Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Rachel!
How long have you been a writer?
I've been a professional writer since 2006, when I sold my first script. At the time, I was working as a Script Supervisor for a film crew that made TV movies for The Hallmark Channel. I stayed in my original job until I'd sold my third script (about six months later) and found I couldn't work on 4 hours of sleep anymore. I grew up fairly poor, so leaving a job with a steady paycheck was a tough decision.
Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?
This has been my day job for almost a decade and hopefully always will be!
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
I've always wanted to write, from the time I was a child. I didn't have the happiest upbringing and we didn't have much money, but I always found an escape in books. I truly believe libraries gave me a future, even if I didn't know it at the time. In the beginning, I just made up little stories in my head describing the kind of life I wanted or when things went wrong, what I wish would have happened. As I got older, I began writing the stories down, much to the chagrin of the family members who were forced to read them! It never occurred to me that this could be a career until high school, when my English teacher – who is one of the dedications in my book – encouraged me to consider it. Even then, I knew it was a long shot. I became a script supervisor and wrote in my spare time for a number of years.
Please give a brief description/storyline about Absolutely True Lies.
Absolutely True Lies is the story of Holly Gracin, a fledgling writer who loses her job at a third-rate entertainment magazine and considers moving back home until she “lucks” into ghostwriting the autobiography of Nickelodeon star Daisy Mae Dixson. It's a wild ride through Holly's introduction to the glitterati, sneaking out of five-star hotels and being trailed by tabloids. It's a job she's always wanted, but she quickly discovers that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be!
What was the inspiration for this story?
It's an amalgam of my experiences both working on film sets and then later, as a ghostwriter myself. I took the jobs to make ends meet while writing my own projects and it didn't always go well! I had a few lovely clients and a few who treated me less than humanely. I started writing the book as a way to deal with my frustrations. Beyond that, I wanted people to see that the Hollywood they “know and love” is quite different, for better and worse. There are very normal people here, but we're paid to make things look shiny and larger-than-life; this sometimes warps our own perceptions, too.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
Amazing – and terrifying! I've been writing for 9 years but no one's that interested in who writes TV movies. It was an odd experience to move into a space where I was my own “brand” (a word I hear a lot these days). The first few radio interviews were pretty anxiety-inducing, but I think I'm getting the hang of them!
Do you write books for a specific genre?
I don't. Coming from screenwriting, I've written all sorts of things. I tend to write about what I find most interesting at any given moment, and that varies. That said, most of my work is geared toward women. I grew up in a family that was pretty much all women, so it's the world I know.
What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
I am a certified book addict. I will read anything that sounds interesting to me, from chick-lit to sci-fi, and I have a definite penchant for historical non-fiction. My favorite books are all over the place. Harry Potter, because of the whimsy and heart of that series; Executioner's Song, for it's gritty realism; The Stand, because I love being scared and I love stories that are epic in scope; The Elegant Universe, for it's unraveling of the mysteries of the universe; and Mrs. Dalloway, because I'm still swept up in Woolf's ability to reveal so much through such mundane things.
Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?
I'm sort of a wanderer! I have a desk with a monitor and remote keyboard, but for at least half the day, I'm moving around the house. I write on the couch around lunch, our recliner late at night, and then I amble back to my desk.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
My interest is often sparked from small things. A conversation, event, or person, and then I start to imagine the threads that surround it. These ideas don't always go somewhere, but the ones I can't get out of my head usually do.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
It depends what I'm working on. When it comes to screenwriting, I'm often hired on a specific timetable and I must deliver on the date they need. Because of that, I can be pretty disciplined when it comes to work scheduling, including only taking 15 minute meals. The same goes for book rewrites and edits, but for manuscript first drafts, I try to allow myself the freedom to work however my brain wants to. Some days I listen to music and imagine for a few hours; others I'm typing almost as soon as I sit down.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
My favorite part of storytelling is dialogue. I love listening to the way people talk and the different ways they relate ideas and thoughts. The one I still need to work on is showing rather than telling. It comes from working as a screenwriter for so long, where your direction must be explicit because you only have action and dialogue.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
Reading! I could read for days if left to my own devices. But at the moment, my favorite thing in the world is spending time with my eighteen-month-old son. I love watching him learn, discover, and experience the world in new ways.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
Just write. Don't worry about every line or whether someone might read it. If you have a story in you, get it all out on paper and revise it later.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
When people say that they identify with a character or feeling in my work. I love Twitter and Facebook for the connection it gives you to the audience. Now when one of my movies airs, I can participate with the viewers as they live tweet, and with the book, the audience has been so social media-vocal. I'm so grateful for their kind words.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
I always try to respond through social media when someone reaches out. I'm a fan of a lot of things myself, and I like interacting with their creators. It gives a new level to the experience!
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
Much of this book is based on things that actually happened to me over the years, but you'll have to guess which ones! As I said, I often get ideas out of conversations and events, so a version of those will pop up in my work, too.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
So many. Virginia Woolf, J.K. Rowling, Norman Mailer, Michael Cunningham, Kurt Vonnegut, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
I'm not sure yet. I feel anytime you reach an audience, that's a success. I am ambitious by nature, so I'm always looking for the next mountain to summit, but I'm not always sure which mountain I'm aiming for until I see it.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I am working on a new book and hope to have a first draft by the end of summer. I can't reveal too much, but it's a period piece and takes place in Europe. Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more soon!
Thank you Rachel for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career!
About The Author
Within a year, Rachel had sold TV movies to Lifetime and Hallmark and because she doesn’t know when to quit, began dreaming of writing a novel. After forcing countless crew members, family, and friends to read manuscripts, Rachel came to write Absolutely True Lies. She continues to work on TV movies and plot her next move in world domination, or writing about world domination, which is more fun and a lot less work.
Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Format: Paperback - 352 pages
Kindle - 2273 KB
Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1476763026ASIN: B00GEEB38E
Genre: Chick Lit / Women's Fiction
Buy The Book:
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.
Holly quickly realizes that Daisy’s wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.
As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats “nightshades” and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown—and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.
Fun, juicy, and inspired by Rachel Stuhler’s own stranger-than-fiction experiences as a celebrity ghost writer, Absolutely True Lies is an entertaining look at how the lifestyles of the rich and famous aren’t always what they seem.
My Book Review:
What's a struggling, down-on-her-luck writer to do when she receives a job offer to ghostwrite an eighteen year old former Nickelodeon child star turned movie / music pop star's memoir?
In her debut novel, Absolutely True Lies, author Rachel Stuhler weaves a thoroughly entertaining tale that follows fledgling writer Holly Gracin's introduction to the glitter, glamour, and glimpses into the behind the scenes world of Hollywood's rich and famous.
Told in the first person narrative, sassy Holly Gracin takes the reader on a crazy journey as she discovers that the Hollywood lifestyle isn't always full of glitter and glamour. Through Holly's eyes as she shadows young Daisy Mae Dixson, the reader will discover the behind the scenes dark side of show business in Hollywood, a town that is filled with drama, secrets, lies, deceit, and betrayal. The reader will be easily drawn into this clever tale, it has a great mixture of humor, wit, hilarious trials and tribulations, and even a touch of romance that makes this a truly fun story to read!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the author uses her professional experience to weave a delightful tale full of laugh-out-loud moments that will leave you wanting more.
Absolutely True Lies is a quick paced and enjoyable story to read on a lazy summer day.
RATING: 5 STARS
Virtual Book Tour
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