Title: Girl About Town
Authors: Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: Acclaimed film producer/director Adam Shankman and coauthor Laura Sullivan pen a sparkling, witty, romantic mystery inspired by Nick and Nora Charles and Hollywood glamour.
Not too long ago, Lucille O’Malley was living in a tenement in New York. Now she’s Lulu Kelly, Hollywood’s newest It Girl. She may be a star, but she worries that her past will catch up with her. Back in New York she witnessed a Mafia murder, and this glamorous new life in Tinseltown is payment for her silence.
Dashing Freddie van der Waals, the only son of a New York tycoon, was a playboy with the world at his feet. But when he discovered how his corrupt father really made the family fortune, Freddie abandoned his billions and became a vagabond. He travels the country in search of redemption and a new identity, but his father will stop at nothing to bring him home.
When fate brings Lulu and Freddie together, sparks fly—and gunshots follow. Suddenly Lulu finds herself framed for attempted murder. Together, she and Freddie set out to clear her name. But can they escape their pasts and finally find the Hollywood ending they long for?
Laura L. Sullivan
What was your inspiration for Girl About Town?
Adam and I had been working on another project, and the subject of old Hollywood came up. We realized we both loved movies from the 1930s, and started talking about some of our favorites, the Thin Man series, which follow the adventures of Nick and Nora Charles. She’s a wealthy socialite, he’s a working class detective, and they have the most beautiful, bantering relationship. Adam and I started playing with the idea of doing a YA spin on that kind of couple… and Lulu and Freddie of Girl About Town were the result.
I am such a big fan of historical fiction… what kind of research did you do for Girl About Town?
Adam and I did tons of research. He, of course, already knew a lot about the Golden Age of Hollywood, and has been involved in modern Hollywood all his life. I knew a fair amount because I’ve seen so many 1930s movies, but I still had a lot of research to do. The most fun for me was researching the fashion and the food. I found several web sites with menus from the era, and it was always fun to craft a meal or snack in a scene. Even though food isn’t integral to the story, those are the kinds of little details that make a historical novel feel authentic.
What is your favorite quote from the book?
On a character choosing whether to be rich or famous:
“Pick rich…. Fame costs too much.”
And also the last line, but it is a bit of a spoiler, so I won’t reveal it.
What is one thing you have learned while writing your first book?
Well, this is my sixth published novel, but my first collaboration, so this was a completely new experience for me. I learned that I really enjoy having a writing partner! We motivate each other, play with ideas, keep each other on our toes… it is great! Adam is a joy to work with.
What do you always have with you when you are writing?
I’m a minimalist! I need quiet and solitude, but beyond that I don’t have any writing fetishes. Just me and my laptop. Oh, and sometimes coffee. Or black coffee with unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a dash of red pepper. I can get about 2,000 words out that concoction!
When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I guess I’ve always fantasized about being able to write, or being a writer, but it never occurred to me that it was going to happen. I have a long-standing adversarial relationship to the blank page. However, I also thought I’d never be a dancer, a choreographer, a producer or director, so everything I’ve done, I never considered, but always fantasized about in a different way than being a, say, professional surfer. Yes, that’s something that has probably gone the way of being a pro gymnast as well. Ain’t never gonna happen. But it’s nice to dream… Anyway, I ended up getting pushed into this by Laura (Sullivan) who just kept saying I could do it. She’s helped me a lot. Knowing that I had a partner to catch me if I fell made all the difference. Also, I think she never really knew how insane and basically unreal the whole thing felt for me. She just kept expecting me to do my part of the writing, and so I did. I’m still weirded out by it. Maybe always will be.
If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be?
Oh my gosh! If I could meet an author? Hmmm… I’ve met a lot of writers. Some biggies. But I for sure missed my era, which was the jazz age, so Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein… that crew knew how to live. Oh my God, the music and art scenes. That would be my time machine pick. One hundred percent.
What song do you feel like best describes Girl About Town?
I listened to music from the early 1930s while I was writing this book, so immediately I thought of the songs “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Begin the Beguine,” but that’s because those were songs the characters were listening to. But if I had to think of a current song, I think Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” would describe both Lulu and Freddie’s journeys of reinventing themselves and opening up to one another in a world neither of them finds to be particularly safe. They definitely are writing their own stories day by day.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I read mostly biographies. I just reread The Berlin Diaries by Marie Vassiltchikov. You have no idea how much I want to make that into a movie.
What are five random facts that most people don’t know about you?
A) I’m a classic Sagittarius meaning that every single horoscope basically makes me mutter: that is soooo true.
B) My first 2 dogs were both white German shepherds and they were both named Heidi.
C) My first concert that I went to without my parents was David Bowie.
D) I took dance classes with Madonna in NY at the Pineapple Dance Studios and she for sure doesn’t remember me. I’ve since had dinner with her and didn’t bring it up.
E) My first professional acting role was in West Side Story at an opera company in Detroit and I played a Jet named Geetar. If I recall correctly, my only line was “gold tooth!”
Meet The Authors
Adam Michael Shankman is an American film director, producer, dancer, author, actor, and choreographer. He was a judge on the television program So You Think You Can Dance on seasons 3-10. He began his professional career in musical theater, and was a dancer in music videos for Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson. Shankman has choreographed dozens of films and has also directed several feature-length box office hits, including A Walk to Remember, Bringing Down the House, The Pacifier and the 2007 remake of Hairspray.
His company, Offspring Entertainment, (which he co-owns with his sister) produces film and television for various studios and networks. Shankman is also currently co-writing Young Adult novels for Simon & Schuster imprint, Atheneum Books for Young Readers. The books, co-written with author Laura Lee Sullivan, follow the story of rags to riches Lucille O’ Malley, as she becomes Hollywood’s “it girl” navigating a murder mystery and meeting her match Frederick van der Waals.
Laura L. Sullivan is a former newspaper editor, biologist, social worker, and deputy sheriff who writes because storytelling is the easiest way to do everything in the world. She lives on the Florida coast, but her heart is in England.
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