Category Archives: Interview

Review & Interview: No Ordinary Life By Suzanne Redfearn

About No Ordinary Life

A story about a young mother’s fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children’s lives.

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Redfearn did a marvelous job exploring every scenario Faye faced with her daughter’s catapult in to stardom. Every trial faced seemed plausible and added multilayers to the narrative.

Characterization ruled this story. Faye, Molly, Chris along with the entire ensemble drove the narrative. A motley of personalities, motives, positions created an array of entertainment supporting the subject matter.

I was conflicted over Faye. I felt for her situation but her passiveness, stubbornness, helplessness and weakness was very unappealing. I understand why Redfearn took this direction with Faye, nevertheless I wasn’t a full on fan. Her choices left me shaking my head on more than once occasion, her stupidity floored me, needless to say Faye left me exasperated and frustrated. I prefer my female protagonists possessing strength, smarts and independence, none demonstrated by Faye.

I was very uncomfortable with Redfearn’s handling of Emily’s traumatic event. For something as supercharged as that incident it should have been addressed and resolved, as is it serves as a terrible message. A pet peeve of mine is introducing a heavy and fragile incident and leaving it messy and glossed over, wrong in so many ways.

Great glimpse into life of a child star and the machinations of Hollywood et al along with its impact on family, siblings and life in general. I enjoyed the book but the incident and improper handling of Emily’s tragic event marred my reading enjoyment.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Suzanne Redfearn. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Suzanne

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is always starting, sitting in the chair and putting words on the page when I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I knew I wanted to write about a child star and the fascinating world of Hollywood, but I didn’t want to tell a train wreck story like the ones written about constantly in the tabloids, and I didn’t want to write a mommy dearest story. Faye introduced herself to me first, then I discovered Molly, and through them, I figured out I wanted to tell a story about a family, not an individual, to focus on what celebrity does – not just to the person who is famous but also to those around them.

How do you want readers to view Faye?

I hope they like her and sympathize with her. She is a young single mom doing the best she can and who finds herself in a dizzying world that would be difficult for anyone to navigate. She is presented with impossible choices, having to decide what is best for the family as a whole as well as weighing the welfare of each of her children against each other. She is also forced to choose between her compassion for others as opposed to her need to buffer her children from the insanity of the world in which they have found themselves. She evolves throughout the story, is forced to become stronger and more resilient. Hopefully the readers understand her transformation and identify with her journey.

Emily’s traumatic event, why did you handle it the way you did considering its seriousness?

It was important to drive the point home of how dangerous the world of celebrity can be. Access to excess doesn’t come without its hazards. Emily’s trauma is not made up. Unfortunately, many young stars and those around them suffer at the hands of their handlers, their fans, or as a result of not having anyone looking out for them and protecting them. One of the most disturbing parts of my research was discovering how many former child stars were sexually abused as kids.

What secret talent do you have?

It’s not much, but I can sing all the words to the theme song of Gilligan’s Island.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Are We There Yet?

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently working on a story about two moms on the run together from the police and their husbands. It’s a road trip story, which I have always wanted to write, and so far I am having a lot of fun with it.

Thank you, Raven Haired Girl, for the great questions!

About Suzanne RedfearnSuzanne Redfearn Headshot

Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

 

Connect with Suzanne:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Goodreads

 

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, Interview, January, Review

Review & Interview: Platinum Doll By Anne Girard

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About Platinum Doll

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, Platinum Doll tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It’s the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She’s chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen.

With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she’s thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she’s willing to pay it.

Featuring a glittering cast of ingénues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Girard captures Jean Harlow in such an intimate light. There was much more to this sultry siren than her sex appeal and good looks as we quickly discover. It’s a coming of age story parallel with the rise of a star cum icon. Girard demonstrates the two most influential people in Harlow’s life and career, equally causing her joy and sorrow.

I appreciated the way Girard captured closure for Harlow in both relationships with her mother and with Chuck. The closures allowed Harlow peace, a burgeoning voice and served as showing this woman’s tender side and what was most important to her, through the ashes rises a woman – plausible and after spending time with Harlow more than appropriate.

I do wish Harlow possessed a backbone, sadly she was a people pleaser causing her much strife. I was hoping she would use the word ‘no’ especially in regards towards her mother. Eventually she resigns to accepting her position with her mother and takes a quasi stand, still not enough but given her personality understood to a certain degree.

Girard does a fabulous job with facts and fiction creating a wonderful historical fiction focusing on the personal and professional rise of Jean Harlow.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Anne Girard. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Anne

For starters, please tell us a bit about Platinum Doll.

