The third exclusive extract from Sam Brick's new book - only on SFN!

Chapter One

TV Executive, Interrupted

‘Daisy, I’m so sorry darling.’ There is a pause and a sob. ‘I’m sorry for taking heroin... for ruining your childhood.’ My bottom is perched on the edge of my chair in the TV studio gallery. I gulp from the sugar-free Red Bull next to me. I am scrutinising every shot on the twelve screens in front of me.
‘Take the lights down!’ I whisper into my mouthpiece.
Pearl Lowe, friend of Kate Moss, member of the infamous Primrose Hill set, reaches across to her daughter, Daisy Lowe.
‘Give me close-ups of each of them!’ I continue.
My eyes roam the studio set, captured from every angle on the monitors in front of me. What else, what else?
‘The hands, the hands, I need the hands too!’ I shout, watching a tissue being ripped into shreds between Daisy’s fingers, as one of the cameras zooms in to find the close-up shot.
A hush descends across Pearl, Daisy and the presenter. I know it is The Moment.
Their hands find each other across the intimately lit studio set. Emotion crackles on every monitor in the studio gallery.
Daisy Lowe, daughter of Gavin Rossdale and Pearl Lowe, is facing up to the reality that her mum was addicted to heroin throughout her childhood.
She’s hearing it on my show.

It’s a pilot for an ITV talk show. I pitched it as Oprah meets Jeremy Kyle, hosted by a presenter who exudes wisdom and empathy.
‘Ask Daisy,’ I whisper into the microphone in front of me, ‘what she wants to say to her mum.’ The presenter, on hearing my words, repeats them. At the same time I am frantically motioning the director sitting next to me to instruct his cameras to move in for a two-shot close-up.
‘Mum,’ Daisy replies, breaking the spell over the studio, ‘I know you love me, it’s OK, I forgive you.’ As they hug, the audience breaks into spontaneous applause.
Everyone claps in the gallery; the show is over.

I jump to my feet, having had no sleep for the last thirty-six hours. I’m giddy with excitement and exhaustion because it’s my moment too.
My dream come true – my TV company’s first show.
My all-female team has decamped to TV studios in Kent. I even have an ITV film crew following me: apparently I’m a perfect example of how to launch a TV company. Eek! I have been gliding around since 7 a.m., resplendent in grey skinny jeans, Joseph black top and a Marc Jacobs jacket; giving off the aura of being in control – to my team and the cameras.
I’m living the dream. My dream! For the last sixteen years I have worked my ass off to fashion a career in television. In 2005 I put my money where my mouth is, remortgaging my home to release over £100,000. I launched a TV company where women would be treated like the supremely intelligent beings they are: ‘powerful programming made by passionate people’ was my company’s mantra. I had the connections, I had the talent; I put everything on the line to make my dreams happen.
And now, in the spring of 2006, with two shows in the US and a series in the UK, along with the ITV pilot – it looks like dreams really do come true.

Two hours after the pilot has wrapped (after I’ve promised to have lunch with Pearl) my Mercedes convertible purrs to a halt and I’m parked up outside my house. I still pinch myself – I live in Richmond, one of London’s poshest suburbs. I know how lucky I am. I grab my Chloé handbag, open my black wrought-iron gate and click-clack up the path. I can already see my significant others through the window. They’re just back from their own day care too.
I open my front door and gently close it, walking into the cream haven that is home. Hues of butter, vanilla, biscuit and caramel tastefully dominate the walls, the fabric on the sofas, the stone masonry of the fireplace and the distressed wood of the bookcases (my books are all arranged by theme – mind, body and spirit by the fireplace, relationship books opposite the telephone seat, chick lit next to the sofa). With the flick of a switch, the lamps carefully positioned throughout the living room light the space just so. I never fail to appreciate this place: my sanctuary.

As I open the kitchen door, the two men in my life are stretching in the downward dog pose. Their tailless (nothing to do with me, honest) bottoms swoosh and oscillate wildly.
Barney and Ambrose. The two hairy loves of my life. ‘C’mon now, outside and make pee-pee for Mummy!’ I sing-song in a high-pitched voice. I teeter across the kitchen (we’re still having problems with the occasional ‘puddle’) and let the dogs out into the back garden. I flick a switch, illuminating my recent garden furniture purchases from a local French antique shop (although judging by their prices, it would’ve been cheaper to go to France and fly each item back myself).

In bloom, my professionally maintained garden is white – jasmine lazily climbing the fence, bushes of white roses in the border beds fighting for space with other white flowers I couldn’t tell you the name of. I smile to myself as I watch the dogs potter together; paws padding, nails tapping over the recently paved garden. But they didn’t make me smile at first – oh no. There was a lawn before, but when the puppies arrived, the place turned into a complete mud bath. Nightmare! Mud all over the kitchen stone flagging, the sofas in the kitchen, the pristine paintwork. In the end it was simple; I had the garden entirely redesigned to accommodate the doggies.
As they continue to potter in the garden, I ease out the cork, my shoulders relaxing at the sound of the reassuring pop, pouring myself a well-deserved glass of Veuve Clicquot. It gives me an opportunity to reflect; I have everything I want.
But then, of course, things start to go wrong; very wrong.

