My Catchphrases

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Tantalizing Trailers: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby plus Author Q & A

Publisher: Walker Children's (US)
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads

Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

You may have seen this little beauty in my Love List post for February - how could I not showcase the trailer. ENJOY

I am also delighted to be able to share a Q and A from Allison with you.

Shooting Stars Q&A 

About Shooting Stars 

What's Shooting Stars about? 

Shooting Stars centers on Jo, a sixteen-year-old paparazzo living in LA. Jo is all about getting the perfect shot and doesn't mind doing what it takes to get it, either. That is, until she's sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett – teen superstar and the only celebrity who's ever been anything close to kind to her – at an exclusive rehab retreat in Boston. Taking, or not taking, the job is a huge decision for Jo. Taking it would mean finally having enough money to pay for her dream: real photography classes. But when she falls in love with Ned…? Suddenly everything in Jo's world isn't as black and white as it usually is.

Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this book? 

The initial inspiration was reading an article about a real-life sixteen-year-old paparazzo. I found my eyes boggling as I read about how he got around LA either on his bicycle, or his dad drove him late at night. I couldn't imagine what this part-time job must be like (as I guessed it had to be extremely cut-throat, especially compared to working at McDonald's!), so I decided to imagine away and came up with Jo. I had an absolute ball researching this book, including reading trashy magazines and a lot of books written by, and about, the paparazzi (fellow Aussie Darryn Lyons's Mr Paparazzi is a fabulous one if you're looking). The things they had to say about celebrity – about the dark side of celebrity and fame – were truly revealing.

The love interest in Shooting Stars is a celebrity. Was it difficult writing about a celebrity and non-celebrity characters at the same time?

I think the most important thing here was removing Ned (and Jo) from the LA environment. In rehab, it doesn't matter who you are – everyone is on neutral ground (or so I hear!) and this is how things are for Ned and Jo. If I'd left them in LA I'm sure they would never have gotten together – their jobs were too much a part of what defined them as people. But in a neutral environment, their personalities are more important than their job definition, so they're able to get to know each other as real people.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? 

I think I'd have to opt for the very obvious choice of the pool scene. So many heightened emotions all coming together at once! Plus shock when Jo finds out the truth about Ned. I think it's also an interesting moment for Jo, because, before that point in time, I don't think she would have believed she could ever be so wrong about somebody, or miss something so big that was right in her face.

The plot of Shooting Stars revolves around the career of Josephine Foster, a young photographer. Did you have an interest in photography before writing Shooting Stars?

I wasn't interested in photography so much as fame. As a writer, I've been interested in fame as a concept for keeping two romantic interests apart for some time (can you guess one of my favourite films is Notting Hill ?!). After reading an article about a young paparazzo, I then did quite a bit of research into how the paparazzi operate (in LA, in particular) and delved into their thoughts on fame and how it operates in Hollywood. It was amazingly fascinating stuff. It's all quite parasitic -- the stars can't maintain their stardom without the paparazzi and the paparazzi have no work without the stars.

Have you ever seen the paparazzi in action? 

I have! In London, Sydney and NYC. I've only ever once seen the person they were trying to shoot, however. That was in NYC and it was Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory ). These days, out in the Cambridgeshire countryside, I see more trainspotters with cameras than paparazzi, I'm afraid!

About the author 

Do you have a favorite television show, or series? 

Oh, that's easy. Downton Abbey , Downton Abbey, Downton Abbey (*shakes pompoms*)! I am completely in love with this series. So much so, I'm ashamed to admit I know they're starting filming again next week at Ealing Studios and will then move on to filming the scenes at Highclere Castle (one must refrain from stalking!). I've always been a huge fan of the 1920s and am very excited that this is where Downton is headed next. Of course, I'll have to wait for some time to watch the next series as we've seen all of season 2 in the UK, as well as the Christmas special. In the meantime, I'm having my own fun watching both seasons again on DVD.

