This website is an exciting new forum for me. My publisher has one that talks about my books, and tells something about me (www.daniellesteel.com). But this website is an opportunity to share other facets of my life with you, my doings, private moments, and what I feel and think about things. Writing the books is very important to me, but there are other things I care about too. And I can talk to you about them here. Maybe we share the same opinions, maybe we worry about the same things, maybe weíve had some of the same victories or griefs, and maybe we laugh about the same things. Laughter definitely helps keep me going when life gets tough. I hope that we can have some chuckles on this website, and share some private moments. And Iím going to do a blog here, so I can bring you up to date on what Iím doing, seeing, thinking, and feeling. Thank you for sharing this special place with me.
What I care about most: my children. They are my life and always have been. I have always been a full time, hands-on Mom by day, and wrote by night. I had my first child (my oldest daughter Beatrix) at nineteen, and wrote my first book that same year, at nineteen. I have nine kids, five daughters and four sons, so they have kept me very busy, and they are the joy in my life. That doesnít mean there havenít been some tough moments. There are in everyoneís life. But the happiness we share far outweighs the pain or worry. Iíve driven car pool, gone to soccer games, followed five little girls through ballet, Iíve embarrassed my youngest son by cheering too loud and showing up at all his lacrosse games. I have tried to be there for all the tough moments when things donít go well for them, and what I hate most about their being older now is that I canít Ďfixí everything. I canít spank the floor they fell on and kiss all the boo boos better. I canít make people be nice to them, or shield them from all the hurts and disappointments. I want their happiness, well being and safety more than anything, and no matter how much I love them, I canít guarantee that. I hate that part. And I cherish the time we spend together. We see a lot of each other and are very close, they come home a lot (I hate their not living at home anymore and wish I could turn the clock back. If only I could!!). We go on vacation together. Sometimes we grouse at each other, but on the whole we all get along pretty well, even very well, and we like each other as people. I have three kids in college, another one who graduated this year, and one who graduated a few years ago, and three married grown up children.
The hardest thing that ever happened to me was when my son Nick died, when he was 19, eleven years ago. He had bi-polar disease, he was an extraordinary wonderful fantastic kid, and we all loved him. He committed suicide, and it was terrible for all of us, but I think it brought us all even closer, and made us even more grateful to have each other. We still miss him. Enormously. You donít stop missing someone you lose, but you learn to live with it, like a limb you lose. We have all tried to go on and lead good lives. We established two foundations to honor him, one to help the mentally ill, and the other to help the homeless. And I wrote a book about him called ďHis Bright LightĒ.
I have been very blessed with my career, and work really, really hard and always have. At a time in my life when I had very little money, I held down three jobs and wrote at night. I wrote my first book at nineteen, which was published, and after that I wrote five books that were never published. I then wrote a Ďnovelizationí, which is turning someone elseís movie script into a book. That book did very well, and after that my career slowly took off. It was a long hard road, and the early days of my writing career were a lesson in perseverance, (losing my son Nick was a lesson in love and courage). Sometimes the lessons we learn are hard. But in my experience, perseverance wins the prize. I always tell writers who are starting out, that if I had quit after the second or third or even fourth unpublished book, I would never have had the career that I do today. So whatever you do, itís good to stick with it. I like what Winston Churchill said, ďNever, never, never, never Give Up.Ē Itís good advice, about relationships, people, children, family, work. Iím pretty stubborn about not giving up, on most things, and people.
I love writing, and enjoy my work a lot, which is a blessing. I kept it away from my children when they were young, because I didnít want my work interfering with their life, and particularly my fame, once I got famous. I never did interviews, publicity, or book tours, and kept a very low profile. I still do! My children are very supportive of me. I hate doing TV appearances, and when I do them, one or several of my kids usually come with me to give me moral support. Only a few of them read my books, some of my kids have never read any. But even those who havenít read my books are very supportive of my work.
