Reading With Martinis is proud to have Amanda Goldberg and Ruthana Khalighi Hopper, authors of Celebutantes and Beneath a Starlet Sky, with us today for an interview. They are also giving away a copy of Beneath a Starlet Sky!
First, tell us a little bit about the books you write and why you write in your particular genre?
When we wrote our first novel Celebutantes books like Bergdorf Blondes and The Devil Wears Prada had just come to the forefront and of course Sex and the City had become a huge hit. We felt like these were very New York centric stories and that no one had really nailed the LA scene. So we set out to satirize Hollywood. Our two books follow the story-lines of three best girlfriends who are struggling to make their way in their love lives and their professional lives. Our protagonist Lola, has a love hate relationship with Los Angeles where her kooky Hollywood family casts a large, ridiculous, often humorous shadow.
How do you feel about the term “Chick Lit” and your books falling into that category?
We don’t mind the term “Chick Lit” at all and we’re honored to be in any category where the word “Chick” reigns supreme — no matter what Gloria Steinem might have to say about it….
How do 2 people author a novel? I think we can imagine a solitary writer at a computer screen. How is it different with 2 authors?
Well we locked ourselves away in a room and created storyboards when we set out to write our first novel and we really got to know these characters so that the voice became one seamless voice between the two of us. We had a shared software and we were very precious about the process, kind of like when you have a newborn baby and you treat them with kid gloves until you realize you can loosen the reigns a little bit and that you’re probably even going to have more fun that way. So with our second novel we did far more dividing the work, so that we would pass scenes back and forth until we felt we’d nailed it. We knew we’d had a good day of writing if there was lots of laughter.
What inspired/inspires you to write?
We’ve called ourselves “anthropologists” of the Hollywood scene. We’re keen observers and we’ve received many a phone call from girlfriends in bathrooms at various parties saying, “You’re not going to believe what just happened!”
What are some of your favorite books and/or who are a few of your favorite authors?
We love Claire Messud and Emperors Children was a phenomenal book with such rich, vibrant, alive characters. Jennifer Egan is a superb satirist and her recent Pulitzer Prize winner A Visit From The Goon Squad was superb. Her characters were on the one hand so hateful and on the other so human. She seems to be one of the smartest authors out there. And of course Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love — what a phenomenon she created. We bow down to her. She’s a goddess. The talk she gave at the Ted conference on creativity left us swooning and wanting more.
Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication. What was it like? How long did it take?
We wrote some very bad, totally unreadable drafts and we had each other otherwise we may have thrown in the towel. Writing is hard. Period. Full stop. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing — a Pulitzer or a quote unquote “Chick Lit” novel. The process is daunting. We didn’t quit our day jobs until we knew we were on our way. And in the end, we got lucky. They say timing is everything. In our case it was — we got a great agent who responded to the first chapters of our book and she happened to also agent Lauren Weisberger and The Devil Wears Prada. When we got the call from her that there was interest — well, it was a game changer and changed the course of our lives.
What words of advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write what you know, write what you love, but mostly just keep writing!
How have book bloggers and social media impacted your success? We connected for this interview via Twitter. Would you say book bloggers and social media are significant in an author’s success?
With Celebutantes, Facebook was still a relatively new tool to promote books and we weren’t familiar with Twitter at all. In fact, up until the publication of Beneath A Starlet Sky, we had never tweeted a single word and trying to decipher tweets was like reading Latin, something we do not do. We’re still relative newbies in the Twittersphere but we’re loving connecting with people like yourself who have a shared interest in reading and writing. And we’re so grateful to all the book bloggers who’ve been spreading the word about our book!
Thank you ladies! I am honored for the interview.
Now for the giveaway! You can win a copy of Beneath a Starlet Sky by the lovely authors with us today. Below are the rules for the giveaway.
- The giveaway will run from June 20, 2011, through July 1, 2011.
- The giveaway is open to residents in the US and Canada only.
- You must be 13 years or older to enter.
- You must fill out the form to enter.
Thank you again to Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper!