Archive for November 19th, 2012


Literary Mistress

on November 19, 2012 in Misc 10 Comments »

“When you take calls from women for the Chairman of the Board, make sure you never, ever confuse his mistress with his wife.”

Sounds like a line from a novel, doesn’t it? One of those trashy, dirty tomes we don’t like to admit we read.  But nope, I received this warning years ago on my first day of a temp job in the executive department of an oil company.

I never did meet that Chairman since he only flew in to Colorado from New York a couple times a year.  But the company still maintained a swank office for him, and in it was a framed photo of his mistress.  She was dark haired, pretty, and looked to be in her thirties.  He was around sixty.

Some time later I had another temp job at a bigger oil company, again working with the top execs.  I figured out pretty quickly that the CEO had either a mistress or the occasional, expensive call girl.  Why? Among the many reasons, he was barely on speaking terms with his wife.  One day she called me and asked to speak with her husband.  I told her he was in Canada and would be there for a week.  These two people lived in the same house.

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about mistresses isn’t just because the news outlets have gone gaga over the General Petraeus scandal, although I do appreciate the irony of his biography’s title, “All In” – written by his mistress.

No, the fact is, I’m just happy about how this latest sex-and-power scandal reassures me that I got a similar situation right in my novel, Charity MacCay and the Almighty Dollar (that’s the manuscript I told you I’m editing).  It’s set in New York in 1867-1868, and Charity has dust-ups with several real-life people, including the notorious mistress of the robber baron Jim Fisk.  Fisk was married and lived in New York while his wife happily resided with a female companion in Boston.  Historians assume the wife and companion were lesbian lovers.

So much for the idea that people lived prim and proper lives back in the old days.

Now personally, I love how as a writer I sometimes don’t have to invent anything in order to tell a whopping story.

But on the downside, there are always the sad cases of people like Mrs. Petraeus, a woman who as a military wife moved the family 24 times in about as many years.  Who works like hell.  Who is no longer a hot, sexy young thing that can go on five-mile runs with her husband – the way his mistress can.  I wonder if Mrs P is ever tempted these days to shoot Mr. P?

That’s what happened to Fisk, in a roundabout way.  His mistress cheated on him with a more handsome, dashing man who in a jealous rage shot and killed Fisk.

How about you – is there anything in the news that you can put in a novel?  Funny how even science fiction or paranormal stories sometimes seem to predict a news story or scandal that’s just around the corner.