The Fabliss Life of Bella Mellman by Shirley Sacks spins a bold tale of a savvy woman of the world who gives a rollicking social commentary on life in the flats of Beverly Hills, men, “mature” dating habits, and the odd complexities of love, sociopaths, marriage, divorce, and living a creative life. The book also looks at the role of the older woman, her place in the sexual panoply, which has been so horribly simplified.
Bella Mellman, a transplanted South African artist and writer, lives a ‘fabliss’ life (as her 8-year-old granddaughter tells it) in the flats of Beverly Hills. A long-time divorcee nearing the seventh decade of a very full life, Bella is constantly annoyed when friends, and even strangers, ask the impertinent question of “Why don’t you have a partner?” Followed by the hated phrase: “You look quite good for a woman your age.” The only thing to do, Bella realized, was to write a book that explained once and for all, her satisfaction with being older and single.
Born in South Africa, married, two children, divorced.
Off to London, back to South Africa, mistakenly and briefly married.
Then 1987 to The United States, landing in Beverly Hills.
Writes, paints, knits, re-arranges decor, cooks, exercise a bit, reads a lot.
Loves animals and abhors animal cruelty!
Interested in just about everything except sport.
Has opinions about everything including sports.
Loves friends old and new, family near and afar.
Love … the answer.
Education: Fine Arts Degree, University of The Witwatersrand.
Showed art at various galleries in Johannesburg, London and Los Angeles.
Advertising copywriter, Johannesburg.
An Interview with Author, Shirley Sacks
- When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I used to want to be a painter, and have a degree in Fine Arts and have shown my work at various galleries. But once I began to write seriously, in my early forties, I loved the process so much. I continued doing both and make art occassionally but I much prefer writing. I have illustrated my first book myself; so the two can work together.
- Do you write full time?
I write almost every day. It’s not a chore. When I can’t write, I don’t like it.
- How does this book differ from your other series’?
This is my first book in a series; The Fabliss Life of Bella Mellman: Book Two is well on its way.
- Describe your main character?
Bella Mellman is almost seventy. She’s had a full, rich life. She is opinionated, passionate and energetic. She hates being told she looks good for her age. She lives on her own and cherishes that she doesn’t have to share her life with anyone irritating (like one of her ex-husbands or boyfriends).
- Who would you choose to play that character in the movie version?
There are so many wonderful actresses who are older. I adore Angelic Huston, Helen Mirren (my publisher loves her best). Jacqueline Bisset suddenly came to mind. She’d maybe too gorgeous (for any age). Rene Russo was Fabliss in Night Stalker. I like Diahann Carroll and Pam Grier, but Bella’s supposed to be white. Still Hollywood can fix that. Dianne Keaton … maybe? Jean Smart? Joan Collins (I think too old now). Bette Midler … love her!
- Who is your favorite author?
I do not have a favorite author. I like reading books in which I learn something. This makes for many authors, as so many write about things I don’t know. I am not the kind of person who re-reads books or goes to movies more than once. I know that every single person who manages to write a book does something that is difficult and brave. Especially brave.
- Do you have any advice for other authors?
I think the hardest thing is to find out what you want to write about, especially if you love the process of writing. But you can always begin writing about yourself, what you feel and think and your interests or passions, and that can segue into something different. That’s how Bella began, with a memoir that segued into a character that segued into a whole Fabliss Life: a novel, NOT a memoir.
- Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
I love you all. Anyone who likes me and my books … love you!
- What’s next for you?
I am writing The Fabliss Life of Bella Mellman Book Two, and it’s well on its way.
- If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
As I have moved around the world a few times, I am always thinking of other places to live that might be nicer than Los Angeles. Los Angeles is too hot, too dry and has too much traffic although the pending El Niño might change the dry part. When I went on vacation to The Big Island of Hawaii about ten years ago, I fell in love with the place. I even went to look at property to rent or buy, but my daughter, with whom I am very close, wasn’t as struck. I like living close to my family, and they all live near me in LA. But if I win the lottery or have my book bought by a movie or TV studio and make a fortune, I’d like a holiday home in either Hawaii or The French Riviera. There is good reason so many rich people – through the ages – like the Riviera; it’s heavenly. But you have to speak French. And despite having French lessons for years at The Alliance Francais, I can’t understand hardly a word when French people talk. And with my accent they probably won’t be able to understand me that well either. And seeing as language is very important to me, I think I’d have to live in an English speaking country. Maybe back to live in England, not London, but somewhere in the gorgeously green country (it’s green because it rains a lot).
- If you could choose a super power, what would that be? I would like to live forever. I would like to see how my grandchildren and their children grow and so on and on. Or maybe to fly like a bird? I love birds, and find them so fascinating. They are much smarter than we think. In fact, they are probably smarter that we are, in their birdy ways.
Blog Tour Hosted by The Book Nymph 11/17-12/8