Question – Do you pattern your characters after real polo players and wives?”
Cork – Jackie Collins was always asked this questions about her characters in Hollywood Wives and Hollywood Husbands. Although Polo Wives does not pretend to be a Jackie Collins-styled novel, players and wives in the polo world, will be buzzing with questions:
“Isn’t Bo Cayman . . .?”
“Doesn’t Chandler look a lot like . . . ?”
“I’ll bet Bunny is . . . ”
“Christan Marchado must be . . . “
My answer is, No. I never write about real people. But—it is my goal to make them act and react like real people in the polo world. I will CONFESS that some of the characters are composites of many people. a real person would be too boring.
Question - How did you write the book? Did you use an outline?”
Cork - William Faulkner once said, “I just follow my characters around with a pencil and take down what they say.” I certainly can’t compare myself to Faulkner, but that’s the strange way it works for me. I decided to thrust two characters together in conflict with one another, in this case polo player/patron Bo Cayman and his wife Chandler, then let the sparks fly.
When I created an assassin lurking in the shadows to kill someone, I had no idea who the victim would be. Nor did I know the assassin’s identity. That wasn't revealed to me until the end. It was surprising. Of course, I had to go back and rewrite to make that identity plausible.
Several years ago, I had the good fortune to be assigned to interview author Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Be Cool) by Writer’s Digest magazine. I asked him this question: “Actor David Niven once asked a famous writer how to write a book. He was told a book must have a ‘beginning, middle and end.’ Do you outline the beginning middle and end?”
Leonard answered: “Never, I don’t know what the book is going to be about, I make it up as I go along. I have no idea how a book of mine is going to end. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen. I start writing and have to slow down in the middle and plot a little bit.” Leonard also noted why he thought his books were so successful: “I try to leave out the parts readers skip.”
On the other hand, Daniele Steel says it takes her six months to do a book’s outline, which sounds more like a first draft.
Question - How true are the descriptions of the game and how it is played?
Answer - I originally planned a nonfiction book on polo and interviewed polo players, patrons, polo wives, maharajas, a Singh prince and princess, and celebrities for the book. I traveled to India, the birthplace of polo to research the game, as well as Spain and Hawaii. I lived at the Santa Barbara Polo Fields—“The most beautiful jewel in polo—for 12 years. The more I watched the game, the players, the polo wives, the more I became excited about doing a work of fiction. The book is historically accurate and the polo action scenes true to the game.
Q's - Are you a polo player?
A's - Although not a player, I have a passion for the game--and the lifestyles of the players. When I finished Polo Wives, I gave the rough manuscript to a friend, Erick Friden, polo player and patron. He read and advised on the manuscript and said, "If didn't know differently, I'd swear you were a polo player.
Q's - How did you research for the game of polo?
A's - I have lived at the Santa Barbara, California polo fields for fifteen years and have become an aficionado of the sport. I originally planned a nonfiction book on polo and interviewed polo players, patrons, polo wives, maharajas, a Singh prince and princess, and celebrities for the book. I traveled to India, the birthplace of polo to research the game, as well as Spain and Hawaii.
Q's - You hype the book as being similar to something Jackie Collins could have written.
A's - "Because of the book's title, Polo Wives, I joked to an editor that I should use the pseudonym "Jack E. Collins." The editor suggested, "Dan L. Steele."