Interview with Amanda Goldberg & Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper

Beneath a Starlet SkyJen: We are excited to have Amanda Goldberg & Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper as our guests this week. Amanda & Ruthanna, will you please share a short bio with us?
Amanda & Ruthanna:  We’re writers living in Los Angeles.  We had the good fortune of having our first book Celebutantes reach the New York Times Best Seller List in 2008.  We’ve been working since then on our current book, Beneath a Starlet Sky.

Jen: Tell us about Beneath a Starlet Sky and where it can be purchased.

Amanda & Ruthanna: Our new book is a follow up to our first book, Celebutantes.  We take our characters on a journey to the Cannes Festival where our main character, Lola is launching a bridal line.  Lola Santisi — CEO of a struggling fashion line, reformed actorholic and daughter of Hollywood royalty — is now not only bicoastal, she’s bi-lolar: the condition which causes her to swing like a pendulum between the opposing poles of the fashion world in New York and the real world with her doctor boyfriend in Los Angeles.  She’s looking to get her next big break (and to find herself while she’s at it) while launching Julian Tennant’s new dress line at the Cannes Film Festival.  The book can be purchased at Amzon, MacMillian and most major books stores.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Amanda & Ruthanna: Wer’re at @AStarletSky and Twitter and http://www.facebook.com/beneathastarletsky.  Check out the trailers Mc G directed for our first book on our Facebook page.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Amanda & Ruthanna:  What are you reading right now?  Who are your favorite contemporary authors?

Jen: If Beneath a Starlet Sky was made into a movie, which actors would you cast as the main characters?
Amanda & Ruthanna: Kate Hudson as the protagonist, Lola, Goldie Hawn as Lola’s mother Blanca, Alec Baldwin as Lola’s father Paulie, Emily Blunt as Kate and Kirsten Dunst as Cricket.  Paul Rudd as Lola’s boyfriend Lev and Ryan Goessling as Lola’s brother, Christopher.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?

Amanda & Ruthanna:  We were originally inspired with our first book, Celebutantes, by Plum Sykes’ book Bergdorf BlondesCelebutantes was sort of West Coast response to that New York world.  We felt like New York has Bergdorf Blondes, The Nanny Diaries, Sex and the City and we were amazed that Hollywood hadn’t really been captured.  So we set out to do a kind of satire on Hollywood from the perspective of our protagonist Lola, who’s Hollywood royalty without a kingdom, or even a condo, to call her own.  And with the new book, Beneath a Starlet Sky, Lola is torn between several worlds: her Hollywood roots, and the New York fashion world.  Not to mention her doctor boyfriend (Lola’s a recovered actorholic — she’s suffered from a near fatal addiction to dating actors) who comes from another world entirely — one that has nothing to do with Hollywood or the fashion world and which she’d like very much to disappear into.  So she’s not totally sure where she belongs.  Or where she’d like to belong.  On the one hand she’d like to get away from her crazy parents and Hollywood.  On the other hand, she’s not sure how to shake her roots.  She’s having her own version of an identity crisis.  And she’s hoping to land on her own two feet by the end of the book (in Louboutin’s or Croc’s or barefoot for that matter).

Jen: What’s next for you?

Amanda & Ruthanna: Eagerly anticipating the release of Beneath a Starlet Sky is our current preoccupation and as far as we can see at the moment!

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Amanda & Ruthanna: We were first published in 2008 when our book Celebutantes was released by St. Martins Press.  Ruthanna:  My grandfather handed me a journal as a young girl and writing became a way of navigating through life for me at a very young age.  I started by writing poetry and didn’t come to prose until I met Amanda and we took the plunge together.  Amanda:  I always loved reading and was an English Lit major in college, but never dreamed I could actually write for a living until I met Ruthanna.

Jen: How do your families feel about your career?

Amanda & Ruthanna:  Our families are hugely supportive of our writing.  In fact, Leonard (Amanda’s father) read every draft of our first book and gave copious notes.  He’s a great storyteller and told us when things were working and when they weren’t.  He was a great teacher to us.  We feel very grateful for the wonderful support of our families have given us.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.

Amanda & Ruthanna:   Fun, Fun and (hopefully sometimes) Funny

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Amanda & Ruthanna:  We definitely plot.  Once we get the plot down in outline form, then there’s room for spontaneity and going with the flow.  We pass our work back and forth between each other, layering and building until we’re happy with a scene.  We do this until we reach those glorious words — The End.

Jen: What are your biggest motivations to write? What keeps you going?

Amanda & Ruthanna: Each other.  When you have a writing partner you have to show up for, there’s not getting around it.  You’ve got to sit down, buckle up and get the work done.  Even when you’d like to run for the hills and throw in the towel — you’re responsible to another person who’s depending on you and who you want to do good work for.  In a way, it gives you as a writer an immediate audience.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?

Amanda & Ruthanna:  We’ve both had the opportunity to go to Cannes (much of the book is set gearing up for and going to the Cannes Film Festival), so we drew upon our experience and memory of the place.  As unromantic as it sounds, the Internet always helps!!!

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?

Amanda & Ruthanna: We can’t discriminate between our three girls.  We love them all: Lola’s big heart, Kate’s intelligence and Cricket’s determination — and of course, their friendship is the thread.  Lola’s mother, Blanca, and the reality show she stars in, “Wristwatch Wives”, was also great fun to write.  She’s a funny and complex character.  And we love-to-love Lola’s doctor boyfriend, Lev.  We rooted from the sidelines for their love story as we wrote it.

Jen: Readers, Amanda and Ruthanna are giving away 2 print copies of the book to two lucky winners.  Due to shipping costs, this contest is only open to US/Canada residents only.  To enter, you must first leave a question or comment for the ladies.  Then to finish your entry, you need to leave your email address in your comment or send a message to admin.bookblog@gmail.com.  The winners will be chosen on Sunday, May 1.

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