Iíve written 107 books, which seems like a lot, even to me. I publish three books a year, and work on several at the same time. It sounds crazy, but it works for me, like an artist who has several painting in progress. Itís a juggling act, but I love it. And I try to keep the books different, so I do historicals and books with contemporary themes, books that deal with problems or tragedies and what that does to peopleís lives. The books are set in industries or particular settings. I learn a lot when I write them. I also write happy or fun books. Sometimes I laugh out loud when Iím writing, or cry when Iím writing a sad part. If you laugh or cry when youíre reading them, you can bet that I did too when I wrote them. Iíve also written non-fiction, poetry and childrenís books. (I have a new childrenís book coming out next year, about itís okay to be different. Itís a story I wrote for Nick a long time ago, and decided to publish now).
I also have a number of other interests. Although mostly, what Iíve done in my life is raise kids and write. I am a working mother, which is sometimes a juggling act beyond belief, especially with a lot of kids. But I also love art and design. I went to French schools all my life, all through high school, and then I went to NYU and Parsons School of Design. I trained as a fashion designer, but never worked in that field, but design is still under my skin. I love fashion, and do interior design every chance I get, for myself, my kids, or friends. It is so exciting to plan a home or apartment, and see it all come together. Itís like a fantasy come to life, and still excites me every time. Instant gratification.
I had a contemporary art gallery for four years, to show and sell the work of emerging artists. I absolutely loved it. I did that as my kids started going off to college and figured it would keep me busy, and it did. It was soooo much fun. I wanted to sell art at reasonable prices, so that young collectors or anyone could buy them. Art doesnít have to be expensive, you just have to love it. Itís hard to make ends meet selling art at reasonable prices, so after four years I very sadly closed the gallery, but am still in touch with all my artists. And Iím very lucky to curate shows as a guest curator for a gallery in San Francisco. I love contemporary art!
The other thing I care about deeply are children in jeopardy, and people suffering from mental illness. Our two foundations are committed to funding organizations that provide hands on help to prevent child abuse, suicide, and help people with mental illness. I worked on the streets with the homeless for ten years after my son died (he was never homeless, but cared deeply about them too). Now I am in the process of forming and organizing a coalition of groups that work with the homeless. The coalition is called Bridge of Hope.
In my early days, before my writing career took off, I worked as teacher, (I taught French and creative writing) translator, and in advertising (for Supergirls, in New York and Grey Advertising, in San Francisco). I like writing books full-time a lot better, but it took me a long time to be able to write full-time. And once I did, I loved being able to work at home, and be with my kids.
Iím bi-lingual, French/English, and also speak Spanish and Italian. I went to French schools through high school, and American colleges. And now I live in San Francisco and Paris. With the kids in college, I came back to Paris, but I go back and forth to see the kids. Paris is a gorgeous city, and thereís always a lot to do. I play in Paris and take time off from my writing schedule there, and I work and write in San Francisco. I write on a 1946 Olympia typewriter, and only use a computer for email. Iím a klutz with computers.
There are a number of things Iím not good at. Technology; Iím a mediocre cook although sometimes I enjoy cooking (more than others enjoy eating it). Iím not good at relaxing and having nothing to do. I love to keep busy. After bringing up nine kids, Iím good at multitasking, and get antsy if I have nothing to do. With time on my hands, Iíll clean out a closet or the fridge, rather than just sitting there and doing nothing. I love projects and keeping super busy. If I can sit still long enough, I love to do needlepoint. (I just did 6 cushions of antique Chinese figures).
Iím divorced, and I donít love it. Winding up alone was not my plan, and hopefully I wonít. Iím a great believer in making marriage work if you undertake the commitment, but sometimes it just doesnít work out that way. I was married to the father of eight of my nine children for 17 years, and with my next husband for eight years. Being divorced and single now means that I have been on approximately 7 million blind dates, arranged by well meaning friends. And no matter how much your friends love you, blind dates are just plain hard. From what I see around me, from my daughtersí friends, my younger friends or older ones, or my own experience, dating is not easy at any age. We all dream of finding ĎThe Oneí, the right person. As Winnie the Pooh said to Piglet, ďitís so much friendlier with twoĒ. I like Ďtwoí better, but it has to be the right Ďtwoí. Being with the wrong person is not a lot of fun, but I still believe in Ďtwoí, despite the bumps along the way. But I am Ďoneí, not two for now. Table for One? MmmmÖI like table for two better.
So thatís me, what I do, and where Iíve been. Iím looking forward to sharing my thoughts and ongoing experiences with you. Stay tuned