Interview by: Lauren
Jen Calonita is the author of Secrets of My Hollywood Life and its sequel, with the third in the series due out this month.
1. You write for magazines, but did you ever think you’d start writing books, or has this been a dream for you as well?
TO BE HONEST, I THOUGHT I WOULD WORK IN MAGAZINES FOREVER. I NEVER SAW MYSELF WRITING A BOOK, BUT THE MORE TIME I SPENT AT A TEEN MAGAZINE AND INTERVIEWED CELEBRITIES, THE MORE THE IDEAS STARTED FLOWING. I STARTED TO THINK I HAD AN IDEA FOR A TEEN BOOK INSIDE MY HEAD SOMEWHERE SO I MET WITH AN EDITOR AT A PUBLISHING HOUSE AND TOLD HER I WAS INTERESTED IN WRITING A BOOK, BUT I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT. SHE TOLD ME WHAT I NEEDED AND I GOT TO WORK. SHE ACTUALLY HIRED ME TO WRITE “SECRETS” AND SHE’S ONE OF MY EDITORS TO THIS DAY!
2. Kaitlin’s life is obviously very focused around the entertainment world, with little facts about it thrown in the books as well. Was there any specific research you did for the books? How do you know so much about the world Kaitlin is supposed to be a part of?
WORKING AT TEEN PEOPLE ALLOWED ME A WINDOW INTO THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD. I’D SEE THESE YOUNG STARS WORK THEIR BUTTS OFF TO GET TO WHERE THEY WANTED AND IT WAS AMAZING TO SEE THEM CLIMB. SOMETIMES THE STARS WOULD TELL ME STORIES ABOUT THEIR LIVES AND I’D JUST BE FASCINATED. I COULDN’T BELIEVE SOME OF THE STUFF THAT WENT ON. WHEN I CREATED KAITLIN’S WORLD, I WANTED TO MIRROR THE REAL HOLLYWOOD I’D HEARD ABOUT SO MUCH, BUT DO IT IN A FUN WAY.
3. Had you always planned on Secrets of My Hollywood Life being a series? How many books do you plan on writing?
THE ORIGINAL PLAN WAS JUST FOR THE FIRST TWO BOOKS. THEN I FINISHED THOSE AND SAID, MAYBE THERE IS MORE WE CAN SAY ABOUT KAITLIN AND I WROTE THE THIRD BOOK, FAMILY AFFAIRS. WHEN I FINISHED THAT ONE I KNEW I HAD MORE TO TELL. I JUST FINISHED WRITING SECRETS OF MY HOLLYWOOD LIFE: PAPARAZZI PRINCESS AND SOON I’LL START WRITING SECRETS OF MY HOLLYWOOD LIFE: BROADWAY LIGHTS. PAPARAZZI DEALS WITH FALLOUT KAITLIN IS FACING FROM THE PAPARAZZI AND SOME NEW FRIENDSHIPS. BROADWAY WILL TAKE KAITLIN TO NEW YORK CITY TO DO THEATER. I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT BOTH OF THEM.
4. The third book Secrets of My Hollywood Life: Family Affairs comes out in April of this year. Is there any information about the book that you can let the fans in on?
FAMILY AFFAIRS WAS SO MUCH FUN TO WRITE BECAUSE THE MAIN STORY HAS TO DO WITH KAITLIN AND SKY MACKENZIE’S LONGTIME RIVALRY. IN THIS BOOK THEY KIND OF HAVE TO PUT ASIDE THEIR DIFFERENCES AND TEAM UP TO GET RID OF A MENACE THAT IS TEN TIMES WORSE THAN SKY. SHE’S A DELICIOUSLY MISCHIEVOUS NEW CHARACTER, ALEXIS HOLDEN, AND SHE’S ‘A GUEST STAR ON FAMILY AFFAIR WHO IS DETERMINED TO GET A FULLTIME CONTRACT, WHICH THE GIRLS DON’T WANT.
5. What is your writing process like when it comes to the books? Do you get any ideas from the media?
I DEFINITELY GET IDEAS FROM THE MEDIA, TABLOID MAGAZINES, STORIES I SEE IN THE PRESS. SOMETIMES I’LL EVEN SEE AN OUTFIT SOMEONE LIKE JESSICA ALBA IS WEARING AND I’LL THINK IT’S SO GORGEOUS THAT I HAVE TO HAVE KAITLIN WEAR SOMETHING JUST LIKE IT IN THE NEXT BOOK! I LIKE TO OUTLINE THE WHOLE STORY BEFORE I START WRITING, BUT SOMETIMES THE PLOT CHANGES AS I GO.
6. A lot of authors come up with playlists for their books. What songs do you think would go along with the series?
HMM…THAT DOES SOUND LIKE A LOT OF FUN. I’M NOT SURE WHAT KAITLIN’S SOUNDTRACK WOULD BE THOUGH. I’M SURE SHE’D HAVE SOME PAPARAZZI-BASHING SONGS ON THEIR LIKE LINDSAY LOHAN’S RUMORS AND BRITNEY SPEARS’ PIECE OF ME, BUT TO BE HONEST, KAITLIN IS TOO POLITE TO SAY THOSE THINGS!
7. Along with the question above, what is one song that fits Family Affairs?
DEFINITELY “NO MORE DRAMA” BY MARY J. BLIGE!
8. If Secrets of My Hollywood Life was made into a movie, who do you think would play a good Kaitlin and Sky?
FOR KAITLIN I WOULD LOVE TO SEE SOMEONE LIKE ASHLEY TISDALE PLAY HER. ASHLEY HAS SUCH GREAT COMIC TIMING AND SUCH A MOVIE STAR PRESENCE THAT I THINK SHE’D BE PERFECT. SKY IS A LITTLE HARDER TO CAST. I THINK IT WOULD BE FUN TO SEE SOMEONE PLAY AGAINST TYPE AND BE SKY. SOMEONE LIKE HAYDEN PANITTIERE.
9. Another novel you are working on, Sleepaway Girls, is due out in 2009. How did the idea for this novel come about? Are you planning on just the one book, or do you think it will have a sequel/series as well?
I’M NOT SURE IF SLEEPAWAY WILL BE ONE BOOK OR SEVERAL. FOR NOW, IT’S JUST THE ONE. I WORKED AT A DAY CAMP WHEN I WAS A TEEN AND BEING A COUNSELOR WAS ONE OF THE MOST FUN THINGS I EVER DID. I ALWAYS REGRET THAT I DIDN’T GO TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP. I FELT LIKE CAMP WAS THE PERFECT PLACE TO PLOT NEW FRIENDSHIPS AND LOVE STORIES AND THAT’S WHAT SLEEPAWAY GIRLS IS ABOUT.
10. What was the last book you read that you really enjoyed? What was the last movie?
THE LAST MOVIE IN REALLY ENJOYED WAS 27 DRESSES. THAT’S THE KIND OF MOVIE I’M DRAWN TO–ROMANTIC COMEDIES. I JUST LOVED IT. AS FOR THE LAST BOOK, I JUST FINISHED CINDY ELLA BY ROBIN PALMER. IT’S A YA BOOK AND IT’S SO MUCH FUN! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.