Do you have any special talents (tying cherry stalks with your tongue etc.?!). 

I think mine would have to be my secret bargain hunting habit. I am a slave to eBay and Gumtree. I love a bargain and am good at selling, too. It's the Taurean in me (I like to blame it on this or I just sound cheap!). I love giving things away on Freecycle too. I am crazy about de-cluttering.

What are you working on next? 

I recently finished writing another YA novel tentatively titled Being Hartley. Since finishing that, I've moved on to writing something very different – a Downton Abbey-esque six episode e-serial for St Martin's Press, tentatively titled The Honourables, which will be published Summer 2012, with one episode being published per month. It's been a very steep learning curve learning all about writing serialized fiction, but I'm enjoying the writing very much, especially as the series is set in London in the 1920s.

What do you do when you're not writing? 

I'm currently living in the UK for 18 months, so am trying to pack in a lot of travel throughout Europe in my free time. I've just got back from a long weekend in Dublin, the next trip is a week in Lapland and then I'm off for two weeks in Berlin, Prague and Vienna at Easter. On the way back home to Australia in August, I'm taking a 14 day cruise through Spain, France, Turkey, Italy and Greece, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm not sure I'll recognize the sun when I see it again.

What sort of books do you like to read? 

Anything and everything! At the moment, I'm reading a lot of lovely fiction and non-fiction set in the 1920s, which has been great in helping to shape the dialogue in the historical e-serial I'm writing. A YA book I've read recently that I just adored was Stephanie Perkins's Anna and the French Kiss and I have Lola and the Boy Next Door all ready and waiting for me on my Kindle. I'm really looking forward to getting to it!

Do you have any pets? 

I have a gorgeous Devon Rex cat, Violet, who is currently living with my parents in Australia while we're in the UK. I miss her sitting on my shoulders and keeping me warm while I'm writing! Devon Rex cats are very odd – rather like monkeys. They like to be up high, on top of bookcases (and shoulders!). After you've had a Devon Rex, you'll never go back to a normal cat! At one point we had three of them. Trust me, that's a lot of Devon Rex.

For writers 

Why did you decide to write YA? 

I actually started out writing women's fiction, published four books in that genre, and then realized that my voice was slightly more suited to YA. I really love the immediacy of YA and the fact that characters tend to act on their true emotions, rather than already being weighed down by years and years of emotional baggage!

Are you a plotter or a pantser? 

I'm a terrible, awful plotter. In fact, I'm such a plotter, I have a little formula for writing my books now which is a very odd combination indeed of three-act structure along with a bunch of other plotting methods. Of course, it's a formula that only works for me! I don't change process from book to book and, like a lot of novelists, find I have to write from beginning to end, too.

This is your debut US YA release, but not your first release. Has the publishing process been different in the US, compared to Australia, or is it pretty much the same?

I think Shooting Stars is my eleventh published book (I'm starting to get confused now!), but it is my first YA release in the US (I've had adult women's fiction out in the US before, however). The publishing process has been reasonably similar, though it's been nice to have an editor in-house editing my manuscript, rather than a freelancer. In Australia, the in-house editor usually co-ordinates the publishing process, using a freelance editor to edit the actual manuscript. It was nice to get to know my US editor and have her actually edit the manuscript as well. It was a little more personal!

Do you have a favorite writing quote? 

I really love this quote from Harlan Ellison. I'm often asked where I get my ideas from, or people will tell me it must be amazing having such a creative job. When they do, I'm always reminded of this:

People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it. – Harlan Ellison

This is so true. In so many ways, writing books is a job like any other. Sometimes it's very, very difficult, sometimes it's easy. You have good days and bad days. And deadlines! I never forget, however, it's a job I'm extremely lucky to have. Not everyone gets to work in their pajamas or use movie ticket stubs as tax deductions.

Thank you so much Allison for sharing that with us.

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