Jules Asner, former model and television reporter on the E! Entertainment Channel, sat down and answered a few questions for me. Her new book, WHACKED, was recently released and has Hollywood buzzing for sure. Read on to see why...
BookBitch: After modeling, then working on television, what made you decide to do something as solitary as writing a book? Did you enjoy the process?
Jules Asner: I always wrote for work...first as a producer at Hard Copy, Extra and at Reuters. I always hoped I would write a novel one day, but I was always too busy with work and traveling all over the place. I guess I was one of those people who 'thought I had it all in my head' and could just sit down and have it pour out of me but It was a tough process. I knew the beginning of the story, but I never knew the best way for it all to come together. When I finally figured that out, finishing was a blast.
BB: How long were you working on this book? What's your typical writing day like?
Asner: I would say I worked on the book for a couple of years...not consistently, and I sold the book to Harvey Weinstein three years ago. He was in the process of making the transition out of Miramax and he wanted to wait and release the book as part of the his new imprint, Weinstein Co. Books....so that took some time. I started off writing in coffee shops and hotels (I was traveling a lot with Steven at the time because he was shooting Ocean's 12) When I'm home in New York I work out of a writing space on 14th street called Paragraph, that's great.
BB: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are some of your favorite books, and why? How about favorite films?
Asner: I love reading all sorts of books...I love Jackie Collins (I think I've read everything she's ever written) and she's always been so great to me.
I also love Bruce Wagner, AM Homes and Walter Kirn. One of my favorite books I've read was given to me by my friend Walter Donohue, who's an editor at Faber in the UK. 'The Black Englishman' by Carolyn Slaughter. She decided to research the life of her grandmother, who traveled to India in search of love and ended up in an insane asylum. It has one of my favorite dedications, "For my Grandmother, no more sad endings"
BB: In these days of belt tightening, especially in the publishing industry, are you touring at all? If so, what's that experience been like?
Asner: We decided not to do a book tour...which I was fine with. I think a lot of authors really want to 'get up there' and have an audience to read to, but not me. I did a signing at the Book Expo in May and then did readings and signings in New York and Los Angeles.
BB: WHACKED is not your typical chick-lit read by any stretch of the imagination, yet it certainly starts out that way - until you redefined the "surprise ending!" Was it always your intention to veer off onto such a dark and twisted road?
Asner: As I mentioned a couple of questions back, I never really knew where it was going to go. When I finally figured it out I was like 'Of course!' knowing it was the right way to end it...and while unconventional, I think Dani does get her happy ending. I was watching a lot of 'The Sopranos' when I was on the second half of the book and I thought it was interesting that we all loved Tony Soprano on the show, even knowing who he was and the terrible things he did.
BB: Did you tell your husband [director Steven Soderbergh] that you were planning on using him in the book, or did you surprise him? Did he enjoy becoming a character?
Asner: Many parts of the book are based on a real life break up I had with a cheating ex....the story of him telling me about the actress working with two big named directors is a real conversation we had and I wanted to change the names because then anyone could just imdb her and figure out who it was.
I just slotted in Steven's name because the real director is someone who's very well regarded. Steven said to me that I should just leave the real guy, but I didn't want to...I find it funny that so many people have mentioned in interviews that I 'wrote about my real husband'...it's literally one or two sentences.
BB: Was the idea of making this book into a movie in the back of your head as you were writing? Are there any plans for a film in the works? You do have some connections in that industry...
Asner: I didn't really think about the book being made into a movie while I was writing. Some people have brought it up now that it's out and being read, but I don't know. I guess I always thought of it as a TV series more than a movie...I could see that being fun to watch.
BB: Speaking of connections, are you finding that friends are now offering you all sorts of story ideas? Telling you their crazy TV/film industry work-related stories?
Asner: Sadly, I'm one of those people that crazy stuff happens to. Sometimes people tell me crazy stories about working in Hollywood, but I haven't used any of them so far. I hear a lot of really terrible dating stories that are just so depressing.
BB: Was this a one shot deal or are you planning (or currently working) on another book? Is a sequel a possibility?
Asner: I've been working for the last year on my second novel. It's about a murder in Hollywood...and so far this process has been easier for me than 'Whacked.' People have been asking in the last month if I'm going to do a follow up novel to see what happens to Dani...It had never crossed my mind, but we'll see.
BB: Besides a great story, what do you want people to take away after reading your book about the real Hollywood landscape?
Asner: I think what I would most like people to take away from the book is an understanding of the main character, Dani. She's flawed and does bad things, but I hope the reader understands how she got to the place and is still rooting for her. I know I do.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Posted by BookBitch at 7/11/2008 07:05:00 AM