Today I’m excited to share an excerpt of Rachel Stuhler’s novel Absolutely True Lies and a fun interview with the author! Read on to learn more about Rachel from her favorite book, her ideal celebrity cast for her novel, to the one thing she’s sadly allergic to. Don’t forget to check out her novel and get yourself a copy! Thank you to Chick Lit Plus for letting me be in on the excitement and the blog tour and thank you to Rachel for being on the blog today!
Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler
A fledgling entertainment writer stumbles into the gig of a lifetime writing a teenage pop star’s memoir and soon realizes that the young celebrity’s squeaky-clean image is purely a work of fiction.
Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.
Holly quickly realizes that Daisy’s wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.
As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats “nightshades” and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown—and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.
Fun, juicy, and inspired by Rachel Stuhler’s own stranger-than-fiction experiences as a celebrity ghost writer, Absolutely True Lies is an entertaining look at how the lifestyles of the rich and famous aren’t always what they seem.
Interview with Rachel Stuhler
Rachel Stuhler grew up in Rochester, NY, so obsessed with movies and books that she spent as little time as possible in the real world. In her late teens, this obsession led her first to New York as a terrible production assistant and then to Los Angeles, where she spent four years working as a script supervisor (and pining after writing jobs) until one day an actor told her, “If you think you can do it better yourself, just do it.”
Within a year, Rachel had sold TV movies to Lifetime and Hallmark and because she doesn’t know when to quit, began dreaming of writing a novel. After forcing countless crew members, family, and friends to read manuscripts, Rachel came to write Absolutely True Lies. She continues to work on TV movies and plot her next move in world domination, or writing about world domination, which is more fun and a lot less work.
1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
Hi! I’m Rachel Stuhler, and I’m an author/screenwriter and the mom of a very small and adorably loud toddler.
2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?
Absolutely True Lies follows Holly Gracin, a fledgling writer who loses her job at a third-rate entertainment magazine. She considers giving up and moving back home until she “lucks” into ghostwriting the autobiography of Nickelodeon star Daisy Mae Dixson. Holly’s supposed to write a sweet, saccharine portrait but quickly discovers that Daisy is nothing like her on-screen persona. What ensues is a wild ride through the world of the glitterati and how Hollywood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I’ve worked in the film industry since I was 19, and through various roles before becoming a writer. I did work for a time as a ghostwriter and found it wasn’t my favorite job. The inspiration for my novel was pure frustration on a particularly hard job and my family’s inability to understand my troubles. Hollywood can be one odd little burgh and I wanted to make it a little less mysterious.
3. How long did it take you to write Absolutely True Lies? What is your writing process like?
My writing times are wildly different. This book only took a couple of months to first draft, but there was so much thought behind it, the pages just poured out of me. My current one will take (and is taking) much longer.
I write Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, and that’s it. As I said, I’m a mom and I don’t want my work to intrude on my child’s time. But I work faster or slower depending on the speed things are needed. If I have the time, I like to let my imagination run crazy. If there’s a deadline, I guess my brain works faster!
4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
Not a whole lot! I will say that it’s different than Absolutely True Lies in that it’s not a comedy and it’s a period piece, though parts of it do take place in Italy (I clearly have an obsession with Italy).
5. If you were given an offer to turn Absolutely True Lies into a movie, who would you want to see playing the roles of Holly, Daisy, Vaughn, and Ben?
I always imagined Holly as Anna Kendrick and initially thought of Daisy as a Bella Thorne-type, but there’s a great site called Iflist where people can write in their dream casting and someone suggested Amandla Sternberg. The second I saw that, I thought, oooh, perfect! As for the men, I like the thought of Jensen Ackles for Ben and soap star Zach Roerig as Vaughn.
6. Did you always want to be a writer?
Always. I was five years old when I decided I wanted to write books and seven when I started writing poetry. All I ever wanted to do was tell stories.
7. What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an author?
I’ve thought about this a lot, but I have no idea. I’m not really trained to do anything else.
8. If you could be plopped down into any book, which one would it be?
Harry Potter, all the way. Assuming I was a witch, that is. I love that universe and I could spend days in Diagon Alley.
9. What are the things you can’t live without in your kitchen?
Cast iron skillet. Once we got ours well seasoned, we started to wonder why we ever used anything else. My blender, because I’m always making smoothies or blended coffee drinks. And a good broom, because I have a toddler and meal time is pretty hairy.
10. If you could plan the perfect holiday, what would it be?
Christmas in a chalet somewhere, a giant tree that sparkles like a star, with tons of family around and lots of Christmas carols. I’m pretty Christmas-obsessed!
11. Do you have any pet peeves?
Inconsiderate neighbors. Part of city living is being very close to your neighbors and we’re a quiet family. But you can’t ask your neighbors to be quiet talkers.
12. A few of your favorites…
Favorite scent? Fresh cut grass
Favorite color? Gold!
Favorite food? Pasta with marina sauce
Favorite word? Yes!
Favorite song? September. Earth, Wind and Fire
Favorite book? Oh, God, I can’t choose just once! Harry Potter, Mrs. Dalloway, One Hundred Years of Solitude… Hold on! I have 30 more!
Favorite vacation spot? I’m obsessed with London.
Favorite time period in history? The Suffrage Movement.
Favorite drink of choice? Iced tea.
Favorite celebrity crush? Michael Fassbender. He’s pretty foxy – and really talented.
13. Either or…
Dogs or cats? I’m allergic to both! I wish I could get to know any pups and kitties to find out.
Red wine or white? White, as sweet as you can give it to me.
