I couldn't believe it. My agent told me that Hillary Clinton wanted to talk to me about ghost writing her forthcoming book. I had just that very day read about the Simon & Shuster deal and I had thought to myself: wouldn't it be great to be able to work on a book with the former Secretary of State? It was if the gods of publishing heard me. I was on a plane to Washington the next morning.
On the flight there I did research on Hillary, her life, her career, everything that I thought would make for an engrossing read in her next book. I already had some really good ideas and I couldn't wait to share them with her.
We met at the Vidalia, a restaurant known for its onions I assumed. Mrs. Clinton was surrounded by a small group of Hillaryettes who all wore similar pants suits in a range of jewel tones.
LU: Mrs. Clinton, it's an honor. Can I call you Hill?
HC: No, you can't.
LU: That's fine. Let me first just say how much I admire you and what you've done, not just for the country but for troubled marriages everywhere.
HC: Thank you.
LU: I see in the paper that you didn't get the $8 million like you did for your last book. Why was that?
HC: Different time. Different topics.
LU: Speaking of topics, I've got a killer idea for our book. Let me bounce it right off of you.
HC: Go on.
LU: O.K. I just loved Dear Socks, Dear Buddy. I thought it was a masterpiece and I know it got great reviews. So I'm thinking -- bear with me -- this next book should be an in depth biography of Buddy and his impact on the Clinton family. How Bill learned to love the animal in himself, how Chelsea learned to share as a single child and how you opened your heart to all living things everywhere. I've even got the title: It Takes a Dog.
HC: I don't think...
LU: Hear me out. You really can't lose with dogs or Lincoln when it comes to bestsellers. In fact, wait a second, not to change the subject but what about Lincoln's dog? We could co-author it after we finish this book ...
HC: Check, please.
LU: We haven't ordered yet. But that's O.K. that's O.K. Whoa, I'm way too excited to eat. Do you happen to know if Lincoln had a dog? Maybe you could put your research staff on it...
HC: Ms. Urbach, let me stop you right here. This book won't be about a dog.
LU: What's your thinking?
HC: My plan was to touch upon a number of dramatic moments during my tenure as Secretary of State. For instance, the killing of Osama bin Laden...
LU: Please, no! Osama's been Zero-Dark-Thirty-ed to death. Remember your readers. Who's your target audience? I would say women 35 to 50, single, divorced, looking for Mr. Right and/or the right career choice. Given that, I think we should go heavy on fashion tips. Do's and don'ts. What to wear to the international peace convention in Dubai, how to accessorize a hijab, that sort of thing.
HC: In addition, I'm planning on framing my thoughts about the recent history of U.S. foreign policy and the urgent, ongoing need for leadership in a changing world.
LU: Oh Hill, that's just Simon & Shuster talking. Don't let them dictate what kind of book you write. You're a free woman. Except for Bill. And speaking of Bill, this would be a good time to revisit the Lewinsky thing and possibly Monica herself. Definitely, we need a face-to-face with Ms. Lewinsky. Can you have your people find out where she's living?
HC: I really think we're done here.
LU: I'm going too fast. I apologize. I'm just so pschyed about this opportunity. You can't imagine. I'm thinking we should definitely have a picture section which leads me to a very delicate issue. Would you please, pretty please, have your hair cut for the author photo? I beg of you. It was so cute short.
[At this point, Mrs. Clinton made a funny gesture as if she were drawing a knife across her own throat. And then she motioned to one of her assistants to show me out.]
LU: Wait, wait we haven't discussed terms.
HC: I'm sorry Ms. Urbach, I really don't think we're a good fit.
And that was it. Fired before I even began. But I'm not one to hold grudges. I'm still going to vote for her even if she doesn't cut her hair. And here's a prediction: I bet she gives my It Takes a Dog idea some serious thought.