premise for a book (and a blog).


    October 8, 2009 at 7:17 am

  2. BarbP

    Don’t know if it makes any difference for the novel, but I have to disagree with your claim that we’d all like to experience at least a little bit of fame. I wouldn’t. The idea leaves me cold. I would never want random people making a fuss over me; I’d find it horribly intrusive. People with whom I have authentic, intimate connections can make a fuss over me now and again, and I’ll make a fuss over them now and again too. Restaurant staff, airline personnel, and the like, should be polite and do their jobs…. but if they singled me out for special treatment, I’d be annoyed rather than pleased. Fame, ugh. Not me, please!!!


    October 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    • Yes, Welsey is finding she feels that way too.

      But what about fame as a form of validation? Does Obama’s Nobel Prize, awarded just this morning, help validate his efforts towards peace? Does the fame attached to an actress make her more likely to win an Academy or other Award?

      Or is fame and celebrity like grass–always greener on the other side?


      October 9, 2009 at 1:15 pm

  3. Charles

    Great premise, and it is something I have thought about. Being on stage once a week, I feel the lure. And in my own (different other) group, because of being on stage quite a bit, everyone seems to know me. I was told once that if you are on stage, and good, everyone not only knows you, but feels like you are their friend.

    It is a strange feeling. And it must be 1000 times worse for the mega stars of America.


    October 9, 2009 at 7:41 pm

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