There are few things more surreal than growing up the offspring of a celebrity. When he was 10 years old, Peter Craig accompanied his mother, Sally Field, to the Academy Awards, where the mini-macher promptly goosed Audrey Hepburn on the red carpet. (It might not have been quite so memorable had Cary Grant not been standing right there, looking on.) Another time, Peter had to help restrain his younger brother, Eli, from heckling their mom during an on-camera interview with Barbara Walters. ”I knew early on,” says Craig, now 28, ”that my mother wasn’t like other moms. And my father [Steve Craig, a construction contractor, divorced from Field since 1976], who lives on this quasi-commune in Oregon, wasn’t really like other dads. In a way, my whole life has been full of extremes.”
Little surprise, then, that Peter grew up with the eye of a novelist. Nor is it coincidence that his first book, Morrow’s The Martini Shot (slang for the final shot of a movie), is a fictional rumination on polar-opposite parents, broken families, and Hollywood dysfunction. ”This is what happens when you have dramatic parents, I guess,” says Craig, who lives in a walk-up apartment off Hollywood Boulevard, with his wife, Amy Scattergood, a poet, and their 6-month-old daughter, Isabel.
The novel’s hero is Matt Ravendahl, a young man who flees his backwoods logging-mill town for L.A. in search of his birth father, an aging, alcoholic action star named Charlie West. ”People who aren’t in my family think the book must be at least partly autobiographical, but it’s not,” says Craig, who was something of a star himself at the renowned Iowa Writers Workshop and whose book is now receiving strong early reviews. ”There are some physical traits of family friends and some personality traits of famous people in it, but they’re all jumbled up and very much disguised.”
Did Field get nervous when she heard her son was writing a Hollywood novel? ”Happy more than nervous,” she says. ”Being the son of a famous person is a curious and difficult thing, and I think [writing] might just be the best way to handle that.”