This website is a special forum for me. Random House, my publisher has a web site that talks about my books, and tells something about me (www.daniellesteel.com). But this website is an opportunity to communicate directly and more personally with you, about my doings, private moments, and what I feel and think on a variety of subjects I can talk about my family, my philosophies about life, and my experiences. Writing the books is very important to me, but there are other things I do and care about too. And I can talk to you about them here. I write lyrics for songs, children’s books, and am involved in the contemporary art world, and curate a gallery show once a year. I have 9 kids, five in their 20’s, three in their 30’s. I do fun things with them, and am deeply involved in the issues that preoccupy them. Maybe you and I share the same opinions, maybe we worry about the same things, maybe we’ve 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 I write my blog, so I can bring you up to date on what I’m 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. When they were younger, I was a full time, hands-on Mom by day, and wrote at night. I had my first child (my oldest daughter Beatrix) at nineteen, and wrote my first book that same year, at nineteen. I have five daughters and four sons, so they have kept me very busy, and they are the joy in my life. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some tough moments. There are in everyone’s life. But the happiness we share far outweighs the pain or worry. I’ve driven car pool, gone to soccer games, followed five little girls through ballet, I’ve 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 don’t go well for them, and what I hate most about their being older now is that I can’t ‘fix’ everything. I can’t spank the floor they fell on and kiss all the boo boos better. I can’t make people be nice to them, or shield them from all the hurts and disappointments of life. I want their happiness, well-being and safety more than anything, and no matter how much I love them, I can’t 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 spend holidays and 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, respect, and admire each other as people. All my kids are working, and four are married.
The hardest thing that ever happened to me as many of you know was when my son Nick died, when he was 19, in 1997. He had bi-polar disease all his life, 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 don’t 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. I wrote a book about him called “His Bright Light”. And another about my work with the homeless on the streets for 11 years “A Gift of Hope”.
I have been very blessed with my career, and work very 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 ‘novelization’, which is turning someone else’s 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, it’s good to stick with it. I like what Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never Give Up.” It’s good advice, about relationships, people, children, family, work. I’m 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 didn’t 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. And I respect the careers they have chosen in fashion, business, sales, internet, film, and my oldest daughter is a social worker in pediatric oncology, which is angel’s work.
I’ve written 161 books (I’m published in 69 countries and 43 languages), which seems like a lot, even to me. I publish six books a year (7 this year), and work on several at the same time. Sometimes I work on five books at the same time. It sounds crazy, but it works for me, like an artist who has several painting in progress. It’s 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 people’s 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 I’m writing, or cry when I’m writing a sad part. If you laugh or cry when you’re reading them, you can bet that I did too when I wrote them. I’ve also written non-fiction, poetry and children’s books, and in the past 2 years lyrics for songs in French and English. I have a new children’s book coming out next year, about my white long hair teacup Chihuahua, called “Pretty Minnie in Paris” (It’s my 17th children’s book).
Mostly, what I’ve done in my life is raise kids and write. I’ve always been 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. It’s like a fantasy come to life, and still excites me every time. As a work experience, after writing, I probably enjoy interior design most, and art and fashion after that.
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 thought it would keep me busy, and it did. It was so much fun. I wanted to sell art at reasonable prices, so that young collectors or anyone could buy them. Art doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to love it. It’s 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 many of my artists. I love contemporary art!
In a more serious vein, I care deeply about children in jeopardy, and people suffering from mental illness, and homelessness. 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 11 years after my son died (he was never homeless, but cared deeply about them too). I am active with our foundations’ work in these fields.
I like being involved in the arts and creative fields, and trying something new. Two years ago, I began writing song lyrics with a group of French composers. We write songs in French and English, and our songs are now available on ITunes and Amazon. The collection is called “Love Notes by Danielle Steel”.
In my early days, before my writing career took off, I worked as teacher, (I taught French and creative writing) translator, and in advertising as a copywriter (for Supergirls, in New York and Grey Advertising, in San Francisco). It took me a long time to be able to support myself writing full-time. And once I did, I loved being able to work at home, and be with my kids.
I’m bi-cultural French and American, grew up in France and the US, and am 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. Once my kids were in college, I went back to Paris part-time, but I go back and forth to see the kids. Paris is a gorgeous city, and there’s always a lot to do. There is a rich cultural life there and it’s home to me and I write on a 1946 Olympia typewriter, and only use a computer for email. I’m a klutz with computers. There are a number of things I’m not good at. Technology; I’m a mediocre cook although sometimes I enjoy cooking (more than others enjoy eating it). I’m not athletic the way most Americans are. I’m not good at relaxing, vacations, and having nothing to do. I love to keep busy. After bringing up nine kids, I’m good at multitasking, and get antsy if I have nothing to do. With time on my hands, I’ll clean out a closet or the fridge, or make a collage rather than just sitting there and doing nothing. I love projects and keeping super busy and when forced to “relax” I do needlepoint, read, or start a new book! I always want to write!
All of our family are dog lovers, and collectively, we have many different breeds. I have a book about our dogs (with photos), and some dog caring tips, that came out in October 2013, called “Pure Joy”, about the joys of owning a dog.
I love writing children’s books, and have written 18 of them. The 2 most recent are “Pretty Minnie in Paris” and “Pretty Minnie Goes to Hollywood”. They’re illustrated by Kristi Valiant, and are about my white tea cup Chihuahua Minnie.
I’m divorced, and winding up alone was not my plan, and hopefully I won’t. I’m a great believer in making marriage work if you undertake the commitment, but sometimes it just doesn’t 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 single as a ‘grown up’ is challenging. I don’t believe that people were meant to be alone. Being alone means having no one to share things with, the fun or joyful moments, or the painful ones. There is nothing more wonderful than being in a good relationship that both people work at, and nothing worse than being in a bad one. And dating is not easy at any age.
So that’s me, what I do, and where I’ve been. I look forward to continuing to share my thoughts, activities, new adventures, and ongoing experiences with you.