February 1997, ROMANTIC TIMES
I’d just asked Judith McNaught for a thumbnail sketch of Remember When, her long anticipated novel out this month. She rifled through papers. “Let me look at the book jacket,” she murmured. “Ah, here it is.” A pause. “Oh, this is the first version.” Another pause, ended by a sigh. “Do you mind holding while I go get an aspirin and splash my face?”
McNaught had had little sleep in the past 48 hours in a bid to get the remaining pages of Remember When faxed to her editor. She made it, completing the transmission just moments before our interview. As we spoke, her publisher called to say the manuscript had left New York on its way to the printer.
Sounding a bit more alive, she returned to the phone. “Can you ask easier questions than describing the plot of the book I just finished?” she quipped.
Remember When, a spin-off from “Double Exposure” from the Gift of Love anthology, has been two years coming. The novel had four incarnations, the final one being what McNaught just completed earlier today. “I wouldn’t even call the earlier ones versions,” McNaught said. “They were completely different novels. I got about half way through, then I would abandon it. One plot was about twins who trade places!”
That’s very different from the final plot, which is about a woman who learns from the National Enquirer in the grocery store checkout line that her fianc has married someone else. Already committed to participate in a charity event, she is reunited with her teenage flame, a stable-boy-turned-billionaire-tycoon.
Besides rehauling the storyline four times, the manuscript was delayed by personal demands. “My father was extremely ill three times during this manuscript,” Judith explains. But now that the book is safely winging its way to its printer, McNaught has lovely plans to look forward to (after some serious catch-up naps). Her fianc, a cardiologist, has planned a Greek vacation for them. “It’s a small cruise ship with only 116 passengers, and 114 crew members!” A great ratio for an exhausted author.
Her fiance, Dr. John Lewis, who she met through mutual friends, has tried his best to be supportive. “He has been sending me flowers every day to get me through this final stretch,” Judith said, laughing. “Isn’t that nice? Except I’ve just learned that I’m allergic to roses!”
Her dream house, which has been under construction for the past 18 months, will be completed within the next few weeks. McNaught designed the Mediterranean villa-style house, which hugs the shore of Clear Lake in Houston. “It’s all glass on the back,” she said, the sleepiness leaving her voice momentarily. “Inside there are few walls; instead there are floor to ceiling columns.”
Her struggle with the dreaded blank page has been much documented. “I find it excruciatingly hard to write. I’d rather have a root canal than write,” she says. Then why in the world does she write? “I have something to say that I think is worthwhile,” she replies. “And it would be wrong not to use a God-given talent.”
But fans should take a moment to look at the dedication page of Remember When. In a wry acknowledgment of the tribulations involved with this novel, McNaught tips her hat to St. Jude, the patron saint of the impossible.
Copyright: Romantic Times