Beau Brummell by the Fashionable Erato

I know nothing about fashion, but both my wife and my mother ( and there’s nothing creepier than when they both say the same thing to you) referred to my attempts at dressing up as “very Beau Brummell.” I had no idea who that was, but now I’m smarter because of this week’s interview.

Erato, (yes it’s a pen name) has written about the ultimate 18th-century fashion plate in her new novel, The Cut of the Clothes.

What’s your story, Erato?

Erato writes under a pen name. She obviously doesn’t have my crying need for validation

So, Erato is my pen name — and no, it doesn’t mean I write erotica (what the hell, people? It’s not even the same key vowels, but people mistake it all the time for “Erotia” or something.) Editor’s Note: an overwhelming majority of people are idiots. Don’t let it get to you. In any case, I write historical fiction. So far all of my books are set in the Georgian/Regency era, which I am finding is a bit of a misfortune, as “Regency” has become a modern genre of its own that I don’t actually write; consequently people who like “Regency” stories don’t usually seem to like my work and other people who might actually like them don’t want to read them because they think they don’t like “Regency” stories. It just means they’re set in the late-18th/early-19th century in Great Britain, it doesn’t mean they’re about rakish noblemen having dubiously consensual sex with reluctant heroines, or that they’re Christian propaganda for clean living, or that they’re Jane Austen fanfiction where Darcy and Elizabeth have a secret baby the entire time of Pride and Prejudice.

Duly noted. It’s rough when genres constrict your subject matter. What’s the book about?

It tells the true story of Beau Brummell and the Prince Regent. It’s a story that’s been done a few times before, since it seems everyone agrees that was the most interesting part of Brummell’s life — when he was in London and at his peak. Brummell seems to possess such a natural charm, good looks, and a talent for matching his clothes together that he becomes an instant star once the Prince befriends him. My version is different from the other tellings for a couple reasons: first, it is the only one I know of that didn’t make up a fictional character to serve as a love interest for Brummell and then try to tell it as a love story. Secondly, it’s told from the Prince’s point of view, in my best attempt at historically accurate reproduction of the way he wrote.

I’m going to confess that fashion and talking about clothes bores me to tears, despite being strapped to the couch and forced to watch 13 seasons of Project Runway with the Duchesss. What is it about this story you find so fascinating?

I had heard the name Beau Brummell a bit, and when you mostly write Georgian/Regency fiction you know a little about him and his contributions to fashion from your research. I wrote kind of a knockoff version of him into the book None But Fools (as “Beau Bancroft”) but nothing very studied. While I was writing my upcoming book The Virgin and the Bull (it was written before Cut of the Clothes but only now getting published) I had needed to look up some fashion vocabulary term — I think the word I needed was the fall of a pair of breeches — and when I did so online, the page I found happened to also have a video of the opening scene of the BBC film Beau Brummell: This Charming Man. I watched the opening scene, which is not really anything more than James Purefoy as Brummell getting dressed and then walking down a hall, but on that basis, I thought, “My next book should be about Beau Brummell.” I deliberately did not watch the rest of that movie until after my book was done, and indeed our final takes on the story were quite different, but that was the inspiration.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?

There’s a joke, and I’m afraid if I explain it it’ll be ruined for like, the one person who will ever read it and actually get it without needing to look it up… ah well, they might not be amongst the same people who reads this blog, right? What are the odds? Prinny is sick in bed and is reading a book with a French title: Les Bijoux Indiscrets. I deliberately went out of my way to find the trashiest possible 18th century book for him to be reading. It’s a book by Denis Diderot of all people (co-creator of the first Encyclopedia.) It’s about a king with a magic ring that causes women’s vaginas to talk, and to declare their sexual histories. That’s as much of a plot as it’s really got. So, that’s what Prinny reads there.
Worth being said, the real-life Prinny had one hell of a pornography collection. If I remember correctly, when he died, it took three days of continuously burning fires to destroy it all.

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

The Cut of the Clothes – Amazon.com:
Amazon UK:
Google Play: 

Erato’s Author Pages –

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2H3M6eD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15113073.Erato

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EratoWrites

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look at the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction of all types from around the world.

