The Godmother by Shamron Moore
I really wish Jacqueline Susann was still around; I would love to thank her. The legendary novelist died well before I was born, but it was because of her breakthrough novel, Valley of the Dolls, that Hollywood Strip was born…which beget my latest, Beyond Hollywood Strip.
I first read Dolls four-and-a-half years ago. I’m a fan of the movie starring one of my all-time favorite beauties, Sharon Tate, and figured I may as well check out the book. What was surprising about the novel was what a sedate read it was, with a melancholic undercurrent, and quite dissimilar to the campy film. As I flipped through the pages, I could smell the desperation permeating out of the characters’ pores. Susann didn’t just pen a tale of three young, glamorous women–where would be the fun in that? No, she gave us a twist: she incorporated promiscuity, substance abuse, abortion, suicide, and plastic surgery into the mix. These were shocking subjects for 1966 and Susann struck a nerve; the public devoured the book fervently. What’s ironic is these same issues are just as relevant now, nearly forty years later, as they were then, which leads me to conclude the following: Jacqueline Susann is the Godmother of Chick Lit. Before there was Bushnell or Collins or Kinsella, there was Susann. What exactly Dolls stirred in me–was it the scandalousness or the sexuality?–I’m not altogether sure. Perhaps some of Jennifer, Anne, and Neely’s escapades reminded me a little of my own. Maybe I was drawn to the duality, the combination of sadness and sensationalism. Or could it be I was intrigued with the author herself? Susann and I had similar circumstances; both only children, we had pursued acting in our twenties and rejected more simple, planned-out lives. Whatever the reasoning, a lightbulb in my head had flickered on, and I knew I had to write my own book. Never mind I knew nada about writing books; I was fine with learning as I went along. After all, the Godmother hadn’t ever been published before the release of her debut novel, Every Night, Josephine! I didn’t so much as have a magazine article to my name, not even an obituary credit. A true literary virgin I was in every sense. But no matter; if Jackie could make it work, so could I.
Without Dolls, it’s doubtful I would have found the inspiration to compose Hollywood Strip, let alone Beyond Hollywood Strip (the latter’s cover is an homage to Dolls even). Something or someone eventually would have compelled me to create a project I was equally passionate about, I’m sure, but it’s safe to say I would be in a completely different place, possibly in a different field, without the Godmother’s influence. And, as I’m really enjoying this current stage, my hat goes off to her.
The chronicles of Callie Lambert are loosely based on author Shamron Moore’s real life experiences as an actress and model. Shamron left her home state of Michigan to pursue the excitement of Los Angeles. She has appeared in numerous commercials, television shows and feature films. FHM named her one of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World. Nowadays, she prefers to focus on writing, one of her lifelong passions. Beyond Hollywood Strip is her second novel. Learn more and order your own copy here.
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