Thanks Véro. Your longer message says it all. It is entirely about taste. I live in total bewilderment of the fact that Dan Brown has a new book out and can count his additional millions within days. I ask myself whether people are that thick? It is all about taste. Mine and the rest of the world's. So, I don't know Sam, so have no reason to attack her personally. What I have read is not my taste, so I do not read on and am less likely to wish to comment. My OH and I know Paolo Coelho through our close friend Júlia in Lisboa, he is one of her Brazilian relatives and stayed with her a couple of doors away from us whilst we lived in Portugal. We both read his work almost devotedly. I can at the same time very easily understand how people might find it pretentious, bourgeois bullsh*t. I know a couple of other well know authors, one of whom rights unadulterated crap but that didn't stop us playing backgammon over a pint at the Free Press in Cambridge very often. So I can't actually understand why people get so twisted about it all.

I happen to need to post a copy of my own new work to a reviewer tomorrow. Now that is a nail biter...

Ellis, sounds like a Greek or a Roman to me - brain is too rotted by my day at school to deal with who is talking about whom just now though.

I have been thinking about this thread and as far as I can see there is a fundamental problem not being addressed which is that writing stands or falls on its own merits, in isolation, without our judgment being affected by stuff we may or may not know about the author, whether they are a friend or a family member and so on.

It seems to me rather intellectually dishonest to put previously published extracts of work by a professional writer on a discussion forum if there isn't discussion which may include adverse criticism (which may not be constructive, which may or may not be tactless, which may or may not be 'nasty'): because we aren't after all discussing a work in progress which may yet be edited or rewritten but a finished artefact.

(Nor are we in that case discussing a piece of work by a tremulous would-be-writer who may need nurturing, whose every word is torn throbbing from his or her heart and who hasn't grown some extra skin to deal with rejection as professional writers have).

I could put extracts from books by Allan Massie or Raffaella Barker up for discussion and I'd expect people to be able to say they love/loathe/are indifferent to them and why and I wouldn't EVER expect their being my uncle and my cousin respectively to make the slightest difference to people's freedom to express their opinion to me or anyone else in whatever way they choose to, including crude and abusive ways - writing is important enough, to me at least, to justify extreme reactions. A writer's personal circumstances should be irrelevant to an evaluation of the quality of their work. A bad book written with heroic fortitude and determination in appalling circumstances is still a bad book.

I am assuming, though I am willing to be corrected, that anyone earning a living by writing is resilient - and canny enough to see a difference between criticism of their work and an ad hominem attack.

I have read many books which were, in my opinion and possibly only mine, complete tripe, and which have made me regret the waste of an hour or so reading them. I expect most of us have. That doesn't mean I think the writer is an awful person and I'm sure that, were I to be at a dinner party with him or her, he or she would be delightful, charming, clever etc. But it wouldn't change my mind about a particular piece work being tripe, and I'd be surprised if it changed yours. Explaining isn't excusing.

That said, this is your site James and Catharine: you run it as you see fit. I don't have any bones to pick with how you look after your baby ;-)

Yes Glynis - I read your comments (which are still clearly visible) six comments below.

Sam is a big girl and can take any amount of constructive criticism which indeed, will be useful for both the reprints (underway) and any subsequent sequel. What she (or anyone else) does not need is comments referring to her as being narcissistic etc. etc.

In any case, James has made SFN policy quite clear so I don't think there is any more to be said in this particular vein.

Glynis - I don't know what you are talking about - your post is clearly there!

Also those with positive comments will be less likely to post due to the tone. DM comment wall being an example.

Constructive criticism is fine Glynis, I'm sure Sam would welcome it. Often, as has happened in this case is that once a few negative comments are made, some see that as a free for all. We have never allowed that kind of behaviour especially toward other SFN members and we won't be starting with Sam.

You can read more about SFN's guidelines here.



That would be Yevtuschenko, Belafonte and Mortimer... and the point?

I deleted some comments as they were unpleasant. You've made your points, now it's time to leave this thread alone if you can't be civil. That is a final warning.

Perhaps I was too late to see the offending comments as I can’t see anything to bristle about here.
Point of book? to be a bestseller with a combi of 2 genres, sales of which are both beginning to tail off after a good run.
Point of tabloid stuff? to get people going, generate clicks and sell copies.
Fine by me.

Point of thread? There isn’t one.

I’ve just read Sam’s DM article about her depression. I feel quite depressed. Is it just me?

Sorry guys but just because someone is in the public eye, does that mean we don't have to be polite to them? If you had been writing such nasty comments about anyone else on SFN then Catharine/James and many others would be down on you like a shot.

I said that it wasn't my kind of book and maybe I am a little bit blinded about the article in the DM on the basis that I wouldn't dream of writing about my private life. but it takes all sorts. And, do you know what - good on her on making money out of her mistakes - I wish I could.

Have also just read the piece in the DM about Sams depression and it was an absolutelutely brilliant piece of writing. Very brave lady to bare her inner person after being savaged in the past.

Am absolutely amazed at some of the rude comments on here, what happened to constructive critiscm guys. Can't say it looks like my kind of book but would love to see an extract from the middle to see how it pans out.

Bought the book through Amazon - halfway through, and loving it. I was a bit disappointed to find I couldn't buy an E-version here for my KIndle.

I know Sam via E mail and telephone contact in respect of a daily mail article I contributed to. Nice lady.

Hi Trisha - any chance of a profile photo please? Always nice to put a face to the comments.

It's pretty dire,don't think I'll be buying.