 

The Long-Distance Leader is Almost Here

Readers of this blog usually don’t care much about my day job, but I do. My latest book is “The Long-Distance Leader-Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.”  It is the culmination of years of work and research that I, and my co-author Kevin Eikenberry, are very proud of.

 

Hear Kevin talk about it in the publisher’s official video trailer.

 

Then you can order the darned thing. Publication date is officially June 5. If you like it, please leave a review and tell all your coworkers and peers. It’s available worldwide in paperback, Kindle and Audio book.

If you are interested in the topic, check out the website and blog of The Remote Leadership Institute.

My Week with Harry Anderson

Image result for Harry AndersonWhen you reach my age, the passing of people you’ve known becomes a part of life. In fact, Facebook is good for only two things: knowing your life turned out better than your ex’s and learning when people from your past die.

Most people know Harry Anderson from the sitcom Night Court, but I met him back in 1982, when he was excited because he was going to be a regular on a “new show that might last a season or two,” that went on to be Cheers.

I was working my first time ( in the US illegally, under the table, and underage) at the Comedy Underground in Seattle, Wa. Back in the day you usually had to share a “condo” with the other acts if you weren’t local. That meant poor Harry, the headliner, had to share an apartment with a young act he knew from San Francisco, and some weird ginger kid from Vancouver. That would be me.

In that week, not only did I discover what a kind, humble and hard-working act he was (for someone who was already a big star in the stand-up world and about to break out) but I learned some valuable lessons that stayed with me my entire professional life, in and out of show business.

  • Treat the staff like gold.  On Keith Tomasek’s “The Inadequate Life” podcast, I was asked why everyone remembers me as such a nice guy and so easy to work with.  (I’ll post the link when it airs, I promise) Looking back, I never really thought there was another way to be. But working with Harry, I remember he told me flat out, “Treat the staff like gold. They will make or break your week, and you want them to remember you.”  He did just that, and I never forgot that advice.
  • Old fashioned southern manners aren’t just a Southern thing. Harry treated everyone he met in the club as “sir” or “ma’am” until instructed otherwise (and he was always instructed otherwise- people loved him.) He also always told me to call waitresses “darlin’ ” –a habit it’s taken me years to break, but not all advice is evergreen.  He always read a person’s nametag and called them by name, something I do to this day and wrote it into the character of Byron de Prorok in The Count of the Sahara. The point was to be polite but not obsequious and people would treat you the same way- and boy did they.
  • Always work a hustle. Harry grew up on the streets of New Orleans, and his entire magic act was a take on the street hustlers and con men he knew. He never (to my knowledge) used his powers for evil, but I also saw fewer men work so hard. Most comics on the road do the promotion necessary, but you can still work a full schedule at a comedy club and have 20 hours a day to kill. Harry spent every day in Seattle visiting magic stores. He designed magic tricks, and he’d pop in to get the stores to buy his latest invention, or his newsletter, or just to know he was in town and drum up an audience.  I tagged along as he rose early every day with a printed list of every magic and joke shop in the area. I gawked and basked in reflected glory as he got treated like royalty everywhere magicians gathered, and was one of the most respected people in his craft. He’d been poor and had no intention of ever being that way again so he hustled his skinny butt off. He was a good role model in that regard.
  • It doesn’t hurt to be nice to the opening act. Harry was a pleasure to hang out with- and he didn’t have to be. He could have objected to being cooped up in an apartment with two young idiots, but he seemed to enjoy the big brother role (although there was a hysterical practical joke on the other comic I’ll remember to this day and take to my grave.) He treated us as peers. We’d write jokes (he actually did 2 of the jokes we wrote that week on Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks later and I bragged about it for years) and laugh. There may have been alcohol involved.
  • I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I stole the hat thing from him. At various times in my comedy career, I’ve worn suspenders and arm garters, totally inspired by Harry’s style. I always talk like a bit more of a hick than I really am, because you could sneak up on the suckers. I also noticed that his trademark hat made him instantly recognizable, and even years later people would talk about “the magician with the big hat” and I knew who they meant. Plus it was cool.

It was only a week. While we crossed paths once more after that and he was kind enough to sort of remember me, he made as big an impression on my comedy career and what came after as almost anyone from that time.

He passed today, and like so many people he probably has no idea of the impact he had on this kid he shared an apartment with and helped clean up the peppermint Schnapps puke. God love him.