Monday, April 7, 2008

Review: Secrets of the Hollywood Girls Club

Summary: Life at the top of the A-list is fabulous, but it’s a long way to the ground if you fall—and the cameras are always waiting to publicly humiliate you if you do. Jessica, Mary Anne, Lydia, and Celeste have stayed at the top by sticking together. The last time they collaborated on a project, the film was a huge success, launching über-agent Jessica’s boutique management company, making Mary Anne the hottest new screenwriter in Hollywood, landing Lydia the top spot at Worldwide Pictures, and solidifying Celeste’s position as the queen of Tinseltown. But this time, as these powerful movie mavens are called to the set, each of them has a lot more to lose.

At thirty (ahem . . . thirty-six), actress Celeste Solange is starting to feel her age. Tiny lines are beginning to appear near her eyes, and she’s wondering how long she can hold on to her A-list status. But that’s not her biggest problem—not by a long shot. A compromising DVD she made with her husband during the wild early days of their marriage is making the rounds, threatening to break out onto the Internet and ruin her image and her career. So Celeste turns to her girlfriends for help—good thing they’re some of the most powerful players in town.

Mary Anne, Lydia, and Jessica have troubles of their own. Mary Anne has started seeing Holden Humphrey, the hottest leading man in Hollywood, and everyone in America is watching—including his crazy young stalker, who wants Mary Anne out of the picture. Lydia is busy running a studio, putting out fires, and playing politics with the big mouths and big egos of the entertainment elite, and now someone is trying to blackmail her. Jessica is juggling a family, a demanding career, and an even more demanding list of clients. And meanwhile, publicist Kiki Dee seems to have a hand in all the secrets . . . and she’s willing to do anything to keep her spot at the top of the Hollywood PR machine. Can the Hollywood Girls Club hold their lives together and get a film made amid all the craziness?

That’s life in Hollywood—where the right friends, and the secrets they know, can make or break a career. - random house

When Alisha from Crown asked me if I was interested in reading SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB by Maggie Marr, she described it as a "vivid insider novel about the struggles of four female power players in the stiletto-wearing, black-card carrying upper echelons of the entertainment industry." I thought that sounded like a light, fun book perfect for the pool or beach. I admit that I have a little bit of interest in the whole "Hollywood thing" -- I mean I sometimes read People and watch Entertainment Tonight to catch up on the celebrity gossip (much to the chagrin of my husband.)

I actually found this book to be very entertaining. The characters were all powerful women with different roles in movie-making business, so the author was able to show you different aspects of Hollywood business -- actress, screenwriter, studio head, manager-producer and even a publicist. A few of the characters were over-the-top (by Central PA standards), but they were all smart and funny. I thought the author did a good job of incorporating the "whodunit" element into the storyline as well. Ms. Marr wrote each chapter from the point-of-view of the different women which gave us futher insight into their actions. I found the chapter titles very amusing -- each chapter was focused around various "rules" for surviving in the movie business.

I especially enjoyed "getting the scoop" on Hollywood celebrities, and Ms Marr certainly knows the industry. She is currently a writer and producer; and before that she was a motion picture literary agent. I have a feeling that she's seen more than a few weird things take place in Hollywood. Even as outrageous as a few of the characters were, I'm sure that you will recognize some current actors' and actresses' behavior in them.

I am extremely flattered that Ms. Marr took time out of her busy life (she's a mom too) to answer a few questions for me. If you want to learn more about her, read this Q&A from her website -- no, she doesn't name any names, but she has worked on some interesting movies.

Booking Mama: What inspired you to write SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB?MM: This is a great question. I think, in part, it must be this fantastic crazy world of entertainment that I stumbled into when I went from being an attorney to an agent. Plus, I started to hear this voice in my head, telling me this great story that became Hollywood Girls Club.

Booking Mama: SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB is the second book that you've written with this cast of characters. Do you intend to write more "HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB" books?
MM: I’d love to write at least one more book in the Hollywood Girls Club series. I think the ladies should go to Cannes. And I definitely want to see more of Kiki. I just love her so much as a character.

Booking Mama: Was it harder or easier to write the second novel in the series?
MM: Challenging is the word I’m going with. Book two was definitely more challenging. First writing with a deadline is much different than just writing as a hobby. Second the final draft and now book Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club, is so different (thankfully) than the first draft of the manuscript. I rewrote Secrets several times, cutting and reworking. The book really turned out tighter than the first draft.

Booking Mama: You started your career as an agent in Hollywood. How much of this story is based on reality?
MM: 99% But I never consciously take a story and use it. My unconscious, I believe, shapes, twists, and reforms all the stories and secrets that I know and creates something very similar to real life but with a twist.

Booking Mama: Are any of your celebrity characters based on real-life stars?
MM: Yes.

Booking Mama: Which character do you relate to the most?
MM: One of my good friends, told me that he saw a little of me in each of the characters. I think when I wrote Hollywood Girls Club I related most to Jessica. She is an attorney turned agent. But now, I relate most to Mary Anne, perhaps because we’re both Midwestern and writers.

Booking Mama: How did you decide to make the switch from an agent to an author?
MM: After both books sold, I really thought I could do both; agent and write. But as I mentioned writing with a deadline is much different than writing as a hobby. Plus, I love my clients (now former clients) and I didn’t ever want them to worry about how I divided my time. Being an agent, a really good agent, is a lifestyle and the commitment to your clients is 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Booking Mama: Is there any chance that we'll see the HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB characters in a movie?
MM: Yes, of course. Film or television. We are in talks.

Booking Mama: Are you a member of a book club?
MM: I was before moving to LA. But LA is really a movie town, I haven’t found one if anyone has one...

Booking Mama: What type of books do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite authors? What book are you currently reading?
MM: I read everything. I love Joan Collins, Carl Hiaasen, Sarah Mlynowski, Marian Keyes, Jennifer Weiner, Pete Dexter, Tom Perrotta, Toni Morrison, Janet Evanovich, Ally Carter...the list goes on and on and on. Right now I am reading two fabulous books: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart and High Five by Janet Evanovich

Booking Mama: Do you write everyday at set times (like a job) or just when an idea hits?
MM: I write everyday unless we have company or are traveling. And I mean every day. I like to be at my computer by 8 am. I work form 8 to noon. Then my daughters come home and we have lunch and I put them down for their naps. I then try to write again from 2 to 4. I always say I’ll write once the girls go to bed, but I’m usually too tired. So I try to get some reading done in the evening or television watching...yeah I’m a tv addict.

Booking Mama: What are you working on now?
MM: I just finished a television pilot for Mandeville Films. I’m writing a young adult paranormal thriller with a director friend of mine, and I’m almost finished with a stand alone women’s fiction book; Mothers & Daughters. After I finish these, I’m thinking I’ll use my legal background and knowledge of Hollywood to write a thriller.

Booking Mama: What do you want the reader to take away from your book?
MM: Pleasure, lots of pleasure. I want them to close the back cover, sigh, smile and think, ‘wow that was fun. I can’t wait for Maggie’s next book!’

I'd like to thank Ms. Marr for taking the time to answer my questions! SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB will be available on April 15th; however, if you want a head-start on meeting the cast of characters, HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB is available in trade paperback right now.


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

I like your interviewing style. If you would be interested in interviewing me for the release of my novel, please contact me. Thanks!
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Chapter One is online!

heather (errantdreams) said...

I can't decide if this is something I would enjoy or not... it isn't my usual type of book, but good characters can make any kind of book enjoyable.

Julie said...

I just finished this book and enjoyed it more than I expected to. I wrote a review on our blog.