Charlotte’s an unsuccessful actress in Los Angeles. She’s pushing thirty, and she’s well aware that, in the eyes of the entertainment industry, her expiration date for stardom is fast approaching. She’s smart, introspective, self-aware and plagued with self-doubts. She’s someone who probably would’ve been far better off picking a career path other than “aspiring movie star”, because that self-awareness and those self-doubts are really going to get in her way as she goes through the book.
How do you feel about self-publishing?
I’m a fan. I’ve self-published my own books through my company, Luft Books. I’ve also published books by an excellent Australian sci-fi author, A.K. Adler; in the near future, I hope to add more authors to the Luft Books roster. There’s still some stigma attached to self-publishing, but it fades more every year as more and more authors become self-publishing success stories. My books are good: They’re professionally written, they’re professionally edited, they’ve won awards, and they’re well-received by readers. I like the control over the final product that self-publishing gives me; I trust my own judgment enough to know that anything I publish will be my best effort.
Do you have any advice for writers?
Write all you can. Always strive to improve, no matter what your level of skill and experience. The more you write, the better you’ll get. I’m a better writer now than I was five years ago; five years from now, I hope and expect to have improved even more.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
There are three excellent books I recommend to all writers: Gotham Writers’ Workshop’s Writing Fiction, Renni Browne & Dave King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and Stephen King’s On Writing. Read all three and internalize the lessons, and it’ll give you a fantastic crash course in the art of writing fiction.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
On any given day, I’m a mess of self-doubt and fear, particularly when it comes to my writing. I’m forty; I’ve been trying to have a professional writing career since I was twenty-one. And… I’m still not sure I’m where I should be. I know I’m a good writer; I also know my weak spots, and sometimes they seem to outweigh my strengths. Right now, I’m in the middle of a very messy rewrite, in which my first-draft prose is leaden, convoluted, and utterly devoid of wit or intelligence. I’ve had more than one moment where I’ve considered junking it and starting a new project. And yet… I know I’ll keep working on it. I’ll finish it. It’s just a matter of always trying to move forward.
How did you develop your writing?
Practice. I wrote short stories in grade school, building up to writing a mediocre unfinished fantasy novel in high school (pretty much everyone wrote a mediocre fantasy novel in high school, right?). I wrote screenplays throughout film school and for a few years after graduation. I switched to novels about fifteen years ago, though I still write the occasional feature script. You know how the thesis of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is that anyone can become an expert in any field after ten thousand hours of practice? I have put in my ten thousand hours of writing, easily. Over the years, my style has become more streamlined, my prose leaner, my dialogue snappier.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I’m terribly lazy. I’m unfocused. I feel awfully sorry for myself a lot. I can sit down at my laptop, all ready to write, and then allow myself to become derailed by pretty much any little thing. If I get a lukewarm review of one of my books on Amazon, well, obviously I have to stop writing for the day and nurse my wounds. I am a world-class procrastinator. My redeeming trait is that I always eventually get things done. My laziness is only exceeded by my fear of failure.
What else do you do to make money, other than write? It’s rare today for writers to be full time,
I ghostwrite novels. I kind of love ghostwriting, actually. It gives me a chance to write in a style and a voice I normally wouldn’t use, on subjects I normally wouldn’t consider. It is, dare I say it, almost fun. Even so, ghostwriting and my book royalties don’t pay the bills; I am very, very fortunate right now in that I’m sharing a place with my sister, who absorbs far more than her fair share of our living expenses.
What scares you the most?
Death. Failure. Disgrace. Death again. The idea that there’s nothing beyond this mortal life. The usual, in other words. I don’t believe in supernatural occurrences, though I wish I did; it would be comforting to be able to point to evidence that there’s more to this world than what we can see.
How do you promote this book?
May I be honest? I’m terrible at promotion. Near-criminally incompetent, in fact. Talking about myself makes me feel painfully awkward, and my first instinct is to downplay my writing (“Yeah, I have another book out. You can find it at Amazon, I guess, if you want”). I have to fight to overcome this. It’s an uphill battle.
What’s your favorite meal?
Like any self-respecting Angeleno transplanted to the Big Apple, I spend a lot of time grousing about how you can’t find good Mexican food in New York City (note: this is a lie; there’s plenty of decent Mexican food here). Right now, I could really use a carne asada taco platter and a margarita the size of my head.
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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