I love reading about an author’s inspiration. What was the catalyst that pushed them towards a particular book, a particular subject? When I read the description for Delia Ephron’s THE LION IS IN, I needed to know what inspired this story. Here Delia explains the story behind the story:
This book happened because of an anxiety attack.
I was worried about something… something that I knew wasn’t going to be resolved for a while, and I thought how can I ever get through this? And that night when I went to sleep, I had a dream.
A most vivid dream about three women and a lion. I knew exactly how the women were dressed probably because I had been thinking about nothing but women and clothes because of our play Love Loss and What I Wore.
Lana was wearing ripped jeans, a t-shirt and those flat plastic shoes called Jellies. Tracee was in a wedding dress and veil. I knew Lana and Tracee were in their twenties, best friends from childhood, and there was an older women with them, who, when I woke up, I named Rita. Lana, Tracee and Rita were in a strange place—a roadhouse, perhaps a seedy nightclub, built of all different construction materials hammered every which way. Living inside this odd looking roadhouse by the side of a rural highway in North Carolina (a state I had never visited in my life) was the bar’s mascot—Marcel, the lion.
When I woke up, I wondered for a second if what I dreamed was real. Then I knew it was my next novel. For the two years I lived inside this world — three women on the run, each with secrets, each with transgressions, real and imagined — and the lion who would change their lives.
When I write, I can block out anything, well, almost everything—and writing this, living in this world, got me calmly through that anxiety attack, a situation resolved in a month, and several more actually. It took two years to write the book.
Delia comes from a very literary family (her sisters are Nora Ephron, Hallie Ephron and Amy Ephron). Below is Delia’s fascinating biography in her own words:
My story, sort of …
I grew up in Beverly Hills, California. Graduated from Barnard, and while there fell in love with New York City. I had parents who were screenwriters and have three sisters. Made several detours in life until I wrote How to Eat Like a Child, 500 words about children and food, which was published in the New York Times Magazine, and that was when I realized I was a writer. That article became a book, which, to my great good fortune, became a best seller. I became a contributing editor at New York Magazine, met and married Jerome Kass (screenwriter and playwright) and then moved back to Los Angeles and lived there for many years until I moved back to my beloved Manhattan.
My passion is mostly work. I am happy at my desk. I have always written in many forms—I love bouncing among them—and have written adult novels, humor, children and YA books, as well as movies, plays, and occasional magazine pieces. But I also love to cook, love to bake especially, am extremely fond of watching television, watching tennis, and going to the movies. My husband and I have an FWD (fluffy white dog) with six names—Honey Pansy Cornflower Bernice Mambo Kass
Read more about Delia on her website.
SUMMARY of THE LION IS IN:
Tracee is a runaway bride and kleptomaniac. Lana’s an audacious beauty and a recovering alcoholic. Rita is a holy-roller minister’s wife, desperate to escape her marriage and discover whether she actually has a mind of her own.
One warm summer’s night, these three women go on the lam together. Their car breaks down on a rural highway in North Carolina and they’re forced to seek shelter in a seemingly abandoned nightclub. Which is where they meet Marcel. And soon everything changes.
Marcel, you see, is a lion, a retired circus performer stuck in a cage in this godforsaken roadhouse. And through admiration – one might even say love – for Marcel, our heroines find a way to confront their complicated pasts and fight for the strange, embracing relationships they’ve formed out in the middle of nowhere. They ultimately navigate their way back to their own hearts – and ours.
Written with the deftness, humor, and sparkling wit that have marked her books, plays, and movies, Delia Ephron’s The Lion Is In is an unforgettable story of friendship, courage, love – and learning to salsa with the king of the jungle.