Coffee or tea? Tea.
Summer or Winter? Winter. Pile up the snow!
Sleep in or get up early? Sleep in. My natural sleep schedule is 2am to 10am. But try telling that to my toddler.
Apple or PC? Apple, because my husband prefers it. My computer wants are pretty simple.
Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler: Excerpt
By 1:00 a.m., Camille and I were staggering out of the bar at the Chateau Marmont, where, if I hadn’t been drunk off my ass, I might have sworn that we were standing about twenty feet away from Adele. I could have just walked up and talked to her if I’d really wanted to be sure, but you learn quickly to ignore the celebrities in their natural habitats. That, and I’m just too chicken. It’s probably why, after four years, I didn’t have a single really juicy celebrity story.
Cam and I stumbled out onto Sunset Boulevard and got all the way to the curb before it occurred to either of us that we hadn’t called a cab. She pulled out her phone and loaded Uber, squinting at the swirling cars in the area. It’s one of the perks of living in a big city that you can find a local cab in the middle of the night just by pressing a few buttons. At least, you can on a smartphone. Mine only makes phone calls and you have to press the two halves together tightly to get that to happen.
“Do we pay more for a taxi or use UberX? I’m sure there are lots of people out tonight looking for a few extra bucks.”
“Taxi. I’m not getting in some rando’s car.” I couldn’t help but think how many torture porn movies start just this way, two girls alone on dark street, climbing into an anonymous car. Not that Sunset is ever particularly dark or empty, even in the middle of the night.
“Shit,” Camille said, rubbing her eye tiredly and smearing eyeliner down her face. “I told Donovan I’d be home by midnight at the latest.”
Donovan is Camille’s fake producer/poser/live-in boyfriend. He’s forty-two, his real name is Donnie, and the only thing he’s produced in the last ten years is a tuna fish sandwich. But like most people in L.A., he’s always got some “big project” in the works and wants toattach me as the writer. Every few months, he corners me in their apartment and tells me about what he’s supposedly working on, and each time, the roster of producers and so-called investors changes. I’m never sure if these are guys he met down at the Laundromat or if he’s just randomly picking names off the Internet. And though Cam refuses to believe it, Donovan’s been trying to knock her up for the last year, just so he knows he’ll never be alone. The guy’s a real winner.
“Oh, what does he care? He’s just on the couch watching infomercials and eating Hershey’s miniatures.” The man has an unnatural obsession with child-size bars of chocolate.
“He doesn’t like to be alone at night,” Camille whined, sympathy creeping into her tone. “And you know Donovan’s had a lot of trouble with his weight the last couple years. He says he feels more in control of his snacking with the miniatures.”
“He’s not in control if he’s eating the whole bag,” I replied, leaning on a streetlamp to keep from falling off the curb.
“I know, I know,” she said, shaking her head with a level of empathy I couldn’t understand. “It’s just that the financing on his latest project fell apart and he’s very depressed. He says we can’t afford to get engaged this year because he just doesn’t have the money for a ring. Like I care about a stupid diamond.”
They’ve been together for five years. Every year he tells her they can’t afford to get engaged, even though Camille makes well over a hundred grand. Usually I can keep my opinion of that bottom-feeder to myself, but on this night, I was too far into Jäger country to keep my mouth shut.
“What is it with you and that loser? There are, like, four million eligible men in Los Angeles and you can’t get away from a guy who thinks leather pants are appropriate funeral attire.” Understandably, this riled her up a bit. “Four million eligible men? This from the woman who hasn’t gotten laid since Obama’s first term? Where are all these eligible men? Huh?”
She had me there. I paused for a moment and put on my most serious, contemplative expression. “Well… I’m sure they must be around here somewhere.” I turned my head to the right and left, but all I saw were similarly inebriated Angelenos leaving the bars and clubs, most of them laughing or shouting obnoxiously. It wasn’t doing much for my cause. “If you’ll just give me a minute, I’ll find one for you.”
I spun around just in time to see a forty-year-old guy with slicked back, thinning hair pull up in a Bimmer. He lowered the passenger window and leaned over to talk to us. “Marmont’s played out for the night. Get in and I’ll take you to this after-hours in Silver Lake.”
“Is that the guy you were looking for?” Camille asked.
“Clock’s ticking, ladies.” No lie, the guy even held his wrist out and tapped the face of his watch. I think it was a Rolex, but for all I know, it was a fake—either good or bad. Fifty bucks or fifty thousand, they all look the same to me.
“No one’s getting in your car, asshole,” I told him.
Camille took things one step further, moving to kick the guy’s passenger door. As drunk as I was, I had the presence of mind top pull her back, lest she put us both on the receiving end of an arrest warrant. “And come on, loser, you’re forty! What are you doing at after-hours clubs?”
“Screw you,” Bimmer Man said. “There are plenty of hotter girls than you out tonight.” He gave us the middle finger before swerving back out into traffic.
There was a long moment as we watched him go before Camille gave me the annoyingly smug look I knew was coming. “Please, go on, Holly. You were telling me about these four million eligible men?”
“Shut up and pick a taxi.”
Check out the other blog stops on Rachel’s tour!
August 3 – The Write Teachers – Review &Q&A
August 3 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
August 4 – Chick Lit Goddess – Excerpt
August 4 – Jenn Farwell – Review & Excerpt
August 5 – Living Life With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt
August 5 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews– Review & Excerpt
August 6 – Oodles of Books – Review & Q&A
August 6 – Ai Love Books – Review & Excerpt
August 7 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review & Excerpt
August 10 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt