The brand-new book series Fame Unlimited follows the ups and downs of a teen actress - from the point of view of her best friend. This makes for an interesting twist, and it definitely will hit home with girls who feel as though they are standing in the shadow of their more popular best friends. Did author Liane Bonin draw from her own experiences to write this book? Let's find out . . .
What made you decide to make Erin the narrator, rather than Taylor?
As a journalist, you get a fly-on-the-wall perspective of Hollywood, and I think that was something that was missing from a lot of books about this world. Most tend to focus on the fantasy and the glamour without digging into the reality of what it's like to be a star. Celebrities may be at the center of the show business universe, but in a sense they're blinded by the spotlight -- they don't necessarily see how even the most minor decision they make can have these huge, unexpected consequences, both good and bad. By telling the story from Erin's point of view, I was able to portray fame in a very honest way, which I thought was really important. Even though there's so much that's fabulous about Hollywood, there are also a lot of challenges people never think about. In the book, when Erin talks about a rotten director screaming on the set it's simply an observation. But if Taylor were to make the same comment, it would come across as whining, so Erin's POV gave me a great deal of freedom. Plus, Erin's voice was just a lot more fun for me to write. She's fascinated by Hollywood, but she's smart enough to know not everything that glitters is made of gold.
Erin is a Korean-American girl whose parents have high hopes and strict rules for their daughter. Are or were your parents (their backgrounds, their personalities, or their expectations) similar to hers?
My parents weren't as strict as Erin's, but I think they have a lot of the same values -- they definitely wanted me to get a good education and go to a decent college, and I always had curfews and rules about how much television I could watch, that sort of thing. I hated all of it growing up, but now I can concede that there was a point to at least some of it -- if I had gone to every concert and party I'd wanted to go to, I never would have studied enough to graduate from high school, much less go to college!
Taylor has to deal with paparazzi and tabloids. As an entertainment reporter, did you ever have to deal with seedy types or papers of ill repute?
All the time. The paparazzi are all over Los Angeles, and some of these guys would happily claw your eyes out to get a clear shot of Paris Hilton buying a bracelet at Kitson. I've gotten elbowed in the ribs, stepped on, pushed out of the way, you name it. It's not that any of these people are bad (though I'm sure some are), it's simply that the stakes are so high. And I think the people who succeed in the tabloid arena are the ones who are able to look at celebrities as prey instead of real human beings with feelings.
Was your work for Entertainment Weekly and other publications strictly freelance or were you on any staffs or editorial boards?
I was on staff at Entertainment Weekly for seven years. I've also freelanced for a lot of teen and entertainment magazines, produced segments for public radio and wrote and co-produced a movie along the way.
How did you make the jump from published journalist to published author? Do you plan to write fiction full-time now, or continue to pursue multiple avenues of writing?
The jump was pretty easy -- I had an idea for a non-fiction book and pitched it to a few agents, and from that experience I got signed (though, ironically, that book didn't sell). After that, I decided to write about what I knew -- but to do that the way I wanted to without getting sued, I turned to fiction. I love writing novels, but I still love journalism and I majored in screenwriting in college, so I can't ever see myself limiting myself to just one medium.
How many books will be in the series?
Right now, three books are in the Fame Unlimited series -- Celebrity Skin, Pretty on the Outside, and Idol Talk. But I have ideas for more if people want to read them!
What are your ten favorite books of all time?
That's so hard! These, in no particular order, are ten books I love, though I can't honestly say they're my ten favorite. I'm sure I'm forgetting ones I love more! The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, Making History by Carolyn See, Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima, Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion, We the Living by Ayn Rand, and in YA, I've been completely hooked by classics like I Never Loved Your Mind by Paul Zindel, That Was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton, and more recently 6X: The Uncensored Confessions by Nina Malkin. Plus, right now I'm reading Think Pink by this English author, Lisa Clark, and it's pure fun.
Go backstage with the author: LianeBonin.com
Get the gossip on similarly-themed books: But I Don't Want to Be Famous! and But I DO Want to Be Famous!