Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Behind the Scenes on 'Not a Fairy Tale' - the Vanity Fair After Party

Chapter One of Not a Fairy Tale took me longer to write than almost the rest of the book (warning: slight exaggeration).

In this chapter, actress Nina Alexander is at the Vanity Fair Oscar after party, doing her best to keep smiling after losing out on the Best Supporting Actress award, when she meets Dominic Kelly, the stuntman who worked on her previous film, Pirate's Revenge (in my book To Catch a Star). One rejected proposal and one wardrobe malfunction later, and Dom steps in to rescue her from utter humiliation. Cue the start of their romance...

Since this chapter is set at a very real and very famous event, I had to make sure I got the details right. So in the interest of accuracy, I spent a LOT of hours watching footage and sifting through images of celebrities on the red carpet.

Vanity Fair's star-studded party on Oscar night has been the hottest ticket in town since 1994. People have been known to offer up their first born to get their grubby paws on a ticket (okay, another slight exaggeration. I hope.) In 2009 the venue moved from Morton's, the restaurant of choice for Hollywood's power players, to The Terrace at Sunset Tower Hotel.

Cameras and cell phones are banned inside the party (only the official VF cameramen are allowed to take pictures) so it was hard to piece together the layout of the venue, how the security works (which I uncovered thanks to a Gawker paparazzo who blogged about how he sneaked into a previous year's party), protocols, what food they serve...  No sooner did I have a handle on it, then Vanity Fair announced the 2014 party would be in a completely different venue to accommodate the growing guest list.
I had to start all over again.

The new party venue was a custom-built structure raised in the car park at Sunset Plaza, consisting of three main areas: a dining room where dinner was served during a live screening of the Awards ceremony (exclusive to only a very limited number of guests), the main party venue, and an outdoor terrace overlooking the city where guests could get a breath of fresh air.

As an added bonus, in the car park out back late night revellers who felt peckish could grab a bite from the In-N-Out burger truck or the Nespresso food truck. (All free of course, because how could you possibly expect the world's wealthiest celebrities to pay for anything?!)

And then I got really lucky: Vanity Fair posted a video detailing the entire erection of the custom built venue, interviews with the architect, designer, chef... even glimpses of the menu being prepared.

You can watch the video here:

One of my favourite fun facts I uncovered researching this chapter was the hierarchy of admissions. VF's invitations carry a strict admittance time, and only Oscar nominees can get away with defying their allotted arrival time. The earlier your arrival time, the higher ranked you are. Those who crack an invitation to dinner are highly privileged, those whose invitations are for after midnight (when the press photographers flocked outside are too tired and disinterested in taking your picture) either haven't made it yet or are past their sell-by date.

If you enjoy Hollywood glamour, check out this reporter's half hour window on the party to end all parties, the designer's gallery, and the official Vanity Fair slideshow.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Behind the Scenes of 'Not a Fairy Tale' - Point Dume

Not a Fairy Tale is a summery, beach-filled story, set in California. Among the (many) beaches featured in the book, the most magical is Point Dume, one of California's most pristine beaches, and in spite of its proximity to Los Angeles not usually crowded with people - a perfect place to get away from the rat race.

This is the place Dominic Kelly helps beleaguered actress Nina Alexander escape to after her embarrassing Oscar night, and it features in a few other scenes too.


Would you want to walk these stairs in three inch heels (and what's left of a couture ball gown)? Nina does...


And this is the setting for the final scene of the book:

Courtesy of Brent D Imagery

For more glimpses into the magical places (and pretty people) that inspired Not a Fairy Tale, you can check out my board on Pinterest:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Behind the Scenes of 'Not a Fairy Tale' - Venice Beach Setting

Over the next few weeks, as I attempt to subdue the anxious flutter in my stomach every time I think of attending the RWA conference and the RITA® Awards ceremony in San Diego in July, I'll be sharing some of the Behind the Scenes information of my Rita-nominated book, Not a Fairy Tale.

The next few posts will cover some of the magical settings of this novel.

Dom's House in Venice Beach

Stunt coordinator Dominic Kelly's house in Venice Beach, LA is the primary setting for the book. This is the place where two commitment-phobic people are forced to live in each other's space. It also gave me the perfect excuse to go house hunting in California!

Dom's house is a stone's throw from the beach, on a quiet walk street.

Image courtesy of 

The 1930s Craftsman bungalow surprises actress Nina Alexander by being homelier than she expected, note the typical bachelor pad she'd associated Dom with.

Image courtesy of Westside Luxe Living

Dom might not seem like much of a family man to the women he seduces, but he's part of a big extended family, the spoiled younger brother to four older sisters, with nieces and nephews who treat Uncle Dom's house like their home away from home.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and I loved the stained glass touches.

Oops - attribution unknown (if this is yours, please let me know)

Nina's guest bedroom features a four poster bed, and a wall filled with posters of some of the films Dom has worked on in his lengthy career.

Image courtesy of

The garden even features a private sun trap patio where Nina loves to unwind after a hectic day of training with Dom.

Image courtesy of Bulldog Realtors

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Behind the Scenes of 'Not a Fairy Tale' - Nina's movie career

Over the next few weeks, as I attempt to subdue the anxious flutter in my stomach every time I think of attending the RWA conference and the RITA® Awards ceremony in San Diego in July, I'll be sharing some of the Behind the Scenes information of my Rita-nominated book, Not a Fairy Tale.

Before I start writing any book, I tend to spend a good deal of time sketching out my characters' back stories. Most of this never makes it into the novel, but knowing my characters inside out helps me to write them with more depth.

Much of Nina's career is alluded to in Not a Fairy Tale, but to get a better idea of the kind of roles she played before she met Dom, and why she wants to re-invent herself, here's a run down of Nina's life before the book starts.

Nina Alexander's Career

Straight after school, Nina headed to Hollywood where she struggled through menial jobs to pay for acting classes, and lived in a tiny apartment with creaking pipes and damp walls. Her lucky break came with a sitcom about two sisters along the lines of What I Like about You which starred Jennie Garth and Amanda Bynes as sisters.

By the time the show folded four seasons later, Nina had bought herself a condo in West Hollywood (where she still lives) and her career was established. This was followed by a succession of romantic comedies - think Mila Kunis in Friends with Benefits or Natalie Portman in No Strings Attached... or Pirate's Revenge, the movie Nina filmed in Westerwald and the Carribean during my previous book, To Catch a Star.

But Nina wants to be more than a Romcom star. She wants to be seen as something more than the ditsy love interest. She even manages a few more serious roles - as Meryl Streep's daughter in an ensemble film, and the role that brings her close to winning the famous Oscar statuette at the beginning of Not a Fairy Tale, a role perhaps like Anna Kendrick's Oscar-nominated performance in Up in the Air.

In spite of these roles, the scripts she is usually sent are more of the same. More ditsy romantic roles, or second billing to the movie's real stars. And then along comes a role that isn't just different from what she's done before, it's personal - the lead role of Sonia Fairchild in a movie version of Revelations, the trilogy that got Nina through the toughest time of her life and helped her re-invent herself the first time. Sonia is a kickass woman who single-handedly saves the world - like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games or Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.

Nina wants this role more than any other. She's a determined woman, willing to do anything to win this role, even suffer through weeks of training with a stunt coordinator so she can do the stunts herself.

But when push comes to shove, is Nina really willing to do anything to become Sonia? And with her special training and the new contacts she makes through Dom, will she be able to keep both the role and a future with Dom? Read Not a Fairy Tale to find out....

Find out more about this book here.

"It was sweet, sexy, fun and had just the right amount of angst thrown in to stir things up." - Book Binge