Sometimes ignorance is not just bliss but a blessing. Back when Dianne Dixon was a clueless grad student, she listened when a friend told her that she was so offbeat and funny that she should get a job at Disney or Hanna-Barbera. So, not knowing it was inappropriate to cold-call such companies looking for work, Dixon did just that, got to an executive at the latter company, and wound up arranging a meeting with him. “I didn’t think it was an interview, so I wasn’t nervous,” says Dixon. He then asked her to go home and write a presentation for a half-hour sitcom. What followed was a very successful career writing for Saturday morning television, including Emmy nominations for her work on Howie Mandel’s Bobby’s World on Fox.
But Dixon, a nerdy, bookish girl whose parents died when she was an infant and who had a rather nomadic childhood, had always wanted to write a novel, having found solace on the printed page in her youth. And when her agent, Alice Tasman at Jean Naggar, sent out the manuscript for Dixon’s first book, The Language of Secrets, there was an auction, and Dixon wound up at Doubleday in the hands of the legendary publisher Phyllis Grann. Soon after, Grann announced her retirement, and Dixon fell into despair until her agent told her to “suck it up and write the book.” Last fall Tasman sent out the manuscript for The Book of Someday (Landmark, Sept.), and Dixon decided to go to the movies. By the time she got out of the theater she had missed six calls from her agent.
“She said we had a pre-emptive offer and we have 24 hours to respond,” says Dixon. At the time, she had never heard of Sourcebooks, but Tasman assured Dixon that editor Shana Drehs was putting together a new fiction imprint to be called Landmark, and she wanted Dixon’s new book to be a centerpiece of the launch. Sourcebooks gave Dixon a six-figure two-book deal, and the author says the entire company got behind The Book of Someday from the beginning.
The Book of Someday opens with nine-year-old Livvy’s journal, which she calls “The Book of Someday” because it holds all the things she vows to do someday. “It was a complicated Jenga puzzle,” she says. It all came together when Dixon decided to write the story on an eight-foot-long scroll that she laid out on her office floor.
When you write screenplays, says Dixon, you are creating a blueprint of a story others will execute. “Especially in animated television,” she adds, because she is not an animator. No matter how successful Dixon has been in Hollywood—where she never thought she’d end up—she says she feels most at home writing novels because she is creating the whole story herself.
Today, Dixon is signing at the Sourcebooks booth (829), 1–2 p.m.