The book is based on the true story of Harlean Carpenter McGrew, who went to Hollywood and by her early twenties, became screen legend Jean Harlow. The book follows her journey from mid-western teenager and idealistic newlywed through the beginning of her career in the exciting heyday of early Hollywood. It focuses on the challenges she faced along the way, both personally and professionally, as well as her triumphs. It also explores her friendships with wonderful characters like Clark Gable, Clara Bow, Howard Hughes, and Laurel and Hardy.

Why Jean Harlow as opposed to others during the Golden Age?

Initially, I just loved the idea of bringing to readers the real flesh and blood girl behind the iconic platinum hair. Then, as I began doing the detailed research, I was really moved by the compelling elements of her private life; the fragile young marriage that Hollywood threatened, their love story, and the over-bearing stage mother who insisted she was more than just another pretty face. Many of that era’s other stars have faded into obscurity with the years, but Jean Harlow still has her legions of fans. Marilyn Monroe idolized her, and even now so do stars like Madonna and Gwen Stefani. I think that’s a pretty extraordinary legacy after more than 80 years. With Platinum Doll, I hope not only to honor that legacy but to share her story with a new group of readers who may not know much about her.

While researching, did you unearth anything surprising about Jean Harlow? Any interesting bits of information to share with the audience?

She was quite well-educated, which went against her early screen image, and she loved to read. Harlow always had a satchel of books with her on movie sets so that she could put her down time to good use. It was fascinating to discover that she actually wrote a novel called Today Is Tonight, which was published posthumously. She was also a great animal lover and had dozens of pets.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

I would have preferred to tell the story of her entire short life rather than leaving off where I did. While Jean Harlow lost her life tragically at the very young age of 26, she had some fascinating and juicy escapades and relationships after her fame took hold.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? 

Do I plan to write a sequel? No one has asked me that yet!

What are your current / future projects?

I am mid-way through another fictional biography based on a true character from history. This one is set in England. I am also finishing a novel set in the Provence region of France.

About Anne Girard7563277

Diane Haeger, who currently writes under the pen name Anne Girard (Madame Picasso), holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA. A chance meeting with the famed author Irving Stone 25 years ago sharply focused her ambition to tell great stories from history, and write them only after detailed research and extensive travel to the place her character lived. That determination has provided a fascinating journey that has taken her from the halls of Chenonceaux, to a private interview with one of Pablo Picasso’s last surviving friends, and most recently an invitation inside Jean Harlow’s home.

Since the publication of her acclaimed first novel, Courtesan, in 1993, a novel that remains in print today, her work has been translated into 18 different languages, bringing her international success and award-winning status.

Platinum Doll, a novel about Jean Harlow, is her 15th book. She lives in Southern California with her husband and family.

Connect with Anne:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Publisher: MIRA Books – January 26, 2016

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, Interview, January, Review

Interview: Laura Purcell author of Mistress of the Court

Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Laura Purcell

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Laura Purcell is a former Waterstones bookseller who lives in Colchester. She is a member of the Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces and featured on a recent PBS documentary, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court. She maintains a history blog at laurapurcell.com.

 

What appeals to you most about writing in the historical fiction genre?

A good historical novel can transport you to another world as thoroughly as any science fiction or fantasy book. What gives historical fiction the edge for me is knowing that people did live like this, and many of the events really happened. It gives you a sense of your place in time and influences the way you look at the modern world. Speaking of which, as an author I find it easier to offer commentary on aspects of modern society in a historical context. Readers may reject criticism of their own times, but they are quick to point out the same fault when they see it mirrored three hundred years before.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Technically it was A Tale of Two Cities, since Dickens wrote about a time he had not lived in. That remains one of my all time favourite books. But as far as modern historical novels go, my first was The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. The book has come in for a lot of bashing over accuracy, but it captured me from the first page and I still consider it an excellent read.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

This is such a difficult question! I don’t think my life is anywhere near interesting enough for a book. I would have to jazz it up with a much more exciting title, perhaps the Purcell family motto – Conquer or Perish!

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

I wish people would ask me more about Queen Caroline and her role as a consort and regent. There was so much good research material I simply didn’t have space to use in the novel.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?

I guess the good thing about writing in an under-represented era is that there are not many preconceptions. Generally, people are confused about the Georgians and ask me when they lived, if they were before or after the Tudors. Some envisage the Georgian period as a ‘boring’ one of manners, splendour and politeness – I think they are surprised when they learn how bawdy, satirical and violent society could be.

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About Mistress of the CourtMistress-of-the-Court-195x300

Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne. Henrietta’s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the lastthing on the hot-blooded young prince’s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?

Whatever George’s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit – even if it costs her pride and her marriage. Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II’s reign.

Thrilled to be included in the tour for Laura Purcell’s Mistress of the Court. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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