Interview with ‘Reality Ends Here’ Author Alison Gaylin
We are so excited that Alison Gaylin, one of our favorite adult suspense writers, has released her first YA novel, Reality Ends Here, which we loved! Alison stops by to chat with us about her new direction.
Shelf Pleasure: What would you like to tell readers about Reality Ends Here?
Alison Gaylin: Well — it’s a Hollywood satire/mystery that I had a lot of fun writing. I’ve long been obsessed with reality shows — both because of my experience as an entertainment writer and my TV viewing habits. When I wrote Reality Ends Here, I was thinking a lot about the children on Jon and Kate Plus 8, who had fame thrust upon them from a very young age, and presumably without asking or auditioning for it. I was thinking, what if there were a show like that and it never went off the air. What type of effect would it have on a kid to literally grow up in front of cameras? That said, it’s really just a fun mystery set in the very surreal world of reality TV.
SP: We thought Reality Ends Here totally captured the kind of young adult voice we love. How did you move so seamlessly from adult to YA and make Estella such a believable teen heroine?
AG: Oh thank you! I haven’t written in the first person since my first two books, and I found it a lot of fun to get into a 16-year-old’s head that way. As far as making her believable, I really appreciate that! There’s a lot of me in Estella — well, me at 16 and if I’d been subjected to fame at that age… I sadly have a very good memory for the awkwardness, confusion and heartbreak of being a teen, so I kind of went back to that when writing the character. Plus I read the book to my 12-year-old daughter as I was writing it.
SP: One of the other things we adored about the book were all of the pop culture references and your observations of celebrity and Los Angeles specifically. What kind of research did you to do make it all feel so authentic?
AG: Well I’ve written for entertainment/gossip magazines for years, so I’ve always been obsessed with pop culture. Since my daughter inherited my obsessions, I now know a lot more about teen stars than I ever even cared to! I wrote a grown-up book a few years ago called Trashed that was a mystery involving a tabloid reporter, and I surrounded her with real life stars and pop cultural references as I do in this book with Estella. I think in a book that so heavily relies on setting, you need to populate it in as real a way as possible. If it were set in Venice, of course I’d talk about the art and the glassware and the canals. So in a book set in teen Hollywood, I’m going to throw in a Bieber cameo!
SP: Can we hope for future books featuring Estella and her family? What’s coming up next from you?
AG: Well right now, I’m working on the third book in my grown-up Brenna Spector series for HarperCollins. It’s called Stay With Me, and interestingly, it focuses quite a bit on Brenna’s 13-year-old daughter. I’d love to write another Estella book. I wrote Reality Ends Here with an eye towards making it a series, so here’s hoping!
SP: What books are currently sitting on your own nightstand?
AG: And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman, My Sister Life by Maria Flook. On my e-reader is Dead Housewives of New Orleans by Greg Herren, the latest book in his hilarious Paige Tourneur series. I will finish all of them as soon as I finish writing my own book! Sigh.
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