Welcome to Fresh Fiction! Can you tell us a little bit about CRASHING THE A-LIST and what inspired it?
So…I had this mild heart attack a few years back. (Don’t all books start like this or…?) Anyway, I was lying in the hospital, hooked up to a million machines, and I had this sort of drug-induced fever dream about Benedict Cumberbatch and storage units, and when I woke up I thought it was weird enough to write down on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it. Then I was like, “Could this be a book????” and within an hour I had an entire synopsis and half the outline done.
Clara is so awesome – I loved her sarcastic wit! Even though she’s going through a rough time after losing her job, Clara ultimately decides not to sell the info she has on super famous Caspian. How does this decision change the course of her life?
For most of the book, that decision doesn’t have a single silver lining for her. Clara is more of a Netflix and jammies gal, not so much a celebrity espionage one. She tried to do the right thing and then gets stomped on from every possible angle. And the more things go horribly wrong, the more she internalizes guilt for things that aren’t necessarily her fault. Poor Clara goes on quite the ride.
Caspian Tiddleswich, aside from having possibly the best name ever, spends a decent amount of this book being pretty horrible. What are his most redeeming qualities, and how does he get over his preconceived notions about Clara?
We don’t really get to see the “real” Caspian for most of the book. We see a man fueled by fear and anger and desperate to not be reliving the worst part of his life. But, even through this bad behavior, we see how insightful and vulnerable he is, and how kind and dedicated he is to his fans.
As for Clara, he is very good at getting an honest read on people, even if he stubbornly refuses to accept that read at first.
CiCi, Clara’s best friend, absolutely steals the show every time she’s on the page! Was she inspired by anyone in particular, and do you have a favorite CiCi scene?
Oh, CiCi, I love her so. CiCi is sort of an amalgamation of all the best parts of the friends I’ve had, although her sunflower addiction is all me!
My absolute favorite scene with CiCi is when she goes to Clara’s parent’s house for Thanksgiving, and after once showing up in a shirt with a bedazzled vagina on it and Mama Montgomery having her car towed, CiCi struts in wearing a shirt that says “MY IDEAL WEIGHT IS CHRIS EVANS ON TOP OF ME.”
This is very possibly based on a shirt I own…
Fake relationship, enemies-to-lovers, celebrity encounters… rom-com tropes abound in CRASHING THE A-LIST! Do you have a favorite trope/set-up in rom-coms? Please give examples/recommendations!
Enemies-to-lovers is my all-time favorite. I’m a sucker for it whenever I see it on the back cover.
I feel like Pride and Prejudice is the gold standard, but I have a huge personal attachment to Bridget Jones’s Diary. (Which is a P&P retelling.) The Bridget and Mark Darcy romance just does it for me.
For a more recent example, The Hating Game totally nails it, too.
To bide her time after losing her editor position, Clara takes a random job clearing out storage units (which is where she discovers the damning information about Caspian). What’s the most random job you’ve ever had?
This one is bizarre. I’d been working at a lumber yard as a cashier (it was a TINY town) and out of nowhere, they promoted me to bookkeeper. I was 17 and close to not graduating thanks to my horrible math grade. I had a sudden school event come up and asked for the day off, and the wife of the owner got pissed and said if I didn’t show up, I was fired. I had a very unnerving feeling about it all, so I took being fired.
A few short months later, that place went out of business, and they ended up getting in trouble for skimming off money to hide from taxes or something.
I am 90% convinced I was given that “promotion” to be the financial fall guy.
Rapid Fire Random Questions
Favorite animal: Owls (Although, I’ve never met a critter I didn’t SQUEE over.)
Coffee or tea: Coffee. I couldn’t have caffeine for years, but when I suddenly could, I immediately morphed into Lorelei Gilmore.
Favorite book to re-read: Bridget Jones. It’s delightful and like mac and cheese for my brain.
Beach or mountains: Beach! Give me any kind of water. Oceans, lakes, ponds. Really big puddle…
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?: Author and Actress. I don’t see the actress thing happening for me now, but if the opportunity arose, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Dream vacation: Hawaii! I’ve never been, but I’m desperate to go there and just stare at all the beautiful things.
Aside from reading and writing, what are your hobbies?: Cooking. My slow cooker and I are in a very committed relationship.
Five people you’d invite to your book club (dead, alive, fictional, etc.!): Helen Fielding, Harley Quinn, Freddie Mercury, Stan Lee, and Benedict Cumberbatch, natch.
Favorite movie: The Greatest Showman
You have a totally free afternoon – no deadlines, no obligations, no Twitter notifications! What do you do?: Sneak over to the coast, plant my feet in the sand, and read while listening to the ocean. Bliss.
Crashing the A-List
After four months of unemployment, former book editor Clara Montgomery is still stuck sleeping on her little brother’s ugly couch in Queens. Determined to keep her minuscule savings account intact, she takes a job clearing out abandoned storage units, but is in no way prepared for stumbling upon dead snakes or trying to identify exactly where the perpetual stench of beets is emanating from.
When Clara comes across a unit that was once owned by an escort service, she finds the brothel “résumé” of a younger Caspian Tiddleswich… an astonishingly famous British actor. Her best friend thinks she should sell the gossip to a tabloid to fund her way off the couch from hell, but Clara instead manages to track down Caspian’s contact info, intending to reassure him that her lips are sealed.
Unfortunately, Caspian misinterprets Clara’s attempt at altruism and shows up on her doorstep, accusing her of blackmail. When the paparazzi capture a photo of them together, Caspian’s PR team sees an opportunity to promote his latest film—and if Clara wants to atone for her “crimes,” she’ll have to play along. Pretending to be Caspian’s girlfriend seems like it will be a tolerable, if somewhat daunting, penance… until their fake romance becomes something more than either of them expected.
Summer Heacock is an author of contemporary women’s fiction, and prances through life like a Disney cartoon that says the F word a lot. She lives in a teeny Indiana town where she’s a stay-at-home mom to two scampy tots, wife to an amazingly understanding husband, herder of a rescue critter menagerie, and collector of life-size celebrity cardboard cutouts. When not writing or hoarding jellybeans, she’s a member of the Midwest Writers planning committee and a cohost of PubTalkTV.
Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser is an avid reader, lackluster-yet-mighty crafter, and accomplished TV binge-watcher. Once upon a time, she was a publisher publicist and continues to cultivate her love of books and reading by chatting with the best authors in the business. She lives in Chicagoland with her very own romance hero husband, darling daughter, and two tempestuous cats. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @dj_dresser.