Mata Hari was an exotic dancer that was famously executed for spying during Wold War I. A non-fiction account of Mata Hari’s life released earlier this year suggests that Mata Hari “…was convicted not for espionage but for her lack of shame.” Yannick Murphy’s new novel, Signed, Mata Hari, presents the famous dancer’s version of events. To celebrate the release of the book (out today at better bookstores everywhere), Yannick Murphy dropped by (virtually) to file a guest post here at BGB.
SIGNED, YANNICK MURPHY
I’m writing this to apologize to whoever it was who bought the November ELLE magazine issue with the book review page torn out of it. It was my mother who did it. Yes, my mother went into the supermarket, found the aisle with the magazines, found the book review of my new novel SIGNED, MATA HARI and tore out the page. I had no idea my mother was capable of such a heinous crime, or maybe I did know, even after all the years of her preaching the difference between right and wrong, I knew she could do it.
I had something of my mother’s nature in mind when I wrote and imagined the voice of Mata Hari. My mother, like Mata Hari, was very beautiful in her prime. My mother, like Mata Hari, is the kind of woman who can speak eloquently about a number of subjects, she is educated and prides herself on her impressive array of worldwide knowledge, but she is obviously the kind of woman who can commit a crime and then justify it by saying she didn’t have the money for a magazine that she had no interest in reading, except for, of course, the page that mentioned her daughter’s name and book.
So you see, dear person with the missing page, I had a most excellent model for understanding my Mata Hari character, I grew up knowing her one could almost say. Mata Hari, like my mother, was able to justify her actions. In Mata Hari’s case, these actions (mostly innocent in her own eyes and therefore aren’t they really innocent?) led to her eventual conviction for espionage. And who is to say, besides the law, that my mother’s justifications and Mata Hari’s justifications aren’t valid? My mother, for instance, can’t afford a luxury item like a big fat issue of a fashion magazine filled with styles that she would believe are inappropriate for someone her age anyway. My mother would say that you, dear person with the missing page, probably aren’t even interested in books and that you probably wouldn’t even miss the page. (I of course, regret that you have had to miss my review. I would have hoped that you’d read the review and then run out the door and buy a copy of my book and twenty extra copies on top of that to give to your friends.) My mother is also grieving for a loved one right now, and who wouldn’t pity her, she probably thinks, who wouldn’t allow her, maybe just this once, a little bout of kleptomania?
In closing, dear person with the missing page, I am sorry for my mother’s crime and I do hope you eventually get to read the review of my book that was featured in ELLE, it was a nice one.
The Publisher has graciously provided us with a copy of the book to pass along to one of our readers. If you’d like a FREE copy of Signed, Mata Hari of your very own, leave us a note in the comments. We’ll pick a random winner by the end of the week to take home one of these:
Also, Yannick Murphy: greatest name ever? Discuss.