Have you always enjoyed writing?
My personal feeling is that if anyone enjoys writing, they’re doing it wrong. I enjoy coming up with story ideas, and I certainly enjoy finishing a big writing project—heck, there are times I even enjoy the fine-toothed-combing of that final edit, weeding out the unnecessary adverbs and eliminating passive verbs, etcetera—but that first draft is never what I’d call enjoyable. It’s worth it, of course it’s worth it, but the process of churning out those chunks of words every day? At best it’s tedious; at worst it’s agonizing.
What motivates you to write?
Fear of failure. I’m inherently lazy, but I’m driven by a craven fear of not meeting expectations and not getting things done. Not counting the books I’ve ghostwritten, I’ve written six novels. Four have been published; the other two will be published at some point. There’s one book, however, that I’ve never finished—I wrote a blisteringly awful first draft maybe ten years ago, and I’ve never had the guts to revisit it. I hate that it’s unfinished. It sits there like a canker sore in my writing history. One of these days, that hatred will probably grow strong enough to motivate me to sit down, dust it off, and finish it once and for all.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing. Tell us where you grew up and where you now live.
I grew up in Spokane; I currently live in New York City. The place that’s had the most influence on my writing by far, however, is Los Angeles, where I lived for twenty years. Two of my books—Charlotte Dent and Wrong City—are primarily set in Los Angeles; the city is crucial to the storylines of both. If Charlotte were a New York-based actress, say, instead of an L.A.-based one, her story would be dramatically different.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
I’ve worked at a bunch of jobs in the entertainment industry—for instance, I was an associate producer on the E! Entertainment Television show “Talk Soup” and a production coordinator on ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” I’ve been a legal assistant, both inside and outside the entertainment industry. I’ve churned out articles for an online content mill. I’ve ghostwritten books. I’ve temped at an awful lot of places. I’ve answered phones at agencies, I’ve sold popcorn at a movie theater, I’ve mopped floors at a rehab clinic.
How often do you write? And when do you write?
I write daily. When I’m between books, I write essays and reviews for my blog, Preppies of the Apocalypse. Mornings tend to be my most productive time, but I’ve worked very hard to train myself to be able to write whenever and wherever I can. Flexibility is one of the most useful traits a writer can have; being able to mix up my routine—write in the morning, write at night, write on a laptop, write in a notebook, write at a desk, write at a coffee shop, write on a plane or in a hotel room—serves me well.
Who designed the cover?
The cover for Charlotte Dent is a wonderful oil painting by my aunt, Elsbeth Monnett. The subject is my beautiful cousin Katie, and something about her posture, her eyes, the way she’s clutching the towel around her body just seemed right for Charlotte. In the actual painting, Katie is smiling; Charlotte is not necessarily the smiley type, so the title bar on my cover is placed over her mouth to make her expression more of a mystery.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
Of all my books thus far, Charlotte Dent comes closest to reflecting my life experiences. I am not Charlotte, but there’s some overlap: I lived in Los Angeles and worked in the entertainment industry, I was once cast in a play that was canceled just before performances started, I once worked as a legal assistant, I’ve taken some fairly worthless acting classes. I have a lot of friends who are professional actors, so I also drew upon their life experiences—bad auditions, appearances at fan conventions, long hours wasted on freezing cold film sets—to shape Charlotte’s journey.
When struggling actress Charlotte Dent is cast as a leggy killer robot in a big, brainless summer blockbuster, the subsequent hiccup of fame sends a shock wave through her life. The perks of entry-level celebrity are balanced by the drawbacks: destructive filmmakers, online ridicule, entitled costars, and an awkward, unsatisfying relationship with the film’s fragile leading man. Self-aware to a fault, Charlotte fights to carve out a unique identity in an industry determined to categorize her as just another starlet, disposable and replaceable. But unless she can find a way to turn her small burst of good fortune into a durable career, she’s destined to sink back into obscurity.
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Genre - General Fiction, Chick Lit
Rating - PG
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