Tuesday, 10 September 2013

More about Ironing

In preparation for the on-going blog tour, my eAgent (Ajay) conducted an interview over a Skype video link. This is the transcript.

Ajay:  Good evening, Robert. I understand Shameless Ambition was never meant to be published. What happened?

Robert:  I can’t go into the whole story now - it would make another book – but in essence a woman called Melody Bigger decided to sue Monsaint, the company she once managed, claiming unfair dismissal. Her evidence would have dragged my wife Caroline down. In the end, we had to publish so that Caroline’s side of the story came out.

Ajay:  So it was a joint decision between you and Caroline to publish? I ask because some of the details about Caroline’s involvement with senior people in the European Central Bank are quite shocking.

Robert:  No, it was my decision. Caroline defers to me on legal matters, I defer to her on financial matters. She is finance director at home as well as at work. I have to get her approval before every one-click purchase.

Ajay:  What are your feelings now seeing your wife on the cover of the book and knowing that people will read about her indiscretions?

Robert:  Mixed emotions. I am proud of Caroline that she came through the ordeal. She got involved with some peculiar people. And I do have a crumb of authorial satisfaction to see my work in a format others can read. A lot of work goes into a book being published. I would like to thank Steam eReads, the publishers; they have been fantastic. But then, absolute horror at the thought that people might read it.

Ajay:  What about Caroline? What does she feel about people knowing the intimate details of her affairs?

Robert:  Her business affairs? I don’t know. We don’t discuss it. You can ask her yourself if you like. She’s in the kitchen doing the ironing. Shall I call her through?

Ajay:  Yes please. I’d love to meet her.

Robert:  (Loudly) Caroline – Ajay’s on Skype and wants to ask you about the book. Do you mind talking to him?

Caroline:  (Muffled) Just a minute. (Sound of chair being moved and new person sitting down).

Ajay:  Thank you for joining us, Caroline. Um…

Caroline:  What? Oh, sorry for my appearance. I only do the ironing when I’ve got nothing left to wear.

Ajay:  No problem. I think I already understand something better. Caroline, I was just asking Robert what you feel about the publication of Shameless Ambition.

Caroline:  Pleased for Robert, obviously. He takes his writing seriously. But I haven’t read the book and don’t intend to. I stick to political biographies, military history, and books by business gurus.

Ajay:  In the book some people describe you as something of an exhibitionist. Do you think that’s a fair description?

Caroline:  I really don’t know what they’re talking about. That bit at the end when I’m standing naked at the window in our room in the Shangri-La hotel with the lights on and the curtains open – everyone does that after a couple of glasses of wine, don’t they?

Ajay:  So some of the book is familiar to you?

Caroline:  I checked a few pages here and there to make sure Robert hadn’t taken any liberties.

Robert:  If I could just come in there…

Caroline:  Just wait, Robert. It’s my turn.

Ajay:  When did you realise that Robert was writing a book about the Eurobonds affair?

Caroline:  I wouldn’t want Robert to take all the credit. Large parts of the book were written up from my own notes and emails. Robert put it all together for legal reasons. We discovered that Melody Bigger is not only a powerful woman, but also a dangerous one. I agree with it being published because I think it’s important that people know what goes on behind the scenes in the world of business and politics.

Ajay:  I have read every word of the book of course – several times. What would you say to readers who say it’s a bit far-fetched in places?

Caroline:  I think you must have led a very sheltered life, Ajay. If it wasn’t factual, why would Von Wolfswinkle have hired the most expensive publicist in Europe to frame his denial of the major events?

Robert:  I really must in come there… Von Wolfswinkle is entitled to his version of events. The truth is never straightforward. It looks different if you’re on top or underneath. The book is not intended to harm anyone’s reputation. I have changed some names to protect the innocent, except Antonia’s. But then she’s not innocent in the common meaning of the word. And Caroline is called Caroline, obviously. I can’t think of my wife by any other name.

Ajay:  Some men might be embarrassed if their wife behaved like Caroline. They might even seek divorce. Does it take a brave man to describe his wife’s love life in such detail?

Robert:  Bravery is standing up in court to argue for a plaintiff who has a five per cent chance of winning his case. You say you’ve read the book so you’ll know I’m not entirely blameless. Caroline and I like to think we have a modern marriage, and the truth is we are getting on better than ever.

Ajay:  What do you think that means – a modern marriage: Caroline?

Caroline:  I think it’s something every couple, married or unmarried, has to work out. There aren’t too many rules on how to live your life these days. I can only speak for myself. My job is very important to me. If someone tries to take that away, I get very angry indeed. If another woman tries to take Robert away, that’s not quite so serious. I would use conventional weapons, not nuclear.

Ajay:  Same question, Robert.

Robert:  A modern marriage? For me, it means a woman has an equal right to a great career, but still has to do the ironing. (Sounds of a brief scuffle and some camera wobble). No seriously, I am more than happy for Caroline to earn big money. Do you know how much a season ticket at Manchester United costs these days?

Ajay:  Robert, do you have any ambitions as a writer?

Robert:  One day I would like to move on from memoir and into fiction, but currently I’m working on the sequel to Shameless Ambition. Caroline is likely to be in the news soon because of nude painting she did for charity, and Melody is trying to exploit that as well.

Caroline:  Robert, you promised you wouldn’t…

Robert:  I’m trying to explain to Ajay why I write. Lawyers write things down all the time, make up a story from the available evidence that will convince the judge. In this case, I hope for a positive verdict from the jury of readers.

Ajay:  Thank you, Caroline and Robert Fanshaw. Perhaps we could all meet up for a drink one evening?

A version of this interview first appeared on Susanna’s Morning Room.


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Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.

email fanshawrobert@gmail.com