About 80% of the author stories are true and most of the publishing stories and characters are real too, including MacDermott Ellis. That’s actually how The Publicist came to be.
They say that out of great tragedy often comes great triumph and while I’m not sure that’s true in every case, I would say that it’s at least partially true in this case. I knew Mac, the real Mac, and dated him for almost a year. It was the best and worst year of my life. He was as magnetic as Mac, as charming and, sadly, had a dark secret much like our Mac, though I didn’t find out the last little tidbit till I was in way over my head and at that point, I knew I had to get out. But getting out, as we all know, isn’t always easy. No matter how difficult the relationship is, or how dark things become, there is nothing harder than leaving someone you love. The process, at times, felt like I was turning myself inside out just to recover. I had friends of course and thank God for Gracie (yes, she is a real person), because without her, I’m not sure where I’d be.
One night, after Mac and I broke up, Grace and I were at dinner and she said, “You should write down these stories, it’ll be cathartic.” And so I did, I wrote them down in diary form initially and then later, turned it into a novel.
To say that MacDermott reminds me of Don Draper isn’t an understatement, though he was not initially created to be a mirror of the infamous Mad Men character, it’s just how it turned out. Sometimes in writing the truth we unearth things we never knew existed. The deeper we dig, the more we find. Like Mac’s need to always undermine his own happiness or the fact that in the end, maybe he really can’t be happy.
So yes my friends, Mac was and is real though I haven’t seen the real Mac in many years. The recollection of what we once had will always be burned into my mind. As Kate says in book three: Love’s never really over, just over there.
Did I write these books because I’m still in love with him? No. I mean, maybe book one started out that way, but as I moved through Kate’s life and her relationship with our fictional Mac, and now, as we process all of this in book three I realize that I stopped loving the real Mac ages ago. Loving him the way people are supposed to love each other. And the books helped me do that. They helped me see the truth behind that relationship and even though I once believed that my Mac was the last man I would ever love, I realize now that it was a dream built on pretty shaky ground. Where there is no foundation, there can be no future.
So I’m grateful for the time we had and the lessons I learned and I hope that someday he finds the happiness he’s spent his life hiding from. As for me, it’s an ironic ending to all of this that these books are my greatest love. Born out of heartbreak that dissolved into triumph seems like a pretty ironic ending and while it’s not the “Hollywood ending” we all expect or hope for, it’ll do just fine for now.