Interview with Lady Colin Campbell, Author of Daughter of Narcissus


Lady Colin Campbell, whose nickname is Georgie, was born and raised in Jamaica in the days when that island was a byword for glamour. The daughter of a descendant of the Emperor Charlemagne and such kings as William the Conqueror, her privileged existence concealed a gravely dysfunctional family owing to her mother Gloria’s narcissistic personality disorder. Married and divorced by the age of twenty five to Queen Elizabeth 11’s cousin Lord Colin Campbell, she is a prolific author who has produced New York and London Times bestsellers and is commonly credited with having written the best contemporaneous biography of the late Princess of Wales. She lives in London with her two teenage sons and is a committed supporter of civil liberties.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Georgie. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

When I was growing up, I really didn’t plan on becoming a writer. I started out as an artist, before switching to dress designing. But I found that so boring that I walked out of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York during my second term, and decided to become a writer instead. My father, however, refused to countenance such a career change, and compelled me to finish my degree. After graduation, I did what all girls of my generation and background did – I concentrated on the serious business of finding myself a husband. It was only after my marriage broke up and I realized that I might never remarry that I turned back to writing seriously. Since 1982, I have been a full-time writer, and I can truthfully say that I thank my lucky stars every day that I am fortunate enough to have work that I love.

As I keep on telling my children, “Work that you love is one of life’s greatest pleasures, while the pursuit of pleasure usually degenerates into very hard work indeed”. A lesson which I learnt from observing how my pleasure-seeking mother destroyed her life and blighted that of everyone around her.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Daughter of Narcissus is the story of my family’s struggle to cope with our mother’s narcissistic personality disorder, and how I tried to turn that destructive situation into something positive and life-enhancing. I would never have written the book if Dr. Erika Freeman, the eminent American psychoanalyst, had not suggested doing so. Indeed, when she first came up with the idea, my initial reaction was one of horror. It was only after she convinced me that the subject was one which needed addressing, and she believed that I had the tools to do it justice, that I saw the merit of the project. Now I am glad that I wrote it, for already the reactions I have been receiving from even seasoned journalists are so positive – and so many of them have said it strikes a chord with people they know – that I can see how prescient Erika was.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

The biggest challenge I faced when writing Daughter of Narcissus was to keep it pure and true. Writing about a condition as tumultuous as narcissism, and doing justice to a personality as contradictory and wide-ranging as my mother’s, meant that I had to monitor myself very carefully, so that at all times I adhered to the underlying reality. Precision and exactitude really were the orders of the day. Any deviation would have tipped the subject over into something false, which would have defeated the purpose of the enterprise, and rendered it useless. Also, I wanted to demonstrate how environments of privilege permit, and sometimes even encourage, narcissism to flourish. I felt that this was important, as we live in an age when many of the components of narcissistic personality disorder are regarded as desirable, and it was important to show that certain characteristics, unless curbed, have foreseeable and disastrous consequences for all concerned.

Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

There is a press kit. It is available through Daughter of Narcissus’s PR, Ailsa Macalister of Colbert Macalister, whose email is: ailsa@colmacpr.co.uk

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

This latest book has not yet been published at the time of writing, but I have appeared on pretty much every leading UK and US chat show in the past decade and a half, as well as on such channels as CNN, A & E, the History Channel, the BBC etc. I am scheduled to give talks on Daughter of Narcissus to groups in London and to attend the Parker Ladd Literary Breakfast on the 12th February 2010 in Palm Beach, and already there has been a feature in the October issue of Tatler (England’s answer to Town & Country), and large articles in such disparate publications as the London Times and Scotland on Sunday. There are radio and TV appearances planned in both the US and the UK, as well as in Ireland, Australia and Jamaica.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I have had three agents. The first was Stephanie Bennett, whom I met through Barbara Taylor Bradford. My next agent was Sara Fisher of A.M. Heath, and my last was the fabled Joni Evans. I am not sure to what extent established writers who have a measure of business acumen need agents, but I do think that all novices do, on the basis that experience teaches wisdom, and until you have the experience you certainly need someone else’s wisdom.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

My publisher, Dynasty Press, engaged Ailsa Macalister of Colbert Macalister, whose specialty is book promotion and she prepared a media blitz in conjunction with the publisher and me. I have worked with her previously. She did the PR on my first Diana biography, Diana in Private, in 1992, and on the book which followed that, Royal Marriages, in 1993, both of which flew off the shelves. Her concept was to get features in the top glossy, which we did with Tatler, as well as the top English and Scottish publications, which we did with the Times and Scotland on Sunday, with the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Mail to follow. This has been quite an achievement, for some of those publications will not usually touch a product their competitors have covered, yet each of them has done so in this instance. I suspect the subject is so topical that they have suspended their competitiveness in the interest of reporting on it. Daughter of Narcissus has also been sent to reviewers in the UK, and in the US through the publisher’s US promoters, The Cadence Group to pretty much every publication and book store of any note. After the print medium will come TV and radio interviews in the UK, followed by newspaper coverage and TV and radio in the US. Although I did a book tour throughout the US last year when my novel, Empress Bianca, was published, I will not be doing one this year. My children and I missed each other too acutely, and I suspect that a blog tour will reach at least as many people as a physical tour does – and maybe even more people to boot.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I most certainly do. I fully intend to write until they close the lid on my coffin, and am already committed to editing and doing a foreword for an eighteenth century memoir by a French royal at the time of the Revolution, followed by a book on the social skills that secure success. I also have another three or four books on the back burner, though it’s open to doubt that all of them will see the light of day. Unless of course I live to 112, which, if I have anything to do with it, I will.

Thank you for your interview, Georgie. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

My publisher’s website is www.dynastypress.co.uk and my blog address is htpp://ladycolincampbell.blogspot.com. You may find my book at online retailers such as Amazon.com.
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