There is a scene in my new book, Under the Same Sun, where a reporter interviews the female main character, Naomi Stone.
They are sitting on a hotel terrace in London—in the beautiful spring sunshine—and the table is set for tea and cake. Neither Naomi nor her husband, Jon, the famous rock star, have any idea that the reporter, Parkeris actually a stalker who will put Naomi in mortal danger only a short while later.
The interview doesn’t go too well, and ends abruptly. But I’ve always wondered what Naomi would really say in an interview. So I’ve made one up.
The moment Naomi Stone enters the room I feel like a slob. A fat, old, frumpy slob.
I’ve seen photos of her, seen her from a distance, but never this close up, never face to face. Even though she must be nearing forty, she is a strikingly beautiful woman with flawless skin and thick, black hair—sort of an Audrey Hepburn mixed with the elegance and poise of Grace Kelly.
In her wake, her husband walks in, the famous, the one and only, Jon Stone. Or should I should say, he saunters in, hands in his pockets, chatting with Sal Rosenberg, their manager, who is there, too. They sit down, all three of them, across the table.
Sal offers me tea or coffee. There are some very cute, dainty cupcakes, a bowl of candy and chocolates.
“I don’t like interviews,” Naomi says, and her voice is as I thought: sweet, melodious, soft and gentle, like the water of a quiet brook. “But I was told you do them very well. So…here we are.”
No, I hadn’t expected to get her alone. Not really. In fact, it’s a treat to see Jon Stone. He is one good-looking devil, that man. They really are a beautiful couple. Am I envious? No, not really. Such beauty must be a burden.
“You and your husband go back a long time. What’s the secret of keeping a relationship alive with someone as famous and celebrated, as Jon Stone?”
A small smile, more like the shadow of a smile, flits across her face. “We haven’t been married all that long. Jon had plenty of time to enjoy his fame before settling down.”
I swear Jon Stone is hiding a snort behind his coffee cup. Naomi, on the other hand, looks straight at me, her eyes clear and dark, ignoring him.
“You know of course, about his past wild Hollywood life?” What am I—a tabloid reporter? I think to myself.
“Of course, but that was before we got married. It’s none of my business.” She has this way of putting her answers, this habit of saying them in such a way that every sentence sounds like a final statement. This is hard work.
Change of tactics.
“You and your husband won an Oscar together, for a movie soundtrack.” I sense a stiffening to her shoulders Is she afraid of talking about the shooting?
“You wrote the song lyrics, Jon the music. How does that work? What comes first, the words, or the music?”
Aha, this is a direction she’s comfortable with, and I get another smile.
“There is no rule,” she says, “sometimes I write lyrics and Jon picks them up, and sometimes he’s fooling around on the piano, trying out a new melody, and I hear the words in it.”
“She’s lying,” Jon interrupts, “That’s not at all how it works.”
A secret something passes between them, more than a smile, less than word.
“Mostly it’s her poems that inspire me to write the music.” he goes on, “She has these transcendent moments when something catches her attention and the lyrics just tumble out of her, no effort, no work. Five minutes, and she has produced another killer song. And then the hard part begins, my part, when I have to come up with a melody that will do her words justice.” His hand grabs hers where it is resting on the white tablecloth, and presses it. “She doesn’t even know what she’s doing to me. It’s a constant challenge, living with such a creative person.”
A small giggle escapes Naomi, and she hides it behind the napkin. They are clearly having fun.
“And the shooting?” I’m sorry to be bursting their bubble of mirth. “See, I know it’s not something you really care to talk about, but we have to mention it. You have never spoken about it in public, and yet it was a terribly public event.”
Sal opens his mouth to respond but stops when Naomi raises her hand.
“It’s okay, Sal, she is right.” A short glance in his direction, a quiver of her lips. “I have never talked about it because there really is nothing to say. Someone hated me enough to try and kill me. I was wounded but survived, and got well enough to go on tour with Jon. End of story.”
“The injuries you sustained were nearly fatal.” It’s not a question, but she nods.
“Yes, and it took me a long while to heal, both physically and mentally. But it’s over now. I’m not saying it was easy, but it’s over. It’s a part of the past, and we’re well and alive.”
“The shooter was one of your husband’s former lovers.” Again, a statement and not a question, and what kind of interviewer am I, anyway.
“I know.” A small shrug of her shoulder. “The point here, though, is that she was a former lover., but he married me, and not her.”
Do I hear a trace of ironic triumph? But no, that can hardly be possible with someone so lovely and delicate, can it now?
Jon looks at his watch, and she nods.
They have to go, Naomi tells me, the soundcheck for that night’s concert is about to start, and Jon needs some rest before he joins the band.
“What are your plans for the future?” I ask before it’s too late.
“I’d like to write a novel.” She says. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now, but I never had the courage to start. Now, though—” she threads her fingers through her husband’s. “I think the time is right. I’m a bit obsessive about these things, and I think if I really start this it will be, I will be…” Her words fall away and leave an awkward silence behind.
“The thing is,” Jon picks up the thread she dropped, “Naomi doesn’t know if she’s good enough to be a writer.” His voice is dark with amusement. “An Oscar isn’t good enough to prove it to her. I guess it will have to be a Pulitzer or something like that.”
For a moment it looks to me as if she wants to slap his arm, but good manners win out and she returns to her demure, collected pose.
“Come on.” Jon, rising holds out his hand to her. “Let’s go and see if the acoustics in this new and fancy venue do justice to our songs, shall we?”
And out they sail like royalty, their minds on other, more important things before they’ve even left the room. But then, just before the door closes behind them, I hear Naomi say, “Damn, I never got to eat one of the cupcakes, and they even had pink icing. I’ll have to sneak back in when she’s gone and get them.”
“You do that,babe,” The famous voice of Jon Stone is shaking with laughter, “we can’t have you starve, can we.” And I hear what sounds very much like a slap on the arm after all.
This was the eighth stop in Mariam’s Blog Hop celebrating the launch of her latest book, Under the Same Sun (Book II in the Stone Trilogy) which hit the Amazon.com bestseller list on its first day on sale!
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Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Mariam lived in Brazil and Saudi Arabia with her parents as a child before they decided to settle in Germany. She attended school there and studied American Literature and Psychology at Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen, where she met her husband. She lives in Hamburg, Germany, with her husband, two sons and two cats.