A Real Feel
INTER VIEWER: Does anyone ask you if this is fact disguised as fiction?
DILLON: No. Most people pretty much respond to it as a novel, based on some people I know, and types of situations that I know.
What I'm happy about are the comments about its authenticity.
I think perhaps that's the reason it's got the good reviews it got-it's an authentic book about the advertising business as against, say, something by Edna Ferber.
So you get some feel about what it's like to work in ANY agency, and especially one like this, and conceivably one like THAT.
INTER VIEWER: You once worked for one like THAT, I think.
DILLON: Let's say I worked for one of those others.
INTER VIEWER: Well certainly Jim Bower sounds just like you, Jack.
DILLON: I've heard that, yeah.
I've also been asked if there's any significance to the fact that my resume is on the jacket.
Other questions that have come up in some of these interviews have to do with drinking, and insecurity in the advertising business.
The answer to the drinking is that MOST of the people I know in the business don't drink at lunch.
I do, but they don't.
They'll have some campari or vermouth or white wine. But they have to keep their heads screwed on in the afternoon.
INTER VIEWER: And you don't have to?
DILLON: Oh, I manage to.
And the answer to the insecurity is that it's an insecure business, but then an awful lot of businesses are.
It's just that this is a little more glaring, I think possibly because there are chances to make a lot of money in this business, but you're only worth that money as long as an agency thinks you are, or a client thinks you are. And what might be worth a $50,000 salary in one agency might not be worth that in another agency.
That's where the ulcers come In.
INTER VIEWER: Was Jim Bower's being fired at the end a secret wish of yours to get out of the agency business?
DILLON: No. It wasn't. This is the only business I know.
It's been good to me.
I've made a lot of money in it.
I like working on the' account I'm working on-Polaroid.
And I like the people I'm working with.
If I stop and ask myself what other business I'd rather be in, I couldn't think of one.
INTER VIEWER: I thought the weakest part of the novel was the relationship with the wife, which seemed almost non-existent.
DILLON: I'll tell you why that is.
The novel orginally ran about a third longer than it is.
Keeping Sex Out
INTER VIEWER: However, I liked the fact that for an uncliched change, it was the 44-year-old wife who found a lover instead of the husband.
DILLON: I'll tell you, except for some dialogue, I kept sex out of the story for a reason.
If this was a novel about the insurance business and there was sex in it, with a secretary or something like that, nobody would say, "Ah! That's the insurance business.
" But if you do that in an advertising novel, everybody is going to say, "Ah, that's the ad business."
And it isn't.
Also, it seemed to me the story had enough conflict, and that would have been laying it on, you'll pardon the pun.
INTER VIEWER: Let's go back to people who do find themselves in the novel.
How have they responded?
DILLON: Bill Bernbach said, "I see you've killed me off in the first chapter."
Helmut Krone said, "I would never have called myself Brook Parker."
I have had people tell me-the publisher amongthem-that Helmut was the best character in the story.
Everybody seemed to like him.
A lot of people asked me who George Brice is.
And I'm not answering that.
But he ain't here.
INTER VIEWER: I've heard him identified by someone who worked with you at another agency.
DILLON: I've heard that a couple of times.
It disturbs me.
INTER VIEWER: All right, but are there 0 ther people here who appear in the novel?
DILLON: I think there's one scene where our hero gets hired by a fellow who bears quite a resemblance to David Reider.
I'm often asked who Rudy de Franco is.
He's this little ... four-letter word ... art director.
(pause) He's an awful lot of people. (laughter)
He's no one in particular.
lINTER VIEWER: Now that the book's out and you've got other people's reactions, is there any part you would like to change?
DILLON: No. That's the story I wanted to tell.
Maybe a year from now when I read it again there will be things I won't like, but not now.４
There was considerably more material on the home and friends.
The book is already selling for about seven bucks.
A third longer would have raised the price to ten, which would have priced it right out of the market.
And the publishers felt it was the advertising part of the story that was new-the public had already read about suburbia.(FIN)