In July, I have a new book coming out in hardcover called “Happy Birthday”. It started out with a funny theme, about three people tuning ‘landmark ages’ on the same day. A very glamorous, beautiful woman who has a boomingly successful career and TV show, as the arbiter of taste and style in the home—she’s gorgeous and successful, but turning 60, even if she doesn’t look it. On the same day, her daughter, who owns a restaurant and works like a slave and has no love life or partner—is turning 30. And somewhere across town (New York), a sexy, fabulous bachelor, ex-football star tuned sportscaster, who likes to date 23 year olds—is turning 50, and manages to throw his back out of whack and nearly cripple himself the night before his birthday, during some exuberant sexual antics. (And when he nearly crawls into his chiropractor’s office the next day, in agony, he feels more like 90 than 50!!).
I loved the idea of these 3 people hitting ages that none of us like to face, all on the same day. And in the book, there lives become intertwined, and little by little, they realize that whatever age they are may not be so bad; I came up with the idea on my own birthday, on a year that I was growing with horror at my age. Whatever age I am, or have been, I have always been convinced that I was ancient—since I was about 25. Maybe even 21. I started everything early in life. I went to college at 15, got married at 17, had kids at 19, and by the time I was 21, I actually felt old. These days everyone seems to act, feel, dress and think young. When I was young, it was all about being ‘responsible’ and ‘grown up’. Now it’s all about youth. And whatever age I was, I look at pictures of myself and think ‘yerghk, I’m ancient’, and then 5 years later would see the same pictures and think ‘wow, I looked really young then! But NOW I’m ancient. The numbers are really silly, and maybe they’re irrelevant. (I wrote my first book at 19, so I’ve always been on some sort of fast track, speeding ahead). And I guess our obsession with age is still an issue, since I recently discovered that almost all my daughters’ friends, in their early 20’s are getting Botox shots! Now THAT is silly! Really silly! Or at least I think so.
So writing the book “Happy Birthday” gave me a chance to think about ages, landmark ages, and how we view ourselves. And as I wrote the book, and urged my characters to do new and different things, the theme of ‘why not?’ emerged, and it became an important theme in the book—-and in my life. The three people in the book wind up in totally unexpected love affairs with startling results in all three cases. They do new and different things, and find themselves thinking ‘why not?’ which opens new doors for them—and the mood of the book became contagious. I found myself thinking ‘why not?’ too. Why do we have to tread the same path we always have? Why can’t we do something totally new and different and unexpected? Why do we have to be limited by age, at any age? We are a person, not a number. The concept of ‘why not?’ opens new doors, can lead to new lives or careers; can bring us to new people. The concept is incredibly liberating!
The Why Not experiences in my life have almost always been good ones, only with a few exceptions. I have always loved art, and several years ago I decided to open an art gallery, which was one of the happiest, most exciting things I’ve ever done. I loved every minute of it. I didn’t know how to run a gallery, and it was all new to me, but it was a truly fabulous experience for the four years I did it. My first book was a ‘why not’ idea. Having many children; people were always telling me that you can’t have a career and a family. Why not, if you’re willing to do the work that goes with it? My first house, that I bought, was a huge stretch for me. It was a major why not. When I divorced, I missed spending time on boats since my ex-husband was an avid sailor. And I realized that boats didn’t have to be history for me and my kids. I found a way for us to spend a week on a boat every summer—another stretch, but well worth it. I also love to play poker (and still do), and I started a poker game every two weeks that was great fun.
We so easily accept limitations of time and age and circumstances, and if we’re brave enough to throw open closed doors and say ‘why not?’ suddenly the possibilities are endless.
The theme for that book has stayed with me. And when I tell myself I can’t do something, because its not ‘sensible’, or I shouldn’t’ or its too silly, or I’m too old, or I can’t because I can’t, because I’m single and single people can’t do that—-I think of ‘why not?’ now, and I get braver and more creative. The truth is, with some ingenuity, we can do a lot of things we never thought we could. Sometimes it takes courage, and there are still some things I’ve never done and maybe will never do, but life has been a lot more fun since I’ve responded ‘why not?’ to a number of possibilities. I hope the book will inspire you too. And even if you never read the book, the next time you start to squash yourself and tell yourself why you can’t do something—-ask yourself ‘why not?’ (even if its eating a hamburger for breakfast if you want to, or trying new make-up, a new hair color, or meeting new person, or dating someone you may never have considered—-ask yourself ‘why not?’—-I bet it will put a lot more fun and excitement in your life ‘why not?’—-the result of asking yourself that question, and being open to new possibilities, can be amazing! Why not?
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Can one participate from Denmark ?
Dear Mrs. Steel,
I will be looking forward to this book.
Having just turned 52 myself, this book will certainly relate to me. :-))
As I could not find the right place to comment on your book about Nick, I will use this space.
From the moment it came out, I have been looking for a copy.
It took me until I was given an e-reader for my last birthday to be able to buy it as an e-book.
Having had the privilege to have people in my social network who have bipolar disease and having nursed several, I do appreciate what he and his loved ones had to go through.
Having gone through depression myself at two occasions in my life, I appreciate the depth of desperation, of hopelessness, of deep, deep darkness, of fear.
Fear of the world, of yourself, of losing your mind, of the struggle and fight for survival.
Of the terrible fatigue that makes just to be alive a struggle beyond coping.
I also was diagnosed with ADD a few years ago.
ADD in adults is still a blank territory.
These days, luckily, youngsters are diagnosed from an early age.
But when I was a child, nobody knew about AD(H)D.
We, in our fifties, are the forgotten generation, in that respect.
But I have been lucky by having being diagnosed and therefore receiving treatment.
And finally, finally, understanding that I can be who I am, rather than being the odd one out, as I have been until diagnoses.
Thank you, Mrs. Steel for having the unbelievable courage to confront yourself in all honesty and helping us, with mental illnesses to feel that we are allowed to be who we are.
By presenting your very private emotions in such honesty, you have opened a world for us.
We can be, we should be…who we are.
And be open about it.
We don’t have to hide in shame, we can stand proud.
Because we are human beings…not our mental illness.
With your book you showed us and the rest of the world, we don’t have to feel stigmatised.
Can’t wait for the new book to come out! Sounds really exciting. Thanks for my reading time Danielle. How i dream of going to Europe Paris France !
I am looking forward to reading this new book. I recently finished reading “His Bright Light” and can say I am a Danielle Steele fan and plan to read as many of your books as I can. You’re an amazing woman and have done amazing things with your life. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself with your readers.