Conversation Piece, On Writing a Hollywood Novel: A Chat in two parts with Vickie Lester and George Kaplan

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As You all know – and if you don’t, where’ve ya been?! – Ms Lester’s magnum opus, It’s In His Kiss was recently published/launched as an ebook and to mark that event she has been kind enough to agree to me grilling her like a T-bone – or if you’re vegetarian a cheese sandwich! (Um, and if you’re a vegan you can substitute an, uh, kumquat? Mmm, grilled kumquat it’s delicious… So I’m told…)

Hello, Vickie, and well done on your voyage into the world of self-publishing! What you have accomplished already this year is pretty astonishing, and I hate to be obvious but It’s In His Kiss is a fantastically entertaining, gleefully witty, and sometimes surprisingly touching novel.


Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start): You’ve lived in California, near the Dream Factory for most of your life. Hollywood is in your blood, so to speak. You’ve been in and around the industry for over three decades, is that right?

Aren’t you delicious! Are you implying I’m merely thirty-five? Well, I’m going with it, yes. That is right.


In writing IIHK did you make a conscious attempt to weave people, places, events you had experience with or had heard of into the novel in a fictionalized manner or did it happen naturally as part of the process?

Usually my stories begin with an image presenting itself in my mind. I tap a description of that image (or series of images) into my computer. The first image I had in relation to It’s in His Kiss was more of a memory. I was thinking about being ten or eleven and flying out to California from New York. It was a time when planes were spacious and even contained sitting rooms, or lounges. I remember the pilot announcing we were cruising above the Rocky Mountains and I recall walking through the plane to the sitting room in the back and planting myself on an orange and brown upholstered bench (very Mad Men) by the window and looking at something like my big brother’s topographical map (only 3D) spread below. It was very impressive.

So, the first impulse in the book came from memory, and a distinct place. As for the events, they were governed by the plot, but a few incidents are based on fact…hold on…a lot of the incidents were based on fact. The more I think of it I wasn’t conscious of overtly basing any of the characters on anyone I knew; it was only when I finished writing the novel that I realized there was a close resemblance; Bob Brown, the heroine’s father was a lot like my dad. In the end, maybe we all do write what we know, twisted and embellished, but what we know…


There’s a certain illicit thrill in trying to determine which elements are wholly fictional and which inspired by real people and situations. I get the feeling you had a lot of fun blending fiction and reality and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the more outlandish aspects were true! Did you have a lot of fun with it?

I had a blast writing the book. I think I’ve mentioned this before but, I love writing. I must get some kind of serotonin jolt from it—for me it’s a pleasure. As I was writing I can’t deny I knew some of the fun in reading it would be trying to figure out who I was talking about… As for outlandish behavior? Well, we all know it’s not confined to Hollywood, but those are the stories I was familiar with. The chicken-hawking leading men, the multiple facelifts, the lavender marriages, why, I could write a book 😉 .

 
I must admit to laughing a great deal throughout, you did a wonderful job but what makes your work all the more effective is that even the most comedic moments have a reality to them no matter how absurd while the more serious side to the book is never compromised. Was the balance of humor and emotion hard to achieve?

I was concerned about that because I tend to be a little flippant in real life. I didn’t want that to translate to the page. I’m glad you found it balanced. 

To be concluded at noon, when we talk about writing sex, an ear for dialogue, and favorite books…

13 comments

    • Even better than writing about sex was finding the Gloria Swanson picture that “evokes” writing about sex… You’ll see! And thank you very much, George, for conducting the interview!

  1. Heather in Arles

    Oh hurrah!!! What a lovely surprise and a real treat featuring not only two of my very people on the “internets” but a fascinating dive into the process of what became a truly excellent novel. My imaginary hat off to you both and I will await the sequel (s?) with baited breathe…
    Sending Gros Bisous to you both,
    H

  2. Pingback: From Whence Novels Do Come - Unvarnished Vickie Lester | Tinseltown Times

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